Friday, October 24, 2008

The Exile of Israel II

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the
the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
‘Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.’

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it
but it shall be for God’s people;
no traveller, not even fools, shall go astray.
No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
- Isaiah 35

“It is interesting to reflect on Jesus’ use of traditions from Daniel, Zechariah and Isaiah. All three of these books play a major role in Jesus’ theology; and all three represent periods of exile in the life and history of Israel. Daniel reflected an exilic perspective, ostensibly the Babylonian but in reality the Seleucid period of oppression and terror. Zechariah stems from the exilic period and entertains hopes that Israel’s kingdom will be restored under leadership of the “two sons of oil” (Zech. 4.14) – Zerubbabel of Davidic descent and Joshua the High Priest. Isaiah calls for a new exodus and a new Israel, which he dubs the “servant” of the LORD. Jesus’ use of these books, indeed his being informed and shaped by them, is very revealing. It strongly suggests that Jesus identified himself and his mission with an oppressed Israel in need of redemption and that he himself was the agent of that redemption. He was the Danielic ‘Son of Man’ to whom kingdom and authority were entrusted. He was the humble Davidic king of Zechariah’s vision who entered the temple precincts and offered himself to the High Priest and took umbrage at temple polity. And, of course, he was the eschatological herald of Isaiah who proclaimed the ‘gospel’ of God’s reign and the new exodus. All of this suggests that, among other things, Jesus understood his message and ministry as the beginning of the end of Israel’s exile. In my opinion the evidence fully justifies N.T Wright’s emphasis on exile theology in Jesus and his contemporaries. In short, Wright is correct…” - Craig Evans, The Continuing Exile of Israel, Jesus and the Restoration of Israel, - A Critical Assessment of NT Wright's Jesus and the Victory of God, ed. Carey Newman.

"When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’" - Matthew 11.2-6


Mike Bull said...

Mostly good, but, well, you know what I think.

Another problem with extending the exile to the first century is the resulting myopia when it comes to identifying John's 'Babylon.' If this is the same exile, of course it's just Rome. But it ain't. It's a new Babylon, a new oppression, and Jesus uses Isaiah 13 as a weapon against her in Matthew 24.

'He was the Danielic ‘Son of Man’ to whom kingdom and authority were entrusted.'

Jesus' references to the son of man actually refer to Ezekiel. He was the One whose preaching would 'seal' the saints, 'mark' the Canaanite unbelievers and destroy the Temple.

In Daniel, the Ancient of Days is Christ. The 'one like a son of man' is actually the church. This is born out by the explanation of the angel later in the chapter. It is the saints receiving the kingdom.

Mike Bull said...

Sorry ... borne

And Angus and Rachel said to say hello.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

I think Jesus' use of the term 'Son of Man' is a mixture of both Ezekiel and Daniel. It had to be, otherwise because if it was Danielic he would have been crucified a lot earlier.

But the 'Son of Man' in Daniel, the saints of the Most High is Israel first, and after being redefined by Jesus, the church. And Jesus can use it of himself because he understood himself as the true Israel, who was reconstituting the nation around himself.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Hi guys.

Re. Matthew 24 and Isaiah 13, I agree Jesus has the depth to use it against the leaders of 1st century Judaism - that the judgment on the nations will also come on them if they don't get with his 'Israel renewal movement'.

But I would be cautious about reading this into Revelation.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

And the problem in the end isn't Rome (As much as the Jewish leaders might have said), and wasn't even the Jews. It is the power behind them, who have held all humanity captive - sin, the Devil and all evil.

Mike Bull said...


Matthew, Mark and Luke all contain the Olivet discourse. John's is Revelation. All the various viewpoints note the similarities between the discourse and the Revelation.

I had a bit of a look at Bauckham on Revelation (some excerpts and some reviews). While it is said he offers some great insights on its Old Testament allusions it appears he doesn't move beyond the 'idealistic' viewpoint, which is unable to make real sense of many of the fine details. It is application without interpretation. I could be wrong, of course as I ain't read the book. What do you think?

I agree about the problem not just being Rome or the Jews. It was Rome and the Jews as 'the powers of the air', ie. the mediators between heaven and earth. Both of these, Jew (Abrahamic) and Gentile (Noahic) became corrupted and animated by Satan. Revelation shows a mediatorial 'changing of the guard.' The last bowl is poured out into the air and both the woman (corrupt Judaism) and the beast (the corrupted empire-guardian) are removed from office (which deals with the problem of Rome still existing after AD70). The prince of the powers of the air (Satan) lost his powers, and (I believe) the saints met the Lord 'in the air' as a New Jerusalem, the ascended, governing church, a new city gathered around the throne and mediating between heaven and earth by the Spirit.

Mike Bull said...

I think Jesus' use of the term 'Son of Man' is a mixture of both Ezekiel and Daniel. It had to be, otherwise because if it was Danielic he would have been crucified a lot earlier.

Good point. I think when Jesus quoted it to the High Priest, the implication was that the Herodians and priesthood were the little horn, not the ones receiving the kingdom! Insulting stuff.