Lock Number One: The Restrained Eyes Of Israel

Finally, we are Acherei Hachagim – after the Holidays – here in Israel. Many institutions and courses only begin their annual activity after the Holidays (for instance, the Fall semester in most of the universities in Israel starts after the holidays, and sometimes, like this year, it is very late). Other courses and schools just go back and pick up their programs from the place they left off – and this is exactly what we are going to do – we are going back to our Hidden Messiah series and we will pick it up where we left off.

Our last post on this subject was a review of all the Hidden Messiah posts we had had up to that point. Before that, in five different articles we discussed and described the Five Keys of the Transitional Chapter of Luke (Luke 24), and we said that we would need these keys to unlock the Mystery of the Hidden Messiah.

Now that we have the keys, we can proceed to the ‘locks’. Five keys would mean five locks, right?  Accordingly, in today’s post we will approach the first lock with our first key.  But before we talk about  Yeshua’s hidden Messianic identity, I would like to mention that in Tanach (Old Testament) we also find the theme of hiddenness. For example, in 1 Samuel 17:55-58, after David slew Goliath, Saul asks who he is. Earlier in the same chapter we read a long conversation between  Saul and David, therefore this whole episode seems very strange indeed:  Saul is not able to recognize David, even though he had met him before. It’s as though there is a veil hiding David’s  face, and he cannot be recognized – and this is exactly what we are going to see in Yeshua’s story.

[millioneyez missionid=”58ac46b4b05fd4ab0ec1a5e3″][/millioneyez]

Back to the Gospel :  again and again we see that this theme of “hidden and revealed” seems crucial for Luke. For instance, in Chapter 2, when Simeon blesses Jesus, he prophesies to Mary that through this child the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.[1]  In Luke 10, Jesus says: I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes.[2]  We already know that God is the One who hides and reveals: our first key says that no one but God Himself can restrain or open the eyes.  Now we will try to understand how – how does He hide Yeshua’s messiahship from His people?

The word revealed (αποκαλυπτο) occurs several times in the LXX and mostly refers to God. Usually it is the Lord who reveals, like in 2 Samuel 7:27  For You, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, have revealed this to Your servant…; or in  Numbers 22:31 where it is used for the opening of the eyes: the Lord has opened the eyes of Balaam.   In all these cases, the verb is used for the spiritual revelation of God and from God.

However, we also have very different cases where this Greek word occurs.  For instance, in Genesis 8:13 when Noah removed the covering of the ark, the same verb is used for the word remove. In Ruth 3:7, and in Leviticus 20:11, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, the verb renders yet a different meaning, although here again it expresses a practical action: uncover. …uncovered his feet …   We see then, that the Greek verb αποκαλυπτω means not only to reveal in a spiritual sense, but also to uncover, to unveil, to remove the cover or the veil.

This brief analysis can add to our understanding of the hiding and revealing in Luke’s Gospel: there is a veil separating the eyes from perceiving the hidden mystery in Luke’s Gospel – that is why eyes are restrained!  For example, in Luke 17:30 we read: Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. The revelation of the Son of Man, therefore, will be an uncovering/unveiling of what was previously hidden and veiled. The veil is in place, and God is the only one who can remove this veil and reveal the hidden truth.

What then is the veil?

Remember the very last question the disciples asked Yeshua here on the earth? This one question is enough to understand how great the difference was between the redemption Israel was looking for and that which Yeshua brought. Open the Book of Acts and in the very beginning, in the scene preceding His ascension, we read: ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’[3] Please note that they are asking this, not only after three years of uninterrupted fellowship with Him, but after His death on the cross and resurrection, and after the forty days He had appeared to them, teaching and explaining the mysteries of God’s plan. Theirs was a typical question; the Messiah that Israel was waiting for couldn’t help but bring redemption and salvation to the people of Israel. If, after all His explanations and messages, the disciples He had chosen and instructed continued to expect this from Him, then what does this say about  the multitudes of Israelites who, after listening to His messages and seeing His miracles, were absolutely convinced that sooner or later He would be sure to begin saving and restoring Israel?

Faith in a kingly Messiah who would restore the throne of David and hence the kingdom to Israel, was an inseparable component of faith in God, and was based on a Biblical promise: ‘I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.’[4] In this context, the Messiah-King, Mashiach ben-David, was understood to be the one who would come primarily to fulfill this purpose. No devout, believing person in Israel could imagine that God would send His salvation by a savior that would not save His people. Yet Yeshua, as we all know, wasn’t sent to restore the kingdom of Israel, and therefore did not come in accordance with “normal” Jewish Messianic expectations. He ascended the altar, not the throne of David. He wasn’t sent to restore the people of Israel as was expected of the Messiah, and in this sense many Messianic promises that Israel associated with the coming of the Messiah actually remained unfulfilled during the time of His first coming. The fulfillment of these Biblical promises lies in the future, as they are part of God’s unalterable Word. However, it is vital to realize that because they remained unfulfilled, out of faithfulness to God and His Word, the people of Israel simply could not accept Yeshua as their Messiah, since, in their understanding, this would have contradicted the Scripture.

This was the veil – and this veil could be lifted or removed by God alone! The fact that Yeshua ascended the altar, not the throne – the fact that He came to give Himself as an offering – surpassed all human expectations and understanding, and for this reason not flesh and blood but only the Father who is in heaven[5] could reveal this by His Spirit, and remove this veil. To understand this process, however, we will need to use our next key:  to make the latent visible.

[1] Lk. 2:35

[2] Lk. 10:21

[3] Acts 1:6

[4] 2 Sam. 7:12-14

[5] Mat. 16:17

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. Dorothy Healy

    I am beginning to see that very familiar scripture, Jn. 3:16 in a new light: “For God so loved ‘the world’ that he gave his only begotten Son …’ As Paul says, and you remind us Julia, ‘they are enemies for your sake’. It is indeed humbling and also heart-wrenching to know that, for 2000 yrs. the eyes of Israel have been largely veiled by God’s own will, until the fullness of the Gentiles come in. And in that time they have suffered as His people, been rejected and judged as forsaken. How deep the mystery of God’s ways!

  2. Elizabeth (Lisa) Seibel-Ross

    I think this (recognition of Messiah) is a crucial point of understanding. Christian theology has pivoted on it saying that Christ was not recognized by “his own” because He was ushering in a new and improved version of Judaism (i.e., Christianity) – one that differed in substantial ways from the Judaism of the time. Instead, here you present the case that He was not recognized by “his own” because He wasn’t meeting the expectations of Messiah as they understood His role to be according to their belief in and fidelity to the promises made by Scripture. He surprised everyone by His ascent to the altar instead of the throne – fulfilling God’s expectations and not mans. He was the first goat of Yom Kippur, the ram caught in the bush in Isaac’s stead in answer to the faith of Abraham, His was the sacrifice that rent the veil of the Temple forever, ushering in all the rest of the Promises to be.

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you Lisa! Yes, you are absolutely correct, it is a crucial point indeed – and it is something that I am never tired to repeat: Yeshua was not received by His own because He didn’t meet their expectation of Messiah “according to their belief in and fidelity to the promises made by Scripture”. Christian theology has to recognize that – and accordingly, to reconsider the place of Israel in this 2000-years history : they are enemies for your sake, says Paul. By the way, my book If you are Son of God, is all about it – about Israel’s place in God’s plan.

      1. Elizabeth (Lisa) Seibel-Ross

        It would help if they would. Maybe your body of work will help their understanding, then we can pray that God will open eyes in the time of His choosing. I must say this has helped me understand those words of Paul. I will read your book with interest and wanted to thank you for the book you gifted us with on Rosh HaShanah. I loved the insights the different levels of analysis revealed – they were stunning.

  3. Henrietta Wisbey

    Yesterday I was writing a food for thought page for my church and one of the aspects under consideration was the question, “Where is Sarah your wife?” Interesting! Reminded me of the
    question, ” Where is Abel your brother?”
    Where am I going with this? and what may be my conclusion?
    Sarah was hiding behind the tent door!
    Yet close enough to hear what is spoken.
    So that she laughed within herself, “After I am worn out and so old……..”
    I wrote on my summary page
    There in her veiled encounter is One who sees beyond and above her human understanding.
    Is anything too hard for the Lord?
    Sarah was hiding behind the tent door…….
    As an afterthought Jacob whose name meant wrestler was renamed Israel
    Hope I am correct Sarah and Israel share the same root?
    I love these parallels and connections as the stories merge.
    They waft and weave their way through our own patchwork of thought.

    1. Julia Blum

      Dear Henrietta, – as always, your parallels and connections bless me immensely! I love these words, “veiled encounter” ! Even though this parallel between the veil that I mentioned in the post, and Sarah’s “veiled encounter”, is very new and unexpected one – the connection seems to be very profound, the stories echoing one another and reflecting in one another… It is very deep indeed, thank you! Let’s keep thinking about it together.

  4. Dorothy Healy

    Apparently, a number of Messiahs arose promising relief from the Roman yoke, and finding ready followers. Josephus speaks of them thus: “Another body of wicked men also sprung up, cleaner in their hands, but more wicked in their intentions. . .” Even Apostle Paul himself strongly defended the faith until his eyes were opened by the Messiah Himself. We can therefore readily understand the reticence of Jews to believe in one who did not fully meet their expectations according to their understanding of the Word of God – especially when he succumbed to death on a Roman cross.

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you, Dorothy! It is a crucial point indeed, and it is very important to understand it : His own received Him not because of “their understanding of the Word of God”, because of their faithfulness to this Word and to God! That is why this veil could be lifted only by God Himself, only through His revelation – as it happened with Paul.

  5. Leaky Kaburu

    powerful and well illustrated..Adonai does wonders in the end. First they may go contrary to our expectations..but the finality is when we awaken and reclaim..then no one can let His hand or question His reactions

    1. Julia Blum

      You are so right Leaky! Often times, what God is doing differs a lot from how we expected or imagined it to be – but afterwards, when we look back, we see His handwriting so clearly and we don’t question or doubt anymore. Like Yeshua said: “and that day you will ask me nothing!”

  6. alisi vua

    Thanks Julia. God reveal His message to you to share with us. Once again thank you. Look forward for your next lesson…

  7. Angeline

    Thank you Julia, you are being used to uncover the truth for us as well. I look forward to your next posting. God’s blessings.

  8. Margaret'.

    Thank you I so enjoy the Jewish teaching

  9. Sheila Dale

    Thank you, Julia. beautiful way of uncovering hidden truth from God’s Word. Always look forward to your thoughts!!

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you Sheila! and I always look forward to hearing from you!

  10. Davis

    Very nice explanation

    1. Peter B S Lintini.

      Woow! Many thanks for this insightful explanation.