What would Judaism look like if its expectations were fulfilled? By Rudolph P. Boshoff

In asking this question there are so many assumptions that one has to deal with and perspectives to contend with. I am thoroughly convinced that answers to this central question could be numerous due to different perspectives even amongst the Jewish people. This could be as a result of that which Judaism had to offer in its own consummate understanding, as well as the identity of the Jewish people as a result. In this article I would endeavour to ask what the central promise was at the inception of Judaism, and how this was seen to be realised in history. I will look at one other branch of faith that overtook Judaism as an influential worldview in its own context and try to show their interpretation as to this central promise. So let us look first at what Judaism from its beginning had to offer.

YWHW: Prof. Win Corduan asks, “What is Judaism?” He answers emphatically, “Judaism is a religion based on relationships: God’s relationship with the human person, a person’s relationship with God, people’s individual relationships with each other, and the Chosen People’s relationship with other nations. All these relationships are based on rules and traditions that are said to have originated with God.”[1] The God revealing Himself in the Old Testament identifies Himself as the Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. “Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God”[2]. This Deity is seemingly interested in personal relations with a select group of individuals revealing Himself in a specific knowable form. This is also the central maintained idea of the Tanakh when it speaks of YWHW and His revelation to all people. Scholar Jacob Jocz therefore advises us that “Unlike many other religions, Judaism cannot properly be traced to a founder. Its roots lie deeply buried in the Old Testament, more particularly in the Pentateuch. It is a mistake to regard Moses as the founder of Judaism. JudaismThough he holds a unique position in the synagogue, his authority is not vested in a person, but in God [YWHW]. Moses is only the instrument of God’s will, otherwise there is no religious significance attached to him. Judaism knows of no other founder but God”[3].  It is important to understand that “Judaism does not revolve around a set of doctrines or a plan of salvation. Instead, it is a prescription for living life. The crucial question in Judaism is… [how do you] make a difference in the world through a life of righteousness. Doctrines, particular beliefs about personal salvation, take a backseat to this concern”.[4] Hidden within the Tanakh is the full realization that this God wants to dwell bodily amongst His people (Hab. 3:2-5, 2 Sam. 22:10-12, Ex. 29:45-46, Lev. 26:12 9-13, Mic. 1:3, Ps. 46:1-9; Ps. 50:1-14; Ps. 97:1-8, Ezek. 37:26-28, Zech. 2:8-10, 1 Kings.8:26-27, Zech.14:1-10, Baruch. 3:29-37, Isa.19:1-4; Isai.35:1-7; Isai.48:12-16, Isai.52:5-10, Isai.66:18-19). Judaism’s failure to see this realized have made way for Christ in the fullness of His incarnation and bodily assumption as both Lord and Israel’s One God.

Promise:  “Although the expectations of the Jews were expressed in many ways, two concepts were basic to all others in popular thought. The first expectation, which had its roots in pre-exilic times, was the coming of an ideal ruler who would establish a reign of righteousness and peace throughout the world”.[5] When we reflect here on the two Monotheistic faiths that sprouted from Judaism we find that in Judaic estimations Muhammad as this ruler would make this promise to small and his ideal teaching void of true peace. For the Jew the person of Jesus suffers exactly the opposite, His fulfilment of this expectation makes this to exuberant! The promise was always to Israel and not just the individual Messiah, like Moses he was to bring in the reign of God and not “be God”. “The second expectation was that god would establish His heavenly rule throughout the World, a hope that gradually found expression in the concept of the Kingdom of God, God’s perfectly righteous rule that one day would supplant the imperfect rule of man”. [6] “Another factor played a large role in first century Judaism, namely, the land. The small piece of territory at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, which is variously called the Holy Land, Palestine, or Israel, has been the cause of both hope and frustration for the Jews for over three thousand years. [7] In an objective reading of the Old Testament we recognize a God that communes with people through the negotiation of a progressive covenant. There are four promises that Judaism asks for us to look at evident within the Old Covenant. Donald A. Hagner stipulates “The History of Salvation” which according to him was the ultimate progression to the fulfilled promise.[8]

caravaggio_abraham_sacrifices_isaacTwo Millennia before Christ, God inaugurated his plan of redemption when He called Abraham out of Ur and made a promise to him and his decedents… What specifically are the promises of this covenant?

  • A great Nation
  • A blessing
  • A great name
  • A blessing to others
  • In you shall all the families of the earth be blessed
  • The land to you and your descendants
  • Descendants as the dust of the earth, the stars of heaven
  • The father of a multitude of nations, kings
  • An everlasting covenant
  • I will be your and their God
  • Your descendants will possess the gate of the enemies.

The Sinaitic Covenant: The next major covenantal statement in salvation history is found in the complex of events associated with the exodus and the revelation of the law at Sinai… Here is the basic outline additionally added to the Abrahamic Covenant:

  • A corpus of commands
  • A temple and sacrifices
  • My possession amongst all peoples
  • A kingdom of priests
  • A holy nation.

The Davidic Covenant: The Third covenant of great importance is that made with David, in response to his desire to build “a house” for god-that is, a permanent temple.

  • I will give you rest from all your enemies
  • A great name
  • A place (land) for Israel
  • The Lord will make you a house (dynasty)
  • A kingdom and a throne established forever.

 newA New, everlasting Covenant: Something dramatically new must occur if the covenant promises are to be realized (Jeremiah 31:31-34 & Ezekiel 37:24-28):

  • My law within them, written on their hearts
  • I will be their God; they shall be my people
  • I will forgive their iniquities and remember their sins no more
  • They shall dwell in the land
  • An everlasting covenant; a covenant of peace
  • I will bless them and multiply them
  • I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them forevermore
  • I will be their God; they shall be my people.

 Law: “to the Jew, Torah implies much more than the literal commandment of the Mosaic Code. It is derived from a verb which means “to point,” “to direct,” “to shoot at”: Torah therefore implies both receiving direction from a higher authority and also aiming at fulfilment. Compliance with the will of God is the underlining principle in Judaism”.[9] “The synagogue believes that God’s will for the Jews is deposited in the Old Testament, but chiefly in the precepts of the Mosaic Law. It is the Rabbis’ task to elucidate these precepts and to apply them to the changing conditions of daily life”.[10]

“Not even the Talmud tried to summarize Judaism in a creed or confession of faith. The first definite attempt to produce a formula against which doctrines could be measured was made by Moses Maimonides in the twelfth century. He worked out thirteen precepts that could be deemed as “Judaic orthodoxy”. [11]

Temple: “Mediation is an underlying principle in the Old Testament approach to God. The whole Temple cult expressed the concept of indirect approach. The worshiper could only come to god by the mediation of the sacrifices, the priest, and the Temple.”[12] “Part of obedience to the law was, in fact, the performance of Worship worthy of God. The center of this worship was the temple in Jerusalem, and the heart of the temple was the sacrificial altar and priesthood. Upon the altar the priests offered sacrifice to God, and thus provided a mediation or communication. Until its destruction by the Romans in A.D.70 the temple served as the important focal point of Jewish religious life. Yet Jewish worship was not confined to the temple even in the times of Jesus. There was, of course, private devotion, but beyond this the service of the individual congregation or synagogue was the occasion of nonsacrificial corporate and public worship”.[13]     illustration-solomons-temple

Eschatology: The Jewish people expected as in the Exodus that ultimately God Himself would bring about a final renewal to His people. Even though there was no monolithic view of the Messiah the common expectation was that he would accomplish this through this entity. Some expected a human being that would take the throne of His Father David where others simply denounced it as a mystery. Some Jews expected a Divine figure who would be the Son of Man that would descend from heaven as foretold in the Book of Enoch. Despite of these various expectations all Jews were unanimous as to the Messiah’s coming that would be marked by God’s powers over the powers of the evil in this world both physical and Spiritual. This is what was meant by the Eschatological expectation to be fulfilled amongst the Jewish people.[14]

Community: The Synagogue is the center of the community in their worship and daily living.[15] There are central themes to the life of the synagogue.

  1. Life – Life is the most precious gift to the religious Jew. To preserve one human life is equal to preserve the whole world; and conversely to destroy one human life is equal to destroying the whole world.
  2. Death– Death is the most terrible calamity to the Jew… it may relate to the fact that the Jew faces judgement on the strength of his own merits, whereas the Christian pleads the merit of Jesus Christ.
  3. God– Together with the unity goes the invisibility and incorporeality (spirituality) of God… the God of Israel is naturally the god of all creation, but he is in a special way Israel’s God.
  4. Sin– Man need not sin if he observes the Law and walks humbly before God. Unlike Christianity sin is an act and not a state, original sin is denounced.
  5. Messiah– The Jewish concept of Sin makes the Saviour as the Christian understands it utterly unnecessary. The Jewish Messiah does not save from sin but is a wise leader anointed by God to gather Israel and to restore him to his former glory. Jews simply deny Christ simply because Jesus is not which the Jewish mindset expects or needs. There is simply no decisive religious significance to His person. [16]

The Fulfilment in Christianity:

  1. Christianity:

ChristianityYWHW: The central theme Christianity and Judaism disagree upon is not simplified in our ritualistic differences or emphatic religious ideas; the central disagreement is simply our understanding of fulfilment! Professor Donald Hagner writes that it is “virtually impossible to understand the New Testament without knowledge of the Scriptures of Israel”.[17] Parrinder writing on the Jewish central understanding of YWHW writes, “The God of the Bible is both a remote, transcendent being, imposing His awe upon the universe, demanding absolute obedience under the sanction of severe penalties, and also a loving and compassionate Father, who has a close personal relationship with those who revere Him.[18] “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit” (Isaiah 57:15). “Both Judaism and Christianity are historical religions… Crucial to both religions is the idea that God reveals Himself in History. The Holy Scriptures of both religions is largely accounts of the past: legends, sagas, and historical narratives”.[19] Why don’t the Jewish people then see the fulfilment in Christ? Professor Conrad Moehlman writes, “The Jews became blind to prophecy and changed the divine law into legalism of the scribes… Israel did not lose the covenant in the days of Abraham or the epoch of Moses but only four centuries before Christ. Thus the entire Old Testament was of God, inspired in every jot and tittle, and could be taken over in its entirety by Christianity. Jesus of Nazareth continued the Old Testament prophets. The Jewish people had the prerogative but when Israel cast off its messiah, God cast it off. Since God has decided the issue, the Christian must accept the verdict of God and treat the Jew accordingly. The rights of and privileges of the Old Covenant have been transferred to the Gentile Christian”.[20] Dr Otto Piper mentions the conundrum of Christ’s denial in central Judaism when he writes, “The Jews may be willing to acknowledge the greatness of Christ, but they only seek thereby the greatness of Judaism, for they vindicate Jesus as their greatest Son. If they would recognize him as their Messiah and Saviour, they would no longer be able to be Jews”.[21] For Jews there is a central problem with the supposed fulfilment in Jesus Christ. Jews would claim that Christ never established universal peace or social justice for all humankind or even redeemed Israel.[22]  Christians would object to the scope and the nature of God’s work as well as the central place of Israel as God’s covenant people. Jesus mentioned that he “gives not peace as the World gives” (John 14:27). As for Social Justice he mentions that we will always have “the poor amongst us” and makes it clear that He won’t be (Matt.26:11). He edifies us by asking all to come to Him because “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt.11:30). Jesus shows a radical way of fulfilment that would include the promise people of the Old Testament. But He makes it clear that “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. 38″Behold, your house is being left to you desolate” (Matt.23:37-38). Jewish scholars at the time of Christ were stunned at what Jesus claimed for Himself and even today mention the following:YWHW

  • The “I” of the prophets is God; the “I” of Jesus, however, is He Himself. He taught on his own authority, frequently in opposition to the authoritive teachings of the rabbis of the time, and he stressed his own personal opinion beyond anything that had ever been heard in Israel. For no prophet or teacher ever prophesied or taught on his own authority.
  • The Gospels are studded with Jesus’ claims to stand in a very special relation to God and with promises that those who believe in him will be rewarded by God.
  • .. arrogated to Himself the power of forgiving sins, which Judaism reserves for God alone… such an intrusion upon a Divine prerogative was unheard of in Israel.
  • Jesus draws an analogy between Himself and God, an analogy by means of which He claimed to command Divine powers.
  • Elisha credited God with… miracle[s], while Jesus, in an identical situation, performed it on his own authority, without appeal to God and without assigning to Him the credit for it.
  • Jesus attitude towards the Torah was not just that He fulfilled the legal obligations of the Torah but that “I have not come to abolish them [the Law] but to fulfil them”.[23]

Dr. A. Lukyn Williams writes, “To us Christians… Jesus of Nazareth appears to be absolutely faultless, without spot and blemish, and as such to be the one perfect revelation of the character of God. What God could not do in any book however good, He was able to do in a living person… when a Christian man is asked about the character of the invisible God, he points out in answer ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ meaning that Jesus shows us what God is really like and what He wants us to do. The thought recalls Jesus’ own saying reported in the Fourth Gospel-“He that hath seen me hath seen the Father”.[24]

Jewish, Judaism, Messianic Judaism, Messiah, Jesus, Torah, Tanakh, Bible ..The Assumption of Judaism displayed just before the birth of Christ was that the God of Judaism is not just expressive of a national ideal but rather the highest and purest thought towards perfect deity. Jews held that as a nation which experienced God as Deliver, Lawgiver, and Father only the Jewish ideal of Sovereignty over all peoples and cultures could be true and valid. Judaism therefore did not only see itself as the ideal but also the idea of what God’s people and expressed will should look like. In fact this made them “stuck” in their Jewishness. [25] Christianity found themselves not distinct from the Jewish promise but right in the core of it as expressed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. What would a fulfilled Judaism look like for Christianity? One Word: Jesus! “Being an evangelical Christian always includes personal commitment to a set of religious beliefs. Being a Christian is never an ethic or a cultural matter”. [26]

The modern day sentiment of Jesus Christ in the last century is quite profound. Martin Buber said in his “Drei reden ubër das Judentum” that “we must overcome the superstitious terror with which we have regarded the Nazareth movement, a movement which we must place where it properly belongs-in the Spiritual history of Israel” he cautions further that “whoever regards Jesus as an historical personality be he ever high, may belong to us; but He who acknowledges Jesus to be the Messiah already come cannot belong to us.” Rabbi Solomon B. Freehof writes, “The personality of Jesus was such that His Sonship to God was magnificently evident. The Divine Spirit seemed manifest in His words and deeds. He impressed Himself upon the world, perhaps more so than other prophets or saints, as a child of the Living God.”[27] Another Jewish Author Sholem Asch mentions, “A little less than two thousand years ago, there came into the world among the Jewish people and to it a personage who gave substance to the illusion perceived by our fathers in their dream. Just as water fills up the hollowness of the ocean, so did he fill the empty world with the Spirit of the one living God? No one before Him and no one after Him has bound our world with the fetters of the law, of justice, and of love, and brought it to the feet of the one almighty God as effectively as did this personage who came to Israel’s house in Nazareth in Galilee-and this he did, not by the might of the sword, of fire and steel, like the lawgivers of other nations, but by the power of His mighty Spirit and of His teachings.”[28] In 1852 Benjamin Disraeli wrote in the last chapter of his Life of Lord George Bentinck: “Perhaps, in this enlightened age, as his mind expands and he takes a comprehensive view of this period of progress, the pupil of Moses may ask himself whether all the princes of the house of David have done so much for the Jews as that Prince who was crucified on Calvary. Had it not been for Him, the Jews would have been comparatively unknown, or known only as a high Oriental caste which had lost its country. Has not He made their history the most famous in the world? Has not He hung up their laws in every temple? Has not He vindicated all their wrongs? Has not He avenged the victory of Titus and conquered the Caesars? What successes did they anticipate from their Messiah? The wildest dreams of their rabbis have been far exceeded. Has not JESUS conquered Europe and changed its name into Christendom? All countries that refuse the Cross wither, while the whole of the new world is devoted to the Semitic principle and its most glorious offspring, the Jewish faith; and the time will come when the vast communities and countless myriads of America and Australia, looking upon Europe as Europe now looks upon Greece, and wondering how so small a space could have achieved such great deeds, will still find music in the songs of Zion, and still seek solace in the parables of Galilee.” Rabbi Montefiore of London wrote, “I cannot conceive that a time will come when the figure of JESUS will no longer be a star of the first magnitude in the spiritual heavens, when He will no longer be regarded as one of the greatest religious heroes and teachers whom the world has seen. I cannot conceive that a time will come when ‘the Bible,’ in the eyes of Europe, will no longer be composed of the Old Testament and the New, or when the Gospels will be less prized than the Pentateuch, or the books of Chronicles preferred to the Epistles of Paul. The religion of the future will be, as I believe, a developed and purified Judaism, but from that developed and purified Judaism the records which tell, however imperfectly, of perhaps its greatest, as certainly of its most potent teacher (JESUS), will not be excluded.”[29]

Promise: Jewish Scholar Yehezkel Kaufmann writes, “No missionary tendency is to be found in biblical religion. No Prophet was ever sent to preach monotheism to the nations. The task of being “a witness” to the nations (Isa.55:4) is the people’s, through Israel, the name of God will be made known to men. Israel, then, is sent to the nations; the Prophets is sent only to Israel”.[30] Donald A. Hagner writes, “The Earliest Christians immediately regarded their faith as the fulfilment of the cumulative expectation that they knew so well from their Scriptures. It is no accident that Matthew refers to Jesus as “the Son of David, the son of Abraham” (1:1), evoking both covenants [mentioned earlier above]. Nor is it coincidental that Isaiah is by far the most popular prophetic book in the NT. All through the NT writings is the common theme of the fulfilment of the promise in Scripture…  It is equally clear that the Christians employed a distinctive hermeneutic: A Christological hermeneutic of fulfilment based on the conviction that Christ is the hermeneutical key that unlocks the meaning of the Scriptures”.[31] The OT story of God and Israel from the NT point of view is, above all, the preparation of a meaningful context for the central redemptive act of god in Christ for the salvation of the World”.[32] As for the centrality of the land Otto Piper writes, “The loss of the Holy Land was the divine sign that Israel’s universal mission had come to a close… Israel’s historical mission has been handed over to the fellowship which Christ gathered around them. The purpose of history is now carried out by the Church”.[33]promise

Missionary theologian Johannes Verkuyl shows an emphatic Biblical promise necessary to be fulfilled in the Jewish people that had to be extended to the whole of the world. He writes about four prevalent motifs clearly defined in the Old Testament and consummated and fulfilled in the New Testament and then extends his findings to motifs espoused to express YWHS’s intentions:

  1. 1. The Table of nations in Genesis 10.

God who judges the nations according to His goodness and grace observes all peoples revealing that they are all integral to His purpose and plan. Genesis 1-11 records the beginning of humankind and in the Revelation of John reveals Him as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning, and the end. Here “the multitude without number” has been gathered around His throne (Rev.5:9-10, 7:9-17). From Genesis to revelation God reveals that he has plotted that all peoples are part of His scope of salvation and intentions (Verkuyl 1978:91).

  1. God’s election of Israel with his eyes on the nations.

Genesis shows a God who seems to “narrow” His interests to a private family and tribe only but as we look at the plan of God unfolding we recognize a separation for a greater purpose that would include all nations (ex.19:3ff; Deut.7:14ff). God’s election was to serve the whole world and whenever they fell away from God He chastised them because they thought they were better than the other nations missing God’s actual intention (Amos 7:9-10) (Verkuyl 1978:91-92).

  1. The Breakthrough of the Universal Motif in the exile.

In Israel’s captivity in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. they came to a realization that their true vocation amongst the nations. When the Prophets prophesied we see a clear intention where God mentioned that His intention was always for the nations around them to come to salvation through the witness of Israel as a people experiencing Gods ultimate promise (Verkuyl 1978:92).

  1. Traces of Universalism in Post-exilic Apocolypticism.

Johannes VerkuylAfter the exile an “apocalyptical theology” was formed where the coming of the “Son of Man” was predicted who’s Kingdom would put an end to the oppression of the Kingdoms of the World and who will rule all mankind (Dan. 7:1-29). It is conclusive in Old Testament history and prophecy that the whole world is God’s ultimate goal and this reality motivated all God’s actions (Verkuyl 1978:92).

Verkuyl mentions three universal ways the Old Testament displays God’s motifs that is important in looking to the fulfilment Christianity demands of Judaism:

The Motif of rescue:  Yahweh is the redeemer of Israel and the Nations. God displays His unique character and His ultimate will for all humankind. The Deutero-Isaiah songs 40-55 shows God’s deliverance will be wrought through His Servant (Isa.49:6) through violent means (Isa.53) (1978:93) to appoint all humanity to experience salvation (Acts 13:47).

The Motif of the missionary: Verkuyl notes that (1978:94) the election of Israel was never to become a privilege but rather a service that were extended to all (Isa49:6). Israel had a duty to live as a symbol of God’s grace, mercy, and justice becoming a bridge to Yahweh amongst all the nations. Verkuyl does not share other theologian’s views that the Old Testament shows a passive neutral God that seems uninterested in the salvation of all nations but rather affirm that God seems to be keenly interested as well as busy working out the salvation to those who want to believe.

The Motive of Antagonism: The Old Testament affirms that God is at war with those forces that desire to see His Kingdom defeated and His plan for Universal availability of Salvation thwarted. The Old Testament vision is for liberation of all of creation (Isa.2, Mic.4, and Isa.65) and anticipates God’s ultimate purpose for liberation to be fulfilled. Verkuyl mentions that every nation shall come to know Him as He really is, the “gracious and merciful God, slow to anger” wanting all humanity to be turned from coming disaster (Jon.4:1-2) (Verkuyl 1978:95-96).

The Book of Jonah: Verkuyl mentions that Jonah is a Midrash revealing a significant biblical basis of missions because it reveals God’s mandate for His elect and God’s intention of salvation towards the gentiles. This unique book was written with a specific purpose in mind and shows God have a specific will and command revealed in the overall plot. First, the title reveals an unwilling prophet offended by God’s initiative to save the gentiles. Second, this book was widely known in the 2nd century and the Jews were aware of their missionary duty to the gentiles and warned against a “perverted view of Israel’s election.” Third, Verkuyl mentions that it is quite amazing that this “ethnocentric” book that extends salvation to gentiles is at all found within the canon of Scripture as a witness to the New Testament church and also an indictment against Israel. Fourth, the book shows Israel’s preoccupation only with themselves without a concern for the salvation of the nations around them. This should remind the New Testament Church of the dangers of the same folly (Verkuyl 1978:97).jonah

The intertestamental period: Verkuyl mentions that research in the period of the Jewish Diaspora shows a Jewish effort to proselytize Gentiles. He notes that the Jewish message was different from the New Testament Gospel of God’s Kingdom and the Christian belief that Jesus was the Messiah. The focus of Palestinian Judaism was to assimilate Gentiles into fellowship where the Jewish community outside Palestine put the emphasis on monotheism. The Jews proclaimed an “auto-soteric” message maintaining specific rituals and elements to attain it. Jesus and Paul both discourage this legalism amongst the Jews and show its deficiency to please a Holy God (Matt.23:15, Rom.2:17-24). Verkuyl highlights the fact that Jesus and Paul was not opposed to Jewish missions to a gentile people but against the “legal support” they deem necessary to legitimise the salvation of God (Verkuyl 1978:101).

The New Testament: Verkuyl affirms that the New Testament is thoroughly missional from beginning to end. He attributes the Earliest Church with the recording of their own missionary tasks as mentioned in the Gospels, the Book of Acts, and the Epistles  but most importantly the Person and Work of Jesus Christ (Verkuyl 1978:101-102).

Jesus, Saviour of the world: Verkuyl mentions, “All the various Old Testament motifs converge in the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth.” The Transfiguration (Mark9:2-13) reveals the global, messianic, and missional motifs epitomized in the person of Christ. The passage reveals more though, in that Jesus is revealed as greater as Moses and Elijah fulfilling the will of God for the entire world. Christ’s very words make the Old Testament “old” and mark the beginning of a new dispensation or Testament. Verkuyl mentions that early on in the book of John the Gentile-Samaritan citizens first mentions that Jesus was indeed the “Saviour of the World” (Joh.4:42) (Verkuyl 1978:102).

The arrival of the All-embracing Kingdom of God: Jesus highlights in the temple that His very presence is the fulfilment of the coming of the Kingdom that the Prophets of the Old Testament bore witness off (Luke 4:21, Isa.61). His very presence shows that salvation is already come and that it is yet coming awaiting its final fulfilment in the finishing work of Jesus Christ. God’s eternal plan became clear in the deeds and person of the Messiah (Verkuyl 1978:102). The New Testament speaks of the salvation that have appeared for all people and the Kingdom that is to come. Verkuyl mentions that this creates an anticipation and an assurance of that which was needed to be accomplished to bring the world back into fellowship with God.

The manner of the coming Kingdom:  The miracles and parables of Christ points to how this Kingdom was revealed. These miracles addressed human needs but Jesus still anticipated Easter even though His Kingdom works points to this ultimate purpose. Christ shows and says that the apostolic work of the Church globally is the reason for the interim period between His ascension and ultimate return as the Son of Man (Verkuyl 1978:103).

Jesus and the Gentiles: The Gospels record that Christ interacted and even travelled amongst the gentiles (Joh.4, 12:20-36, Mark 5, Luk8:26-56) and He mentions emphatically that ultimately they will be included in the feast (Isa.25:6-12, Matt.8:11). Verkuyl mentions that it is noticeable that Jesus is “itching with holy impatience” waiting for the message to go out to the gentiles. He restricts Himself for a time until all conditions are met where Israel must hear first (Matt.10) and the rest can receive the final work of salvation (Mark10:45, 14:24).

Herod_Antipas_Jesus_beforeThe Cross & resurrection: Verkuyl mentions that this is the “foundation for World Missions”. Jesus on the cross endures the punishment for Jew and Gentile and in His resurrection is affirmed that His sacrifice was acceptable to the Father. Now the message of liberation and acceptance could be extended to all peoples through the Cross and resurrection which gives ultimate meaning to the mandate of God’s message. Verkuyl mentions several ways the missionary mandate is mentioned (Verkuyl 1978:104).[34]

Prof. Hagner asks us; “What are the Key things the NT learns from the OT? We can summarize as follows:

  • God in grace and mercy promises salvation (the covenants)
  • God is God, with power to deliver and to fulfil covenant promises (the Exodus)
  • God is Holy in an absolute sense (the tabernacle/temple; the priesthood)
  • Humankind is sinful and can approach God only through stipulated means (the sacrifices)
  • God demands righteousness (the law)
  • God purposes to bless all humanity with the benefits of salvation (Abrahamic Covenant, the Prophets)
  • God is faithful, despite how bad things may look in the present, and will surely accomplish his purposes (the prophets).[35]

Law: J.N.D. Anderson writes that, “Judaism is a mode of life based on the Fatherhood of God and on revelation… the Old Testament was somehow a way of life and an approach to God, but only the Jew will make it the centre of his doctrinal edifice… There is another basic difficulty which faces the student of Judaism. Christianity has its Apostles and Nicene Creeds; Islam has its Kalima. But there is no such formal summary of Jewish doctrine that would be recognized as absolutely binding by all and sundry”.[36]

ascended LordTemple: Mediation was again the underlining principle in the Old Testament approach to God.”[37] With the arrival of Christ Israel was familiar with the idea of intermediary beings. There was the expectation for the Kingsman redeemer and the sacrificial system was null and void. There was also no voice speaking authoritively for God. We also affirm that “not only does the tabernacle in the wilderness speak to us of the Lord Jesus-it does, first and primarily-but it also speaks to us of the living temple that is His Church”.[38] The central theme for the early Christian believer in Scripture is the role of Christ as our mediator. What does it mean when we say Christ is our principle intermediary? Calvin calls Him theMunus triplex Christi”. This looks at the temple fulfilment in three distinctive ways: Jesus is Prophet, Priest, and King.  In other words, Jesus functions and/or has functioned in these offices.  Let’s take a look.

  • Christ as Prophet

A prophet of God is someone who reveals God, speaks for God, and communicates to people the truths that God wants them to know.   Undoubtedly, Jesus did this when he came to do the will of the Father (Luke 22:42), to reveal the Father (Matt. 11:27), and to speak the things of the Father (John 8:28; 12:49). In the Old Testament Moses said in Deut. 18:15, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.”   This prophecy is quoted by Peter in Acts 3:22-23 in reference to Jesus, “Moses said, ‘The Lord God shall raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed in everything He says to you. 23 ‘And it shall be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’”   The context of Acts 3:22 is clear that it is speaking of Jesus.   In Acts 3:15 it speaks of Jesus being raised from the dead.  In v. 16 Jesus is the one who strengthened a certain man.  Christ is mentioned in v. 18 as needing to suffer.  In v. 20 Jesus is called the Christ.  V. 21 mention how God spoke “by the mouth of his holy prophets from ancient time.”  Then we have. V/22 which quotes Deut. 18:15.  The context is clearly about Christ. Furthermore, Jesus refers to himself as a prophet. Luke 13:33, “Just at that time some Pharisees came up, saying to Him, “Go away and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.” 32 And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.’ 33 “Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.” Matt. 13:57, “And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his home town, and in his own household.” 58 And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief..” In Luke 13:33 Jesus refers to himself as a prophet because he knows he is about to die but he cannot do it outside of Jerusalem.   Also, in Matt. 13:57 Jesus speaks about a prophet having no honor in his home town and that is why he did not do many miracles there.  Clearly, Jesus is referring to himself as a prophet.

  • Christ as Priest

The priests were the ones in the Old Testament who offered sacrifices to God in order to cleanse of sin.  Ultimately, all such priests were representations of Jesus who is the True Priest who offered himself as a sacrifice (Eph. 5:2; Heb. 9:26-27; 10:12), by which he cleanses us of our sin (1 John 1:7).  But, Jesus is called a priest after the order of Melchizedek. “Where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek,”  (Heb.6:20). Heb. 9:11 says, “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation.”  As a priest, Jesus is our mediator between God and ourselves (1 Tim. 2:5). It could be said that both the Prophet and the priest stand between God and man.  In the case of the prophet, he delivers the word of God, from the top down.  In the case of the priest, he delivers the sacrifices of people to God, from bottom to top.  So, Jesus is a prophet who delivers the word of God to us and he is also the priest who delivers his sacrifice, on our behalf, to God the father.

  • Christ as KingJesus YHWH

A king is someone who has authority to rule and reign over a group of people.  Jesus is just such a king.  He is called the King of the Jews by the Magi (Matt. 2:2), and Jesus accepts that title in Matt. 27:11, “Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you say.’”  Matt. 21:5 speaks of Jesus and says, “Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey.”  Remember, Jesus is King in that he rules and judges.  “And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war,” (Rev. 19:11).  The armies follow him (Rev. 19:14).  The phrase, “Kingdom of God,” occurs 66 times in the NASB, most of them in the synoptic gospels.  “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel,” (Mark 1:14).  Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” (Matt. 6:10). Is there a kingdom of God without a King?  No.  Jesus is that king: “‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you say,'” (Matt. 27:11).“

Eschatology: The Eschatological expectation was ultimately fulfilled in the coming of Christ (Heb.1:2). He is the expression of the fullness of time (Heb.9:26) who poured out His Spirit in the fullness of time (Acts 2:17). The first community of faith is living in the time of the end (1 Cor.10:11, Jam.5:8-9) and the earliest Churches lives in the last hour (1 Joh.2:18). The Eschatological hopes started being fulfilled at the birth of Jesus Christ. [39] N.T Wright affirms the early realization of the first Christian community when he writes, “The End has happened in Calvary, Easter and Pentecost; one need no longer fight for it, since it has already happened. At the same time, the End is yet to come, with the return of Jesus (Acts 1:11).[40]

30033-r-1280-800-people-at-horizonCommunity: The Early Christian community found the most valuable expression of their faith in the instruction of Jesus Christ to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). As with a normal Jewish community life is deemed precious and the earliest expressions of Social Justice, esteem for the elderly and orphans was unchallenged. [41] In fact the earliest Christian communities attest to this reality amongst them.  John 15:12 account for Jesus saying: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you”. Also; in John 15:17 Christ instructs “This is my command: Love each other”. Paul confirms this by adding in Romans 12:10; “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves”. What we find is the fulfilled promise that the Holy Spirit will be evident amongst the People of God. The expression of this is evident in their attitudes (Acts 2:42-47). Paul makes it emphatic in 1 Corinthians 3:9; “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building”. He adds “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” (1 Cor.3:16). The earliest community of faith was the most persecuted in the worlds History. In fact death was not feared and as our Lord we are encouraged to obey and love to the point of death (Luk.9:23, Rev.12:11, Joh.16:33). In the Christian community the centrality of the Triune God is what solidifies the core of the faith, therefore the central blessing was always that the “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor.13:14). In the Christian community it is almost expected that we will still sin. John cautions us that if “we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. [But] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 Joh.1:8-9). We understand that our purpose is amongst a fallen world and our desire is never to escape (John 17:15) but to be salt and light in it (Matt.5:13-16) and aliens and pilgrims going through it (1 Pet.2:11). For the Messianic expectation we have reflected earlier on the identity and fulfilment of the Messiah.

Conclusion:

Christianity can account quite convincingly for the realized expectation of what Judaism would have looked like fulfilled. Even prominent Jewish Scholars confess that Jesus of Nazareth is the central variable when we consider this task and even the Old Testament Scriptures affirm the right of the Suffering Messiah to exist amongst His own people (Is 53). In principle Christianity could very easily rest on the promise of the Jewish hope. I have concluded that Christianity is in and off itself evidently an extension of the expectation of the Old Testament, now this might be vicariously interpreted by the Jewish people, but Scripturally Christians have the right to expect and show the consumption of this and I hope this article do so as well.

Selah!

Rb picRudolph P Boshoff

 

Sources:

[1] Neighboring Faiths. Winfried Corduan .Pg.46.

[2] Exodus 3:6, 1 Kings 18:36.

[3] Religions in a changing World. Edited by Howard F. Vos. 1959. Pg.39.

[4] Neighboring Faiths. Winfried Corduan .Pg.47.

[5] Understanding the New Testament. Edited by Kee/Young and Froelich. Pg.35

[6] Understanding the New Testament. Edited by Kee/Young and Froelich. Pg.35

[7] Anatomy of the New Testament. Spivey and Smith. Pg.7.

[8] The New Testament: The Historical and Theological Introduction. Donald A. Hagner. Pg.14-18.

[9] Religions in a changing World. Edited by Howard F. Vos. 1959. Pg.41.

[10] Religions in a changing World. Edited by Howard F. Vos. 1959. Pg.41.

[11] The World’s Religions. Edited by J.N.D. Anderson. Pg.29.

[12] Religions in a changing World. Edited by Howard F. Vos. 1959. Pg.41.

[13] Anatomy of the New Testament. Spivey and Smith. Pg.6.

[14] Understanding the New Testament. Edited by Kee/Young and Froelich. Pg.36.

[15] Religions in a changing World. Edited by Howard F. Vos. 1959. Pg.41.

[16] Religions in a changing World. Edited by Howard F. Vos. 1959. Pg.53-56.

[17] The New Testament: The Historical and Theological Introduction. Donald A. Hagner. Pg.13.

[18] World Religions: From ancient religions to present. Edited by Geoffrey Parrinder. 1971. Pg.386.  

[19] Anatomy of the New Testament. Spivey and Smith. Pg.5.

[20] The Jewish-Christian tragedy. Pg.209f.

[21] God in History.Pg.106.

[22] Judaism and Christianity: The Differences. Trude Weiss-Rosmarin. Pg.119-120.

[23] Judaism and Christianity: The Differences. Trude Weiss-Rosmarin. Pg.121-134.

[24] The Modern doctrines of Judaism considered. Pg.55.

[25] The World’s Religions. Edited by J.N.D. Anderson. Pg.27.

[26] Neighboring Faiths. Winfried Corduan .Pg.46.

[27] Stormers of Heaven.

[28] One Destiny. Pg.5.

[29] In Chapter XX of his book on Liberal Judaism, he says that Liberal Judaism is not different from Christianity. Chapter XXI, on the New Testament, is a striking testimony to this effort of idealizing Judaism.

[30] The Religion of Israel. Yehezkel Kaufmann. Pg.214.

[31] The New Testament: The Historical and Theological Introduction. Donald A. Hagner. Pg.20-21.

[32] The New Testament: The Historical and Theological Introduction. Donald A. Hagner. Pg.25.

[33] God in History. Pg. 92.

[34] Verkuyl J. Contemporary Missiology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Pub, 1978

[35] The New Testament: The Historical and Theological Introduction. Donald A. Hagner. Pg.26.

[36] The World’s Religions. Edited by J.N.D. Anderson. Pg.25.

[37] Religions in a changing World. Edited by Howard F. Vos. 1959. Pg.41.

[38] Christ in the tabernacle. Louis T. Talbot.Pg.24.

[39] Die helfte is my nooit oor Jesus vertel nie. Andrio Konig.Pg .98-99

[40] The New Testament and the people of God. N.T Wright. Pg.382.

[41] What if Jesus had never been born. Kennedy & Newcombe.

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