Consider Joseph--the favorite son of Jacob—the son who predicted his own prominence and who then became odious in the sight of his brothers.
Think of those years—many years—after Joseph had been left in the pit into which his brothers threw him.
Think now of those brothers--living with their father, Jacob, and holding onto this false narrative: an animal must have killed Joseph; and there was the evidence--Joseph’s coat they took home to Jacob, was covered with blood, a false sign that he was dead. They had thrown him into a pit, taken Joseph's coat and spattered it with the blood of an animal.
These sons of Jacob/Israel—devious and deceptive though they are—are the great-grandsons of Abraham the great patriarch of promise…the grandsons of Isaac and the sons of Jacob who was visited by the angel and named "Israel." And…. this devious offspring of the patriarchs are to sire the Twelve Tribes of Israel!
All those many years following at their home, Joseph’s brothers were silent about Joseph. If they discussed him at all, it would be in secret whispers. He was as good as dead.
Except he wasn’t.
Instead, he was on a rocky start to greatness in the great land of Egypt—all unknown to his family.
If we were to consider whom these figures might represent, we would be looking ahead to the future--numerous and world-wide Israel, would we not?
Israel after the Time of Christ
Consider the Jews of today and their attitude towards the Messiah/Yeshua. Like Jacob’s brothers, they hardly ever speak of Him, and their silence on him is profound.
The educated Jewish people express themselves a lot. They are verbose. I am continually amazed at the vast numbers of books they write about themselves, their history, their form of Judaism and their politics. They own many publishing houses. I take some of their periodicals/journals, one being “The Jewish Review of Books,” and I’m always amazed at their many perspectives on themselves and their own race.
But they seldom if ever write or enter into discussion about the most well-known and amazing Jewish individual who ever lived—Yeshua/Jesus.
QUESTION: What would you say that silence entails?
Now…back to Jacob’s sons.
They are Joseph’s brethren, and they must be carrying a heavy burden of guilt.
They believe that they have committed fratricide—murdering one’s brother--or, at least sold him into oblivion.
It was the father who sent him? What father? Father Jacob. But we also refer to Yeshua and his brethren. Both were dearly loved/are loved by the father.
The garments of both were blood-soaked and significant.
QUESTION: So what are we looking at here?
ANSWER: Joseph is a type of Christ. Joseph, through his leadership in Egypt, became a blessing to the world of the Eastern Mediterranean. He distributed food to the hungry peoples. Christ Jesus is the eternal Son of the Father Who is the Bread of Life.
Some day Jesus' own people will weep because of Him about whom they have been silent for so long. .
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10 ESV)
One of Moses’ lectures to the Israelites as they were poised to go in an claim the land has a section about finance, money and lending:
"There will be no poor among you; for the Lord will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess—if only you will strictly obey the voice of the Lord God, being careful to do all this commandment that I command you today. For the Lord your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow, and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you." (Deuteronomy 15:4-6 ESV)
At this point in their history they had profited by the riches of Egypt. Remember? Their Egyptian bosses, friends and neighbors gave them what they wanted just to get them to leave after the ten plagues. “Here…Go…Now!” And the Israelites left with great treasures.
In the future, they would learn to trade and lend.
In the middle Ages, the Christians were taught not to lend at interest. But the Jews lived under no such prohibition. They always had working capital since as they moved from place to place, they were skilled in concentrating their wealth (Paul Johnson: A History of the Jews). They could trade easily. If in one place they were persecuted, they could easily pick up and move to another and in that new place they could then use their wealth to invest. They were quick to respond to new situations.
Indeed, it was the Jews who became capitalists, having come to terms with borrowing and lending which brought them influence. This turned out to be one of the greatest contributions the Jews made to human progress. So says Johnson. Why? Because they were accused of loving money. Others might be said to love real estate, cattle or some other commodity. Any of these could be idolatrous.
Johnson: “If they made money work for them, they were parasites.” That’s the reputation they got.
Again, Johnson: “The Jews had particular contributions to make to the spirit of economic innovation and enterprise.”
In the 17th century the population of Europe was expanding fast. It needed to import growing quantities of grain. “Ambitious Polish landowners, anxious to meet the need, went into partnership with Jewish entrepreneurs to create new wheat-growing areas to supply the market, take the grain down-river to the Baltic ports, and then ship it west. The ports were run by German Lutherans. The Dutch Calvinists owned most of the ships. But the Jews did the rest.” They managed, they leased, they ran the tolls, they built and ran mills and distilleries.
Many of the Jews who were eventually expelled from Europe went to the Americas, there to establish factories, create new industry and establish trade.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Those who read this blog regularly know that this column is not easy on the Jewish people for their stubborn disregard of the Word of God. Nevertheless, God who has made them a witness in this world has not rejected them. So says the Apostle Paul.
So, let us look and see and acknowledge their ingenuity. When Moses declared: “You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow,” we see that God has imbued this people with talents that, all in all, have been a blessing. We live better lives in this world because of them.
And I will make of you a great nation,
and I will bless you and make your name great.
So that you will be a blessing.
-- Genesis 12:2 (ESV)
*Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews. Harper & Row, 1987.
Can you believe that Israel has an annual day of mourning? What is it all about? And I don’t mean Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement.
Tisha Be’av is a fast day that commemorates the destruction of both temples--Solomon’s and Herod’s. On both occasions, the people were thrown into exile. The Jews scattered abroad. No more temple worship. Thus, Tisha Be’av is the saddest day of the Jewish year.
This year Tisha Beav came on July 29th and 30th.
The traditional observances are fasting, sitting on the ground, refraining from washing, sexual activity and greeting people. Plus, there must be repentance of sins that the Jews say brought about the destruction of both temples.
In an article in the Jerusalem Post two weeks ago, Benji Singer says he thinks that due to the Corona Virus it is easier to understand what Tisha Beav is all about. That’s because, he says, we are experiencing a breakdown of our economy, financial security and relationships. We now have the yearning to return to the life we previously had.
In Israel, restaurants and places of entertainment are required to close on the eve of Tisha Beav, and many recreational activities are shut down.
* * * * * * * * * * *
THE FIRST TEMPLE DESTROYED—King Solomon’s….which lasted until 587-586 B. C. Then, all but the poorest of people were taken into captivity, not in vehicles but walking the whole trip to Babylon.
We have a picture and an explanation of that temple destruction and the razing of Jerusalem in the Book of Lamentations. Here is one quote:
How lonely sits the city
that once was full of people!
How like a widow she has become…
She that was a princess among the provinces…
Jerusalem sinned grievously,
So she has become a mockery…
The Lord has become like an enemy…
- Lamentations 1:1; 2:5
Israel’s God was one who cared deeply. Yet it was hard for those Israelites to believe that. Again, in Lamentations we read:
- Israel’s God was sick of Israel’s hypocrisy: “The Lord has scorned his altar.”
- Israel’s God let Israel be put in ruins: “The Lord has become like an enemy.”
- Israel’s God had warned Israel through the prophets: “The Lord has done what he purposed.”
THE SECOND TEMPLE--King Herod’s, destroyed by the Romans in 70 A. D.
Jesus worshipped, taught and preached in its courts of Herod's temple. He also predicted its destruction, decrying the “wicked and adulterous generation” in which He lived, especially the cities. (Of course, the rejecting Jews paid no attention.)
So, the two temples of Jerusalem…destroyed because of hypocrisy and wickedness. Both are mourned. Yes, both ancient catastrophes are still prominent on the Jewish calendar and unforgettable in the minds of religious Jews today in Israel.
* * * * * * * * * * *
So, modern Israel uses the Book of Lamentations for its observance of Tisha Be’av—an old, old book of laments for its modern day of mourning. What a thing of pathos!
“My eyes are spent with weeping;
My stomach churns;
My bile is poured out on the ground
because of the destruction of my people,
because infants and babes faint
in the streets of the city. (2:11)
“I am one who has seen affliction
under the rod of God’s wrath;
He has driven and brought me
into darkness without any light…
He has besieged and enveloped me
with bitterness and tribulation….
“My soul continually thinks of it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning;
Great is your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
therefore I will hope in him.’”
- From Lamentations 2 & 3 (NRSV)
Right there…abruptly…the remembrance of things past comes to the prophet; the character of the Lord is seen. Even though He has appointed the Babylonian power to demolish their place and His place—Jerusalem--Jeremiah, all at once, remembers how the Lord has shown His love....so many times....in so many different ways.
Israel has suffered greatly in the past hundred years….GREATLY. But we are now seeing His steadfast love and faithfulness and its beautiful effect upon His Chosen Ones in the Holy Land of Promise.
Even though the population of the State of Israel is exceedingly small, Israel has never in their times of greatest peril asked for military personnel from another nation.
WAR OF INDEPENDANCE
Fighting broke out in late 1947 shortly after the United Nations voted to grant Israel’s statehood. The Arabs falsely claimed that the Jews were trying to annihilate them. Not so.
The Israeli forces permitted them to leave, if they wanted, the cities that were captured by the Jews.
On May 14, 1948 the British left the country, and Israel declared Independence. On the very next day, five Arab armies from Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq invaded the new Israel. The Jewish Haganah had 60,000 trained fighters, but only 18,900 of them were fully armed and ready for war.
Did Israel ask the U. N. or the U. S. to aid them in this fight for the life of their new nation, authorized by the United Nations and recognized by the United State? No.
No nations fought alongside Israel. Israel won the war without personnel from any other nation.
* * * * * * * * * * *
THE SIX-DAY WAR OF 1967
After years of terrorist activity on Israel’s southern border by Egyptian militia, Egypt and Syria determined to make war with Israel. President Nasser of Egypt declared their aim: “…the full restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people…at the destruction of the State of Israel.”
On May 15, 1967, Israel’s Independence Day, Egyptian troops began amassing troops in the Sinai desert. On May 18, the Syrians prepared for battle in the north on the Golan Heights. On May 22, Egypt violated international maritime law by closing the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, Israel’s only supply route with Asia.
The United States attempted to negotiate a deal to prevent hostilities but was unsuccessful. President Lyndon Johnson was hampered: America was in the Viet Nam War. He urged Israel not to initiate hostilities. How could he say that? Israel was surrounded by nations that were all ready for war and on Israel’s borders. International commerce to the east was cut off. Nasser declared over the radio this this was a war of extermination.
America’s State Department at this time announced: “Our position is neutral in thought, word and deed.” What?
AND GET THIS: Both the United States and France put an arms embargo on every nation in the region including Israel to express disapproval of the war. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union was supplying massive amounts of arms to the Arabs! And…Kuwait, Algeria, Saudi Arabs and Iraq were contributing troops and arms to the Egyptians, Syrians and Jordanians as they fought Israel!
Yitzhak Rabin, Chief of the General Staff said at the time: “It’s time we stop deluding ourselves that someone will come to our aid.”
AND NOTE: Look at where the U. S. has been or is now defending the freedom of other nations both small and large—South Korea about what...40,000 soldiers? We’re still in Europe, though some may soon be coming home. I think we have some in Iraq. And then there’s Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Is Israel in an alliance like NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organization) where each and every member is pledged to come to the aid of ANY of the others, no matter how small, who are invaded by another country.
ANSWER: No, Israel is not included in any alliance of this type.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
As I was preparing for this blog, my reading from the prophets took me to this Isaiah passage where Israel is “brought low.” That was the feeling in Israel before the 1967 war. “Prophecies of doom and the feeling of imminent defeat were prevalent among the majority in Israel.” (Jewish Virtual Library)
Jerusalem (Ariel, another name for the city) is brought low. Yet…and here Isaiah speaks an unbelievably relevant and poignant poem that magnificently speaks to Israel’s situation:
But the multitude of your foreign foes shall be like small dust,
And the multitude of the ruthless like passing chaff.
And in an instant, suddenly,
You will be visited by the Lord of hosts….
And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel,
All that fight against her and her stronghold and distress her
Shall be like a dream, a vision of the night….
So shall the multitude of all the nations be
that fight against Mount Zion.
--from Isaiah 29
The final episode of the nations swooping down on Israel to destroy her has not happened yet. But these wars since her rebirth in modern times illustrate how alone Israel is in this world—how devoid of the help of other nations--how dependent on the Lord God she is for her existence, protection and health. It is He that has chosen Israel, who will renew her covenant with Him; and it is He that is raising her up to be a witness to His Lordship over the nations.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.