Luke 24:27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
I won’t presume the be able to recover the scriptural outline of Yeshua’s famous talk on the road to Emmaus. Yet the puzzle is one worth playing at a solution. Where do the Torah and prophets point to Yeshua?
I am not satisfied with the commonly suggested answers in which little sayings are taken as codes predicting Messiah. A star here, a scepter there, and a snake bite do not seem to me to get to the real heart of why we believe Yeshua is Messiah.
Let me start with what I think is the clearest evidence for a Messiah like Yeshua in the Torah. Some will not be satisfied because this case is more about themes and generalities than specifics. But, I submit, it is far more accurate than the commonly offered Messianic codes.
What I mean is this: the reality of separation from God in the Torah is juxtaposed with a future of total union between Israel and God. In order for Israel to move from point A to point B, something (or someone) has to come in the middle.
Let’s start with what I call the reality of separation, which is what we see in the Torah. To properly understand the reality of separation, you have to understand the way the sacrificial system and sanctuary worship functioned.
Stated briefly, the reality of separation is this: Israel could not get close to God at all. At best, the people could come as close as the altar with God’s presence inside the tent and also behind a veil. Even this nearness was only possible because of constant cleansing with blood applied twice a day at the very least to the altar in front of the tent. And even this presence of God was far removed from God’s actual presence, being only a low-level manifestation of his being.
To better understand these realities, if you are interested, you may wish to read two articles on our congregation website: “The Tabernacle of Israel: Meaning and Function” (get it here) and “Understanding the Sacrifices” (get it here).
So, in the Torah we have the reality of separation. But there is another ideal presented in the Torah. It is presented in the primary eschatological passage of the Torah: Deuteronomy 30:1-6. Moses foretells the future history of Israel. Israel will sin, be cast out of the land, receive all the curses of the Torah, and at the end of the age be called back from every land to Israel.
Then, the reality of Israel’s union with God will begin. Israel will have circumcised hearts causing the people to love God will all their heart and obey HaShem completely. A circumcised heart is not something that man can achieve by his own effort. The union between God and Israel is not something man has ever achieved or ever will achieve on his own. I offer as evidence for this assertion the past and present history of Israel.
So the first part of understanding how the Torah points to something like Yeshua is to realize that Israel must move from the reality of separation to the reality of union with God. Some great act of God must come in between. What will that act of God look like? Can there be a satisfying answer without Yeshua? Is Yeshua the only possible answer or, as I think, is he the only revealed answer?
In Part 2, we will look at hints in the Torah and prophets about what God’s great action might look like. We will ask the questions: is this consistent with what Yeshua did? Is this consistent with how Yeshua saw himself? Is Yeshua’s action to unite Israel and God contradictory or consistent with the Torah?