Hidden Messiah Review

Before  we move to the final question of the Hidden Messiah series, let us review and sum up the ideas we have discussed so far, in order to follow the logic of this study. In the series of articles I’ve presented here, we first looked at the Messianic Secret of the New Testament against its Jewish background; we then followed the idea of the hidden and revealed Messiah through Luke-Acts; then finally, we learned the profound lessons found in the transitional chapter of Luke’s Gospel (Luke 24), by discerning the important keys.

Our first post –As Though Hiding His Face From Us – defined the Messianic secret: the fact that in the Gospels, Yeshua is frequently portrayed as seeking to maintain secrecy about his own person and work throughout his public ministry (sometimes even openly discouraging use of the title ‘Messiah’). The messiahship of Yeshua is something the author and the readers know, but the original participants of the Gospels did not know. We began our study by looking at this puzzling feature of the Gospels against its Jewish background and seeking an explanation of this New Testament quandary in the Jewish thought of the time.

That is why, in the next two posts – Transcendental Savior in Heaven and Unrecognized Messiahwe showed that referring to the coming of the Messiah as hidden and revealed could be considered as representative of first century (A.D.) Judaism.  In order to prove this statement, we looked at the evidence from different streams and representatives of this Judaism. We saw something very intriguing in these texts: that in the book of Enoch, written in approximately the 1st century BC, Messiah is hidden in heaven, but then in the rabbinic literature beginning from 1AD, we see Messiah already hidden and unrecognized on the earth. We understand, therefore, that the theme of Messiah hidden in heaven and then coming to the earth, was part of intertestamental Judaism. It is at this point that we moved to the New Testament.

Our two next posts were called: Messiah hidden and revealed in Luke-Acts (1 and 2). Here, in the New Testament scriptures, we could see a direct reflection of the same theme that had been dimly reflected in the previous texts: the Messiah from heaven coming to earth (do you remember the song “You came from Heaven to Earth”?)-  but still remaining hidden until the appointed time came.  The two volumes of Luke provide a unique opportunity to follow the development of this theme of Messiah – ‘before’ and ‘after’ – hidden in heaven from the beginning, comes to earth, but continues to remain hidden until the appointed time, and then, after the appointed time, he is revealed. The same author, while writing about Jesus’ earthly life, consistently portrays him concealing his messianic identity, whereas in Acts he proclaims his messiahship loudly and publicly. In order to explain this sudden change, we needed to suggest two things: First, that some crucial event happened between these two pieces, and second, that for some reason, after this event the messiahship of Jesus was revealed. We all know the obvious answer to the first part: the crucial event that happened between the main part of the Gospel and Acts was the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Then, our question became: why? Why did His death and resurrection mark such a clear-cut border, such an obvious demarcation line, between “before” and “after”?   Why did Jesus have to remain the hidden Messiah during his earthly life, only to be revealed after His resurrection?

In order to unlock this mystery, we needed the keys. At this point, we turned to the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and introduced the five keys of this transitional chapter (Luke 24) – the crucial keys for understanding the story of the hidden and revealed Messiah.

Key number one: restrained eyes:  No one but God Himself can restrain or open spiritual eyes.  It was His decision and His alone, both in the case of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, whose eyes He opened and who finally did recognize Him, and in those cases where the eyes of people remained restrained and they did not recognize Him.

Key number two: to make the latent visibleUntil the developer does its job, the latent image remains invisible, and it takes God’s Spirit to “develop” the Scriptures; it takes God to retell the story; it takes God to make the latent image visible.

Key number three: as though: The Lord cannot reveal His love until His plan is completed. Hence, often enough God acts as though. However, it is always our decision whether we trust our eyes or our hearts.

Key number four: blessing the bread:  Yeshua is recognized while breaking the bread and this became the sign of both His messianic dignity and His suffering. The Messiah had to suffer death and rise again – and only then did the appointed time come for His messiahship to be revealed.

Key number five: and their eyes were opened: This is the culmination, not only of the whole story about the disciples, but of the whole Gospel as well. The striking symmetry between the phrase: their eyes were opened in Luke 24, as against their eyes were opened in Genesis 3, helped us to understand the crucial change in the status of the universe when Yeshua was recognized as Messiah.

Thus in his two volume work, Luke illuminates for us a major, global change which happened between the Gospel and Acts, after Yeshua’s death and resurrection.

The story of Emmaus  provides an excellent transition from the first volume to the second volume of Luke’s writing – from one era to another – from Messiah visible, but hidden (not revealed and not recognized), to Messiah revealed (recognized), but invisible.  During His earthly life, He had been concealed, and only after the resurrection did His messiahship become, not only well-known to His disciples, but also openly and loudly proclaimed to everybody from the housetops. And this means, first of all, that although he had been visible while He walked on the Land of Israel, He was hidden from His countrymen because their eyes were restrained. They were restrained by the sovereign God alone, because nobody else can restrict the eyes. Thus we arrive to our final question in this study: Why was Yeshua hidden from Israel?

About the author

Julia BlumJulia is a teacher and an author of several books on biblical topics. She teaches two biblical courses at the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, “Discovering the Hebrew Bible” and “Jewish Background of the New Testament”, and writes Hebrew insights for these courses.

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  1. Fr Youssef

    This verse in John 8:28
    Thanks

  2. Fr Youssef

    Many thanks again for this great article
    It is intriguing that He is revealed at the breaking of the bread i.e. His Messianic dignity and suffering
    This is truly relating to the crucifixion as the central event in the mission of the Messiah
    He was revealed to Moses as Ahia Asher Ahia
    In the burning bush which symbolizes the ” burned offering” ; the bush was never consumed; the offering was burning 24 hours a day and the sacrifice of the cross is eternal
    Christ’s words summarize this fact of His revelation as the suffering redeemer ” When you lift up the Son of man , then you WILL KNOW THAT I AM HE”

  3. Henrietta Wisbey

    Thank you Sharon
    That’s exactly IT!!!!! I love the way you write it all out excellent. Yes I know the whole thing of hearing so so interesting and arresting. Makes one think which I love….. No doubt Julia will be loving all this interaction. It is so good… Be blessed Henrietta

    1. Julia Blum

      Dear Henrietta and Sharon, I do love this “interaction” and I am very blessed by your profound thoughts and comments! Thank you!!

  4. Sharon Stern

    Well, I wish I could say my thoughts are original. What I will say is that I am a good student and I have been blessed with fabulous teachers. I take copious notes and have notebooks full of fascinating insights into the scriptures that help me develop a deeper understanding of Torah truths. But I also remember all of my superb teachers and give them credit for my not so original ideas. As pertaining our current subject matter, much of the credit of what I have gleaned on this subject is a direct result of having read our current writer of this blog’s amazing book, “If You Be the Son of God, Come Down From the Cross”. I have read and re-read this book more than once as its message is so powerful and so painful for me to acknowledge and yet so necessary in order to move towards our common goal – Messiah ruling and reigning from Jerusalem over everyone, Jew and Gentile; one in Messiah, one in the Olive Tree.

    Henrietta, you wow me with you ‘snippets’ —– laser target dead on and concise. I never thought of Simeon being held in the deeper spiritual context (shame on you, Sharon). But, I have one more layer of the onion to pull off and consider as we look at the meaning of his name —- to hear. Leah names her second son “Shimon/Simeon” because – “HaShem HEARD that I was hated by my husband, perhaps now he will love me”. So, in Egypt, Simeon, the brother who is supposedly ‘heard’ of by HaShem, is the ransom held in captivity in Egypt until the brothers return with Joseph’s youngest brother, Benjamin. If you read the story about Simeon being taken captive, the double entendre is that the brothers admit their guilt in Joseph’s being sold into slavery by them, that they had HEARD Joseph begging them not to do their evil deed against him. But the kicker is that Joseph (his true identity is hidden from them so far, he is just this powerful Egyptian viceroy who accuses them of spying) is listening to the brothers admit their guilt regarding him – they are speaking Hebrew and they think he doesn’t understand because Joseph was smart enough to have an interpreter with him. So this concept of “hearing” – the ability to receive auditory information and respond appropriately to it – is a spiritual theme that runs through this story, too. Hearkens to the long exile of B’Nai Israel in Egypt and another time when HaShem says “I have HEARD their groaning, and I will remember MY covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (paraphrased Ex 2:24). Likewise, when HaShem heard the groaning of Israel and remembered His covenant with the fathers, He sent a redeemer in the person of Yeshua.

    Are we having fun or what?

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you Sharon! By the way, if anyone interested in this book (or other books that I wrote), here is the link to all my books:
      https://www.amazon.com/Julia-Blum/e/B00LUY0JN8/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_8?qid=1474990243&sr=8-8).

  5. Hnerietta Wisbey

    Wow! Sharon that is an amazing piece of writing. I think we have all come to this place for such a time as this. So much being ushered in. What a significant point in our journey. It is awesome being a part of…….
    Something else that jumped out at me the other day was the fact that Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin.
    He was the apostle who was kept waiting in the wings or hidden ready to be revealed at the appointed time.
    Also I found interesting that Simeon was kept “shut up” until the return of all the brothers. his name shares the same root as shama; hearing. The whole concept of shama is so foundational to the Jew and it is as though for now it is imprisoned. Sorry I don’t write as lengthy as others on this blog just little snippets here and there helping us to think together. It is so good.
    Blessings to all like tributaries flowing into an overflowing stream Hneiretta.
    P.S. I will probably get some other flash when I send this they come like sparks!!!!

  6. Remi Hadassah

    Amazing insight Sharon, truly amazing. As Gentles grated into the family of God – Israel, we owe a wealth of gratitude to our Almighty Abba, and responsibility towards His inheritance, and portion – Israel.

    I’ve never actually thought of Israel going through so much for my sake. I believe scripture that a day is coming when all Israel will be saved, and pray it comes speedily. It’s also clear that God Almighty in His infinite wisdom caused blindness upon Israel in order for the gift of salvation through Yeshua to be brought to Gentiles, however, it never dawned on me that precious Israel (even Morden day Israel) is having to endure much suffering for the sake of Gentiles coming into the kingdom – my sake!
    My prayer is that more believers in Yeshua will wake up to their responsibility towards Israel, and partner with our beloved Abba in reaching out to all Jewry. Be it standing as prayer watchmen, to actively participating (financially, active groups enabling aliyah and caring for the needy amongst the sons and daughters of Israel ).

    Thank you for this blog Julia, and to all who regularly contribute. The Lord bless & keep you.

    Am Yisrael chai!

    Shabbat Shalom!

  7. jane z mazzola

    WOW! Sharon Stern, your post is powerful! What a way of linking God’s hidden purpose to some of the PAINFUL experiences endured by the Hebrew nation through the ages & the gift of God’s revelation for us, gentiles. Yes, we should be MORE than thankful: we owe our very eternity to God’s people of Israel, past, present, & future.

    Such an appropriate post for today, the State Funeral of Peres, the elder statesman of the modern State of Israel & model world leader for & to us all.

  8. Sharon Stern

    Well, for me, this question is the very hardest and most humbling of all as a Gentile believer to wrap my brain around and in the process of accepting what can only be referred to as the ‘mystery of the gospel – the good news’ – “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” In order for me, a Gentile, to hear and respond to this ‘good news’ and to have ‘my eyes opened’ happens only by the power of the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit), an act strictly allowed and ordained by the Father. I have been grafted into the nation of Israel through a painful act. But why me, a Gentile, and not the nation of Israel; for aren’t we told many times in Scripture that ‘all Israel will be saved?” And this is where my heart breaks and I fall on my knees.

    Henrietta locked in on Benjamin as highly representative of this hiddeness theme and I would like to expand on it, too. Just as in the story of the ‘stolen chalice’ in the Joseph narrative when Joseph’s cup is hidden in his younger brother Benjamin’s sack and later Benjamin is accused of theft (interesting, theft is the first sin in the scriptures and begins our exile from the garden); the purpose of that encounter was to bring the brothers (remember, they were responsible for the sin of selling their younger brother, Joseph, into slavery. Benjamin had nothing to do with it!) to repentance. In a sense, Joseph is like HaShem. It is for the sake of the brothers of Benjamin that he be viewed as the enemy (just as Israel during this ‘time of the gentiles’ for the good news to go forth to the nations is viewed as ‘the enemy’). HaShem’s invisible plan differs greatly from what our eyes see and to realize that Israel, His eternal beloved, would seemingly be ‘cast away’ for centuries for the sake of the Gentile nations, should put me, a Gentile believer, on my knees begging HaShem to complete this ‘time of the gentile’s inclusion,’ and should make me contrite for the suffering they have endured on my behalf. I owe my salvation, my very relationship with my Creator and my Redeemer, Yeshua, the Messiah, because of the suffering they have endured. Sacrificial atonement; crucifixion before resurrection. Great suffering of one on behalf of the other. The ‘others’ have a great debt to pay to those who suffer on their behalf. Many righteous Gentiles during WWII and the holocaust recognized this reality and they were willing to jeopardize their own safety and lives for the sake of the chosen of HaShem. I believe what we are seeing in our modern times would suggest that this long exile for my sake (a Gentile) is swiftly coming to a close and that indeed, ‘all Israel will be saved.’

    On that note, I would like to share a piece of scripture and a comment that is a clarion cry to all Gentile believers of what our attitude should be to our Jewish brethren; and another key in the scriptures that points to this paradox of visible but hidden ( not revealed and not recognized as the plight of Israel right now) versus our present Gentile experience of Him revealed but invisible! To those of us to whom He is revealed and yet invisible; there is work to be done and the prophet Jeremiah is speaking to us through this piece of prophecy I believe we are engaged in right now.

    This chat box doesn’t allow for highlighting or color definition, so on this text from Jeremiah, please pay attention to the English word ‘watchmen’ and the Hebrew word ‘notzrim’ —-

    For there shall be a day, that the watchmen shall call upon the mount Ephraim: arise ye, and let us go up to Zion, unto HaShem our God.’
    Jeremiah 31:5

    כִּי יֶשׁ יוֹם קָרְאוּ נֹצְרִים בְּהַר אֶפְרָיִם קוּמוּ וְנַעֲלֶה צִיּוֹן אֶל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ
    ירמיהו לא:ה

    kee yesh yom kar-u notz-reem b’-har ef-rai-yim ku-mu v’-na-a-leh tzee-yon el
    Ha-shem E-lo-hay-nu

    A witness to the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah foretold of a time in the future when the exile would come to an end and “watchmen”, or “notzrim” (notz-reem) in Hebrew, will inspire the Jewish nation to return to the borders of Israel, rebuild God’s Temple and serve Him with their entire being. Who are these “watchmen” to whom Jeremiah was referring? In modern Hebrew, the word “notzrim” is understood to mean Christians, as those who come from the city of Nazareth. From here we learn that it is incumbent upon every single Jew to cherish any Christian who is willing to aid in the process of returning to the Land of Israel and ultimately usher in the final redemption. As well, it is incumbent that Gentile believers participate in whatever way possible to help bring diaspora Jewry home where they can participate in ushering in the Messianic Era where we all can join together as the scriptures invite us to unity. “US” = gentile nations

    —-Isaiah 2:3
    “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the house of the God of Jacob,
    that he may teach us his ways
    and that we may walk in his paths.”
    For out of Zion shall go the law,
    and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

    Amen, speedily and soon – v’imru – Amen!

  9. Vivienne Bell

    Even the learned Saul had not recognised Him – but how wonderfully Saul /Paul’s zeal was redirected when he realised what a mistake he’d made!!!!! How wonderful to be grafted in to the Olive Tree and to know that the unbelieving branches are being grafted back!

  10. jane z mazzola

    Such a good, sequential summary: very helpful for review & to ponder as we move to this last question you propose, “Why was Yeshua hidden from Israel?”.

    I do, however, have a question that arose as I was reading this post. In the case of Thomas & even earlier, the disciples, when the women reported to them, they had disbelief or downright refusal to accept this possibility of Jesus/Yeshua’s resurrection, hence, Messiahship. If we assume that God “restrains” or “opens” the vision, what is happening in their cases of refusal to believe? Is that where we could say “free will” is at play? Or is it more like God’s timing, in some cases, is gradual in their “awakening”, or even to other elements of truth w/ believers down the ages?

    1. Julia Blum

      It’s a very good question, Jane. That’s why I called the last chapter of Luke “the Transitional Chapter” (I would call John 21 the Transitional Chapter also) : as I wrote, there was this time of transition from Messiah visible, but hidden (not revealed and not recognized), to Messiah revealed (recognized), but invisible. In each case, it was very unique and personal ( it is always unique and personal when God opens our eyes) , and there is no way we can categorize it and to tell exactly whose eyes were open when. But we do know that in the end , the eyes of all the disciples (even Thomas) were opened: the Messiah became revealed and recognized , but invisible.

      1. jane z mazzola

        Thank you for your response. Interesting, insightful, & understandable & upon pondering, I would agree.

        God’s timing; but there still is the case of choice…perhaps as the story is recounted & time seen by readers/hearers, the “rich young ruler” would be one to whom God revealed the Messiah, but he (the man) chose not to accept. Yes, it is an individual process: each person’s story, while similarities of process, has unique elements, as these Biblical men & women experienced. And yes, that immediate “seen (physically present) but unrevealed” transition to “invisible but revealed” (& believed, acknowledged) is God’s revelation/gift, & hopefully, accepted.

        But the question remains for me, if God reveals in His timing, then why not all accepted? Therein lies that peculiar element of “free will”. And is it REALLY “free will”? But rather “determinism”, since God still is the “revealer”? Perhaps not questions appropriate for here. My apologies.
        Jane

  11. Oscar Hill

    Love it all

  12. Henrietta Wisbey

    Hi Julia
    Just as you recapped our journey thus far so did I!
    I have just spent some time browsing some of the previous blogs and rereading the replies.
    All very interesting as I considered the intriguing thought came to me……..
    I love the idea that Benjamin who began life as Benomin son of my sorrow became the son of my right hand.
    Benjamin in fact remained hidden while the brothers waxed lyrical around him.(hope that does not sound disrespectful) but he really did not say anything even when he was considered to be guilty holding the silver goblet. These narratives are so full of significance and wisdom with so much more to explore. Makes for an interesting journey. So so exciting and also causes me to smile. Be blessed Henrietta

    1. Julia Blum

      It’s amazing you think of Benjamin at this point, Henrietta; because the story of Joseph and Benjamin is indeed very important for understanding the story of Yeshua and Israel. I wrote about it already: there is an entire chapter on Joseph and Benjamin in my book ” If you be Son of God…” – and I am going to write more about it here, as we are addressing this painful question, Israel and Yeshua. The idea of Benjamin’s “hiddenness” brings us to the whole new issue of Israel “hiddenness”; I’ve never used this term for Israel, but maybe this is the right way to put it? Let’s keep thinking together!