Some thoughts as Yom Teruah approaches:
The Apostle Paul believed that God’s adoption of the Gentiles was to precede the restoration of Israel (including the full return from exile and re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel).
Therefore the Apostle Paul believed that God had temporarily hardened the hearts of many Israelites to the truth regarding Yeshua as the eschatological Messiah so that Paul’s mission to the Gentiles could first be accomplished.
So, as Prof Paula Fredriksen points out in ‘Judaism, the Circumcision, and Apocalyptic Hope: Another Look at Galatians 1 and 2,’ “a generation after his experience of the Risen Messiah, and despite the great Day having not yet dawned, Paul could still ‘coherently and reasonably affirm to the Church at Rome that ‘salvation is nearer to us that when we first believed’ (Romans 13:11)” – p564.
It is also instructive to recognize that this statement of the Apostle Paul’s in Romans 13 is part of his exhortation to the Gentile believers in Yeshua (worshiping God within the Jewish synagogues/homes in Rome), that they are to show proper respect and obedience to the Jewish leaders (‘ministers of God’) of these synagogues (see Mark Nanos, ‘The Mystery of Romans’ for the full explanation of this historical setting – here is an introduction).
It is also vital that we see that Paul (Rav Sha’ul), in true Hebraic fashion is generally speaking corporately, rather than individually, when he speaks of salvation.
Thus he sees the Coming Age as imminent as Gentiles are turning from their idolatrous practices to the One True God of Israel and fulfilling the promise to Abraham that he would become the father of many nations.
It would appear (to me at least) that Paul did not fully appreciate that the Tanakh’s prophecy of a dispersion to ‘the uttermost parts of heaven (earth)’ (Deut 30:4) had not yet been fully enacted and so the end times return from exile could not yet occur. (This return, a miracle greater than the parting of the Red Sea, is now occurring before our very eyes! – see my ‘Israel: Return in Belief or Unbelief’ at www.circumcisedheart.info for some more detail on this.)
And yet, for the Apostle Paul’s message to fully reach to all Gentiles throughout the entire earth, perhaps it really did need the historical events of the last, almost 2000 years for this to occur.
The Apostle Paul believed he lived in the ‘end times’ and that in those times God would graciously redeem the nations (gentiles) from their idolatry without the ‘works of the Law’ (Jewish proselytization) and so Jew and Gentile would go up to the mountain of the LORD, to worship together at the House of Jacob (Zec 14:16-21).
Before the resurrection of Yeshua, Gentiles who were learning about the One True God, the Creator of the Universe through attending synagogues on Shabbat (Sabbath), could only enter the family of God by undertaking the ‘works of the Law’ and becoming Jews (Israelites). With only Jews gaining entry into the Kingdom of God, this meant that prophecies such as Zec 14:16-21 could not be fulfilled.
I believe that somehow Yeshua revealed to the Apostle Paul that God had initiated a new way; a new path through which Gentiles could become fully ‘children of Abraham’, and equal members of the Kingdom, while still remaining Gentiles.
This revelation of the Messiahship of Yeshua and the imminent arrival of the Coming Age (the Olam HaBah) brought great joy to the Apostle Paul and drove him forward in his mission with great energy and passion. I have written at some length on this in both ‘The Mystery of Romans: A Torah and Shema Centric View’ and in ‘The Tripartite Salvation Paradigm’.
Note as well verse 9 of this prophecy of Zechariah: “And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be One and his name One.”
Perhaps the increasing recognition and rejection of such idolatrous doctrines as the Trinity and ‘Dual Nature of Christ’, etc., coupled with an increasing embrace of Torah by Gentiles in particular, is indicative of the lateness of the hour in this 2000 year ‘end times’ scenario?
Perhaps also the increasing recognition of Jewish scholarship; of brilliant Jewish theologians like the late David Flusser; Prof Mark Nanos; and Rabbi’s like Abraham Joshua Heschel, Ken Spiro and Moshe Reiss, to name just a few shows that Zec 8:23 is also being fulfilled before our eyes!
“Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”
As it appears to me that this great prophecy has not yet come to full realisation, this is just one of a number of reasons why I don’t believe that this Yom Teruah is THE Yom Teruah.
However, there is great tension in the air; many sense the Spirit of Adonai moving; something momentous may yet occur.
I believe Yeshua will return on a Yom Teruah in the near future (see my article for details) – may it be soon!