Yom Shishi, 28 Shevat 5777 — יוֹם שִׁשִּׁי כח שְׁבָט ה' תשעז Friday, 24 February 2017
What Would Jesus Drive?

In The Jewish Advocate there has been a series of articles and letters since we Jews for Jesus re-opened our work here. Again and again, the same basic claim is made, "You can't be Jewish and believe in Jesus." Often times, the easiest answer to counteract that claim is, "why?" If he is the messiah, shouldn't I as a Jew believe in him? Among other responses I will here, is that it is against Jewish Theology, "You believe in three Gods, not one." "when the Messiah comes there is peace, what is this two comings?" "Where do you get this Jesus is the only way?"

Now, these are good questions. Certainly some people raise these objections just to be argumentative, but others sincerely struggle with these issues. How do we respond? Well, I think it is important to know that these beliefs are not just some doctrine which we have decided to buy into. I think when we read the Scriptures, if you believe them, you are forced to come to these conclusions. Not just New Testament. I don't think you could read the Tenach or Old Testament without reaching the same conclusions. As we look at this series on "who is Y'shua?" I want to look at a few passages in Zechariah, which I think push me to believe the way I do. So let's investigate these passages, and find out what they tell us. Turn with me to Zechariah chapter 9, verse 9.

Now this is one of the traditional passages, which speak of the coming of the Messiah. Zechariah's entire book may be the most Messianicly oriented of any the Old Testament book on a percentage basis.

We want to concentrate on verses 9 and 10. You may ask, " well, what is the context." Zechariah is a post-exilic prophet, meaning he prophesied after the exile in Babylon. He probably wrote about 520 BC. Go ahead and look briefly at verses one to eight, its kind of hard to read, but I think you can basically tell what is happening, I don't want to spend much time looking at it, but basically you see God pronouncing Judgements on these foes of Israel

Verse 5: Ashkelon will see it and fear; Gaza will writhe in agony, and Ekron too, for her hope will wither. Gaza will lose her king and Ashkelon will be deserted.

6 Foreigners will occupy Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.

But then he says these words to Israel in verse 9, which I want to concentrate on:

9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle-bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.

"So what is the connection with the prior verses?" God is making a promise to Israel, Judgement will come to your enemies, but you rejoice for your king is coming.

Look at the two phrases beginning the verses. That is Hebrew Parallelism. It's two lines kind of repeating itself, with the second adding clarity and sharpness. What is the stress? Rejoice Greatly, Shout, daughter of Zion, daughter of Jerusalem. Jewish people get excited. Not give a small kind of smile, a giant cheer. It's the promised one, the one sent from God, your King.

What will he do? Look at the end of verse 10. He will proclaim peace to the nations. The nations, the goyim, not just Israel, but everyone. Look it says his rule will extend from sea to sea to the ends of the earth. Who will is King reigning over? He will reign not just over Israel but over the whole earth. This is the King - Messiah.

That is why the Rabbis have always seen this passage as Messianic.

How is he coming does it say? He will be righteous and having salvation. So he is righteous, and he is one who brings salvation with him. But then it says what? He will be gentle, He will be riding a donkey, even the foal or baby of a donkey.

Why is that? What has been your perception of the coming of the Messiah? I think most Jewish people probably haven't thought that much about it, but I guess as a conquering King. One who overthrows the evil nations and the ones fighting Israel. But here the picture is very different isn't it.

Here he is gentle, riding on a baby donkey? What do think it is trying to communicate here? A baby donkey? What kind of war could you win on a baby donkey? That is just it, he is not coming to fight, he comes in gentleness, almost harmlessness. He is the King over all the earth, he has all authority but he comes in this humble, gentle fashion.

Evidently in the ancient Near East, if a king came in peace, he would ride a donkey, instead of a war stallion. It looks to me that in the text the donkey is specifically being contrasted with the war horses of verse 10. You may remember Soloman riding in on his Father David's donkey.

It seems to me, that he is offering his kingship to Israel and to the world. The King in all his authority and strength, the authority and strength which comes from the one who sent him, yet he comes with an open palm, basically saying enthrone me. I have come, blow the trumpets and shout with joy, and receive me and I will take up the throne and reign.

Not every King has to take the throne by fear, or intimidate people with their big army. There are some people who you want to be your King. One who is gentle, righteous, who brings peace, has power, and brings salvation. That King, you rejoice that finally he has come. You roll out the red carpet for him, or at least the palm branches.

But here is a problem. Zechariah describes another coming of the King, which is quite different. Do you want to take a look?

Let's turn a couple of pages to the final chapter of Zechariah, chapter 14.

Take a look at the verses 2 to 4.

2 I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city.

3 Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle.

4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.

This is a very different scene to Zechariah 9. What appears to be happening here? Here all the nations are attacking Jerusalem. This is Armageddon, the final battle. The Lord goes and fights against the nations, then his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives.

Here it looks much more like the traditional coming of the Messiah, I always thought about as kid. The conquering king, coming in wrath, meeting out Judgement to the enemies of Israel.

Look at verse 8 and 9.

8 On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter.

9 The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.

What do you think the significance of the Living water flowing is? Look where it flows? The western and eastern seas. What are those? The Mediterranean and the Dead Sea, ah, the Dead Sea will be brought to life. Even the land itself rejoices and prospers at the king's coming.

Because what is the significance here? Then the Lord will be king over all the earth. All must come and worship him.

This is a very common verse from the liturgy of the Synagogue: "V'enemar, v'haya adonai, u melech, al kol ha aretz, b'yom ha hu, b'yom ha hu, yi ye adonai echad. Ushmo, ushmo, ushmo echad."

The lord will be king over all the earth, melech, al kol ha aretz, and his name will be the only name, ushmo echad.

Do you know why this gets me? Chapters nine and 14 are the only mentions in Zechariah of this King who will reign over all the earth.

But here is the puzzle, so, which is true - Does he come, gentle, riding on a donkey in peace. Or in great wrath upon the war-horse at this final battle.

This is a big puzzle for Jewish Scholars as well. But this is not the only place that the coming of the Messiah brings a puzzle. We find it all over the place. Is he born in Bethlehem in Micah 5:2 or does he come on the clouds like Dan 7? Is the Messiah cut off like in Daniel Chapter nine, or does he reign forever like in Isaiah chapter 9?

But these verses are not a problem for me or for those who see the New Testament and Jesus as the fulfillment of these prophecies. Zechariah like other prophecies describes two very different comings of the Messiah because he comes twice in two very different ways. At least that's the way I see it? I just don't understand how you can make Zechariah jive with a single coming. I believe in two comings because I think it makes sense. He comes first to offer his kingship, to give people the chance to enthrone him, he then comes again to take it by force, because it is his, and he is the King, the Lord will reign over his creation.

But that is not the only puzzle Zechariah brings up about the Messiah is it?

Here in chapter 14, looking at verses 3 and 9, the King is clearly seen to be the Lord Almighty. But the king as we understand it especially from Zechariah 9 seems to be a man riding on a donkey. Even this seems to be a man, as he has his feet on the Mount of Olives. Although Reform Judaism may not see a personal Messiah, but a Messianic age, traditional Judaism has always seen the Messiah as a man.

But here Zechariah, the Messiah does seem to be a man, but he also appears to be the Lord Almighty himself.

That is a problem. These passages don't prove the deity of the Messiah, but they certainly give you pause for thought don't they. How are we to understand this Messiah and his coming?

For me, believing in the deity of the Messiah, is not some crazy new Catholic thought, it is something I find in my own Scriptures. This portrait in Zechariah, for instance, seems to me to be consistent with what I find in the New Testament. Again, traditional Judaism's conviction that the Messiah is only a man seems hard to reconcile with this passage.

I am not saying I understand how the Messiah could be God, but here is how a famous scholar who was a Jewish believer in Jesus named David Baron described this strange identity of the Messiah:

"When the infinite Jehovah, the Holy one of Israel, whom no man hath seen or can see, manifests himself and comes to dwell in the midst of his people, it is always in the person of the Messiah"

When the infinite Lord, comes to dwell with us, it's in the person of the Messiah.

there is another strange passage in Zechariah that seems to bring these passages together in a sense.

Remember the verse from Chapter 9 verse 9

9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you,

Well there is a very similar phrase found in chapter 2, 10 of Zechariah as well.

10 "Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you," declares the LORD.

It's kind of a combo. Rejoice greatly, shout, in chapter 9, here shout and be glad, daughter of Zion, but rather than your King is coming, here it is says I am coming, I will live among you. And who is speaking? The Lord is speaking. I am coming to you, shout and be glad.

One place it is the King, the other is the Lord is coming. But again, that's okay if the King is the Lord as in Chapter 14. Zechariah seems to be echoing the same thought throughout his book to me.

Then look in verse 11 of chapter 2, it gets more interesting.

11 "Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people. I will live among you ... and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you.

Wait a minute. What's going on here? Who is talking? Its the Lord talking, many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day, and they will become MY people, whose people? The Lord's, that is who is talking, and My people is always the Lord. But when will it happen, when will become his people? When I will live among you. When the Lord lives among us?

But then it says you will know the Lord sent me. But who is me?

Here me is clearly the Lord, but also the one doing the sending is the Lord. And this one who is sent will live among the people, and the people will be joined with the Lord, and become "my people" this sent one's people.

Wow, this is confusing. But again, from a New Testament perspective it makes a lot of sense. I believe God the Father is sending God the Son, the messiah. The Son is the Lord who comes to dwell with us; I will live with you. We become "my people" the Messiah's people; he is our Shepherd, our king. But when the Messiah is our King, we are the Lord's people. No competition between them. They are one in essence.

Again, this doesn't prove anything, it just makes you think.

For me, this crazy idea of Trinity brings a lot of sense to passages like this one. For me, the Old Testament actually teaches the Trinity easier than the new in many ways.

This idea of the "Sent one" can be seen all over Isaiah as well, most dramatically in 48:12-16 for those keeping score.

This idea of the sent one, is the exact idea John picks up in his Gospel, he refers to the word sent 56 times.

John 5:23 ...He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him.

John 5:24 "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned;

Here Jesus is saying, if God has sent me, and you don't honor me, then you are not honoring God. He is saying listen to my words, believe in the one who sent me, God.

John 6:29 Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.

Jesus is saying he is that one sent from God, you should go to him, you must believe him, listen to him, he is only doing what God is telling him to do. This is exactly what Zechariah is talking about, this one who is sent from God to Israel.

People get really upset that we say you have to believe in Jesus, there is only one way etc. I know it sounds strange.

But looking at Zechariah logically, if God sends his King, don't we have to listen to him. Do we really think we can get to God, but still ignore his King, his messiah, his sent one?

So what have we looked at today. We just did a little walk around Zechariah, didn't even go to any other books. But here, we talked about two comings, about the Trinity, the deity of the Messiah, the exclusivity of belief in Jesus, all subjects, Jewish people object to and struggle with. We can see that if one believes in the Scriptures, I think these are the conclusions you reach. I think as one studies the Scriptures you are confonted with a growing mosaic of this coming King.

As you then walk through the Gospels you see how Jesus is the fulfillment this mosaic, how the different things he did and said, showed that he was this king, this one who fulfilled all of God's promises.

Think about it, If Jesus is this remarkable King sent from God, how is this King revealed? Let me just look quickly at some passages for you.

Firstly, through A Miraculous birth, as it says:

As, Simeon took (the baby Jesus) in his arms and praised God, saying: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.

30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,

The king is born endowed with Salvation.

Then through Jesus' Remarkable teachings he revealed himself:

in Matthew, it says

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

The authority to speak the words of the sent one, the words of God himself.

He did wondrous miraculous signs among them. It is said.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."

Who indeed? Only the Lord almighty, the maker, that is who.

And Who do say that I am, he asked Peter, Peter confessed, Thou art the Messiah, son of the Living God.

Jesus himself told them, I am The Good Shepherd.

They would be joined to the Lord and become his people, the sheep of his pasture, Y'shua is my Shepherd, and I shall not want.

Many times He said, I am the one sent by God to speak his word and to do his will.

When the day had come, and he had fully revealed who he was to Israel, he had shown them by his birth, his wisdom, his miracles and signs and his words, that indeed he was their King. He called to his disciples to get a donkey with its colt. And as it reads in Matt 21, he rode in on that colt, the king has come and they shouted and rejoiced,

Hosanna to the Son of David, or Save now, our king.

They understood; their King had come.

He comes in peace, with all humility, and gentleness, take him as your king O'Jerusalem.

But as the Scriptures foretold, and God's master plan played out, He was rejected. Israel would not enthrone him. But in the greatest mystery of all, but one also foreseen in the Tenach, he willingly laid down his life as a sacrifice, to bear the judgement himself, of not only those people who rejected him, but the Judgement of the whole world. But death could not hold him, and he conquered it.

But as we see in Zechariah, he will come again, this time in wrath and by force. And he will be enthroned, not coming in peace this time on a baby donkey, but on a war-horse, and the kings of the earth will be humbled. As it says:

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue confess that Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus, the Messiah is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

You see, now the Lord extends his gentle hand and his pardon to you, but he is coming, and when he does the time for pardon will be over. As the Scripture again says:

Behold, he is coming quickly, and his reward is with him.