Messianic Jewish halakhah is established by the spontaneous work of the Ruach (Spirit) within us, as a response to what G-d is already doing.
An examination of Luke 2:25-52
25 And there was a man in Yerushalayim (Rain of Peace) whose name was Shimon (heard/ from Shema, hear); and this man was a tzaddik (righteous one) and devout, looking for the comfort (paraklēsis) of Israel; and the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit/Comforter--Parakeletos) was upon him.
The comfort (paraklēsis) spoken of here is the main theme of Isaiah 40 through 66. This Greek word is related to the word parakletos (comforter, advocate), the noun used to describe the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). In addition, one of the most quoted Messianic passages of all time, calls the Messiah:
“Wonderful, comforter (ya’atz), Almighty G-d…” –Isaiah 9:6
Therefore, we could read, “looking for the comfort of Israel; and the Comforter was upon him.”
26 And it had been revealed to him by the Ruach ha-Kodesh that he would not see death before he had seen HaShem’s Mashiyach. 27 And he came by the Ruach into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Yeshua, to carry out for Him the custom of the Torah,
This could only have taken place in the court of women or the court of the Goyim, because we are told that Shimon spoke to Miryam during this sequence of events. The, “custom of the Torah,” which is being carried out for Yeshua is pidyon ha-ben, redemption of the first born. (Numbers 18:16), see the previous article for details.
28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed G-d, and said,
29 “Now HaShem, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in shalom (peace),
According to Your d’var (word);
It’s interesting to note that Shimon is departing in peace, with the Prince of Peace in his arms and according to D’var (The Word) of G-d.
30 For my eyes have seen Your Yeshua (salvation), (literally)
31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 A Light of revelation to the Goyim,
And the kavod (glory) of Your people Israel (Overcomes in G-d).”
In this passage, unlike the words spoken to the shepherds, which referred specifically to all the people (singular) of Israel, gives hope to all peoples (plural). The, “Light of revelation to the Goyim,” is alluding several portions of Isaiah; 42:6; 49:6; 51:4.
Note the illumination, both literal and remez (hint) in this brief spontaneous psalm of praise:
· Eyes have seen (v.30)
· Light (v.32)
· Revelation (v.32)
· Glory (Kavod/Shekinah, the manifest light presence of HaShem) (v.32)
33 And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. 34 And Shimon blessed them and said to Miryam (rebellious people) His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign (different from a miracle) to be opposed— 35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
The, “fall and rise,” of many in Israel refers to both the divisions caused by Yeshua’s earthly ministry and the defining of the Ecclesia (church, community of believers) pursuant to His resurrection and ascension. It is also a metaphor for death and resurrection in the lives of all believers. This is why, “fall,” comes first because without death there is no resurrection to eternal life.
Some mother’s might consider the words of Shimon a curse rather than a blessing. He was not prophesying a warning, rather he was stating a fact, and “A sword will pierce even your own soul.”
Miryam has shown from the beginning that she takes all of the things of G-d deeply to heart (core being); she cradles the life of Messiah in the depths of her being, therefore His suffering and death will pierce her soul, nefesh (entire being). The sword here is not a sword of judgement, it is a sword of division, dividing even between bone and marrow. First it will pierce her soul in grief but as a result of its thrust, kavod, Glory will follow.
Blessing will not submit to the definition humanity gives it. Blessing can devastate as well as prosper, all blessing comes from G-d.
36 And there was a prophetess, Channah (grace, favour) the daughter of Penu’el (Our faces to G-d, facing G-d), of the tribe of Asher (Happy, to go straight). She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her virginity, 37 and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fasting and prayers.
Channah, who shares the root of her name with Yochanan (grace/favour), is a female prophetic hero of Israel in the order of those who have gone before her: Miryam, Exodus 15:20; Devorah, Judges 4:4; Huldah, 2 Kings 22:14.
At this point we should note a common misunderstanding regarding the so called, “Lost tribes.” While it’s true that portions of each of the tribes outside of Judah were at a number of times in Israel’s dispersion, taken to the ends of the earth (We see this evident even today in the returning members of Menashe from the Asian pacific region); it’s also true that a sizable number from each of the tribes were absorbed into Judah, both from those that remained in the land and among those taken into captivity. For this reason the name, “Yehudim (Jews),” has become synonymous with the name, “Yisrael (Israel).” The proof of this assertion can be seen in the fact that Channah’s lineage could still be tracked via Penu’el back to the tribe of Asher.
Note the story that is told through the meanings of each of the names in this section of the record:
It’s because of G-d’s grace and favour (Channah), that we are afforded the opportunity to face G-d (Penu’el) in humility and shuvah (return) to the straight path (Asher) of His kingdom.
Channah’s devotion to HaShem is astonishing and compelling. She would never have been allowed to enter beyond the court of the women into the court of Israel and yet she attended the temple every day for over 84 years, fasting and praying specifically for the redemption of Yerushalayim. Imagine the delight of her soul at the revelation of the physically manifest Messiah of G-d.
38 At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to G-d, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Yerushalayim.
Note: “the redemption of Yerushalayim.” –Isaiah 52:9
The redemption of Yerushalaim and the comfort of Israel are two different things. As a current example we see that Israel continues to return to the land from all over the globe, and yet, Jerusalem remains divided, it has yet to come under Israel’s governance. G-d promises through Isaiah that His Messiah will redeem Yerushalaim. This is our hope.
Channah’s response of spontaneous praise and proclamation to all those who were present within the temple grounds at the time, is the perfect example of Messianic Jewish Halakhah (the way we walk). Unlike rabbinical halakhah, Messianic Jewish halakhah is established by the spontaneous work of the Ruach (Spirit) within us, as a response to what G-d is already doing. Halakhah is not incumbent upon us, it is the freedom of G-d at work in and through us, a natural outworking of the gospel of Messiah in us. We do not do things for G-d, we do things from Him.
39 When they had performed everything according to the Torah of HaShem, they returned to the Galil, to their own city of Natzaret (root and branch). 40 The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of G-d was upon Him.
The Galil was approximately 130 km away, at least two days journey north of Yerushalayim.
Luke goes to great lengths to articulate the accurate and devout Jewish observance of Yosef and Miryam. Luke, a Greek proselyte, is clearly very familiar with Jewish practise and its intrinsic importance to the gospel of Messiah.
In the describing of Yeshua’s growth in strength and wisdom, we see His humility in subjection to the Father by entering time, conceived fully human and fully G-d with us. He was in every way proved as we are proved and yet remained sinless.
41 Now His parents went to Yerushalayim every year at the Feast of the Pesach (Passover). 42 And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast (Aliyah);
This is yet another proof of Yeshua’s parent’s devotion to the Torah of Adonai. They were true Jews, both outwardly and inwardly faithful to HaShem in all their ways. They went up (Aliyah) according to the custom of the Aliyah (pilgrimage) feasts of Israel (Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot). This was at least two days journey over 130km of terrain, avoiding Samaria (which added distance).
43 and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days (seven plus one--Yom ha-bikkurim, day of first fruit), the boy Yeshua remained in Yerushalayim. But His parents were unaware of it, 44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. They were half way home by the time they realized Yeshua wasn’t amongst them. This meant an entire day’s return travel to get back to Yerushalayim.
Most English versions read, “Stayed behind.” I believe this gives the wrong impression. Yeshua didn’t act in wilful disobedience to His parents, He was simply immersed in the opportunity to be in the temple grounds debating with the rabbonim. During Aliyah festivals Yerushalayim was packed with tens of thousands of worshippers, entire villages travelled together up to Yerushalayim to celebrate, making it easy for any number of members of the traveling party to become disconnected from the group.
In addition, it was not uncommon for the devout to remain in Yerushalayim after an Aliyah festival. The rabbis’ taught that HaShem welcomed Israel to stay and enjoy the blessing that He attached to these observances, it was like a summer holiday that seemed too short in duration or a family camp where we get to know and love extended family members; we stay to prolong the joy (simchah) of the occasion. Many of those who met in Yerushalayim would have formed friendships with Jews from all over the known world, friendships that could only be cultivated at each of the Aliyah festivals and in some cases perhaps only at the festival of Pesach (Passover).
45 When they did not find Him, they returned to Yerushalayim looking for Him. 46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the Rabbonim, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.
By this time five days had passed since they had left Yerushalayim to return to Natzaret. Yosef and Miryam must have been beside themselves with worry. I recall losing my oldest daughter in a mall when she was only three years old, we found her after an hour of frantic searching; in that comparatively short period of time I felt as though my heart was being ripped from me.
Yeshua was most likely in Solomon’s colonnade debating with the rabbis’ and teachers of the Torah. We presume this is the case because, “they,” found Him, meaning that Miryam was there with Yosef, making it impossible for this to have occurred in the court of Israel.
This interactive debate was like a Yeshivah, a dialogue between talmidim (students). It wasn’t a lecture taken in the style of the Greeks, on the contrary, it was a conversation and debate over the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings (Tanakh), that challenged the varying rabbinical opinions and halakhic rulings of the day. Even as a boy, a Jewish male could be considered an equal to his elders in the study of Torah. Yeshua proved Himself well studied, knowledgeable and perceptive, those who heard Him were rightly amazed by His words, both in His questioning and answering.
48 When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Truly, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.”
Considering the number of days that had passed and the anxious possibilities that might have consumed Miryam’s thoughts, her response was very measured. She was however misdirecting her fears by suggesting that Yeshua had in any way treated Miryam and Yosef poorly.
49 And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Didn’t you know that I had to be among (en) Beit Avi—My Father’s house?”
Note Yeshua’s incredulity. It seems that He presumed that His earthly parents had known where He was, perhaps due to their previous experiences with angels and dreams, or perhaps because He assumed that they had remained in Yerushalayim for a few extra days.
The idiom, “father’s house,” is a familiar phrase from the Tanakh, however it is never used to describe the temple.
The psalm referred to in John 2:26 (Psalm 69:9) regarding the account of Yeshua overturning the selling tables in the outer courts of the temple, when read in context, describes the writer’s anguish over his people (Father’s house):
“I am become a stranger unto my brothers and sisters, and an alien unto my mother's children.
For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached
You are fallen upon me.” –Psalm 69:8-9
In this passage the phrases, “brothers and sisters,” and, “My mother’s children,” are synonymous with, “My Father’s house.” (Household).
Therefore, when Yeshua turns over the tables in the temple grounds He is referring both to the temple and the entire house of Israel and the kingdom of G-d.
The phrase, in Hebrew, can be understood as meaning:
· The literal house of one’s father
· The household of the father (my people). Hence, the house of Saul, the house of David etc.
If we add to this the words of Yeshua recorded in John 14:2, “In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” We see that He is referring to the coming kingdom, the Olam Haba (world to come) and the new Yerushalayim which will come down from the heavens. A city is the sum of its people and a people is known by its father. In this case, “My Father’s house,” refers to the community of believers both Jew and Gentile.
Therefore Yeshua is saying that it was right for Him to be among the members of His father’s household, teaching and instructing them in the Torah. He was perhaps also alluding to the fact that, “G-d does not dwell in buildings made of stone, but in the hearts of human beings.” And, in addition, yes, He may also have been calling the temple a symbol of G-d’s house (the dwelling place of G-d’s family).
50 But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them.51 And He went down with them and came to Natzaret, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
They didn’t understand. After all, Yeshua’s earthly father was Yosef and his father’s household were of Beit-lechem in the line of David, “Is He referring to David’s house?” The temple had never been called the Father’s house, so they were unlikely to have understood his words to refer to it. Regardless, Miryam, an incredible woman, in spite of her inability to understand, by faith, treasured these events in her inner being. This is an example of a pure spiritual halakhic response.
Note that Yeshua, “continued in subjection to them,” He was and remained, sinless.
52 And Yeshua kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favour with G-d and people.
Again, the fully human and fully G-d, Messiah Yeshua; increased His human wisdom and stature, finding favour from both His heavenly and earthly father’s, honoured among the people from a young age. Wood worker, Torah instructor, perhaps even an expert fisherman, a boy from the house of David, fishing the waters of the Galil for the souls of men, building a house with His Father.
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.