This is the time of year when most of Christendom is focused on the advent of the Messiah of Israel, commonly called Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ. In churches and in homes Scriptures from the Old and New Testament will be read that detail the coming of the Long Expected One. Most of us have heard these verses so many times that they almost flow off of our tongues as they are being read to us… We know the flow and the rhythm to the point that they offer incredible comfort. A halcyon warmth embraces us and we float on the river of sweet memories and blessed promises. But, do we really pay attention?
Have you ever noticed that there are some verses in these beloved Scriptures that really really challenge the historical understanding of the story and at times confront even major tenets in the theological narrative of Christendom? Over the next week I hope to explore a few of these difficult verses, not to be antagonistic, but to ask, ‘shouldn’t we look a little deeper, and through an Hebraic lens, to understand the context of Scripture and rightly understand who we are in the Messiah?’ Please take a few minutes and ‘walk with me’ as we consider some of these verses over the next few days.
Christendom generally teaches that the Law (Torah, God’s Instructions) was too heavy a burden for people to bear and since nobody could keep it this created the need for Jesus to come ‘fulfill’ it for us. Then, we read in the ‘Christmas story,’
Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
Have you ever noticed that last bolded phrase? Reread slowly and ponder…
- They were both righteous!
- They walked in ALL of the commandments AND ordinances of Yehovah (the Lord)!
- They were blameless. Blameless!!
Seriously, according to what we have been taught, they didn’t need a Messiah.
Take a deep breath and recognize, we are about to have a paradigm shift!
Now, I am not saying we do not need a Messiah for personal redemption, because we most definitely do. Stay with me here and let’s not be clouded by traditions, rather, let’s see what Scripture says!
Deut. 6:24 And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. 25 And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us.
There! Scripture clearly says, ‘it will be our righteousness if we… DO all these commandments…’ Elsewhere Moses says,
Deut. 30:10 [a]if you [b]obey the Lord your God to keep (DO!) His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law (Torah), [c]if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. 11 “For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it [d]out of reach.
The idea that we need a Messiah because the Torah is too difficult is just not true. (More on this in a minute.) The simple fact is, Scripture attests that the Torah defines righteousness and as we have just seen, it is not too difficult to keep. Here is one more clear affirmation among many to make the point,
So we clearly see from these verses, and there are 1000 more to support this assertion, that,
- Doing/keeping the Torah is righteousness,
- the Torah is everlasting,
- keeping the Torah is not too difficult, and
- Luke meticulously records that Zacharias and Elizabeth walked blamelessly in all the commandments and ordinances of Yehovah.
So, why the need for a Messiah?
It is clear from personal experience and from other Scriptures that we cannot be perfectly obedient to the loving Instructions of our King, thus, we do need redemption through blood. It is also clear throughout Scripture that the way to love our King is keeping the commandments that He gave on Mt. Sinai. So we know that at least part of His mission/ministry in His advent was to open the door for personal salvation/redemption, but, was that all of His mission or ministry, or is Scripture filled with clues and direct statements that indicate His mission had another side rarely explored in Christendom?
Prophecy is unfolding before us at unprecedented speed and with unmistakable clarity. As part of that unfolding, we witness this crazy, seemingly inexplicable draw upon Christians across the planet to go back to Moses (Torah) and ask some very hard questions that seem to contradict everything they were taught in churches. And, not surprisingly, this is directly connected to the ‘Christmas story,’ Zacharias’ blameless keeping of the Torah, and prophecy concerning the End of Days.
Malachi 4:4 “[a]Remember the law (Torah) of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. 5 “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. 6 He will [b]restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a [c]curse.”
While we explored this passage in a little more detail some time back, notice that before the day of the Lord we are to ‘remember the Torah…even the statutes and ordinances…’ These are the days of Elijah!
Yeshua, Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, Himself said,
Matthew 15:24 But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Who then are the Lost Sheep, and what is this aspect of Messiah’s ministry that is generally misunderstood in Christendom?
In fact, the prophets and apostles speak more about the Messiah’s ministry to the Lost sheep than to His ministry of personal redemption, but because we do not understand the context and narrative of Scripture, we do not recognize what is being said and why. This is an incredible story told through the mouths of the prophets and recorded in the pages of Scripture.
So, to understand why a blameless and righteous Zacharias would need and desire a Messiah, I recommend taking a little over an hour and watching the following Scripture laden trek through the pages of history. Zacharias was waiting for the same thing Amos, Ezekiel and James, among others, talked about.