The Profound Co-Identification Between Yeshua, the Messiah, and His People, Israel
In the course of several of our many theological disputations here on LibertyForum, I have made the point in passing that Jesus and Israel are so intimately identified with each other in scripture, that it is impossible to love one but hate the other.
Perhaps some of you wondered what on earth I was refering to by this. In what ways are Jesus and his Jewish brethren, the nation of Israel, intimately identified with each other? This question I will now answer.
Before I do, I must say that this concept is not original to me. I was introduced to it myself while reading a theological study by Sydney H.T. Page called Powers of Evil: A Biblical Study of Satan and Demons which focused, in part, on the encounters of Jesus with Satan during his earthly ministry. But, since being introduced to the idea by this book, I have since enlarged upon it myself in the course of my own study, finding that the intimate co-identification between Jesus and the Jews extends beyond the events of Jesus' early ministry to include even the events surrounding his death, resurrection, and ascension!
So, in what way are Jesus and the Jews intimately identified with each other in scripture? Basically, key events in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus exactly parallel and correspond to the most important and profound events in the national life of the Jewish people, and visa versa!
Specifically, the events in the life of Jesus when Jesus began his priestly ministry exactly parallel and correspond to the events of the Exodus, when God brought Israel out from Egypt with a mighty hand to begin her service as "a holy nation" and "a kingdom of priests".
Furthermore, the events surrounding Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension exactly parallel events in the national life of Israel since, and those which are predicted to occur at the end of this age and in the age to come.
Let's first look at the profound parallels in the life of Jesus and national Israel at the outset of their respective ministries:
Both Jesus and national Israel began their priestly ministries by being emersed in water.
Israel's national emersion occured when they passed through the waters of the Red Sea. It was administered by God himself. By this emersion, national Israel experienced a profound change in her national life: She became dead to her former life of slavery in the world, and alive to a new life of freedom in intimate fellowship with God. She was, as a nation, literally born again.
Jesus began his public ministry by likewise being emersed in water. Jesus came to the river Jordan to be baptized by his cousin John, much to the perplexity of John, for John understood that Jesus was the promised Messiah who knew no sin, had no former life in slavery to sin to die to, nothing to repent of, and no need to be born again. After all, he, unlike the rest of fallen humanity, was ever and always alive in the fullest sense of the word.
When John protested to Jesus that it ought to be Jesus baptizing John, not the other way around, Jesus responded, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this TO FULFILL ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS." (Matthew 3:15).
What exactly did Jesus mean by this? Why did he, who was without sin, submit to baptism?
I think he may, in part, have been alluding to this providential co-identification between himself and national Israel. It was necessary for him to be baptized just as Israel had been baptized, to make His identification with them and they with him perfect and complete.
Note that, while the life of Jesus and that of national Israel run parallel, there remain important distinctions. Whereas, in the crossing of the Red Sea, sinful Israel was baptized by her sinless God, at the river Jordan, her sinless God was baptized by a sinful Israelite. So the two are parallel, but at the same time opposite. This is a recurring pattern throughout.
A Divine Declaration of Sonship:
God publicly declared both Jesus and national Israel to be His son.
For Israel, this divine declaration took place just prior to her national baptism, when Moses said to Pharaoh, "This is what the Lord says, 'Israel is my firstborn son' and I told you, 'Let my son go so he may worship me.'" (Exodus 4:22-23)
Immediately after Jesus' own baptism, a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17)
God's Spirit Descends, Indwells, and Imparts His Law:
Immediately following their respective baptisms, both Jesus and Israel were indwelt by the Spirit of God, who, in turn, imparted to them His Law.
God's Holy Spirit and God's Law are inseparable. When God spoke through Jeremiah and foretold of the New Covenant to come, He said this:
"The time is coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the Lord.
This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the Lord. I will put MY LAW on their minds, and write IT on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people." (Jeremiah 31:31-33)
Note that the Spirit of God manifested itself in the camp of Israel immediately after her departure from Egypt. It came as pillars of cloud by day and of fire by night leading them to the place of their baptism. (Needless to say, this exactly parallels the manner in which each of us are led to our own personal baptism.)
But, after her national baptism, God came near and spoke to Israel directly, first from a place of separation high above the camp on Mount Sinai, and then from the Holy of Holies right in their midst, dwelling in His newly built Tabernacle.
In this way, the Spirit of God came to dwell among them. He literally indwelt in the midst them, manifesting His Shekinah glory from the Tabernacle erected in the very heart of the camp of Israel. The Torah records that the builders of the Tabernacle were themselves indwelt and empowered by the Spirit of God to build the Tabernacle precisely according to God's instructions. Thus, the Spirit of God taught Israel His Law, no longer absent or afar off on a fearful and fiery mountain, but right there in the midst of them, exactly the function the indwelling Spirit of God performs in the life of every believer.
Likewise, immediately following Jesus' baptism, Matthew recounts, "At that moment, heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him." (Matthew 3:16)
It was no accident that Peter and the other believers in Jesus were likewise filled with the Spirit accompanied by great manifestations of wind and fire at Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost), for this inauguration of the New Covenant occurred precisely on the anniversary of the day Israel recieved the Law at Sinai and was indwelt by God via His Tabernacle erected at the very center of their camp!
A Time of Testing in the Wilderness:
Immediately after their respective baptisms and indwellings by the Spirit of God, both Jesus and Israel were tested and tried in the wilderness.
After they had received the Law, built the Tabernacle, and were indwelt by God in the midst of their encampment, Israel's failure to trust that God would fulfill His covenant promises to them and bring them safely into possession of the promised land led God to withhold his promised blessing from the generation who had received the Law and give it instead to the generation to come -- with the notable exception of two faithful witnesses from the Exodus generation, Joshua and Caleb. But for Joshua and Caleb, the generation of the Exodus was condemned by God to wonder for 40 years in the wilderness. There, they were repeatedly tried and tested, but found wanting.
Jesus, after his baptism and his indwelling by the Holy Spirit, likewise went into the wilderness -- not for 40 years, but for 40 days -- and there he too was tried and tested. But, unlike Israel, he did not fall prey to Satanic temptation. He held fast to the law of God, and sinned not.
The Same Temptations, But With Opposite Results:
Now, as if the correspondence between the life of Jesus and the national life of Israel we've seen so far was not enough, here's where it becomes explicit and incontrovertable. When I read of this in Page's book, I was literally blown away. Maybe you will be too.
Jesus was subjected by Satan to at least three temptations during his 40 days of fasting in the wilderness. In response to each one, Jesus rebuked his adversary by quoting from the Torah. And the passages he quoted from the Torah are directly related to identical temptations then faced by Israel during her 40 years of wondering in the wilderness! Let's review each temptation one by one:
Temptation #1 -- Israel and Jesus Tested By Physical Deprivation:
Satan to Jesus: "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." (Matthew 4:3)
Jesus to Satan: "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:4 quoting Deuteronomy 8:3)
Here's the passage Jesus quoted from in full: "Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you or your father had known, to teach you that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)
The parallels here could not be more clear. Both Jesus and Israel were tested by physical deprivation for 40 days/years in the wilderness, and while Israel often responded with grumbling, fear, a longing for Egypt, and unfaith, Jesus held true to God's word and trusted God his Father to provide him sustenance -- or not -- according to His will.
Temptation #2 -- Israel and Jesus Tempted to Put God to the Test:
Satan to Jesus: "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down [from the highest point of the Temple]. For it is written:
'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot on a stone.'" (Matthew 4:6 quoting Psalm 91: 11,12)
Jesus to Satan: "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" (Matthew 4:7 quoting Deuteronomy 6:16)
Here's the passage Jesus quoted from in full: "Do not test the Lord your God as you did at Massah. (Deuteronomy 6:16)
At Massah, Israel, thirsty for water, became quarrelsome, even to the point of wanting to stone Moses for leading them out of Egypt into the wilderness to seemingly die of thirst, and they put the Lord to the test, saying, "Is the Lord among us or not?" (Exodus 17-7)
So, again, in their respective wilderness trials, whereas Israel fell to temptation and sinned, Jesus resisted temptation, took refuge in God's word, and proved himself sinless.
Temptation #3 -- Israel and Jesus Tempted by Idolatry:
Satan to Jesus: "All this [the kingdoms of this world and all their splendor] I will give you, if you will bow down and worship me." (Matthew 4:9)
Jesus to Satan: "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'" (Matthew 4:10 quoting Deuteronomy 6:13)
Here's the passage Jesus quoted in full: "Fear the Lord your God, serve him only, and take your oathes in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the people around you; for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God, and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land." (Deuteronomy 13-15)
As is well known, Israel was likewise tempted to turn away from God and/or go after other gods throughout their wilderness journey, but gave into it most dramatically on the foot of Mount Sinai when they fashioned the Golden Calf because she perversely longed for the splendor of the kingdoms of this world, specifically Pharoah's Egypt, from whose clutches God had just delivered them.
So, again, Jesus and Israel were both tempted in the same way during their wilderness trials, but whereas Israel gave into temptation and sinned, Jesus resisted temptation and proved himself to be sinless and, therefore, qualified to be their (and our) Messiah.
After Their Wilderness Trials, the Promised Land/Kingdom Draws Near (But Is Initially Rejected Due to Lack of Faith):
After their respective baptisms, indwellings, and wilderness trials, both Jesus and Israel were prepared to come into their promised Kingdom.
For Israel, because of their sin, the generation of the Exodus -- the ones who fell to the temptations Jesus withstood in his own wilderness trial -- perished in the wilderness and did not live to see the promised kingdom, with two exceptions: Joshua, an Israelite, and Caleb, a Gentile. These two men, because they alone trusted that God could accomplish exactly what He had promised, joined the next generation of national Israel, faithfully followed God's lead, and took possession of their promised land.
Jesus, after his own wilderness trial, went forth to preach his kingdom message to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel," saying: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matthew 4:17) In essence, he was saying, "Don't make the same mistake your forefathers made when they stood and looked across to the promised land and turned away from the blessing God had set before them due to lack of faith! Instead, repent, BELIEVE, and come NOW into your promised national inheritance!" But, most didn't listen and repeated, for lack of faith, the national sin of the Exodus generation.
Now, there is a hint in the events of Exodus which foreshadows the break in Jewish history which took place following Israel's national rejection of the Messiahship of Jesus and, with him, his promised Kingdom.
The generation of the Exodus, had they been faithful, would have come into their promised land. Faithful Joshua, the man God would appoint to lead them into the promised land, was alive and living among them. He had seen it, and, along with the Gentile, Caleb, was full of faith and fight, ready and eager to take possession of it.
But the generation of the Exodus feared the Canaanites more than they trusted in the power of God to accomplish all that He had promised. And so, they blew their great opportunity and did not come into possession of the promised land. It's realization would have to wait until a future more faithful generation of Israelites arose. That future generation, because of their faith, would do what the faithless generation would not. They would trust God and follow God's annointed leader, Joshua, to take possession of all that God had promised them.
Note that "Jesus" is the English transliteration of the Greek name "Eisus" which is itself a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name "Yeshua" which, if it were directly transliterated from Hebrew to English, would be "JOSHUA" and "Joshua" means "salvation"! Now you know why the angel specifically instructed Mary to name her son "Yeshua".
Like the faithless generation of the Exodus, the faithless generation of Israelites who lived at the time of Yeshua committed the very same national sin. They feared the power of Rome more than they trusted in the power of God to accomplish all that he had promised. Fearing the power of Rome more than their God, they delivered their Joshua, their annointed one, Yeshua, over to the Romans to be crucified. And, like the faithless generation of the Exodus, the faithless generation who refused to follow their Joshua, Yeshua, perished without ever coming into their promised Kingdom. As in the Exodus, the fulfillment of God's promises to Israel would await a future more faithful generation of Israelites who would follow in faith their Joshua and their God, Yeshua the Messiah, to take possession of all that God has promised them.
And so we wait for that generation of Israelites to come. When they do come, so too will Yeshua -- again -- and he will establish God's promised Kingdom here on the earth. But, until then, the nation Israel and Jesus, continue to experience parallel lives. They continue to be intimately identified with each other, not only in the inauguration of their priestly ministries, but also in their respective deaths, resurrections, and ascensions to rule!
I stumbled across this remarkable truth in an amazing passage in Hosea, specifically Hosea 5:14 - 6:2:
"For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a great lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces and go away; I will carry them off with no one to rescue them.
Then I will go back to my place until they admit guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery, they will earnestly seek me.
Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces, but he will heal us. He has injured us, but he will bind up our wounds. AFTER TWO DAYS, he will revive us; and ON THE THIRD DAY he will restore us, that we may LIVE in his presence."
Wow! Do you see it? What Jesus experienced as a result of Israel's rejection of him, God says to Hosea the nation of Israel will likewise experience and they have! Let's review it step by step:
Delivered into the hands of the Gentiles to be laid low and, ultimately, to be put to death:
An unfaithful Israel gave Yeshua over to the Gentiles -- the Romans -- who recognized not his royalty but treated him as they would a common criminal, subjecting him to humiliation, tortures short of death, and finally, a tortured death on the cross.
In the midst of his agony on the cross of Rome, as the sins of all of us were being borne by him and judged, Jesus suffered a terrifying sin-induced separation from God and cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
Similarly, God gave the faithless nation of Israel over to the Gentiles -- the Romans -- who recognized not her royal lineage as the chosen people of God, but treated her collectively as if she were a nation of lawless brigands, no better than common criminals. And, like Yeshua, Israel was first subjected to humiliation and tortures short of national death.
In the midst of her national agony, Israel, like Jesus, also suffered a terrifying national separation from God. Her Temple was utterly destroyed by godless pagans in 70 AD and her appointed priesthood was denied any means to perform their ancient and Torah-ordained priestly functions.
Just as Jesus lingered on in his torment on the cross, physically alive though spiritually deadened by imputed sin-induced separation from his God, Israel lingered on in the land tormented by her Roman oppressors, though nationally cut off from God by the physical destruction of her Temple and forced cessation of the mediatory services performed by her Levitical priesthood. She lingered on, that is, until 132 AD, when, ironically, the post-Temple Rabbinate, then rising to preeminence in Judaism, announced that Simon Bar Khochba -- not Yeshua -- was the true Jewish Messiah whom all faithful Jews must follow. He, not Yeshua, would usher in their hoped for Kingdom, they proclaimed!
Instead, being the false messiah that he was, he led them only to utter destruction, even more disastous than the revolt which culminated in the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, and, as a result, national Israel suffered a de facto national death on a figurative Roman cross. Jews were killed by the hundreds of thousands. What Jews were not killed were led away in chains to slavery. No Jew was permitted to live in their ancient capitol, Jerusalem, and its ancient name was blotted out by imperial edict -- changed to "Aelia Capitolina" even as the city itself was transformed into a center for pagan idol worship. A temple to the Roman god Jupiter was built on the ruins of the Temple of the one true God. The very name of "Judea" was likewise blotted out by imperial edict, and what had been the land of the Jews for nearly 1300 years was, perversely, renamed in honor of Israel's ancient Gentile enemies, the Philistines, and called "Palestine." And so the nation Israel, like their Messiah Yeshua, was cruelly put to a tortured death by Rome. Her foretold world-wide dispersion for disobediance had begun.
Dead two days...
After his crucifixion by the Romans, Jesus laid dead in the tomb for two days, showing no signs at all of the resurrected life that was to come.
Since her national "crucifixion" by the Romans, national Israel -- meaning Jews living in the land of promise -- laid dead for nearly 2000 years. But remember, "With the Lord a day is like 1000 years, and 1000 years like a day." (2 Peter 3:8) By the Hebrew method of counting, two days is not necessarily exactly 48 hours (nor, by God's reckoning, 2000 years). It's just inclusive of at least part of two successive days, or anywhere between 1000 and 2000 years by God's reckoning. So, assuming that the lives of Yeshua and national Israel continue to be as intimately correlated in death as they were at the outset of their respective ministries, we would expect, based on the prophetic word of God in Hosea, national Israel to remain dead for no more than 2000 years.
Lo and behold, national Israel WAS dead for exactly 1948 - 135 = 1813 years = two 1000 year days by a Hebrew's reckoning. "AFTER TWO DAYS, he will revive us," said God to Hosea regarding Israel! And Israel has been so revived in our time! We ourselves have seen this prophecy be fulfilled! We have witnessed national Israel being revived from the dead after two "days" just as her Messiah was! How awesome is that?
...Risen on the third day!
Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. Remember, by a Hebrew's reckoning, this does not mean after exactly 72 hours. It only meant at least part of a first day, all of the second day, and at least part of a third day.
Likewise, God promises in Hosea that Israel, after being revived on the second day, will be RESTORED on the third day! That is where we are heading, folks! Israel will be fully restored in glory, having an eternal national life, just like her Messiah Yeshua, on the third day! And this is the moment when the two lives of Yeshua and the nation Israel, which thus far have been unfolding in a parallel fashion, will conjoin and merge into one, for Yeshua will reign over this fully restored and eternal nation of Israel as her King, and they, together, will rule over the earth. They both shall live and rule together, united forever, as ONE!
I hope this study has helped to convey the reasons why I am so passionate in my advocacy on behalf of the presently revived -- but not yet fully restored -- nation of Israel. Israel's revival is truly a work of God and it will not be undone -- not by Palestinians nor their Gentile sympathizers, not by Jew-haters of whatever nationality, not by anyone.
Jesus, the Messiah, and his people, the nation of Israel, are so intimately identified with each other by the God who is their common Father, that their lives have been appointed by Him to be lived out in a parallel fashion, each intimately related to and indentified with the other. They both are "firstborn sons of God," they both had their priestly missions inaugurated by water baptism, they both were indwelled by the Spirit of God living in their midst, they both were instructed by the Spirit in the Law of God, they both were tried and tested in the wilderness, they both were tempted in the same manner (though one fell to temptation while the other proved himself blameless), they both ultimately were delivered into the hands of the Gentiles to suffer humiliation and affliction (though one was delivered guiltless by the guilty and the other was delivered guilty by the guiltless), they both experienced a gut-wrenching sin-induced separation from God in the midst of their afflictions, they both were "crucified" until dead at the hands of Gentiles, they both were dead for two days (or nearly 2000 years by God's reckoning), one has already been revived and was fully restored to life on the third day while the other has only recently been revived and will soon also be fully restored to its national life on the third day (or, by a Hebrew reckoning of God's 1000 year days, sometime following their national revival but no later than 3000 years after suffering national death), and BOTH, once made fully alive, shall live forever, united together as ONE, as a husband unites with his beloved wife; together, joined by mutual faithfulness to their marriage-like covenants, they shall rule and reign over a restored earth, itself likewise redeemed from the terrible consequences of Adam's fall.
Now you know why Paul said, "For if their [Israel's] rejection [of Yeshua] is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but LIFE FROM THE DEAD!" (Romans 11:16)
Today, in the time of Israel's revival from national death, there should be no more urgent calling for followers of Yeshua the world over, than to be loving witnesses to HIS PEOPLE, ISRAEL of the REAL Yeshua -- the Jew of Jews. But, to be that loving witness, past Gentile error must be put away. One cannot affirm Yeshua and at the same time deny his people. The two are all bound up together. Even unbelieving Jews know this, and so they have rejected our past witness because, frankly, its negation of Israel has been absolutely unbiblical and, very possibly, diabolical. How tragic is it that false Gentile presumption and hatred of the Jews has worked to further alienate Jews from their King throughout the centuries? The reconcilation of the Jewish people to their Messiah will literally transform the world, because with their repentance comes their full restoration as a nation, and with their full restoration as a nation comes the Messiah himself to reign and rule! It will literally mean life from the dead, not only for Israel, but for all of mankind!
Our time is the time of Israel's revival! Her full restoration is yet to come. But the sooner it comes, the better, because the sooner it comes, the sooner the Messiah himself will come.
We Gentile believers are privileged to get to play a part in this, her coming restoration -- if we choose to, that is. Yeshua said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called Sons of God." There is no higher calling for Gentile believers, I think, than to be peacemakers and to mediate, by our own loving witness of Yeshua to the Jews in both word and deed, the breach on which the future of the whole world turns -- namely, the unnatural alienation of Israel from her thoroughly Jewish Messiah.
But, before we can do that, there is another breach which must be mediated -- namely, the unnatural alienation of Gentile believers in Yeshua from his chosen people, Israel. Heal this breach first, and the reconciliation of Israel with her Messiah will surely follow on in train.
Do you see the big picture now? Do you see why I think it impossible to love the King of the Jews and, at the same time, hate the Jewish people? They are so intimately related to and identified with each other as to be virtually inseparable, a status they will fully realize in the Kingdom soon to come.