Archive for June, 2012

Jealousy – Our Place, part 10

June 16, 2012

Where does Paul points to with this text of the song of Moses (Deu.32:21)? That there would be a “no-people” that will get glory as much as to make the people of Israel made jealous, to cause them have a zeal for the truth. However, they won’t win yet. The Jews will be despised and rejected. That “no-people” are the gentiles. God choose the gentiles, as much as are called. (Don’t read here Christianity, it are just a few amongst them. It’s difficult to see, but Christianity leans on the shoulder of just a very few righteous ones who are sticked to Christ and the Word. Common Catholic Christianity is considered by them as an antichrist power ruled by a false head, in stead of Christ. The old Protestants pictured the pope very clear as the antichrist. But to protest in the church is a rare thing nowadays and even Protestants doesn’t differ that much with Catholics now.)

The text of De.32:21 could be compared to a relationship. When a woman walks after another to make sins with, she provokes her husband to anger and jealousy. So does Israel do with God. Now God is saying when you do this to Me, I’ll do the same and choose a people (as a husband) which are nothing, to provoke you, oh Israel. (Like the analogy of Hosea ch.1)

That this text is used by Paul as one of the fundamentals he used to build his case upon, is seen by the places he mentioned the word jealousy. We need to understand this word. It also means zealot.

Paul used this in: Ro.10:2, 19, 11:11.
For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. (Ro.10:2)
But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. (Ro.10:19)
I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. (Ro.11:11)

This are key points in his message. What we need to do is to take a look at this word. It is the Hebrew word קנא (kenah). It’s translated as jealous, zeal, anger.

It affects the body with an emotional power, it moves the blood to the head, and would result in anger or hard working for the sake of the reason what caused it. An expression with a direct connection with this text is given in Is.65:5. The transgression of the people of Israel caused God to say: “These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burns all day”. And our text gives: For a fire is kindled in My nostril, and burneth unto the depths of the nether-world. (Deu.32:22) All this sounds not so positive, but it can turn out in a positive way though. It creates power to act. And when Paul renders this to the gentiles who makes the Jews jealous, (Ro.11:11) because God is passing the promises to the chosen ones from the gentiles, he gives this a positive turn to make the Jews act and get the grace (back) from their God. Their everlasting God who doesn’t abolish the law/Torah, covenant and promises etc. There’s a Jewish tradition that says that in every negative thing lies something positive.

The Hebrew word kenah (קנא or קנאה) is used in the following verses.
It is one of the attributes and name of God: for thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. (Ex.34:14)
For I the LORD thy God am a jealous God. (Ex.20:5)
The zeal of the God of hosts will perform this. (Is.9:6)
The LORD will not pardon him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and all the curse that is written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven. (Deu.29:20)

Another verse, what would draw us to the right understanding, is from Zachariah. When the angel asks God: how long will you not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which you have had indignation these seventy years? (Za.1:12)  (Here the 70 years of exile are meant, which are thousands of years actually.) On what the Lord response: Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. And I am very sore displeased with the nations that are at ease; for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction. (Za.1:14-15)
This correlates with the last part of the song of Moses. I thought I would make an end of them [the Israelites], I would make their memory cease from among men; Were it not that I dreaded the enemy’s [common gentiles] provocation, lest their adversaries should misdeem, lest they should say: Our hand is exalted, and not the LORD hath wrought all this. (Deu.32:25-26)

But in fact God would choose (some) gentiles to make the Jews jealous. This is what Paul not only believed, but also experienced. And this, as seen in the song of Moses, is all a part of the story of the people of Israel. They were the chosen people. They were the commandments, they were the blessings and the curses. They were the promises. They fell into apostasy. They were brought up again. But if they are now drawn into the greatest exile ever and must go through the greatest punishment ever and must suffer more than any nation, are they abandoned now? Is it all over? NO says Paul. Of course not. Gentiles are part of the story, but they are not interchanged with Israel!

I say then, Have they [the Jews] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy (παραζηλόω parazēloō). (Ro.11:11)

Paul brings the meaning of Deu.32:21 here into reality. A no-people, chosen by God, who provoke the people of Israel to jealousy. Paul sees it happen. Based on the verse Deu.32:21 of the song of Moses, we can assume that the words jealousy and zeal have both a meaning in the word jealousy (kinah). The Greek and the English word have the same voice.

For I bear them record that they have a zeal (ζῆλος zēlos) of God, but not according to knowledge. (Ro.10:2)

What does it mean? If you ask me, I would say: The Jews would be more and more dedicated to the Torah. A more zeal for the Torah. And you can see it: After the destruction of the temple rabbi Jochanan ben Zakkai e.g. began with a great school in Javne to learn Torah. And it expanded greatly with works of describing the oral Torah (Talmud) and many chachamiem (sages) came after him, like Rambam and Rashi, expounding the Torah for the people of Israel. They have a great zeal. They are provoked with the loss of the temple, the loss of a king, the loss of the sanhedrin, the loss of the land, the loss of the prophets, and so on. But they are also provoked by a no-people, a people who utterly proudly claimed the promises as the Christians and the Moslims. They have to take stand against them. But more then that, there are people who claimed that Jesus is the Messiah and they have very strong premises. In fact they are one of them. If that comes close, then they are bothered whether what to believe. They are challenged.

The people of Israel have a zeal for God. And they are called to have a zeal for God They are even called to be an example before the all the people of the world. They are a light unto the nations. Thats why they have a great responsibility. And you might say are they an example when they fall? Certainly yes, especially in this part. An example for everybody! Who do not fall? Paul warned the gentiles for this: “Do not boast over those branches [the Jews]. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. (Ro.11:18)

Paul let us now that they have a zeal for God in his time. (Ro.10:2) And we can see throughout history that the Jews have a zeal for God. But what says Paul, how does he put that zeal for God of the Jews with respect to Jesus? He followed the statement with: but not according to knowledge. If we render the word knowledge back to Hebrew word Daat, we’ll get some insights in the deeper meaning of it.
For, as is known, the term Daat connotes a sensitivity of the soul, and this is comprised of Chesed and Gevurah. Chesed gives rise to love and Gevurah to fear. Only when one possesses the attribute of Daat and spiritual sensitivity, will one experience the kinds of love and fear of  God.# Without knowledge (da’at) there is no understanding (binah), without understanding there is no knowledge. (Avot 3:21)

The problem Paul faces is that the Jews didn’t have the understanding and the real wisdom which comes from the Holy Spirit who teaches us. They want to achieve it but they didn’t receive it. Because they didn’t receive it and it was given to the gentiles, to a no-people, Paul was arguing to the gentiles that this would give them a reason to show the beauty they have gotten to make the Jews jealous. Then, at least, it would give the gentile believers a reason to live a good life as an example for the Jews, to remove any (remaining) antisemitism.

The song of Moses (Our Place, part 9)

June 8, 2012

Paul was a well versed Torah scholar who extraordinary came to faith through a revelation of Jesus the Messiah. The spiritual sense was highly emphasized and promptly he used the Torah to teach his Jewish brothers against the common practice to just follow the instructions and be good and helpful to others and God will give the reward, sooner or later. His conviction of Jesus the Messiah turned him to a great challenge: How can it be that the Jews as a people didn’t see and accept Jesus as their Messiah? He certainly knows without any doubt that they must accept the Messiah as a fully recognized nation and complete restored as 12 tribes. And the Messiah must restore the nation and makes the world a place of devotion and reason for all people to glorify the only God. We saw at the beginning of Romans chapter 9 that Paul faces this challenge. He knew the strong tension between the spiritual part of the Messiah now revealed, and the physical part, the restoration of Israel, not revealed yet. He found himself anywhere in between, knew that both were true, but couldn’t quite comprehend it as he called it a mystery that Israel rejected Jesus now, but in the end would accept him as the ultimate Messiah.

In this situation he (at least we) must ask the question how does this all fit into Torah? Obviously, in chapter 9-11 he used a concept of the song of Moses: a no-people who caused the Jews to jealousy.

Since there were so many gentiles who came to faith after Jesus performance, Paul explained this must be the time spoken about in the song of Moses. (Deu.32) There it states that God turned His face from his beloved Israel to the gentiles who are called there: a no-people. (Because of the sins of Israel who turned away from God to other lovers.) This shift caused an election and calling of the gentiles to faith. They are called a no-people and many of them are enemies of Israel and God. We saw that in history. However, there is a true people what is called and adopted into the great nation and people of God, the righteous ones.

Paul puts following verse as the foundation of his message about the Jews’ relation to the gentiles in his letter to the Romans, chapter 9-11. I guess it is the key to understand Ro.9-11.

He build his case on Deu.32:21:

They have roused Me to jealousy with a no-god;
they have provoked Me with their vanities;
and I will rouse them to jealousy with a no-people;
I will provoke them with a vile nation.

I will put this important verse in Hebrew too.

הֵם קִנְאוּנִי בְלֹא-אֵל

כִּעֲסוּנִי בְּהַבְלֵיהֶם

וַאֲנִי אַקְנִיאֵם בְּלֹא-עָם

בְּגוֹי נָבָל אַכְעִיסֵם

We need to consider the broader context. The song of Moses is a most highly profound poet which speaks in a few sentences about the whole story of the people of Israel. It is a culmination of the whole Torah with respect to the world history and its God and the place of the people of Israel. One who sees the meaning of this song sees the past, the present and the future in one sense. Therefore much is hidden and there isn’t that much of a simple meaning of the text.

But now Paul provides us a key to understand this verse. And in some sense, we are blessed we live in a time were so much happened already, from shoah to the state of Israel, and from crusaders to Israel-lovers, that we can see more then ever seen before.

A no-people

The terms non-god and non-people are used as the same expression in verse 21. The first expression is used to describe the idolatry of Israel who “provoked God with a non-god”. In return, God went from Israel and chose a non-people, a nation void of counsel (v.28) who were not educated with Torah.
It is a retaliation for Israel who chose another God, which is not a God, therefore God chose another people which is not a people. A people without Torah and without God couldn’t exist. But God went to that people and brought them to existence and gave salvation and eternal life. At the same time God forces Israel and make them jealous.

Now the time of the gentiles emerged. And a light unto the nations (as the Jews and the Messiah are described by Isaiah, but here the Messiah Jesus is the first one and the Servant who put that light unto the nations, including the Tenach) came to teach them as many as are called. However, we have to note here that the greatest part of the nations remain enemies of Israel and unfortunately even the greatest part of the Christians. The same thing happened amongst the Christians as happened to the Jews: when Jeshurun waxed fat, they deviated from the truth and strayed from God. They became enemies of the true Christians too. However, Paul in his time experience and watched a revival amongst the gentiles. And structured a religion of the gentiles.

Paul certainly knows that the exile did not come to an end yet under the Roman empire. The curse was still upon the Jewish people. (De.28 and Lev.26) The Jews, certainly the 10 tribes, were scattered amongst the nations and under government of a strange power. The words were fulfilled: “I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you” “If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over. …. If in spite of these things you do not accept my correction but continue to be hostile toward me, I myself will be hostile toward you and will afflict you for your sins seven times over.” (Lev.26:14-45) And if you put here the prophecies of the 70 years of exile of Jeremiah and the 7×70 of Daniel and even the hidden times given by Daniel, then, by putting here about 2000 years of Christian gentiles, we see the period of the gentiles, along with the exile of the Jews. As the Lord says: “They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them. On that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed.” (Deu.31:17-17) It’s a hard way. But they, the Jews, will learn, they have the promise and they will repent too. And what about the gentiles? Can we see something in these text about the gentiles? “you [Jews] will sow your seed in vain, for your enemies [gentiles] will eat it. I will set my face against you, and you will be struck before your enemies. Those who hate you will rule over you.” (Lev.26:16) “I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies.” (Lev.26:36) “The foreigner [ger] who is in the midst of you shall mount up above you higher and higher; and you shall come down lower and lower.” (Deu.28:43)

If it says that the foreigner (ger) will raise up and the Jew will become lower, then a shift is taking place exactly as the song of Moses tells us, namely that a no-people will raise and provoke the Jews to jealousy, as written: and I will rouse them to jealousy with a no-people; I will provoke them with a vile nation. (Deu.32:2) So when the gentiles come into picture here, they are called a no-people who will raise up even with a blessing because of the fornication of Israel who chose other gods. Because God chose the gentiles, as much as they are called, in return. Why? To make the Jews jealous. To bring them even more to study Torah and doing repentence and to find eventually the Messiah Jesus. But it would take a long, very long time.

Paul saw a beautiful start of a no-people in his time what became a people “grafted in” the wonderful people called Israel. It was clear that the Holy Spirit came over them and made them as reborn ones to have a zeal for the Thora by gift. Because God invited them and called them to join Him. But that no-people had also another side. Very soon there was the development of anti-christ within the denominations of repented gentiles. The apostle John told us this in 1John2:18. That no-people created a power which was described by the prophet Daniel as the Roman power, also called Edom. But that power like the Roman Catholic church or the crusaders e.g., does not picture the true believers. What Paul saw was the beginning of a small, narrow line of believers who came to faith through the Messiah Jesus, and spread this gospel around the world. They took part in the oppression and rejection of Christ. They were not from this world, but expected the world to come. They did not live for today, but lived in faith looking out for what was to come. This always was a small part of that no-people what was designated to rule the world as long as “the time of the gentiles” there was. It turned out in history the same as what happened by the Jewish people: deviating from God and astray after other gods. Just a little remnant what remains faithful.

And, although Paul describes that blessed gentiles who are saved from eternal death and shared in the commonwealth of Israel and its salvation, the far greater part (almost entirely) of that no-people is not faithful.

But Paul also knows that the Jewish people will be all brought back to their land and live in peace. Hence, at the time he was facing, when he sees that the Jewish people did not accept the Messiah yet, he points to the song of Moses. There it states that at the time of repression and curse of the Jewish people there will be a no-people what will bring the Jewish people to jealousy and provoke them to anger. (Deu.32:21)