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.

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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. John miller

    Great!! Certainly, God’s sovereignty oversees redemption. “No one comes to Me unless the Father draws him.” So, without the overshadowing of God’s grace, we’re all locked out. Yet, Jesus in His first coming fully authenticated Himself, and wept as the time of His visitation was missed – all given ahead thru the prophets – so those sitting in Moses’s seat were responsible for their blindness.

  2. Henrietta Wisbey

    Dear Julia
    Thank you for your very encouraging responses.
    May I add a couple of things that have impacted me as we dig through and try to plumb these wells.
    In connection with the non acceptance of the Messiah I was so struck by the fact that Esau accepted Jacob. The narrative surrounding Gen.32:20. Esau accepted that offering. It caused a stir within which I found exciting causing me to pray and released a number of thoughts and interesting outcomes. I thought we must pray for the descendants of Esau!! Also another which I saw the tribe of Simeon was absorbed within Judah. This too intrigues me as I think of Simeon the one who hears is somewhere hidden within Judah. The good news of course is they will all eventually be there!!! Hope this is not stretching too far…
    Henrietta