"It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, And the glory of a king to plumb a matter." Proverbs 25:2
The Lord God, the Most High God, has given us seven paradoxes, or cosmic riddles, in the Tanakh, often called the Jewish scriptures. But they are not quite exactly the Jewish Scriptures. Rather they are the LORD's holy scriptures, which He has given to the Jews to cherish and preserve over the centuries. Even Christians respect the Tanakh, calling it the Old Testament. But we will see that the mystery of these seven antinomies, or point-counterpoints, is resolved by the LORD God.
1. Eternity - Heaven and Hell
Eternity is vast; fortunately we don't have to comprehend it all, to experience it later. No one is perfect, yet some live forever in God's perfect Heaven. David knew that he would dwell in God's house forever in Psalm 23:6. Even some non-Jews went to Heaven to be with God forever, as Enoch, Job, Abraham, Ruth and others. (Though Ruth became as Jewish as she could.)
But some Jews don't believe in an afterlife! Having little troubles, they lost the faith Job continued to have after great troubles, in Job 19:26-27. God does not care for their opinion, and neither did Ezekiel. "Prophesy, therefore, and say to them: Thus said the LORD GOD: 'I am going to open your graves and lift you out of the graves, O My people, and bring you to the land of Israel. You shall know, O My people, that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves and lifted you out of your graves. I will put My breath into you and you shall live again, and I will set you upon your own soil. Then you shall know that I the LORD have spoken and have acted' - declares the LORD." Ezekiel 37:12-14
BUT STILL, all don't go to Heaven. God loves humanity, yet some people still "go down to the pit" and perish in Sheol (the grave) apart from God. Pharaoh, the Assyrians, and other hordes will be there (Ezekiel 32:18-32). As Ezekiel shows, you really, really don't want to be there. Ahab, Jezebel, Jeroboam, and Athaliah, and the Israelite prophets of Baal lived their whole lives struggling against the LORD God, and those who wanted to walk in God's ways. Do you think God would force those to be with Him, who could not stand to hear of Him on earth?
AND YET, some, like the thoroughly wicked king Manasseh (2 Kings 21:1-17; 2 Chronicles 33:1-12), later repented and become reconciled to God (2 Chr 33:13-19). If there is hope for him, there is hope for you too.
2. Offerings - Sin and Forgiveness
Sin kills. Just ask Adam and Eve, the animals whose hides clothed them, Abel, and the tens of thousands of animals, as the LORD God through Moses commanded.
Everyone has done wrong, or not done or spoken right. All have sinned, and all have displeased God. As the prophet king David said, "The LORD looks down from heaven on mankind to find a man of understanding, a man mindful of God. All have turned bad, altogether foul; there is none who does good. not even one." Psalm 14:2-3. See also Psalm 53:2-3. David too had his share of sin, as 2 Samuel 11-12 and Psalm 51 show.
BUT STILL, David himself said that He followed God in Psalm 63:1; 27:4,8. Many others have sought God, or chosen to serve Him, in Josh 24:21-22, Ps 22:26; 24:6; 34:10; 40:16; 69:32; 70:4; 105:3,4 119:2,45,94; Prov 28:5; 1 Chr 16:10,11; 2 Chr 15:12; 30:19; Ezra 6:21; Isa 51:1; Jer 50:4; Hosea 10:12; Zech 8:21,22; Mal 3:1.
God made a way back through animal sacrifices as God showed Moses. Ex 12; 24:5-8; Lev 1-9; Num 9, 19:1-9
But Lev 10 shows that it could be deadly for unofficial priests to offer sacrifice. It had to be a descendant of the order of Aaron. Even the otherwise-godly Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:4-5) became leprous when he offered incense without God's authorization. (2 Chr 26:16-21). Sacrifices had to go through the order of Aaron.
AND YET, God had another priest, Melchizedek, by whom even Abraham sacrificed in Genesis 14:18-20. The order of Melchizedek comes again in Psalm 110:4.
3. The Sacrifice - Essential and Ended
"For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have assigned it to you for making expiation for your lives upon the alter; it is the blood, as life, that effects expiation." Leviticus 17:11
Sacrifices to God were not only done by Jewish people. Cain and Abel sacrificed (Genesis 4:3-5), though God did not accept Cain's offering. Noah sacrificed some animals who survived on the ark, which pleased The LORD God, in Genesis 8:20-21.
BUT STILL, there would come a day when there would be an end to sacrifices (Daniel 9:27). Micah 6:6-7a and Psalm 51:16-17 also show that God wants an obedient life more than sacrifices.
AND YET, the need for atonement for sin, still remains. The sacrifices, from the time of Moses four centuries before the temple, to the destruction of the temple, have never been restarted. But it is not because we do not sin.
4. Meshiach (Anointed) - Ruling and Suffering
Traditionally when Jews celebrate the Pesach (Passover) Seder with the Passover lamb, they leave one empty seat, - a testimony that they are awaiting the Meshiach. Do you leave an empty seat - in your heart - for the LORD God? The anointed one is mentioned in Ps 18:5; 20:6,8; 84:9; 132:10; 132:17; Isa 45:1; 61:1; Hab 3:13.
When the Meshiach, the Anointed One, comes, He will rule the nations (Psalm 2:8,9). the wolf will lie down with the lamb (Isaiah 65:25). In the last days this ruler, from Bethlehem, will strike the nations, and it will be a time of many nations coming to the mountain of the LORD in Micah 4:1-5:2. The Anointed will be called Mighty God, and Prince of Peace in Isaiah 9:6, which is Messianic according to the Yemenite Midrash 349-350 and the Pereq Shalom p.101. The promise in Genesis 3:15 of the seed of the woman crushing the serpent's head is Messianic per Targum Pseudo-Jonathan.
BUT STILL, the Anointed will be cut off (killed) according to Daniel 9:25-26.
Isaiah 53 speaks of the Meshiach according to Targum Jonathan Tractate Sanhedrin and Talmud Bavli. There is a "man of sorrows" who will be rejected by men, whom even God's people did not esteem. "He was wounded because of our sins, Crushed because of our iniquities. He bore the chastisement that made us whole, And by his bruises we were healed. We all went astray like sheep, Each going his own way; And the LORD visited upon him The guilt of all of us." (Isaiah 53:5-6).
"For he was cut off from the land of the living Through the sin of my people, who deserved the punishment. And his grave was set among the wicked, And with the rich, in his death Though he had done no injustice and had spoken on falsehood. But the LORD chose to crush him by disease, That, if he made himself an offering for guilt,..." Isaiah 53:8b-10a
The Hebrews word translated as "disease" is châlâh, which has a range of meaning. It can mean diseased, or it can mean suffering, in Strong's 2470. In these verses the word means not diseased, but weak or suffering.
Samson said he would become "weak" in Judges 16:7.
Arrow fatally "wounded" king Ahab in 1 Kings 22:34; 2 Chronicles 18:33, and Josiah in 2 Chr 35:23.
So is the suffering from disease or wounding? Isaiah 53 has pierced, crushed, wounded, as a to the slaughter.
AND YET, after the suffering Zech 12:10-12 shows that after suffering the inhabitants of Jerusalem will mourn the one they have pierced. While the JPS translates this as plural, "those who are slain" in English, the Hebrew is 'alayw (over him). It is also considered singular person or thing in Hebrew in the Talmud b. Sukkah 55a and 52a.. If it was plural, it would make no sense to mourn over the enemies they just defeated.
5. The Chosen - The Jews and All Nations
The Jews are God's chosen people, because their ancestor, Jacob, who was renamed Israel, was chosen by God. But before that, his grandfather, Abraham was chosen and given a promise by God.
BUT STILL, the Jews were not to hoard their knowledge of God, but share it. God promised Abraham that he would be a blessings to all the peoples of the earth in Genesis 12:1-3. Jonah was commanded to preach to the Ninevites. Jonah initially disobeyed, but God gave him an opportunity for some "deep thinking" Jonah repented and went.
AND YET, even when God's people fail to do God's will for them, God still keeps his promises.
6. Our Covenant with God - the Old and the New
God made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob according to Exodus 6:2-4. But at Sinai God made a newer covenant with all of the Israelites in Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 4:13,23.
BUT STILL, the Israelites broke their covenant with God according to 2 Kings 18:12; Jeremiah 11:6-9; 34:12-13; Ezekiel 16:59.
AND YET, almost eight centuries after Moses, the LORD God spoke of a new and future covenant in Isa 55:3-4; Jer 31:31-34; and Ezek 16:60; 37:26-28. "See, a time is coming - declares the LORD - when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah. ... But such is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel after these days- declares the LORD: I will put My Teaching into their inmost being and inscribe it upon their hearts. Then I will be their God, and they shall be My people." Jeremiah 34:31-34
7. Bethlehem - the greatest from the least
What is with Bethlehem? Bethlehem, in Judah, was only a small village.
BUT STILL, King David was born in Bethlehem.
AND YET, it was prophesied, "And you, O Bethlehem of Ephrath, least among the clans of Judah, from you one shall come forth to rule Israel for Me- One whose origin is from old, from ancient times." Micah 5:1
Tanakh quotes are from the JPS (Jewish Pub. Society)
"It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, And the glory of a king to plumb a matter." Proverbs 25:2
1. The Law - What's no longer followed and what is
The Law given to Moses seems to be only for a certain time for only Jewish people. Where is the showbread, that was made and put in the temple? Where are the daily offerings by fire commanded in Numbers 28:1-9. This command was given before there was a temple. Why is there no red heifer slaughtered outside the camp for the water of cleansing in Numbers 19? The king should not have many wives. Men should not cut the corners of their hair of clip the edges of their beard (Leviticus 19:17). Do not wear clothes made up of two different materials (Leviticus 19:19). Do you remember the Amalekites, as Deuteronomy 25:17-19 commands? Where are the cities of refuge (Numbers 35:6-28), and should someone who curses their father or mother be put to death (Exodus 21:17), etc.
BUT STILL, so many aspects of God's Law to Moses sound so much like they are for all people at all times. No idols or other gods, murder, adultery, theft, bearing false witnesses (Exodus 20), incest (Leviticus 18:1-18), homosexuality and bestiality (Leviticus 18:22-25), taking care of the widows and orphans (Exodus 22:22), respect the aged (Leviticus 19:32), don't oppress the poor (Exodus 23:8-9), don't mistreat foreigners (Leviticus 19:33-34), etc.
AND YET, when did God change it? God said to Moses that He would raise up for them a prophet like Moses. Deuteronomy 19:18-19 says, "I will raise up a prophet for them from among their own people, like yourself: I will put My words in his mouth and he will speak to them all that I command him; and if anybody fails to heed the words he speaks in My name, I Myself will call him to account." It would take someone of at least Moses' stature to be the spokesmen to change anything in God's Law. When will this happen, or, has this already happened?
2. The Sabbath - The past and the need to still enter
The LORD God blessed the Sabbath (Exodus 20:11) as a special sign between God and the Israelites (Exodus 31:12-13; Ezekiel 20:12,20). They were commanded to keep it as a sign of God delivering them out of Egypt (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15).
BUT STILL, the LORD God declared that He would never permit the rebellious Israelites to ever enter His rest in Psalm 95:11 after the Israelites grumbled as Meribah. Deuteronomy 1:34-35 shows that generation would not go into the Promised Land when they balked after the ten spies gave the bad report of the difficulties ahead. All of the adults would die in the desert, except for the two who gave a good report: Caleb and Joshua.
AND YET, right before Psalm 95:11, God gives a second offer of rest, in Psalm 95:7b-9.
"O, if you would but heed His charge this day: Do not be stubborn as at Meribah, as on the day of Massah, in the wilderness, when your fathers put Me to the test, tried Me, though they had seen My deeds. Forty years I was provoked by that generation; I thought, 'They are a senseless people; they would not know My ways.' Concerning them I swore in anger, 'They shall never come to My resting-place!'" Psalm 95:8b-11
But the Psalm does not limit this to once every seven days, and we can be in God's rest all the time. God gave a permanent Sabbath for us, and He is Lord of the Sabbath.
3. When was Abraham credited as righteous?
An Old Testament aspect very different from Judaism today is that sacrifices permeated every aspect of life under the Mosaic Law. They were required for sin, uncleanness, and to cleanse in general. The sacrifices were always animals, or sometimes grain, flour, and oil.
BUT STILL, in Genesis 22 God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac. God stopped the sacrifice, and no human sacrifice was done, but Abraham passed the test.
AND YET, before that time, before Abraham had any child, God believed God, and God credited his faith as righteousness. Genesis 15:6 says, "And because he [Abraham] put his trust in the LORD, He reckoned it to his merit." Belief was reckoned as righteousness before the sacrifice for Abraham.
4. The Lord - The First and the Second
Deuteronomy 6:4 says, "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God the LORD alone." Other translations say, "The LORD your God is one Lord." So there is only One.
BUT STILL, Psalm 110:1 says, "The LORD said to my lord, 'Sit at My right hand while I make your enemies your footstool.'" So the LORD is One, yet there are two who can rightfully be called Lord.
AND YET, the Hebrew word for alone/one is 'echad, which often meaned "united" or a composite unity. Examples of this word meaning a composition are:
"a husband and wife are one flesh" in Genesis 2:24.
"evening and morning were one day." in Genesis 1:5
Fifty clasps hold the curtains (plural) so the tent would be "one" in Exodus 26:6,11.
Two sticks joined together as "one" in Ezek 37:17,19,22
5. Why did God let His temple be destroyed?
The children of Israel originally had a portable tabernacle when they travelled in the wilderness, and everything had to be set up in very specific ways (Exodus 35-40). Eventually Solomon built a temple (1 Kings 6-8; 2 Chronicles 2-7:10) which God was very pleased with (1 Kings 9:1-9; 2 Chronicles 7:11-22)
BUT STILL, God promised (and fulfilled) that the temple, His holy temple, would be destroyed in Jeremiah 7:1-29. The Temple was good; but to the Israelites, it became bad, because Jeremiah said they trusted in their temple, instead of their God. Many Jews back then must have been very evil for God to orchestrate that His beloved temple, and the furnishings in it, were going to be destroyed, or worse yet, put to use in pagan temples. Later the Temple was rebuilt, but in then destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. What did the Jews do so bad that caused the second temple to be destroyed, and never rebuilt?
AND YET, Malachi 3:1-5 prophecy that the Lord whom we seek shall come into His temple. Malachi was likely one of the last books written in the Old Testament. Malachi 3:1-5 cannot happen today because there is no temple. When will Malachi 3:1-5 occur, or has it already occurred?
6. Who comes into the second temple of His?
Many places speak of the Temple of the Lord, and the House of the Lord (1 Sam 1:7, 1 Kings 6:1, etc.). It was a special structure built to honor God and a sign of His presence on earth. Nobody but God could go into the inner holy of holies, except the high priest, and only once a year.
BUT STILL, when King Uzziah offered incense in the holy place, God punished him with leprosy for the rest of his life according to 2 Chronicles 26:16-21.
AND YET, Malachi says that people will see the Lord coming into His Temple. "Behold, I am sending My messenger to clear the way before Me, and the Lord whom you seek shall come to His Temple suddenly. As for the angel of the covenant that you desire, he is already coming. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can holdout when he appears? For he is like a smelter's fire and the fuller's lye. He shall act like a smelter and purger of silver; and he shall purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they shall present offerings in righteousness. Then the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem shall be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of yore and in the years of old. But [first] I will step forward to contend against you, and I will act as a relentless accuser against those who have no fear of Me: who practice sorcery, who commit adultery, who swear falsely, who cheat laborers of their hire, and who subvert [the cause of] the widow, orphan, and stranger, said the LORD of Hosts." Malachi 3:1-5a (New JPS)
7. The distinct Holy Spirit - for prophets and for all
The Spirit of God is God; The Spirit was over the waters in Genesis 1:2. When you talk about the Spirit of the Lord, who spoke to David, you are talking about the God of Israel, according to 2 Samuel 23:2-3. God sent His Holy Spirit upon the prophets. Only a handful of people were prophets and prophetesses.
BUT STILL, The Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon (Judges 6:34); and Samson (Judges 14:19) and David (1 Samuel 16:13), and a few others. It did not come upon everyone, and David prayed in Psalm 51:13 "Do not cast me out of Your presence, or take Your holy spirit away from me." So David did not exactly say "God don't take God from me", but rather "[God], don't take your Holy Spirit from me." The Holy Spirit is distinct, a sevenfold Spirit, according to Zechariah 3:9. The Tanakh only says a little about the Holy Spirit of God, that only a few had.
AND YET, God promises that later, "After that, I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and daughters shall prophesy; Your old men shall dream dreams, And your young men shall see visions. I will even pour out My spirit upon male and female slaves in those days." Joel 3:1-2 (=Joel 2:28-29)
In Isaiah 44:3-4 the LORD prophesies, "Even as I pour water on thirsty soil, And rain upon dry ground, So will I pour My spirit on your offspring, My blessing upon your posterity. And they shall sprout like grass, like willows by watercourses." Rainfall hits all the grass.
God provided salvation to all peoples in Isaiah 49:6: "For He has said: 'It is too little that you should be My servant in that I raise up the tribes of Jacob and restore the survivors of Israel: I will also make you a light of nations, that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.'"
Tanakh quotes are from the JPS (Jewish Pub. Society)
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by Steven M. Morrison, PhD.