Posts made in January, 2014

What Happened to G-d’s Promise? (Part 2)

Posted by on Jan 11, 2014 in Bible Study |
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And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and be called the Son of the Most High. And the L-RD will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.    Luke 1:31-33

The scripture portion we are examining is Luke 1:26-38. If you didn’t read part 1 you can find it here. Now that we have the context in which Mary heard the angel’s announcement, let’s explore what this could have meant to her and why it’s important for us.

[In our short study here we’re assuming that the idea of two Messiahs had already been promulgated by the time of Yeshua’s birth. It is possible, since the Mishnah wasn’t codified until around 100 CE, that the idea hadn’t yet gained traction. Even if that is the case and Mary didn’t have the idea of two Messiahs in mind, it is non-trivial that it seemed that her son, Yeshua, seemed to fulfill only half of the Messianic prophecies. Gabriel’s message held great importance for Mary and it does for us today, as well.]

Gabriel just showed up and told her that her son is the Messiah! This is great news! The son to be born to her will be a king, a great ruler! There are many good promises made about him! And her cousin is also pregnant. Could life get any better?

A few problems Mary faces, which also relate to our title, should be apparent. And by problems I mean looking beyond Mary’s immediate unwed circumstance.

As Yeshua reaches the end of his life, the image of Mashiach ben Yossef begins to emerge, not Mashiach ben David. We see him teaching in the synagogues in the towns throughout Israel, upsetting the local Pharisaic and Sadducean sects to the point that they plot His murder. We see a few times when the people themselves pick up rocks to stone Him. He is betrayed by one of His own, most loyal followers. And in the last, painful days of His life, Yeshua is repeatedly beaten and tortured, before being crucified naked for all to see on the side of the road leading into town.

If you are a parent and these things happened to your child, how would you handle it? How would you deal with so much hatred and violence directed at your child. How would you deal with your own pain, anger and heart ache?

What happened to G-d’s promise?!? I thought this was supposed to be a good thing for Mary, not emotionally torturous. What’s the deal? Does G-d think this if funny? G-d is supposed to be loving and kind, full of grace and mercy, not sadistic and capricious.

If we listen closely, can we hear ourselves mimicking questions that may have passed through Mary’s mind? How many times have we questioned G-d about something that’s happened in our lives? What tragedies have befallen us which have caused us to lash out in anger at our Creator? If G-d is so loving, we ask, why did _____ happen?

We all have things that have happened which have caused us to question G-d. And they’re often big, important, painful things. They could range from emotional betrayal to murder, from abandonment to rape to hunger. If G-d is so loving, why would He allow this? Maybe Mary asked that exact question.

But I don’t think so.

When the wise men came and presented gifts to Yeshua, Mary “kept these things and pondered them in her heart”. When she and Joseph found Yeshua in the temple after leaving him when he was 12, she kept it and pondered it in her heart. Throughout Yeshua’s life Mary was storing memories in her heart and pondering them. She knew that there were two messiahs. And she remembered Gabriel’s words. She was reconciling things that were happening in she and Yeshua’s lives with G-d’s promise.

Her son was the Messiah son of David. He performed miracles. He taught and led the people. But He was also Mashiach ben Yossef. I think Mary knew this. I think the hard part became reminding herself that her son was also Mashiach ben David.

I think remembering Gabriel’s prophecy about her son as the Messiah Who was to come helped Mary through the hard times. It wasn’t just a flowery prophecy to help Mary feel good as a young woman and mother-to-be. It was a prophecy of hope for her to hold on to when the times were hard. She could remember that prophecy and know that everything would be all right eventually.

That’s what G-d’s promises are for: to give us hope when times are tough.

So the next time you’re tempted to doubt G-d or chastise Him for a hardship, remember Mary. Remember that sometimes G-d’s promise is meant as an anchor of hope that ties us to Him when our lives take a turn for the worst. And instead of giving in to the temptation to throw His promise back in His face, hold it tightly. Keep it. Ponder it. Let it carry you when you need it the most.

And remember, one day our Messiah will return and there will be no mistaking that He is also Mashiach ben David.

Cheers.

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