Sunday, January 17, 2010
In my last post (Thematic Connections...) I made the statement that biblical prophecy is pattern rather than just simple prediction and fulfillment, and that ALL of scripture, including the first 5 books of Moses, and even books like the Psalms, Proverbs, Ruth, etc. are prophetic in nature. And I might add that not only is biblical prophecy pattern, but also that biblical history is prophecy. This does not mean that the books of Moses, nor the books of Ruth, Esther, et al are primarily books of prophecy (such as is the case with Daniel, or Revelation for ex.), for the narratives are indeed historical, but the patterns and details within the narratives give us prophetic glimpses that are more plainly laid out in the overtly prophetic books. In fact, though books like Daniel and Revelation are overtly prophetic, people often find difficulty in understanding them. I believe much of the answer (though not the whole of it) is in the fact that the prophetic themes found within them are drawn from the patterns that are already embedded in the other books of the bible, most notably the first 5 books (or, the books of Moses)! If we want to better understand Daniel and Revelation, for example, then we need to get very, very familiar with the narrative texts (as well as the prophets in the Tenakh - or, "Old Testament" - which is not so "old" if seen from the perspective that they speak of things relevant today through their narratives, a point I will explain further in this post).
In John 5:18, Yeshua is accused by the Jewish leadership of "...breaking the sabbath..." and "...making himself equal with God...", both of which were false accusations. Yeshua begins to answer them, and in vs. 39 He says to them "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." This statement is powerful, when viewed in light of the fact that the "scriptures" that he spoke of were those which make up the "TeNaKh" (an acronym for the "Torah", or, Gen. through Deut.; the "Nevi'im", which are the Prophets, and the "Ketuvim", which are the "writings", ie., the Psalms, Proverbs, Esther, Kings, etc.). The reason this is so powerful is that when one reads the Tenakh, it is not readily noticeable that they are speaking about Yeshua. There is no explicit verse that states that it is about a man named Yeshua, who would come to this planet, die on a cross, lie in the grave for three days, and rise again on the third day. In fact, Yeshua Himself said that the only "sign" that He would give for Himself was the "sign of Jonah", which of course, is a reference to Jonah the Prophet. The interesting thing to note concerning this is that when you read the book of Jonah, you don't really get the idea that it is supposed to be an historical narrative as well as a prophetic glimpse, a peek into the life, mission, and ministry of Messiah. When you read about Jonah being swallowed by a great fish, and being in the belly of the fish for 3 days and 3 nights, you only see it as being prophetic from our point of history. In other words, because Yeshua singled that narrative out specifically, and said that it represented Himself, we can now read the book of Jonah with that understanding - but I doubt that very many people that came before the time of Yeshua readily understood it as such (though I will say that the ancient sages of Israel DID in fact see many of the narratives of the Patriarchs and Prophets as being prophetic concerning the Messiah, such as is the case with what they call the akeidah - the binding of Isaac, or as Christians would understand, the narrative of Abraham and Isaac, when Abraham set out to offer Isaac up as an offering).
So to get back into the meat of this post, when Yeshua said to the Jewish leadership that the "scriptures" were they that spoke of Himself (again, understanding that He was speaking of the Tenakh, ie. "Old Testament"), He wasn't waxing cute with them - He meant it! And this means that, taking the Jonah narrative for example, when we read it we are also reading prophecy! This point is further reinforced by the fact that in Revelation 19:10, an Angel tells John "...worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Now, remember that Yeshua had already told the Jewish leadership that the "scriptures" were they that spoke of Himself. Now we have an Angel declaring that the "testimony of Yeshua" is the "spirit of prophecy!"
In my previous post I quoted Luke 24:27 where Yeshua tells two of His disciples that the scriptures spoke of Himself, and "...beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." So again, we see that when Yeshua says that the "scriptures" speak about Himself, we are given specifics as to what scriptures He is talking about..."Moses."
If you are at all familiar with Yeshua's teachings in the gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, etc.), then no doubt you have noticed that He often taught using parables. This is a very common style of teaching in the bible, and Yeshua made prolific use of the style for various reasons including the use of parabolic narrative to illustrate spiritual truths, as well as using parables to hide the truth from the proud and arrogant (who would not bother to ask, nor seek to understand the parable) and give it to the humble of heart (who would ask, and seek to understand).
Eddie Chumney of Hebraic Heritage Ministries has made the statement that the Torah (the 5 books of Moses) are actually a parable! He bases this off of the following scripture -
Psalm 78:1,2 - "Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old."
I believe Eddie is right. What is the subject of Psalm 78:1,2? Well, it begins with God telling His people to give heed to His "law" (ie. the 5 books of Moses). So, His law is the subject. He then goes on to tell them that He will "...open [His] mouth in a parable." In other words, the "parable" that He will speak; the "dark sayings" that He will "utter" will be/is a parable - His law ("law" here is literally "Torah" in Hebrew, which means "teaching, instruction, etc.")!
So to summarize, we can see that Yeshua Himself taught that ALL of the scriptures (which consisted only of the Tenakh in His day) spoke/speak of Him. We see that the "testimony" of Yeshua, which are the "scriptures" (again, the Tenakh), are the "spirit of prophecy", or, in other words, the scriptures themselves are "prophecy." And we see that the "scriptures" (at least the 5 books of Moses) are actually a giant parable!
This has immense implications for us today. You see, what many call the "Old Testament", that body of work that is, for the most part, simply viewed as ancient history, is really a prophetic document that contains FAR, FAR more than we could have ever imagined. And what's more, it has prophetic implications for the days and times that we live in today! In fact, books that are commonly accepted as "prophetic" (such as the book of Revelation, the book of Daniel, etc.) cannot be understood, without first having a good grasp of the beginning, ie., Genesis to Deuteronomy. In fact, Isaiah says the following in Is. 46:10 - "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." Literally he is saying that the "end" is declared "out of" the "beginning." The "beginning" is a specific reference to the book of Genesis, and more specifically to the very first Hebrew word in the bible - "B'reishit" - ie., "In the beginning." If we want to understand the times of the "end", then we need to firmly understand what is taught in the "beginning."
In the future I hope to flesh this out more, and go into specifics as to the prophetic "pictures" that are displayed in the "parable" of the "Old Testament!"
Until next time, shalom.
Posted by JRM at 7:09 AM