Why Is Yeshua Important?

by | Feb 19, 2019 | Gospel

Yeshua’s arrival is the most important occurrence ever to happen to creation since creation itself. That is the bold claim the Biblical narrative asserts throughout the prophets, writings, and witnesses that surrounded Yeshua. This proclamation that there is this God that loves His creation, His mission, and His image bearers: mankind; that His mission will not be thwarted, and that His kingdom will reign over the earth. This was an expectation given by the prophets during the Babylonian exile and it instilled hope. Hope that God had not abandoned His people; hope that a coming King would arise; hope in a redeemed world and a new creation.

This is why Yeshua and the New Testament are so important; because God made a promise. Without Yeshua and the New Testament, the Bible is just a book about a God who does not keep His promises. Without Yeshua and the New Testament, the Bible becomes a book of hopeless pursuits and abandoned love.

There is a trend occurring that seeks to somehow minimize Yeshua, the impact of Christianity over the past 2,000 years, and the Biblical authors of the New Testament who not only followed Yeshua or Jesus as their Messiah, but were willing to lay down their lives for His central message: that God loves you to an unimaginable extent and that you can participate in a reality of His presence alongside others. What is most concerning about this trend of critics is that most claim they were once believers of the Christ, tasted the glory and peace of God, and experienced the reality of God’s Kingdom.

The gospel or good news was an announcement that God was doing something new by taking back His creation and restoring it through His reign. The gospel is not some declaration of the same old news that people had heard over and over again. That would not make for exciting nor good news. The gospel announcement was good and exciting because it was new, stirring, and relevant. This was hope made tangible.

This rabbi from Galilee was not only said to be the true Son of God, a title meaning King, but was also said to have defeated the true powers of evil in the world that hold us captive, the powers of Sin and Death—the unseen powers that influence our flesh. These are the whispers in the garden that reveal the true human condition. These were the things that separate us from God, destining us to a life in exile much like that in Babylon or even Eden. This rabbi was declared to have been given the fullness of divine power, not to domineer and lord over His subjects, but to empower, bless, forgive, love, and strengthen those who would give their loyalty to Him. This rabbi was announcing that the Kingdom of God had arrived… it was crashing into this world around us; our captors had been taken captive; the promises of God were finally being fulfilled; Eden had been reborn and that creation itself would never be the same.

THE STORY

The Bible is a collection of literature that has impacted the world in a way no other book, letter, or essay ever has. It is a vast library of drama, historical narrative, poetry, erotic literature, tragedy, parable narrative, and legends. All of these letters, books, discussions, and tellings speak of one unified story pointing to the thing all mankind yearns for at its core: hope—a hope that says it is only found in the person of Yeshua.

The Bible was pieced together, written in times of joy, happiness, anxiety, and lament by human hands inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is truly a reflective work of something that was formed on the cusp where divinity meets humanity.

This is a story passed down orally through many generations, recorded in written form, rebuilt, passed on, and guarded. It is a story about ecstasy, failure, a mission, a journey, passion, forgiveness, hope, and reconciliation. It is a story about God’s mission and it is a story about you.

In the past few years, I have seen a growing tendency of believers rejecting Yeshua. Either they assert the Old Testament does not claim the need of a coming savior king, or they are swayed through common anti-missionary arguments formed through a modern Judaism’s expectations of the Messiah. Notice the emphasis on “modern.” These claims which have evolved over time are a response to the power, strength, and influence of the Christian faith, attempting to distance itself from it, even at the expense of its own foundational pursuits.

It is tragic when this happens because essentially these individuals are rejecting the hope and validation Yeshua gives the entirety of the Bible. This is why Yeshua and the New Testament are so vital to our faith. In essence, without Yeshua and without the New Testament, the Bible is simply about a God who does not keep His promises. It is about a people who have been left behind and who have been forgotten by their king. Without Yeshua and the New Testament, the Bible becomes a tragedy, and it is heartbreaking when someone trades their assumed faith in Yeshua for that scenario, promoting it as truth and attempting to sway others in the same direction.

When we read the Bible, we sometimes become swayed into thinking these are some random collections of letters and notes, that these books do not contribute to each other and should be opened, read, and closed again. I would submit that these books in our Bible are part of one continuous story, each contributing to another chapter within the grand narrative of our God, His story, and His mission.

Take the Torah for example, we see a law book. A book of regulations, statutes, and commandments on how to live out God’s Kingdom on earth, how to promote justice, and how to love. The Torah, however, is not merely a law book. It is narrative as well. What kind of a law book has 69 chapters as its preface full of stories, encounters, and adventures? Although the Torah contains laws, statutes, and the structure and formation of a legal system, the Torah is also the start of a story; the beginning of the mission God has put forth in His creation.

This story begins with a God who would create the universe. He creates the stars, the heavens, and the oceans. This God creates a world where life thrives. From the fish in the sea to the cattle roaming the hills. Everything is in order, at peace, and everything is good.

The story goes on and speaks of a garden which is cultivated as a place where God and mankind meet. This mankind, or “adam” is given authority to rule the earth alongside God, to be His image-bearers. Their mission: be fruitful and create more image-bearers to fill the earth with God’s goodness, reign, and peace. Man, God, creation, life; this was the world God intended. This was heaven on earth. That is, until the incident of Genesis 3.

In Genesis 3, an invader enters this paradise. This invader whispers lies, gives false hope, and lures man to seek autonomy from God. These are words of doubt, words of rebellion, words of arrogance. These are the words that are all too familiar to most of us. These are the words of the serpent. Man responds to the influence of this invader and chooses to define good and evil outside of God’s reign, elects to rule this world outside of His direction, and decides to multiply images of themselves instead of God. This is a section of the story known as “The Fall of Man.” This is the tragedy of man choosing to separate themselves from God, exiling themselves from God’s reign.

Through this decision, Sin enters God’s creation. Sin, with a capital “S.” This force is fueled by the spirit of rebellion and idolatry, seeking to overthrow God’s good creation. Sin, however, does not undermine God’s mission. Sin does not have the last word. Sin is destined to fail.

Sin has its way in this world following the exile of man- kind from God’s presence in the garden. Love grows cold, justice becomes foreign, and violence becomes commonplace. Relationships between humans no longer enjoy the sweetness of shalom but are defined by exploitation and gain. God looks into His creation to see only one man worthy to be called righteous; Noah.

God calls Noah to build a massive ark to hold the remnant of creation as a flood is called down to flood the earth. Rains fall, rivers and seas merge as one, and once again, the earth found itself formless, empty, and deep in the waters that covered the earth. God was attempting a new creation through the flood, but violence and evil did not die—it continued to grow even after the flood. There needed to be another way to destroy evil, to bring about intimacy once again, there needed to be something stronger that would unite heaven and earth.

As the world resettles and the population grows, the Biblical narrative retracts from being a worldview and refocuses on a single family, the family of Abram. Abram and his family are charged with the same mission that was given in the garden, that he will multiply throughout all the earth, blessing every single family as a result. That he would be fruitful, reproducing the impact of God in his own life. The mission of God is still in play, not thwarted by evil or violence. God’s mission will succeed, and it will succeed through this person of Abram.

Abram, or Abraham, dies, but not before passing his legacy onto Isaac. Isaac bears a son named Jacob whose name is changed to Israel after a physical altercation with an angel. In Gen 35:11 God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body.

Israel’s offspring went into Egypt and became enslaved. They cried out to God and God rescued them, redeeming them to Himself. He then charged them with the same vocation. Be a nation of priests – mediators of the divine and the earthly. For what purpose? To reconcile all creation unto Himself. They would be the light that shines God’s kingdom throughout the world. When they went out to all nations, the nations would become illuminated as image bearers—reciprocating the reflection of God’s reign through themselves.

The story of the Bible takes a dark turn here. This new people, committed to being the true image bearers, fulfilling the promise of Abraham go into a promised land and settle. They face times of war, occupation, and enslavement. Life gets hard quickly, and some of the strangest and undoubtedly some of the most unsettling stories occur in this time period of Israel known as the time of the judges. Israel has no king during this time, for they are ruled by the judges, and they are fickle in their faith. Stories of Moabites and Philistine armies overpowering them are frequent. In one chapter, you see an entire tribe almost wiped out by their own brothers, and then in another section, you read about a man with long hair and super strength being a horrible husband but finding God’s peace at the end of his life.

Skip ahead a few generations, and you have this former slave nation having fully settled in the land promised to Abraham. Remember, Genesis 12:1-2 emphasizes the land was given to Abraham along with his blessings and his wealth so that the nation that comes from him would bless others.

All 12 tribes are gathered together under a king known as David. This King David is known as a man after God’s own heart. He is a king that, although imperfect, allows himself to be used by God to manage what seems to be the high point of Israel’s settlement. David secured the borders and Israel is finally experiencing this complete peace and security after generations of struggle and war.

God then makes David a promise about his son.

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his king
dom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 2 Samuel 7:12-13

King David indeed had a son named Solomon. Solomon was a brilliant, strong, and wise man. He takes his father’s plans for God’s Temple and puts them into motion. He is the one that finally builds the much- anticipated Temple of God – no longer is God going to dwell in a tent… there will be a permanent structure in Jerusalem that God’s glory will manifest.

Solomon and this city of Jerusalem are gaining a reputation across all the lands. Kings are making deals, political agendas of peace are being met, great wealth is pouring into Israel—what could go wrong? The queen from the far away land of Sheba even comes for a state visit. She is a pagan, not an Israelite. She comes from a different background, culture, and serves different gods. Yet, she begins to find out more about this Israel and this king Solomon who serves this God and blesses these people.

It would seem a Kingdom of priests is starting to be formed. Pagans are flooding in asking questions like “who is this God of yours? We see His light through you!” 1 Kings 10 says the queen of Sheba came to ask Solomon hard questions, and he took her for tours around his house, the Temple, and the city. She watched how he worshiped this God. She was taking everything in about this King and these people.

In 1 Kings 10:9, she even blesses God based on what she sees in Israel. She states that she sees God has given Solomon all this blessing so that he can execute justice and righteousness, showing forth what a nation of priests was always meant to do.

“Justice and righteousness” is a way of saying Solomon was meant to rule a kingdom where oppression does not occur, where the abuse of power is nonexistent, where Solomon would act on behalf of the poor and the powerless, and that this Kingdom would fully represent the God whose reputation is freeing slaves and empowering them to rise above their situations to show His redemptive work.

Solomon has this power, and he has this wealth. He has this authority and power that God gave to him. He even has the fullness of wisdom, but does he use it to execute justice and righteousness?

The Bible gives us a subtle hint that most of us miss in 1 Kings 9:15.

And this is the account of the forced labor that King Solomon drafted to build the house of the LORD and his own house and the Millo and the wall of Jerusalem and Hazor and Megiddo and Gezer. 1 Kings 9:15

Forced labor… Forced, unpaid labor. What is another name for this? Yes, slavery. The Bible drops a bomb right here because Solomon built his palace, Hazor Megiddo, and Gezer which are military infrastructures, and the House of the Lord with… slave labor. Solomon used slaves to build the Temple for the God that frees slaves.

In the Sinai incident, God gave three direct commands to the future kings of Israel. Three things they should never have.

Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. Deuteronomy 17:16-17

Solomon broke every single one of these commands. In 1 Kings 10:26-29, Solomon builds this massive army of horsemen and chariots. He made silver as common as stone in Jerusalem, and in 1 Kings 11, we are told Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.

Horses and chariots were like the hellfire missiles of the Ancient Near East. Not only did Solomon acquire an ultimate weapons cache, but in 1 Kings 10:26-29, Solomon imports them from Egypt and exports them to the Hittites and Syria. Solomon, the king of Israel’s golden age, has become an arms dealer, profiting off of war, violence, and exploitation of the weak.

Solomon has become Pharaoh and Israel has become Egypt. They have become the very thing they were free from earlier in the story. They used the strength and empowerment that God gave them to fuel a selfish agenda of profit in this world. This Solomon, this son of David has forgotten the fear of the Lord. He has forgot- ten who God is. He has forgotten who he is.

At the highest point in Israelite culture, the Israelites began viewing their blessings from God as favoritism and entitlement. The reality is, God was giving those blessings so that the world would see Him. They received the blessings so they could give blessings. They were given blessings so they could be priests. They had forgotten who they were. It is during this time that prophets such as Amos and Isaiah are dispatched.

Amos 3 speaks of the accusation towards Israel, having become warlords that gain wealth by plundering and looting weaker nations and people. Isaiah 1:13-15 tells us of God being nauseous at Israel’s actions towards the world all while claiming to worship Him. They loot the poor, the enslave the weak, they choose selfishness before love, all while going to the temple, offering incense, and wishing each other “Shabbat Shalom” every Saturday.

This people of God have chosen to oppress others for their own gain. A turn of events that reminds us of earlier in this story, in a place called Egypt. This was the scene where Israel was oppressed and were freed by God’s redemption; empowered to become His priests. Israel has fallen, they have become the oppressors, they are creating hell in God’s good creation.

The ultimate consequence finally comes from God. That consequence is exile. The Assyrians take away a huge part of the Israelite residence, and even more emphasized in scripture, Babylon comes. The King of Babylon invaded Israel, destroys the temple, wipes out much of the population, and carries the rest of Israel away to Babylon to become servants. This slave people who were redeemed from slavery and chose to enslave others now find themselves back in a familiar setting, trapped in a foreign nation having become slaves once again.

This is a strongly emphasized point in the Biblical narrative. Exile—separation from God—comes with disobedience. This is what took place in Babylon, this is what took place in Assyria, and this is precisely what took place in Eden. Rebellion against God results in separation. Israel had experienced a total loss of their homes, their loved ones, and their God. The Temple was destroyed, everything they worked for, their entire empire, had crumbled.

Sitting there in Babylon, Psalms 137 records the songs of the people, sitting by the rivers, yearning to be back in Jerusalem, back in their land. If they could just go back, if they could have another chance, would they do things differently? Would they obey? Would they live in the life and power that God was so willing to give? Would they take up their role as Priests?

In Deuteronomy 28-30, God speaks of a time where Israel will rebel and be scattered to foreign lands. It was a prophecy concerning exactly what took place. And in Chapter 30, God affirms that when Israel fails to take up their vocation as priests and is punished because of it, He will not leave them. He promises that if they repent; if they choose to seek Him, that He would restore them. He promises that He will regather them, bring them back to their vocation, and empower them once again. He promises they will multiply and fill the earth. This was a hope Israel held onto in Babylon based on the Psalms. They knew who their redeemer was and they knew God had not forgotten them.

This is the stage that Isaiah and Jeremiah walk on to. The anticipated hope that was God-given in a time of complete and utter devastation. A hope of restoration, healing, and reconciliation. A hope of forgiveness, a newness of life, and complete shalom. This hope was so radical, it pushed the imagination into a coming reality where everything would be changed. There would be no more hate, violence, or war. Our guns will be made into garden tools, and all man would recognize the authority of God. God’s reign would engulf creation once and for all. This world would become a new creation.

How would this happen? How could this happen? It will come about by way of a king that will lead the world back to God. A king that will be the true son of David. Not Solomon, but another that will truly fulfill the ways of God on a scale never imagined.

Isaiah 11 speaks of a branch of Jesse. A reference back to King David’s father. This David figure is prophesied to come with wisdom and understanding upon him, knowledge and fear of the Lord. This king likened unto David will pursue justice and righteousness for the poor and the meek. This will not be Solomon, son of David. This will be a different son of David. This will be the true son of David God promises. This will be the anti-Solomon.

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19

This is the promise of God that is emphasized in the last 20% of Isaiah. A promise of something great. This would be a new redemption from slavery. The first time God redeemed Israel from slavery in Egypt, it only took a few generations for the redeemed people to become like the rest of the world. The issue was not physical redemption. The issue that needed to be addressed was not Pharaoh nor Egypt. It was not Nebuchadnezzar nor Babylon. It was the dark evolution of the hearts of man where Sin is rooted.

This is what enslaves us. There is an Egypt that man- kind is born into. And we need a bigger Exodus to happen within us. It isn’t just from a geographical location, either. Isaiah keeps prophesying until the vision encapsulates all people from all nations. There is not only one people stuck in Babylon.

And I, because of what they have planned and done, am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory.
 Isaiah 66:18

Jeremiah 31 states that this new covenant will be made with His people—the people that do His will. It will not be something that allows the heart to go unchanged. No, this event, this new Sinai experience, will trans- form the heart. God’s intentions, love, mercy, and law will be written on the hearts of this new redeemed people.

The prophets speak about a Jerusalem being redesigned, expanded even. Not only will all people from all nations be entering into this place where God’s presence dwells, but Zechariah also proclaims in Zechariah 2:4 that this Jerusalem will not have any walls. God’s presence will be abundant in and around it. It will have no walls because it will become borderless, overtaking all nations.

Isaiah 19:19-25 speaks of a promise of God that this event will be so big, that altars of worship will be set up in Egypt! The place where oppression and slavery were birthed at the beginning of the story will end as a place of devotion to the God of Israel. Not just Egypt, but Assyria too will worship God together. It even goes on to say that Israel will be equals with Egypt and Assyria and they will all join together in praising God.

Israel will be equals with Egypt and Assyria, their enemies. This event that displays God’s mercy will join Israel with their enemies in worshipping the one true God. Enemies will be loving one another because their focus will be on God.

Truly – this event is coming. The day when all nations come together with mutual respect, love, and grace under the reign of God’s kingdom. This event was not just for Israel, it was for the world. This great event will mark a bringing in of all nations. Exactly what Israel was charged to do. In this new world, according to Isaiah, the deserts will be made to be Eden, like the garden! This place where God’s reign was fully manifest, where the wolf truly rests with the lamb.

A new servant is coming – a new King. Not like Solomon, no. There is another son of David. Isaiah 42 states that He will execute justice and righteousness. Isaiah 9 says He will be the prince of peace, not an arms dealer, that He would proclaim the good news to the poor.

The prophets further this “Son of David” motif by saying David will reign forever in Ezekiel 37:25 and Jeremiah 33:17. This Messianic/King figure will reign forever. This is the seed that crushes the serpent’s head. This is the one greater than Moses. This is the Son of David that rules forever.

Isaiah 40 has a significant promise in all of this:

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 40:1-5

These are the promises made by the prophets. The promises of the reconciliation of mankind to God. The promises of something bigger than simply dwelling in a geographical location.

And this is where the story ends in the Old Testament also known as the Tanakh. Mankind is formed with a mission and fails. So, a people are called and given this mission and fail. So, God makes a promise. This promise is a promise of hope and victory. It is a declaration that the mission to bring the world to Him will succeed. He promises a new way, a new heart, a new spirit with- in man that will be so transforming that a new reality of heaven will crash into this earth. He promises this will happen through a King, through the son of David.

Then the Old Testament ends. In both the Christian and Jewish canons, an abrupt “to be continued” is slapped on to this story. This is the unified story of the Old Testament; the poems, narrative, legends, and writings. All of it works together to tell us of something greater that is coming. All of it works together to tell the promises of God. This is why Yeshua and the New Testament are so crucial. Because, without them, the Bible remains merely a story about a God Who does not keep His promises.

In the first century, all this changed. Fishermen, tax collectors, and lay people from different households collectively began following a no-name rabbi from Nazareth. He went into synagogues and towns healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, and raising invalids to their feet. All descriptions of the beginning of God’s new world as presented in Isaiah 35.

This rabbi had one central message he preached; that God’s Kingdom has arrived and is crashing into this reality. A new change is here, and the hearts of man will never be the same. He preached on a mount about the Torah of God and how to fully apply it in your life. He lived out the reality Judaism calls “The World To Come.” His name was Yeshua. Who is this Yeshua? What did He come to do? Well, when we read the gospel accounts, we see people give him a title.

The blind man in Mark 10:47-48 sees Yeshua and cries out “Son of David, have mercy.”

The Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:22 cries out “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David.”

She tends to emphasize the title with “Lord” or kurios in the Greek, meaning king. As if to say “Son of David, my king.”

In Matthew 21:9 When Yeshua comes riding into Jerusalem, the crowds proclaimed “Hosanna, Son of David!” while quoting Zechariah 9:9.

“Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ Zechariah 9:9

Son of David. The son of David is here. Not Solomon. No, the promised son of David. The son of David that would reign. The son of David that would usher in this new exodus from sin. That son of David, oh, have mercy.

Yeshua is King and the Son of David that was promised. Our God keeps His promises because He loves us. That is why Yeshua and the New Testament are important; “because the Bible tells us so.”

 

Matthew Vander Els

Matthew Vander Els

Pastor Matthew Vander Els is Founder of Founded In Truth Ministries and leads FIT fellowship in Fort Mill, SC. Matthew’s passion is the person of Yeshua and the power of the gospel, His crucifixion, and how the resurrection changed the world forever. Matthew also loves exploring the Jewish roots of the Christian faith and the archeology and anthropology of Near Eastern kingdoms as they relate to the Bible.

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