Episode 06: Exile and redemption are two of the most significant Biblical concepts and in episode six viewers will learn that these two concepts play a major role in the job description of Messiah. It was the job of Messiah to bring redemption to Israel by ending their exile and gather them back to the land of Israel. While Messiah did bring a spiritual redemption at his first coming, he has some unfinished business to take care of upon his second return in the way of bringing a physical redemption to not only Israel but the entire world.
The Lesson: What Does It Mean To Be Redeemed?
This lesson summoned a lot of material I recently read about and described in this blog. Toby Janicki explores what he called “The Mystery of Redemption”, which is far more than just what Scot McKnight in his book The King Jesus Gospel called “a plan for salvation.”
Toby, who was raised as a Christian, describes his own early understanding of terms such as “being saved” and “being redeemed.” Traditionally in the church, we are taught that Jesus died for our sins and that we have been redeemed by the blood of the lamb. But redeemed from what exactly? Typically, the answer is that we are saved or redeemed from the power of sin and any punishment in the afterlife.
But as McKnight says in his book, which I reviewed last month, and as Founder and President of First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) Boaz Michael stated in his presentation “Moses in Matthew,” there’s a lot more going on in the gospel message of redemption than we get in the common Christian viewpoint. The gospel message is a message directed at the Jewish people, and only through the redemption of national Israel and the return of the Jews from exile to their Land, will be people of the nations who are called by His Name, that is, we Christians, also be fully redeemed.
One of them whos name was Kleyofas answered. He said to him, “Are you the only one residing in Yerusalayim that does not know what has happened within it in these days?” He said to them, “What is it?” They told him, the incident of Yeshua the Notzri, who was a prophet mighty in works and in speech before God and before all the people. “But our high priests and elders arrested him for a death sentence and crucified him. We had hoped that he would ultimately redeem Yisrael, but today it has been three days since these things happened.”
Luke 24:18-21 (DHE Gospels)
Here we see two Jewish men who were disciples of Yeshua (Jesus) and whose hopes of redemption for Israel had been dashed to the ground. They believed Yeshua was the Messiah, but the fact that he died and was buried meant for them that he couldn’t be, because he had not lived to redeem the nation of Israel. I should note here that most Jewish people today deny that Jesus could be the Messiah for exactly the same reasons. These are people who deny the resurrection, the ascension, and that one day, Jesus will return to finish the Messianic mission.
But I’m getting ahead of myself or rather the program. Toby teaches that this scripture gives us our first clue in solving today’s mystery:
Clue 1: Messiah will redeem Israel from exile.
This is not only what Jewish people believed in the late Second Temple period but what religious Jews believe today. Messiah must come to redeem the Jewish people and to restore Israel. But exactly what does that mean? Most Christians don’t know, which is the importance of this TV episode. Where did the Jewish people get the idea that Messiah as redeemer was more than just about redemption from personal sin and what will that teach Christians in the church?
Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms.
“I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever.”‘
–Ezekiel 37:21-22, 26 (NASB)
The prophet Ezekiel is speaking of King Messiah who will return all of the Jewish people in exile to their Land, the Land of Israel. In addition, God will make a covenant of peace with Israel, which will last forever, and God will establish His sanctuary, the Temple, among the Jewish people in their nation forever.
This last part threw me a bit. Revelation 21:22 describes New Jerusalem as having no Temple in the sense of a structure, since God and the Lamb are the Temple. I suppose there’s another mystery we could explore here, but it’s not contained in this television episode, so it’ll have to wait for another time.
We know that God exiled the Jewish people and Israel at the end of the Second Temple period. Jewish sages believe this was because of the sin of baseless hatred among the Jewish people. But religious Jews also believe that God will one day redeem them by sending Messiah.
But there is a modern state of Israel. Jews can make aliyah at any time. Isn’t the exile over? Not according to Toby’s teaching. Israel may exist nationally but the restoration is not complete. There is no Davidic King on the Throne, there is no Sanhedrin court system, and there certainly is no Temple in Holy Jerusalem. The state of Israel has not been set right again and established as the head of the nations. The Temple is to be a house of prayer for all nations (Isaiah 56:7), but not one stone of the Temple stands upon another, so there is no “house of prayer” for anyone right now.
Shocking as this may seem to many Christians, Messiah’s work was not finished at the cross, not by a long shot.
Toby uses 1 Peter 1:17-19 to illustrate that not only are the Jewish people in exile, but as long as our King, Jesus the Messiah, is not sitting on his throne is Jerusalem, all of his disciples, Jewish and Gentile, are also in exile. In effect, Messiah himself went into exile when Jerusalem was destroyed nearly two-thousand years ago, much as God went down into Egypt and ultimately into slavery with Jacob and the seventy members of his family (Genesis 46:3-4).
Although Toby didn’t mention this at all, I should say that as long as the current Israeli government negotiates with the Arab “Palestinian” people to carve up Israel including Jerusalem, and give it away in exchange for the Arabs ceasing all acts of terrorism, then Israel can hardly be said to be “redeemed” and even Jews in the Land may as well consider themselves in exile. In fact, Israel itself is still in a sort of exile. I imagine the Jewish people trying desperately to hold onto their homes in the so-called “territories” feel that way, too.
Toby also didn’t say this explicitly, but we must consider it to be the drive and desire of all Christians everywhere to see King Messiah restored to his throne in Jerusalem because until this happens, redemption is not complete. Yes, we are still “saved” from sin and condemnation, but being personally “saved” is only the beginning. The greatest works of Messiah are yet to come.
The scene shifts to Israel and to teacher and translator Aaron Eby who discusses what the word “redeemer” means in Hebrew and what it means to “redeem” a person or property.
Thus for every piece of your property, you are to provide for the redemption of the land.
‘If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so poor he has to sell part of his property, then his nearest kinsman is to come and buy back what his relative has sold.’
This portion of the Torah explains that the concept of redemption is a buying back or re-acquiring of property or even a person who has been a slave. The principle and meaning of ancestral property is well-defined in the Torah and if it is lost, there is a strong expectation that the original owner or his heirs will buy it back; will redeem it.
Aaron brought up a question (sort of) I have recently explored. What if the owner dies and has no heirs? The answer lies in the concept of the leverite marriage. Aaron draws examples from scripture including Ruth and Boaz. Ruth the Moabitess was married to a Jewish man who died. Boaz was a relative, a kinsman redeemer, and by marrying Boaz and having a son with him, she restored her former husband’s lost family line.
Aaron also says that, when God liberated the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, He was acting as a redeemer and indeed, as God’s agent in this matter, Moses was also a redeemer. But another redeemer is to come after Moses.
Returning to Toby, we reach our second clue:
Clue 2: Redemption means buying back, re-acquiring, and setting things right.
That’s the function of Messiah in terms of the Jewish people, the nation of Israel, and through redeeming them, he also redeems the rest of us who continue to have faith. Toby cites Paul in Romans 6:17-18 where Paul metaphorically uses the laws related to redeeming slaves in describing how believers in Jesus are redeemed from slavery to sin, which is also part of the Messianic mission.
Toby referred to another scripture as a way to get to the third clue, a passage that I also commented on less than a week ago.
The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.
Toby identifies Jesus as “the prophet” and directs his viewers to Peter in Acts 3 and Stephen in Acts 7 as evidence that the Jewish believers also saw Jesus as “the prophet” spoken of by Moses. Thus we have the third clue.
Clue 3: Prophesy says that Messiah will be the prophet like Moses. Moses was the first redeemer and Messiah will be the ultimate redeemer.
Part of this third clue is dependent on another portion of scripture and I’ll get to that momentarily.
What Did I Learn?
Actually, some interesting stuff.
“Therefore behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.’ For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers.
–Jeremiah 16:14-15 (NASB)
It never occurred to me to consider the return of the Jewish people to their Land from the current exile as a sort of second Exodus, one that makes the first Exodus from Egypt pale by comparison. I started to think, especially in light of how most Christians have to see Jesus in all of the moedim as their only application, if a new meaning will be assigned to Passover in the Messianic Age, one that reminds the Jewish people not only of their redemption from Egypt, but their ultimate redemption from exile and the restoration of Israel as a united people and a sovereign nation. If the absence of our King on his throne means that even the Gentile disciples are in exile, along with the Jewish people, and along with Israel itself, then we should be crying out to Heaven, “How long, God? How long?”
The other thing I learned, and I’m not sure what to make of it, is that when Jerusalem is redeemed by Messiah taking up his throne, that Jews and Christians will see Jerusalem as their (our) city. Of course, Jerusalem is the Jewish city, the City of David, but how can we Christians lay claim to it in any sense?
I suppose because our King will be sitting on the Throne and the Temple in Jerusalem will finally be a house of prayer for all peoples. I don’t think that means we Gentiles get to live there, but if God is willing, may I see Messiah on his throne in Holy Jerusalem in those days, and may my sacrifices and burnt offerings be a sweet aroma to him.
I’ll review the next episode very soon.