The Hidden Saviour In Heaven

The Messianic Secret against its Jewish background (Part 2): 

“Before these things Enoch was hidden,

And no one of the children of men knew where he was hidden” 

(I Enoch 12.1)

 

In the next two posts, we will  show that referring to the coming of the Messiah as hidden and revealed may be taken as representative of first century (A.D.) Palestinian Judaism.  In order to prove this statement, we are going to look at the evidence from different streams and representatives of this Judaism.

Dead Sea Scrolls – If we turn to the Qumran library, the different texts from this library testify to the powerful presence of the “hidden and revealed” motifs in the community of Qumran. The distinguished Dead Sea scholar Michael O. Wise writes in his book, The First Messiah, that Judah (this is his name, according to Wise) was the first hidden messiah and that his life helped to lay the foundation for Jesus as the hidden messiah.  Judah’s key phrase, wondrous mysteries, (רזי פלא), contains the most prominent term for “mystery” in the Qumran writings – the word raz –  which is generally regarded as a Persian loanword taken over into Aramaic and Hebrew. The biblical Greek translation of raz is mysterion, and two Hebrew terms associated with raz are sod and nistarot – the latter is often translated as hidden. All these terms convey the idea of the essential heavenly knowledge known only to God and granted to humans by revelation. Members of the community were expected to “walk perfectly together, each with his neighbor, in everything revealed to them” – while remaining hidden was seen as an an essential part of messianic consciousness and messianic behavior. “He who nurtures the Holy Shoot to become a Tree of Truth is himself hidden, without esteem, unknown, his secret sealed up.[1]

Apocalyptic Literature – In the Second Temple Period, the apocalypse turns out to be the main carrier of eschatological ideas and messiah concepts. Why? What was so special about this literature? An explanation should be sought in the history. The Hebrew Scriptures teach the concept of God reigning visibly and tangibly in the history of His people. A king was God’s anointed one. If the king was righteous, God would bless the people and this blessing, as well as the kingdom itself, was a very tangible, earthly reality. However, what happens if the king is unrighteous? Gradually, the vision of an “anointed one to come” who would rectify the wrongs perpetrated by the ruling king and remedy the ill of the present situation, is emerging within the framework of actual history,.  The worse the current historical situation became, the stronger would be a hope for the reverse order that the messiah would bring. Thus, in the post-biblical age the transcendent motif began to ring very clearly: As things on this earth were bad and the unrighteous were winning, for the first time the clearly cut-out concept of the transcendent kingdom and transcendent last-day savior made its way into Jewish thought. The Messiah would become a fully transcendent figure, a heavenly counterpart of the righteous on the earth. While they are oppressed and lowly, he is enthroned and exalted, but hidden. However, when he is manifested at the eschatological judgment, they will also be exalted. In the center of this process of reinterpretation and rethinking stands ‘One like the Son Man’ of Daniel 7: I saw in the night visions, and, behold, One like the son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days…

Thus, the hidden and revealed Messiah occurs many times in the apocalypses, especially in the Book of Enoch, where we see the heavenly Son of Man being hidden in heaven till the appointed time comes: For the Son of Man was concealed from the beginning, and the Most High One preserved him in the presence of his power; then he revealed him to the holy ones and the elect ones.”[2]   The Ezra Apocalypse (4th Ezra) – composed, says scholarly consensus, in the late 1 CE in Hebrew, also played on the theme of the hidden and revealed Messiah. In this work, God explains to a visionary who writes in the name of Ezra: “For my son Messiah shall be revealed with those that be with him.”[3] There is no way, however, that anyone could find and see the Messiah by his own efforts – “the anointed one whom the Most High has kept unto the end”[4], has to be revealed when the appointed time comes: “Just as no one can explore or know what is in the depth of the sea, so no one on earth can see My son or those who are with him, except when his time and his day have come.[5]  The same terminology is found in the Apocalypse of Baruch (2 Baruch), a composite Jewish work written in the latter half of the first century of the Christian era: “And it shall come to pass when all is accomplished … that the Messiah shall then begin to be revealed[6].  In all these writings, the Messiah is the pre-existent being, who will be revealed by God Himself; and even if men do see the Messiah before he is revealed, they will not see him as he really is – as the Messiah – until he is revealed to them by God. The crucial moment here is timing:  then, in those days, his time – these words appear again and again in the apocalyptic texts.

With this transcendent Messiah hidden in the heaven till the appointed time comes, we come to the turn of the era. Of course, all these texts are of human origin and are not the Word of God – but the writings of the NT should be seen against the background of these texts, and no NT scholar can ignore them. I personally believe that  in these texts, we can see the human reflection of God’s plan for Israel: The Messiah was to be hidden till the appointed time comes. If we know these texts, if we know this plan.  we can better understand how important it was for Jesus to keep his messianic identity hidden and concealed – until the appointed time comes.

 

[1] 1QH 8.

[2] 1 Enoch 62.7

[3] 4 Ezra 7.28

[4] 4 Ezra 12.32

[5] 4 Ezra 13:52

[6] 2 Baruch 39.5

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. Gustavo Perera

    Hi Julia,

    I trust that your reflections during Yom Kippur brought more clarity of vision for the new year.

    I have been wanting to ask you for your insights into a question that has been intriguing me these past days with respect to the topic of the ”hidden savior.” I am glad for Geneva Neale’s contribution because it means that the topic is alive.

    In the Gospel of Mark (Chapters 3-5), and on at least two ocassions when Yeshua has encounters with impure spirits or demons, the scripture records that the impure spirits immediately recognize Yeshua as the ‘Son of God.’ In Mark Chapter 5, it says that the impure spirit bowed down before Yeshua and declared: ‘You of son of the highest God.”

    My question is how could the impure spirits (demons) recognize Yesuha as the Son of God but others could not. In the same Chapter 5 when Yeshua is talking with the disciples about his use of parables he says that he speaks that way so that ”they may not understand and then come to repentance” (paraphrased).

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Blessings.

    1. Julia Blum

      Hi Gustavo, it is always good to hear from you. Thank you for your question, I believe I can give you an answer from the Scripture. You remember , James (Yakov) is saying :” You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! . (James 2:19). I think, it totally explains the fact that “the impure spirits (demons) recognize Yesuha as the Son of God” while many people did not. The demons are spiritual beings – and as spiritual beings, they do possess spiritual knowledge that can be withhold from – or revealed to – human beings.

      1. Gustavo Perera

        Thank you very much for your reply Julia. It makes perfect sense and that verse from James did cross my mind.

        Thanks again for the clarity.

  2. Dr Iathane Cromwell

    Shalom Julia,

    I would like you to do a fully writing of the book of revelations which would fit in with the Hidden Messiah perfectly but within the jewish concept.

    1. Julia Blum

      That’s a great idea! Thank you! I will definitely think about it! Have you read anything about it (the Book of Revelation and Hidden Messiah)? of course, there are books on apocalyptic literature, but I haven’t come across anything about Hidden Messiah in the Book of Revelation. Or have you, maybe, written about it? Can you please let me know?

  3. Gustavo Perera

    Dear Julia, Dan, and Nick:

    What comes to my mind is the exchange between Jesus and the disciples when Jesus asked: ”Who do you say that I am?” Peter said: ”You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus then said: ”Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”

    I consider myself a novice when I compare my limited knowledge of the scripture to yours. Perhaps I can share a little of my experience (learning curve or revelation curve) as a believer:

    I became a ‘Christian’ some 32 years ago. I was very active in Christian Church ‘ministry’ – a Sunday School Teacher and Deacon with responsiblity for Ministry Strategy and Infrastructure; I got to stand behind the pulpit many times. Some 14 years ago I hit the wall; it was devastating. A counselor of mine who was trying to help me find light above the dark clouds gave me a book to read entitled: ”Where do I go with my broken dreams?”

    In my search for answers, I came across an old friend (mechanic) who loved to debate scripture; he told me:
    ”My friend, you were not baptized into the Spirit, you were baptized into a denomination and its doctrine.” It hit me hard but there was truth to it. With no ministry and very limited interaction within the Christian community, I began a journey into the Torah which has brought me to this point (E-Teacher).

    In learning the Torah, I unlearnt the New Testament (what a paradox). For years, and I have mentioned this too many times, I struggled with the positions of the Father and the Son. I was told by friends and family that I had moved away from ‘Grace’ and gone back to the ‘Law,’ However, I stuck with it.

    Now, I have re-started my journey into the New Testament, and just looking at the first book Matthew (beatitudes), Jesus is ‘building fences around the Torah.’ My understanding of it is that he is not downplaying the Torah, but rather, challenging us all to ‘go beyond’ the Torah. I did not know back then what I know now but today I am better off for it.

    The journey has allowed me to reconcile the Father and the Son and by extension my faith as a believer. I am sure it is not going to be (or has not been) the same for everyone. This has been my personal journey…crisis…discovery…unlearning…re-learning through revelation…and reconciling.

    Shalom,

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you, Gustavo, for being so open and sincere and sharing your journey! (and by the way, I missed you in our last class yesterday! It has been a blessing to have you in the class!)

      1. Gustavo Perera

        Dear Julia,

        I am so sorry I missed the last class yesterday; it was my grandson’s birthday yesterday and as it turned out, I had to host the small celebration. I will get the recording though. You have been a blessing to me also and you have stirred up my interest in learning more about the Hebrew roots and meanings.

  4. Gustavo Perera

    Dear Julia and Dan (and others);

    The discussion is rich and I do hope that you will continue to ‘unpack’ this idea; there is so much to learn through this discussion. I am discovering that truth comes by revelation and that revelation comes not only at the right time but also, through searching the scriptures.

    I used to struggle with idea of a separate G-D and Yeshua and how to reconcile the ”ancient of days” with the ”son of man.” My perennial struggle was: ”Who do I pray to? ‘Elohim or Yeshua? But I believed that I have been able to reconcile the two concepts. This morning in my study in Matthew, and reading again from Micah 5:1: ”yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; and his GOINGS FORTH ARE FROM ANCIENT TIME, FROM DAYS OF OLD.”

    From this, I am able to reconcile the idea of the ”Ancient of Days” and ”Son of Man” being from the beginning of times.

    Shalom,
    Gustavo

    1. Julia Blum

      Hi Gustavo, it is always such a blessing to hear from you! I am very glad that you enjoy this discussion and find it enriching and helpful.

  5. Dan Bruce

    Julia, I’m having a bit of a problem with your terminology of a “hidden Messiah” based on the idea that Jesus hid his identity and Messianic mission from Israel. Such was not the case, at least in the beginning of his ministry. The B’rit Hadashah makes it clear that Jesus taught openly. In John 8:20, Jesus himself said, “I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.” The miracles were also done openly, apparently witnessed by thousands. Eight centuries before Jesus’ ministry, G-d had decreed through the prophet Isaiah that Israel would have spiritual blindness, eyes that could not see (i.e., could not recognize that Jesus’ actions were fulfilling Messianic prophecies) and ears that could not hear (i.e., could not understand the meaning of Jesus’ teaching about His kingdom). By the time of the first coming of Jesus, the Jewish leadership and most of the Jewish people had lost the ability to understand the Tanakh because they had replaced its teachings with the precepts of men (namely the teachings of the Sadducees, Pharisees, and scribes). Akin to the viel that covered the face of Moses after he had seen the glory of G-d, perhaps the idea that Jesus was increasingly veiled as his ministry progressed might be a better description than hidden. Just a thought.

    1. Julia Blum

      Hi Dan, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I am publishing it now, for the sake of discussion, but I will reply after Shabbat. Blessings!

    2. Julia Blum

      Hi Dan, thank you for your comment, I understand your point – but I still believe, that Jesus’ Messianic mission was hidden from Israel because it was God’s plan from the beginning. It was also prophesied by Isaiah that the Suffering Servant would hid His identity; in this sense, this Messianic secret was part of His program. In my last post on this blog, The Key of the transitional Chapter, I show that the eyes of the people of Israel were restrained, as were the eyes of the disciples on the Road to Emmaus. Restrained is a passive verb, (both in English and in Greek the passive form is used ehre), and it means that Somebody restrained their eyes, it didn’t depend on them. In Mat. 13 when Jesus is quoting Isaiah’s words about Israel’ spiritual blindness, He is saying to his disciples: “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them, it has not been granted”.” It is passive form again – and once again, it means, that the decision was not theirs.

      1. Dan Bruce

        So, are you saying that those Jews in ancient Israel who rejected Jesus as the prophesied Messiah of Israel are not responsible for their rejection since they were restrained by God?

        1. Julia Blum

          Let me ask you a question, Dan: do you think that the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luk. 24) were responsible for not recognizing Jesus when He was walking with them? As you can read in my last post here, I do read the story of Emmaus as the spiritual key to the whole Gospel of Luke: “What was the difference between the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and Jesus’ townsfolk from Nazareth? In both cases,… the eyes fixed on Jesus were restrained by none other than the Lord Himself. (we know already that no one else can restrain or open someone’s eyes). However, the eyes of the disciples on the road to Emmaus were finally opened in the breaking of bread (once again, by none other than the Lord Himself) – while the eyes of the people in Nazareth remained restrained”.

          1. Dan Bruce

            Julia, indeed I do think the disciples on the road to Emmaus were responsible for not recognizing Jesus as their Messiah, since faith in the resurrected Jesus is a personal responsibility both then and now. Cleopas and the other disciple did not expect him to have been crucified and die, nor did they believe the report of His resurrection, although they had enough knowledge to understand. Apparently they did not understand the true meaning of Isaiah 53, for instance, because the teachings of the Jewish leaders had caused them to have blindness as to the true meaning of the Scriptures about Messiah (same is true for many Jewish people today). Jesus had said beforehand that the Jewish people had enough testimony to recognize him, and that they would be held accountable, as he verified in John 5:45-46 “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.” In the case of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, according to Luke 24:27, Jesus opened their eyes to Him by explaining the true meaning of the Scriptures that were hidden behind the false teachings that held sway over the Jewish people back then, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” It was the understanding of the Scriptures that opened the disciples eyes and ears. In prophecy, G-d had decreed that the Jewish people would have spiritual blindness and reject Jesus as Messiah, because in his omniscience he knew beforehand that they would choose the precepts of man over the teachings of G-d, but G-d himself did not cause anyone to reject Jesus and not have faith in him. Rejecting Jesus is a sin unto death, and, as we know from the B’rit Hadashah, G-d never tempts anyone to sin, as we are told in James 1:13, “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am being tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” The spiritual blindness of Israel was the result of each Jewish person choosing to substitute man-made precepts for the teachings of G-d in the Scriptures (pagans have always done the same), not because the message of salvation under the New Covenant through repentance and faith was hidden from them. Jesus walked and taught and did miracles openly among them. That’s the way I understand His very public ministry and the spiritual responsibility of everyone who heard and saw Him.

          2. Julia Blum

            Dan, I see you have your own strong views with regard to this topic. In these complex subjects I am always reminded that ‘His ways are higher than our ways …’, and that is why we need to diligently search the Scriptures for ourselves and be open to ask questions and receive answers that might surprise us. May I suggest you continue the journey with me as different aspects of this question are unfolded. I believe it is a very important subject that will help us understand, with humility, the over-arching plan of God for the salvation of the world, and the role of Israel in that plan.

          3. Nick Edwards

            Dan,
            Does the Messiah, destined to reign in the Kingdom of God on earth, equal or supersede the ineffable God the Father HaShem? Does the Son (prince) outshine the Father (king)? Does belief in Jesus supercede all that preceded Him – i.e. replacement theology?
            My understanding is that the purpose of the Kingdom and the Messiah is to usher in closeness to God-HaShem in an atmosphere of revelation and clarity.
            I am not trying to start one of those endless theological arguments. It just seems that Julia’s blog assumes that all was not revealed at the time of Jesus.
            Respectfully,
            Nick

          4. Dan Bruce

            Nick, yes, belief in Yeshua does supercede all that came before him in time. Of course, it is more accurate to say that Yeshua was the fulfillment and completion of everything revealed through and to Israel before him. Jesus himself said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil,” and he also clarified that “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” There is only one way to oneness with G-d, and that way is Yeshua. The ceremonial Law given the Israel is no longer a way for achieving atonement. The plan of redemption introduced through Israel found its fulfillment and completion in Yeshua, who is the king of Israel according to the promise and the light of salvation to the world. Now you may ask, who is Israel? The answer is simple according to the Scriptures: All who believe in Yeshua as Lord and Savior are in Him and thus in the kingdom of Israel. Is there still a place for the Jews assembled as national Israel in G-d’s plan? Yes, the land promise is still being worked out in history, as we have seen in 1948 and 1987 and even today. As for redemptive history, though, all of those promises have been fulfilled in Yeshua. He is the cornerstone of the New Covenant Temple comprised of those who believe in him as Savior and Lord, both Jew (totally Jewish in the beginning) and Gentile.

          5. Julia Blum

            Dan, I just replied to your other comment and here I will just repeat the last words of my response there: As Nick wrote, we are not going to start one of those endless theological arguments. Let’s just leave one another in God’s hands – because, once again, His thoughts are not our thoughts. .. Blessings!

          6. Nick Edwards

            Dear Dan,
            I apologize for my “stream of consciousness” questions/comments when I responded to your letter with Julia. Thanks to an attempt to understand Judaism/O.T. (the resources of Jesus and Paul), I have learned that forgiveness and redemption were always available via repentance. Even the sacrificial law (korban), is about drawing close to God, not paying a price as such. Growing close to God is the goal-a much deeper and fulfilling journey taught in Judaism. Atonement and legal status is not the end game. As a Christian, I have been “born again”, thanks to what I’ve learned from Judaism, and there is continuity where there was once an “old” way and a “new” way.
            Your friend,
            Nick

          7. Dan Bruce

            Fine, Julia, but I urge you to remain true to the Scriptures and the teachings about personal responsibility in achieving atonement through faith by grace.

  6. Annette Campbell

    I believed that the revelation of Jesus has happened and will happen again. As mentioned in Revelation 1:19 So write down what you see, both what is now, and what will happen afterwards. I believe that is the revealing of Jesus to John and what he is writing will be Jesus revealed to all mankind as God wants us to see him and as we will be ready to receive. As the word also says that some saw him then and believed on him (and we know some did not believe) there will be some that will believe who have not seen him. The word also says that if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new. That I believe is how we can see him now as we wait for our forms to be changed to see him as he is.

    1. Julia Blum

      Hi Annette, I also believe that the revelation of Jesus has happened and will happen again. However, it doesn’t cancel the fact that He had to be Hidden Messiah during his earthly life. It is an important understanding and knowledge , as we are trying to contemplate the mystery of Israel and Jesus.

  7. Leonard Logan

    Thanks, Julia, for filling in the background!

  8. Dorothy Healy

    Thank you Elizabeth for your deep and insightful comments. You have touched on something very profound, especially with regards the gestational period the world. In the light of this hidden/revealed theme, we can see that Jesus was sown as a seed into our world, and the gestational period commenced. A period that has is exact timing in accordance with the Father’s will. It particularly resonated with me as our small prayer group only last week sensed strongly that a time of giving birth was coming. “He is the head we are the body …” Perhaps this is what the woman giving birth in Revelation 12 is about. It certainly gives food for thought. Right now He remains hidden, not only to Israel as a whole, but to the whole secular world, and other faiths also – but it will not always remain so.
    Romans …22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

    1. Elizabeth (Lisa) Seibel-Ross

      Thank you Dorothy. Isn’t it wonderful to have a place to study and share together? 🙂 Lisa

  9. Elizabeth Seibel-Ross

    I’m so enjoying these revelations from your work and the opportunities you’re giving us to think about meaningful things, and appreciate the fact that they’re not hidden at this time! To me the texts that you’ve shared echoes the Biblical line that always separates the profane from the holy. Sacred things are always guarded/protected: after hearing the words of the angel Marium hid and nurtured them within her heart, a pearl of great value is buried in a field (its value sheltered by disguise), wasn’t the arc covered with badger skin – so why not the Son of Man (“even if men do see the Messiah before he is revealed, they will not see him as he really is – as the Messiah – until he is revealed to them by God”? The revealing of the treasures of the Lord over the great arc of time, seems to me to be like any other normal gestational process (only this is the birth of His true nature and Purposes into this world) in that certain things have to happen at specific times while others await their turn in the process. Along the way we as believers and witnesses to these revelations nurture the truths revealed to us, and by living in community with each other, get a bigger picture of the realities of our moment in time, by walking perfectly together as neighbors.

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for this comment: It is so insightful, so profound, so beautiful!

      1. Elizabeth (Lisa) Seibel-Ross

        I wanted to thank you for your kind words to all of us, in addition to sharing your work. I find both uplifting and sustaining! 🙂 Lisa

  10. Jo Ann Abreu

    Thank you for your comments they were very interesting and a lot to think about. I am sill confused about the hidden and reveled Messiah. To me the Messiah is Jesus Christ the Son of God.

    1. Julia Blum

      Hi Jo Ann, this is the whole point of this study ” to show that Jesus as Messiah (Christ) was hidden during his earthly life, and revealed after. I think, my last post , about Messiah hidden and revealed in Luke-Acts, will help .