Book Of Revelation In Jewish Context (rev. 1:7-8) – Dr. Eli Lizorkin-eyzenberg And Peter Shirokov

"De Grebber-God Inviting Christ to Sit on the Throne at His Right Hand" by Pieter de Grebber

“God Inviting Christ to Sit on the Throne at His Right Hand” by Pieter de Grebber

Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him…

As John states who the principle heavenly parties are that commission him to write and deliver the letter of Revelation, he is interrupted by two seemingly unexpected benedictions. One of them is in vs. 5b-6 and the next one is in vs. 7, where we see two Biblical prophecies invoked – Dan. 7:13-14 and Zech. 12:10:

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.”

While the various Son of Man traditions based upon Daniel 7 were already known in Jewish apocalyptic tradition at the time of the composition of Revelation, the fusion of these two concepts (triumphant and tragic) was not. Moreover, while New Testament documents like the book of Revelation, mostly operate within an already pre-existing set of Jewish concepts, its genius and uniqueness oftentimes can be seen in the merger of previously unmixed Jewish concepts such as Logos of God (Memra of God) and Incarnation in John 1:14, and Son of God (Ben Elohim) and Son of Man (Ben Adam/Bar Enosh) in John 5:25-28. Even the Talmudic sages of a later period understood the triumphant and tragic prophecies about Messiah to predict two Messiahs, the Son of David and the Son of Joseph.

“Our Rabbis taught, The Holy One, blessed be He, will say to the Messiah, the son of David (May he reveal himself speedily in our days!), Ask of me anything, and I will give it to thee, as it is said, I will tell of the decree etc. this day have I begotten thee, ask of me and I will give the nations for thy inheritance (Ps. 2:7-8). But when he will see that the Messiah the son of Joseph is slain, he will say to Him, Lord of the Universe, I ask of Thee only the gift of life. As to life, He would answer him, Your father David has already prophesied this concerning you, as it is said, He asked life of thee, thou gavest it him, [even length of days for ever and ever – Ps 21:5].” (Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 52a) (1)

Another passage from the Talmud, which reveals the rabbinic understanding of the merit-based reward of the Messiah coming to redeem Israel, shows an alternative attempt to harmonize the triumphant, cloud riding Messiah with the tragic, meek and suffering servant, riding upon a donkey. It proposes that the prophecies describe two potential Messiah trajectories which will depend on the condition of the covenant people.

“…it is written, in its time [will the Messiah come], whilst it is also written, I [the Lord] will hasten it! (Is 60:22) if they are worthy, I will hasten it: if not, [he will come] at the due time… it is written, And behold, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven (Dan 7:13) whilst [elsewhere] it is written, [behold, thy king cometh unto thee…] lowly, and riding upon an ass! (Zech 9:7). If they are meritorious, [he will come] with the clouds of heaven if not, lowly and riding upon an ass. King Shapur [I] said to Samuel, Ye maintain that the Messiah will come upon an ass: I will rather send him a white horse of mine. 37 He replied, Have you a hundred-hued steed(2)?” (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98a)

Revelation takes these two seemingly independent and hard to reconcile concepts of Messiah as one, a triumphant victor; and one, a suffering servant of God; and combines them into one person, the Messiah who came, suffered, and is yet to claim his full glory.

… and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

What is interesting is that in the Christian religious imagination, all peoples of the world here are mourning the piercing of the Christ of God; but given the fact that this is a Zecharaic allusion (see above), doubtless the tribes of Israel are in fact in view. Earth/Land (Arets) is standard designation not of all the earth in Hebrew, but of the Land of Israel in particular.

8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Even though it is customary to speak of Jesus as the Alpha and the Omega, as best we can tell, there is a distinction between the glorified Jesus and the Alpha and Omega Himself in the text itself, especially in Rev. 1:4 (see the discussion above).

The technical term of the Alpha and the Omega appears 3 times in Revelation (Rev. 1:8, Rev. 21:1-8, Rev. 22:6-15). In all three cases, it cannot be immediately interpreted as Jesus (though the authors of this book have no problem in affirming Jesus’ divinity as it was portrayed in other parts of New Testament). The only case where Jesus is more explicitly connected to this title is the later example from Rev. 22:6-15, where immediately following statements about Alpha and Omega (in the first person), there is a statement by Jesus (also in the first person): “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” (Rev. 22:16) Although, we must keep in mind that in the book of revelation there is polyphony of voices that the center stage from one another as the story unfolds.

While it is possible to harmonize the Alpha and Omega in Rev.22:13 with Jesus in Rev.22:16 we think that given Alpha and Omega’s identity with “he who is and who was and who is to come” in Rev. 1:8 and Jesus’ clear distinction from that very person in Rev. 1:4, the position that equates Jesus with Alpha and Omega in a direct linear fashion is simply not feasible. The book of Revelation purposely paints a different, more complicated picture.

The marvelous grandeur of Jesus Christ as described in Revelation, and yet his distinction from the Lord God Almighty in the book, may be best seen against the backdrop of other Jewish Apocalyptic Son of Man traditions, where the divinity of both the Son of Man and the Ancient of Days/Head of Days is explicit and yet not harmonized (1 Enoch 48 and 69).

[divider]

(1) Soncino translation of the Talmud
(2) Horse of many colors

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  1. RamonAntonio

    I find it compeling to bring forth Eieh Asher Eieh in relation to the alpha & omega. More importantly, I think this linkage really parallels two world vissions, that of ancient Israel in the person of Moses an Egiptian trained prince confronting an eternal God and the vission of John, probably the apostle, maybe not, but nevertheless a Greek-Latin almost surely legally trained mind confronting the testimony of Jesus, the Ressurrected Jewish Messiah.

    Two mindsets. One and the same God.

  2. Kat

    Thank you LynnRose, I will keep that in mind. Right now there is so much to learn and relearn from Jewish history and Biblical Hebrew. I want to focus here. Thank you Prof Peter and Dr Eli.

    (The evidence of God’s existence I looked for was and is a transformed life. He exists 🙂

  3. LynnRose

    Shalom!♡ I feel compelled to share w/”Kat” & interested others a tremendous DVD I am viewing (Evidence of God avail thru #1-(800)-WONDER) which features a physicist by the name of Schroeder speaki g on breakthrough concepts. Essentially, mathematically correct calculations & concepts are presented to 1) prove the Biblical creation of the world in #6 24-hours days & 2) due to the unfolding nature of time expansion, this calculates out EXACTLY to the 15+ billion yrs which many scientists refer to the age of our earth as: fascinating!! 🙂 Shalom!♥

  4. Fred Aguelo

    Hi Kat,

    I will always remember that since the day of creation, all events point to the rulership dominion & everlasting rule of the Son as purposed by the Father. Eternity is a complex topic & I don’t think we’ll ever understand the concept completely until we’re translated into eternity itself because a big part of understanding is experiencing it. I do understand one thing, when i pray in solitude being in the presence of GOD, i experience eternity & I understand & see far better than ever before.

    Fred

    1. Kat

      Fred, great point. A former Orthodox Rabbi told me that Ancient of Days was a reference to God, not time. One thing I know is that language is not the same as vocabulary. 🙂

      1. Prof. Peter Shirokov

        Exactly. Lets continue learning together!

  5. Kat

    I am having difficulty with my language. How can a future or even a reoccurring prophecy (all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion) go back in time (he came to the Ancient of Days, In the beginning).

    1. Fred Aguelo

      Hi Kat,

      In Daniel’s prophesy echoed by Revelation, we see an event in eternity. In Yah’s kingdom there is no such thing as time. Time is only for man & other earthly creatures. We have to adjust our mindsets to a spiritual environment devoid of time. The Father granted the Son rulership & dominion after He fulfilled His mission on earth. Everything is in Yah’s fullness of time because He alone sovereignly dispenses circumstances as He wills according to His purpose.

      Fred

      1. Kat H

        Thank you Fred. Can you tell me what the Biblical Hebrew definition of eternity is? I am trying to adjust my thinking in time perspectives. 🙂

        1. Fred Aguelo

          Hi Kat,
          In Hebrew, eternity is ‘ad’ meaning perpetuity or continuous existence. Also the word ‘olam’ meaning everlasting. I am not an expert in Hebrew so i will leave the Hebraism to our professors. I do know that apart from YHWH there is no such thing as eternity. His holy Name alone embodies the concept of eternity: ‘EHYE ASHER EHYE’ – He was, He is, He always will be. GOD sees the ancient past, the present & the future in one insight being without beginning & wthout end. Scripture instructs us that to GOD a thousand years is but one day so before Adam was formed was a day really 24 hours?

          Fred

          1. Prof. Peter Shirokov

            Kat, this is a worthy topic for a good personal study! It will help you to think more “biblically” and less “culturally” (whatever culture you may belong to).

            Fred, for claiming not be an expert in Hebrew, you do quite well in answering a question! I can tell that you are on the way of becoming one, perhaps. 🙂

            There are a few more important temporal words in Hebrew and they should be studied in context with each other. I would only add that “olam” can also mean an age or an era as well as eternity. For most people eternity is forever (never ending) and an age or era has an end (technically). Ancient Hebrew has a different concept of time and eternity. Worth investigating!

  6. Ronit

    Shalom,
    Question: You have written “it is written, in its time [will the Messiah come], whilst it is also written, I [the Lord] will hasten it! (Is 60:22) if they are worthy, I will hasten it: if not, [he will come] at the due time.”
    I read this verse in the Stone Edition of the Tanach and it says there “the smallest (tribe or family) will increase 1000 fold, and the youngest into a mighty nation. I am HASHEM, in its time I will hasten it.
    The translation of the King James Version is also like this.
    B’ Ivrit there is also nothing written about “if they are worthy”.
    We are not, and can never be “worthy”. Worthy is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the earth. He alone is worthy.
    zehu

    1. Prof. Peter Shirokov

      Dear Ronit, the phrase you are looking at is not going to be in Tanakh necessarily, because you are looking at the actual quote from Talmud citing Tanakh (Is 60). This is why you are not seeing it… The rabbis add the phrase about worthiness, because this is the topic of their discussion. If Israel is worthy, Messiah will come this way, if not – that way.
      Forgive me for lecturing… but don’t get hung up on the “narrow” English concepts of words like “worthy”. Remember that translations are not even always exact and any English word picked may not reflect the force or ideas behind the original terms in exact way. It is just translation… What if I used word “deserving” or “fitting”? – it means roughly the same. People may not be worthy in your view, but are we deserving? Cause and effect… (Rhetorical question)

  7. Fred Aguelo

    It is amazing to note that both the Ancient of Days & the Son of Man were distinctly described & each with different roles indicating that indeed the Godhead is within & without multi-faceted yet One in thought, word & deed. Yet the Father said in Psalm 45:6-7, “Your throne O God, will last forever & ever; you rule your kingdom with a scepter of equity; you have loved righteousness & hated wickedness. Therefore O God, your God has anointed you with the oil of joy in preference to your companions.” The Father addressed the Son as God showing the divinity of Yeshua & equality with Himself.

    Fred Aguelo

  8. Murengerantwari André

    I have been blessed by your materials and teachings from you.But as a Burundian who want to know more about the Bible,more about the Almighty God of Israel.I ask you to help to learn more and more about Jesus ,the Redeemer and Savior.If possible in one of your University and in Campus.

    Murengerantwari André
    Phone number +257 78 809582
    Bujumbura-BURUNDI .

    1. Prof. Peter Shirokov

      André, sounds like you can benefit from a seminary education. We are not a university. Our educational programs are limited.

  9. Dr. Rafael Martinez

    Shalom, amen, asi es, Jehoshua hamasiaj, viene en las nubes, asi como ascendio a los cielos, El es fiel y verdadero a su palabra y al amor a su nombre: YHWH.

  10. riq

    Erudite but thoroughly deceptive. I hope you’re making a million off these gullible Christians.

    1. Jeraldine Skinner

      It’s better thought to have the mentality of an amoeba than to speak up and remove all doubt.
      Further comment is entirely unnecessary.

  11. Darius West

    I would like to understand the Jewish-Christian view in regards to the Tribulation. Whether the 144,000 Jews selected for the preaching of the gospel after the removal of the Body of Christ during the Second Coming of Jesus.