Monday, October 17, 2016

You will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." (Mat 23:39) and Preterism.

Dear in Christ,

Mat 23:39 For I say to you, In no way shall you see Me from now on, until you say, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."
It is presumed and generally believed that this passage talks about the entire Jewish population repenting and accepting Jesus as their Messiah, in some future date. Let us ask ourselves: how did they arrive at such a conclusion or interpretation?

It is a common knowledge that this passage alludes to Psa. 118:26.
Psa 118:26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.
Psalm 118 is an antiphonal Psalm in which a minister sings a short verse to which the congregation sings the response. Antiphonal psalms are sung on all kinds of occasions like feasts, sacrifices, and celebrations.

Psalms 113 to 118 are called Hallel (Hebrew: הלל‎‎, "Praise"). Hallels are Jewish prayers, a verbatim recitation from Psalms 113-118, which is used for praise and thanksgiving that is recited by observant Jews on Jewish holidays.

It is believed that Jesus and his disciples sang Hallel Psalms after their Passover meal, as any Jew would. (Mat 26:30; Mar 14:26).

Why did Jews chant Psa. 118:26 on Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem?

Mat 21:9: And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
Jews always looked forward to their Messiah appearing as their King and while Jesus entered Jerusalem atop a donkey, they connected it with the prophecy in Zec 9:9.
Zec 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
Though Matthew’s account doesn’t make it explicit, we can find the connection in all the other gospel accounts:
Luk 19:38: Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

Mar 11:9: And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:
Mar 11:10: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.

Joh 12:13: Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Did the people really repent and accept Jesus as Lord while they chanted it?


We tend to think that people deserted Jesus after his arrest under duress from the Jewish clergy (Mat 27:20). If that were the only reason they deserted him, how did they follow him since the very beginning of his ministry? Was there no duress from the Jewish clergy then?

Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey [like Solomon going around the city atop a mule (1Ki 1:33) after he was ordained king] would have raised a lot of hope in the minds of the people that their Messiah, their king has finally arrived. Even the apostles were terribly disappointed while Jesus was arrested and killed.
Luk 24:19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
Luk 24:20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
Luk 24:21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done.
If the apostles were disillusioned, it is hardly surprising that the common man on the street were thoroughly disappointed. It is pretty easy for religious leadership to manipulate a disgruntled mob.

MORAL OF THE STORY: One needs not to repent and believe with conviction that Jesus is the Messiah or Lord in order to shout or chant “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord”!

Who were the audience of Jesus in Matthew 23?


Though the chapter starts off as an address to the multitudes and the disciples, Jesus specifically addressed the scribes and Pharisees 7 times during the course of the address (“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” Mat 23:13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29)! Apart from the initial 12 verses, the entire chapter is addressed to scribes and Pharisees.

If scribes and Pharisees have to chant Psa. 118:26, sometime now or in the future, they need to exist; but do they? Sadducees became extinct in 70 AD. The scribes are those who make hand written copies of scriptures. With the advent of printing technology, there is no place for scribes. Moreover, there are no proofs that the descendants of first century Jewish scribes exist today. Though modern Jews follow the Pharisees’ interpretation of the scriptures, none among Modern Jews claim themselves to be Pharisees.

So, if Jesus has to come back only when the scribes and Pharisees chant Psa 118:26, some time in our future, we need to doubt that he won’t come back at all.

If the address were to the Jewish public, the children of Israel, and if it were to happen any time in our future, Christ will have a tough time locating them, especially in the present day Israel.

One of the major Jewish groups in Israel today is Ashkenazi Jews, whose name has its origins in the name of Ashkenaz (Gen 10:3), son of Gomer, son of Japheth, son of Noah. Israelites were descendants of Shem, another son of Noah. So, Ashkenazi Jews are not genuine Jews.

Another major Jewish group is Sephardi Jews, who are of Spanish, Portuguese or North African descent. There is nothing to connect Sephardi Jews with the 12 tribes of Israel.

There are dozens of ethnic groups who claim that they are the descendants of the 12 tribes and most of their ancestry is shrouded in mystery, There are conflicting claims of DNA tests proving and disproving the authenticity of the present settlers of the land of Palestine as the descendants of Israel.

It cannot be a strange coincidence that the Israeli scientists have proved that DNA results could be fabricated. Who says that the DNA test results to prove their ancestry are not fabricated? (I am not a student of science to talk about the reliability/unreliability of DNA tests.)

There are Israeli historians who say that the present day occupants of the land of Palestine are not the descendants of ancient Israel.

The entire Jewish ancestry issue is murky and one can't discuss the topic with objectivity, without being called as antisemitic.

If Jesus is waiting for genuine descendants of the first century Jews to chant Ps 118:26, before making a come back, it is quite unlikely that it will ever happen. With more than 50% of Jews following Jewish atheism, and their numbers increasing by the day, it is quite unlikely that Jesus would find anyone to chant Psa 118:26, if he were to make a come back any time in our future.

What Jesus could have meant?


As we have already seen, Psalm 118 is one of the Hallel Psalms, commonly sang on Jewish holidays, celebrations and when sacrifices are offered up.

Whereas Jesus'ministry was replete with encounters between himself and the Jewish religious leadership (Pharisees, the scribes, priests, Sadducees and Herodians) we don't get to read about any such encounters after Jesus delivered his final address to them (Mat 23). There was not less than 2 days gap between Jesus' address to the scribes and Pharisees and that year's Passover. (Mat 26:2; Mar 14:1);

It is a known fact that Jesus took part in the Passover meal with his disciples and ended the meal, singing hymns, most probably, the Hallel Psalms. (Mat 26:17-30; Mar 24:12-26).

Rest of the Jews would have celebrated the Passover the next evening, because we read:
Joh 18:28 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early (translated elsewhere as morning); and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.
The Passover meal is eaten at sundown. Since Jesus took part in the Passover meals before he was arrested, this verse talks about the following dawn. In other words, Jews had to partake in the Passover the next evening. So, they would have sung or chanted the Hallel Psalms at the Passover meals. Therefore, Jews and their leaders saw Jesus between his and disciples singing Psa 118:26 and Jews singing it.

We can safely assume that Jesus meant the occasion and day on which they were to sing the hymn, rather than the precise hour of their singing it. If Jews avoided entering the judgment hall at dawn because they need to eat the Passover meal at dusk, isn't it likely that they would have been chanting the hymns in their minds? (Yes, it is an assumption, nevertheless, a better one than to assume that Jesus would come back after non-existent Pharisees and scribes chant Psa 118:26).

A Better View.


As Preterists, we believe that the Roman siege of Jerusalem that happened in 70 AD was the manifestation of Jesus' coming in judgment. The siege started a few days before the Passover, which was the last Passover celebrated in the temple. That was in April 70 AD. From then till 10th of August (or the end of the month) when the temple was destroyed, there could have been half a dozen Jewish festivals on which the Hallel Psalms would have been sung, including Psa 118:26.

So, Jesus could have been speaking about Jews chanting Psa 118:26 on the day of Pentecost of 70 AD. This could be more logical and reasonable than both the futurist interpretation as well as the view presented above, because both the scribes and Pharisees existed then and there were Jews from all over the world were gathered there.

It is inevitable that Jesus' appearance or manifestation had to happen when those who pierced him were still alive.
Rev 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
Zec 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
The talk here is not about the descendants of those who pierced Our Lord, so, just like every other passage, everything had to be fulfilled while both Jesus' disciples and those who pierced him were still alive.

Conclusions:

  • First and foremost, I am not a student of history or science.
  • I am not into conspiracy theories.
  • There are no scribes or Pharisees now.
  • The ancestry of the Jews in the modern Israel is highly suspect.
  • The fact that people chanted Psa 118:26 without conviction (Mat 21:9) proves beyond doubt that chanting it doesn't imply any kid of repentance and accepting Jesus as the Lord.
  • Since Psa 118 is part of Jewish prayer songs, it could be sung at any of the Jewish holidays, not necessarily on the second coming of Jesus Christ.
  • The only point of time at which all the parameters required for the fulfillment of Jesus' words converge appears to be 70 AD.
In Christ,
Tomsan Kattackal