Last week I shared with you four Torah prophecies charting Jewish history: 1) that the Jewish people will be eternal though 2) we will be few in number and 3) scattered to the four corners of the earth and that 4) the host nations were ultimately inhospitable to us. This week, 2 more prophecies!
One would think, if the Jewish people were so reviled to be persecuted and killed, that we would have little impact upon those nations persecuting and killing us. Yet, the Torah prophesies that we will be…
You may be wondering what this has to do with this week’s Torah portion, with the blessings Jacob confers on his children and his grandchildren and his subsequent death, or with the burial of Jacob in Canaan, or with the death of Joseph and the end of the book of Genesis. Consider the following:
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet; so that tribute shall come to him and the homage of peoples be his.
He tethers his ass to a vine, his ass’s foal to a choice vine; he washes his garment in wine, his robe in blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine; his teeth are whiter than milk.
–Genesis 49:10-12 (JPS Tanakh)
These are the blessings Jacob set upon Judah before Jacob’s death. From a Christian standpoint, we see an obvious image of the Messiah, of Jesus in this blessing.
But now we have to find the connection I’m making between Rabbi Packouz’s commentary and the Torah reading:
“I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great. You shall become a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you. Through you all the communities of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3). The prophet Isaiah (42:6) states, “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand and keep you. And I will establish you as a covenant of the people, for a light unto the nations.”
Which, of course, reminds Christians of this:
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
–John 8:12 (NASB)
Immediately after the Master said these words, the Pharisees he was speaking to objected and accused him of false testimony. These men could not have failed to recall the prophecy of Isaiah that it was Israel who was the light to the nations. How could this one man claim to be such a thing, to represent all of Israel as it were, unless he were their King?
Interestingly enough, Rabbi Packouz referenced Genesis 12:2-3 which ends with, “through you all the communities of the earth shall be blessed.” All the nations of the earth are blessed through Abraham’s seed, through Messiah (Galatians 3:16), through the light to the nations, the firstborn son of Israel.
And so Jacob passed on the blessings to his sons, including the Messianic blessing onto Judah, the scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet.” Judah’s descendant is Messiah, the ruler, the King, the light, and as he was born into humility as Yeshua ben Yosef, he will return in power and might as Yeshua ben David, and ascend the throne of David in Jerusalem, and rule with justice and with peace over his people Israel, and over the entire population of the world.
In next week’s “Shabbat Shalom Weekly,” Rabbi Packouz will finish his series with “the final prophecy — the return from Exile — and what does it all mean.”
As you might have guessed, today’s Torah commentary is an extension of the one I wrote last week, the “cautionary tale” to the Christian Church to not take the ancient Messianic Jewish prophecies too lightly, and especially not to refactor them in such a way that favors the Gentile Christians over God’s chosen people and nation.
Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”
–Zechariah 8:22-23 (ESV)
First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) author and teacher Toby Janicki, in the episode Fringes of the Garment of the television series The Promise of What is to Come said that the Jewish man in question is the Messiah, as he interprets this verse.
Toby further said that those ten men from the nations were not just a random group of non-believing Gentiles, but are Gentile believers from “the Church” who, in my estimation, must recognize the Savior as the Jewish Messiah King, fully the King of Israel and the Jewish people, and that grasping his tzitzit, as it were, is a recognition of that fact, a representation of the profound paradigm shift required by Christians in order to even recognize Yeshua ben David as our “Jesus,” and the desperate attempt to heal the tremendous wound that separates Christianity from the Jewish Messiah.
If Toby’s interpretation of Zechariah is correct, and my interpretation of Toby is correct, then many in the Church today are laboring under a needless burden placed upon our shoulders by a long history of misunderstanding, anti-Semitism, and supersessionism. Much was lost after the apostolic era ended and the Gentile majority of the Messianic followers took over and reformed the “Church of Christ.” We have a lot of work to do to repair the damage and prepare the road for the return of the King.
But why wait for Messiah to return to take hold of his tzitzit? Let’s do it now by humbling ourselves before the King and studying his ways as expressed through the Jewish prophets and the Jewish apostles.
For from Zion shall come forth the Torah…
Salvation is from the Jews.
For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.
Come, let us go up to the mountain of Hashem, and to the house of the God of Jacob.
Peace and Good Shabbos.