Did Israel Reject the Messiah? Part 2
The Roman exile
The Covenant of YHVH was offered to Israel on four occasions: (1) at Mount Sinai where all Israel, native and non-native stood at the mountain and entered into covenantal relationship with the Elohim of the fathers (see Exo 19-20); it would not take them so long to fail to stay in the Covenant (see Num 13). (2) Upon entering the Land when the new generation born in the desert stood at Mount Nebo to renew the Covenant (see Deu 29-30); that generation under the leadership of Yehoshua would conquer the Land. (3) Upon returning to the Land after seventy years of the Babylonian exile (see Jer 29:10); only a small remnant returned and under the leadership of Zerubavel would rebuilt Jerusalem and the Temple; although there would be three more returns, the majority of the Jews would still stay in exile. (4) And at the coming of the Messiah (Mat 26:27-29).
As we stated in Part 1, the Sages understood that the coming of the Messiah was expected at the beginning of the Messianic era, when the Prophet promised to Israel indeed came.
The world is to exist six thousand years. In the first two thousand there was desolation; two thousand years the Torah flourished; and the next two thousand years is the Messianic era, but through our many iniquities all these years have been lost [He should have come at the beginning of the last two thousand years; the delay is due to our sins]. (Tanna debe Eliyahu)
The offer for repentance was resumed in the days of Yochanan (John the Baptist), as he announced the Good News as soon as his work began to call the whole nation for repentance, Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has come near! (Mat 3:2). And from that time on Yeshua began to proclaim this call for repentance (Mat 4:17) that the Kingdom was at hand, if they would just repent from sin.
Yeshua continued to preach repentance throughout His ministry (see Mat_12:28, Luk_11:20; Mar_12:34; Luk_10:9-11) even sending out His emissaries with the same proclamation (Mat_10:7).
About 1,500 years after Mosheh sent the twelve spies, Yeshua sent His twelve disciples to bring the Good News to the lost sheep of Israel, with the message that the kingdom of Elohim was at hand. The disciples went eastwardly to the lost tribes of Israel.
Some of the lost tribes had already returned
There were members of all the tribes living in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. At the time of the division of the united kingdom, Israelites from all the northern tribes might joined their brethren in the south and continued their identity as part of the kingdom of Judah.
Two books in the Scripture, 1 and 2 Chronicles, make it clear that the Israelites of the north came to Jerusalem with the Levites. From all the borders of the Northern Kingdom, the priests and the Levites moved down to the Southern Kingdom. And after them, out of all the tribes of Israel people came to Jerusalem to sacrifice to YHVH and continued their existence as part of Judah (2Ch 11:14-16). Thus, they strengthened the kingdom of Judah (2Ch 11:17).
It is very unlikely that those Israelites came to Jerusalem only to offer sacrifices, but that they made their decision to reject King Yerovam’s idolatry and joined their brothers in Judah. They knew that once they left Yerovam for Jerusalem, they did not have any alternative but become a part of Judah, because the idolatrous Yerovam would have persecuted for treachery.
During the reign of King Asa, others followed from Ephraim and Manasseh (2Ch_15:9-12). That was not the first time when people of the Northern kingdom came to Kingdom of Judah; Israelites from the ten tribes, had come over as early as Rehavam’s reign, as seen in 2Ch_11:16 above, but this time their number increased under Asa.
The remnant of the lost tribes still in Spain and France
There is a special connection in the Scriptures between the lost tribes (Ephraim) and their whereabouts. In the context of Isaiah 28, the prophecy speaks of Ephraim (Isa 28:1) in exile being exposed to languages that they do not understand.
A clue about their whereabouts appears in Oba_1:20, from which we learn that remnants of the House of Judah will find themselves in exile in “Sepharad” (Spain), and remnants of the House of Israel will find themselves in exile in “Tzarfat” (France).
So, the mocking lip and with a strange tongue in Isa_28:11 that Ephraim would hear in the captivity is “Tzarfati” (French). Therefore, we learn that “the lost tribes” can hardly be called “lost” because they were well known to live in Europe where they formed the European Jewry.
The great Nachmanides (1194-1270) stated in 1260 that the overwhelming majority of the Ten Tribes never returned to the Promised Land though they are destined to do so in the future and they still dwell in France and its neighborhood and the northern areas of Europe. This we find in Sefer HaGeulah; Obadiah 1:20.
Consider also the Apostolic Scripture. The aged Channah a prophetess beheld baby Yeshua at the Temple. Luk_2:36 states that she was of the tribe of Asher, which makes her a descendent of those who came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover responding to King Hizqiyahu’s invitation in (2Ch 30:11).
When Apostle Shaul spoke of his Jewish brethren, he spoke of a common promise and a common hope: Unto which promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving Elohim day and night, hope to come (Act_26:7).
Ya’akov (James) addressed his epistle to the twelve tribes which scattered abroad (Jas_1:1), as he made no distinction between Judah and them. He was seeing them as a common body with the only difference that some were in the land of Israel and some in the Diaspora.
We may also recall the words of Yeshua the Messiah:
Do not go into the lands of the nations and do not enter the cities of the Samaritans, but rather go to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. (Mat 10:5-6)
Therefore, when the Messiah sent His disciples to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, He told them where they would find them, as most definitely He knew where He was sending them. Evidently, members of all the tribes existed both inside and outside the Promised Land.
Therefore, the term “the Lost Tribes of Israel” appropriately refers to those of Israel who had not yet returned to the Promised Land, i.e. those who were still in galut, exile. They did not choose to return: just like the fathers in Egypt, Arabia, and Babylon in defilement of the command to flee (Jer 50:4-8, also Jer 3:11-18).
However, instead of having returned with myriads of repented believers, the disciples returned forty days later “empty handed”, because the people, they were sent to, rejected the Kingdom of Elohim offer.
The timing of sending His disciples was not chosen arbitrarily by Yeshua; He sent them when it was about that time of the ninth of the fifth month: the same date when the twelve spies returned with their bad report.
Even though the Renewed Covenant was being offered as early as the service of Yochanan, national repentance was required for it to be realized. At the Last Supper Yeshua holding up the cup of redemption said, “this is My blood, that of the renewed covenant, which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mat 26:27-29).
Here Yeshua tells us that the cup of redemption representing the blood of the Passover lambs which were about to be slaughtered in Jerusalem at that time, also represented His own blood which would be the ratifying blood of the Renewed Covenant. Yeshua’s words in Luk_19:40-44 contain definite overtones of Dan_9:26-27, which foretold the destruction of the city.
Forty years elapsed from the time when the Kingdom of Elohim offer was ratified with Messiah’s death and confirmed with His resurrection, and in the 41st year the Second Temple was destroyed in 69 AD (per some Rabbinical sources) or in 70 AD as it is commonly accepted (see Jubilees Table). Many Judeans were exiled throughout the Roman empire with which the Roman exile began.
More than forty years later, in 133-135 AD, there would be another attempt by the Judeans to liberate themselves from the Roman occupation. Judea and Jerusalem would be totally destroyed, the population decimated and those who survived the Roman atrocities were sold as slaves and dispersed to the four corners of the empire, with which the longest and the cruelest exile of persecution, pogroms, forced conversion, and Nazi holocaust began: The Roman exile.
As we see, the repentance of the nation of Israel was necessary for the coming kingdom of heaven. We should recall that the Covenant which YHVH made with the father Avraham was about giving the Land to his descendants and establishing the Kingdom of heavens here on earth. In this Kingdom of Elohim all Israelites will be priests and light to the world, as YHVH promised.
Apostle Shaul (Paul) clearly understood this promise and called it “the Good News” in his letter to the Galatians (Gal 3:8-9), quoting the Covenant YHVH made with Avraham to give him and his seed the Land of Promise (see Gen 12:2-3).
Now, this is something very important to understand.
“The Good News” has been preached since Avraham’s time on and is a term that denotes giving the Land of Promise to him and his descendants, and those of the nations that would join them. Again, Apostle Shaul is very clear on this issue: The Good News has been proclaimed since Avraham; the Good News is that the Kingdom of Elohim is drawing near and that repentance is required to enter it.
We also need to note here that “the Good News” does not refer only to the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah. Most definitely the sacrificial death and the resurrection are a part of the Good News the apostles were preaching. However, as we see from Shaul’s teaching, the Good News had been preached since Avraham until the death and resurrection of the Messiah.
So, the good News does not refer only to the redemption of sins through the death of Yeshua and the hope of new life though His resurrection, but rather to the whole concept of proclamation that the Kingdom of Elohim had been drawing near and repentance was required to enter it; and the inheriting of the Promised Land is definitely the reward of the faithful offspring of Avraham and the grafted in Israel faithful non-natives (read Romans 11). Note that Shaul calls the grafted in the olive tree of Israel former gentiles: “once you were of the nations”.
And indeed, what would be a better blessing for the seed of Avraham (Israel) than inheriting the Land of Promise. Keep this in mind as we will return to it in our conclusions.
And the apostle further continues in his letter to the Hebrews,
Therefore, since a promise remains of entering into His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the Good News was brought to us as well as to them, but the word which they heard did not profit them, not having been mixed with faith in those who heard it. (Heb 4:1-2)
What is the “therefore” there for? “Therefore” is to link this statement with Chapter 3 which speaks of the failure of Israel to enter the Promised Land and inherit the land when the ten spies brought the evil report. Shaul alludes to the entering into YHVH’s rest as an inheriting the land as he uses the term “the Good News” as a type of “the Kingdom of Elohim. We may also see the phrase entering into His rest as a reference to the Sabbath of YHVH and the seventh millennium when Israel will enter into the final rest: the Millennial Kingdom.
So there remains a Sabbath-keeping for the people of Elohim. For the one, having entered into His rest, has himself also rested from his works, as Elohim rested from His own. Let us therefore do our utmost to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience. (Heb 4:9-11)
After the resurrection, Yeshua continued to teach “the Kingdom of Elohim” for forty days until His ascendance to the Father (see Act 1:1-3). After studying the Kingdom of Elohim with the Messiah for forty days, the disciples wanted to know whether the Kingdom would be restored to Israel “at this time”. Note that they wanted to know when the kingdom would be restored to all Israel, and not to Judah only, but Yeshua answered that it was not for them to know the time of His coming (Act 1:6-7).
It seems that the call for a national repentance was extended even beyond Messiah’s crucifixion. In his preaching at the Temple in Act_3:17-24, Kepha (Peter) repeated the call for repentance once more.
With all that being said, it appears that if the people of Judea at that time had come to repentance, the Messiah would have restored the Kingdom to Israel even at His first coming.
Even more, this call for repentance continued until Shaul made known that the Kingdom of Elohim offer had been offered to the nations, too, in Act_13:46-48 and Act_28:24-28.
Once again, a national repentance was sought, but it did not occur despite the facts that many Jews were added to The Way (a first century sect of believers of Yeshua within Judaism). Until the end of Acts 11, we see that the Renewal of the Covenant was offered only to the Jews (with the exception of Cornelius and his household, Act_11:18-19) until Barnabah and Shaul went to Antioch and for an entire year they founded the first assembly of non-Israelites (Act_11:25-26).
The two-fold curse
A two-fold curse centuries apart came upon Israel due to lack of faith. Israel in Yeshua’s time was not ready to receive the kingdom as Israel in Mosheh’s time was not ready either. The entire generations throughout the history of the chosen people were deemed unfit to fully inherit the land and thus to accept the Kingdom of Elohim.
That was the fulfillment of what YHVH said to Israel in Leviticus 26 that He would give them seven times more punishment, if they refuse to repent. Sadly, Israel never completely repented.
Today, there are millions of Jews living in the longest exile in the history of Israel: the Roman exile. Like the ancestors in Egypt, Arabia, and Persia, they have chosen not to return to the Promised Land, although it has been open for immigration as early as the end of the nineteenth century.
Yeshua the Messiah began to proclaim repentance sixteen years before the beginning of the Age of the Messiah, but for more about the Age of the Messiah, read chapter The Age of the Messiah from the book Reckoning of Time, Time of Reckoning Ministry (TORM).
The sin of Israel was not that the majority of the Judeans did not believe that Yeshua was the long-anticipated Messiah. The majority of the Judeans did believe that the Messiah came when the crowds in Jerusalem cried out, “Hoshia-na, savior of the world! Blessed is He who is coming in the Name of YHVH! Hoshia-na, our savior, may you be glorified in heaven and on earth” Mat 21:9 Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, by George Howard, Mercer University Press, 1995
The Pharisees had to have the Romans crucified Him. Nor, was it true, as many “theologians” teach, that Israel was rejected, because as a nation the Jews did not believe in Jesus Christ.
Hundreds of years before the crucifixion, YHVH gave a shadow picture in the suffering of another righteous man, Ezekiel, who had to bear the iniquities of the House of Israel and the House of Judah. And even before Ezekiel, YHVH gave even more dramatic shadow picture of the heavenly Father and His Son: in Avraham and his son Yitschak, but for more knowledge the reader is encouraged to read the articles in Time of Reckoning Ministry (TORM): “To foresee Yeshua the Messiah” and “Take Your Son, Your Only Son! What did YHVH Ask Avraham for?“.
Many of those who were in Judea at that time repented and believed that the Messiah had come. In one day three thousand souls gladly received the word and were added to the Way, the community of the believers in Yeshua (Act 2:41).
Or, when five thousand more were added (Act 4:4); and many thousands (Act 21:20); or, even the Pharisees who believed in Yeshua were added to the numbers of believers (Act 15:5). Many thousands believed in the death and resurrection of Yeshua; these numbers are even more profound given the fact that the first century Judea was not large in numbers, considering the fact that only some 40,000 returned from the Babylonian exile and that Jews were decimated by the Greeks.
So, does that sound like a rejection of the Messiah? Most definitely it does not. On the other hand, it is true that those living in foreign lands did not even know He had come. They did not even know that the Messiah had come, because they had chosen to live in exile.
We should state again that there were forty years from the time of Messiah’s resurrection until the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD, and more than forty years from the destruction of the Temple until the beginning of the Roman exile in 133-135 AD. In other words, the resurrection and the beginning of the Roman exile were two generations apart. This is important to note, as we come back to it again.
However, the individual righteousness does not necessarily bring collective one. The Kingdom was offered to the non-Israelites, too. That does not mean that it was taken from Israel in order to be given to others (see Rom_11:2), but that the non-Israelites were added, or more correctly stated, grafted in Israel, so that they all can bear good fruits and be part of the kingdom (Romans 11).
But the nations, in return, soon also defiled the Kingdom of Elohim offer by having allowed paganism in their faith and drifted away from it. Pagan practices and foreign to the Torah concepts entered the faith to name a few: Easter, the pagan holiday of the spring equinox, “Christmas”, another pagan holiday of the “conquering sun” on the winter solstice, Valentines, Halloween, etc. Thus, we may say that Rome changed the faith and the faith did not change Rome.
Therefore, all came to the same point where Israel was in the very beginning: non-Israelites, the gentiles, did not deserve the Kingdom, either, hence, the need for a renewal of the vows of all was a must.
The prophecies have been sealed, the Messiah has been risen to heavens, and it seems like nothing else has been left for the Age of the Messiah to be fulfilled. Not many prophetic events could have been recorded since year 4001. The Age of the Messiah has been lost; the Roman exile began.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.