|TABLE OF CONTENTS|
|THE PROPHET OF DEUTERONOMY|
Deut 18:18-22: I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die. And if you say in your heart, "How may we know the word which Yahweh has not spoken?" --when a prophet speaks in the name of Yahweh, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word which Yahweh has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you need not be afraid of him.
Jesus' apostles and disciples held a widespread belief that this remark was a prediction of him. See Luke 24:27, John 1:45 and 5:46, Acts 3:22 and 7:37. However, several factors speak against such identification.
Given these elements this individual will arise as part of the deep world crises, at the end of the age. He will appear today.
|THE COMING OF ELIJAH THE PROPHET|
Malachi 4:5-6: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Yahweh comes. And he will turn back the hearts of the fathers toward their children, and the hearts of children toward their fathers, lest I come and smite them with utter destruction.
The gospel writers assigned this prediction to John the Baptist, Matt 11:14, Mark 9:11, and Luke 1:17. The gospel tradition has Jesus making such assignment. But the words of Jesus are debatable. His remarks in Matthew and Mark could be viewed as allusion, with John the Baptist as someone who appears with the spirit of Elijah, not as literal confirmation.
It is essential to understanding of the Malachi prophecy that this individual will come before the great and terrible day of the LORD. The Hebrew word lipnee, translated as "before," is used in a wide variety of applications. It is an adverbial form derived from pawneem, the word for face. The sense is "in the face of." This individual will come at a time of deep world crises, when he works in the face of the threat of total destruction, under the same circumstances as the individual predicted in Deuteronomy. He will provide warning of that day.
As with John the Baptist the use of the name "Elijah" betokens the spirit of this individual, not a physical rebirth, or reincarnation, of Elijah. Elijah, John the Baptist, and this individual all display similar spirit in their work for Yahweh in unfolding world destiny.
|A major difficulty with translation of this passage is the seeming contradiction
between the intent of verses five and six. Verse five says that the great
and terrible day of the LORD will come while verse six, according to traditional
views, shows that somehow this servant will turn the hearts of the generations
toward one another, thus to avoid that great and terrible day. The conditional
clause is in the last word, normally translated as "curse." The Hebrew
word chayrem means "utter destruction," not curse. By turning the
hearts of the generations toward one another, thus to care for one another,
the work of the servant helps to avoid failure of God's program. He helps
to avoid utter destruction. However, he does not avoid the judgment.
Why is it important to this salvation that he turn the hearts of the fathers and their children toward one another? The answer lies in the increasing estrangement of the generations as the world neared the end of the age. Young people experienced escalating intensity of disappointment and disillusionment as they faced an ever more fearful world given them by their fathers. They went through periods of rebellion, and then utter hopelessness as time wore on. In the last years, before the final crises, dreaded plagues and destabilization of the nations caused a reassessment of moral and spiritual priorities. Some sought recourse in spiritist practices, as providing "love" and "kindness" the world could not offer. Others sought salvation in reformed religions. Still others resigned all efforts to find personal consolation; they took one day at a time. As events unfolded those who truly trusted in God learned of the salvation of the world, and their role in it. As the blood baths of sacrifice from the spiritists broke upon them they renewed compassion toward one another. Now they became acutely aware of their dependence upon one another. Now they turned toward one another.
|A NEW TEACHER FROM THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS|
Melchizedek was not the only unique personality described in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Refer to my paper on Jesus and Melchizedek, Creator and Messiah.
Large portions of the scrolls were biblical. All books of the Old Testament were represented except the Book of Esther. Several different fragments of the Book of Enoch were found, along with fragments of other Apocryphal texts known since antiquity. The nature of the cave discoveries suggests a reference library used by the Quamran community.
Material was also found of a genre never before known. This last group was published by Theodore Gaster under his title "The Dead Sea Scriptures." Doubleday Anchor Books issued three editions in 1956, 1964 and 1976, each time expanded by further cave discoveries.
The materials published by Gaster include:
1. A Manual of Discipline for a future body of people who "flee into the wilderness,"
2. A Zadokite Document, previously known from Egyptian discoveries and offering other instructions to a unique body of people dedicated in the "end times,"
3. The Book of Hymns, also known as Psalms of Thanksgiving,
4. Exposition on passages from several biblical prophets,
5. The War of the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness, and the
6. Text on Melchizedek, among other pieces.
In his Introduction Gaster describes a dedicated community, a
regenerated House of Israel. They view themselves as a small remnant who
have stayed faithful to the ancient Covenant --
". . . thereby ensuring the continuance of God's people and the eventual cleansing of His land from the stain of guilt." ". . . They picture themselves as going out into the wilderness to receive a new Covenant." This is ". . . no 'New Testament' in the Christian sense of the term, no abrogation or substitution of the old Covenant, but simply a new affirmation of it."
"There is, however, one crucial difference between this community and its remote prototype; it is not waiting to receive the Law; it already possesses it. Its aim is simply to assert that Law, to deliver it from the realm of darkness in which it had become engulfed. The Torah--that is, the Divine Teaching (or Guidance) as revealed to Moses--has, it is held, been successively garbled and perverted by 'false expositors'. The community's main purpose is to exemplify and promulgate the true interpretation. It bases that interpretation on a kind of 'apostolic succession', begun by the prophets and continued by a series of inspired leaders each of whom is known as 'the correct expositor' or 'right teacher ..."
"Just as Israel had been led of old by these prophets and teachers, so, it is held, a new Prophet and a new Teacher (perhaps, indeed, one and the same person), will arise at the end of the present era to usher in the Golden Age."
Gaster's word "Law" is derived from the Hebrew word "torah." The meaning of the word is "teaching," not some holy command promulgated by God. Law is a derived meaning. If the "Torah," the "teaching" of Moses, came from God, then it was assumed that all mortals must obey it, hence it is God's Law. Since those instructions contained many new commandments for physical, moral, and social conduct they were regarded as God's Law. But this view degrades the intent of "divine teaching." God is a compassionate, not dictatorial, Father. He is concerned about his created children, and wants them to love him. When men become fearful of him they lose their affection for him. They then turn to rote obedience, without reflective thought or feeling.
Since the advent of Jesus, and the larger enlightenment he provided, the Teaching is not limited to the words given to Moses. Jesus gave us better understanding of a compassionate Father who is concerned about his created children. Indeed, the many generations perverted the divine teaching, converting it to their fanciful desires.
Although Gaster's statements imply a continuous "apostolic succession" this is not correct. The "succession" comes at times of world crises, and not continually through the generations held in blindness by God. Gaster expressed the thought of "inspired leaders" appearing through time but this also is not correct. The generations have shown the blindness that afflicted them, without the corrective help of "inspired teachers."
Personal attributes of the New Teacher are explicitly described in the document Gaster called The Book of Hymns or Psalms of Thanksgiving. Gaster obtained these titles from the forms of expression found within the scroll. Many hymns begin with the phrase "I give thanks unto Thee, Oh Lord, . . ."
The scroll is written in the first person, as though penned by the individual who is the subject of its presentation. This unique style caused modern scholarship to assume it was written by a contemporary leader of the Quamran community. They issued many fanciful speculations on possible candidates to this supposed authorship, even including Jesus and John the Baptist! Unfortunately, that scholarship is blinded by its many secular assumptions. The content of the document well specifies its application in time.
"When the shafts of corruption fly, with none to turn them back."
The scroll is a series of statements of thanksgiving by the individual to God. Gaster provides translation from more than eighteen columns of Hebrew text, although segments of the scroll are missing. The statements of thanksgiving are unique in several respects.
The question then arises as to the purpose of the Songs. Since someone other than the New Teacher created the text, that other someone had to know in minute detail the life and personality of the New Teacher. But why could the New Teacher not create his own Songs of Thanksgiving? Why surrogate expression?
|EXAMPLES OF TWO DEAD SEA PSALMS|
|I offer illustration of two complete Psalms to show the nature of the writing. I shall go on to other quotations from the document, to show the role of this unique personality, and also the role of his brothers and sisters.||I draw directly from Gaster's translation. He attempted to retain the devout tone of the writing, as well as the literal meaning. He places the style in terminology that captures sincerity and reverence. Although the translated style may hark back to former times it replaces a loss our modern secular expressions cannot capture.|
It is obvious the individual lives amid strife, severe affliction, and dissension, amid a great contest in belief and in dedication. The world scoffs at these teachings, but those who love God know the value of their great revelations. This individual serves as "a banner in the vanguard of Righteousness, as one who interprets with knowledge deep, mysterious things."
Psalm #6 shows the destiny context and world conditions at the time of service of this individual. Is there any doubt as to the time and place of these events? What ancient mortal could have devised such dramatic and predictive statements? How could such concepts have occurred to the ancients? Is there any question as to the divine authorship required to make such forecasts?
Who can fail to recognize a judgment that, literally, turns granite into pitch? Or "when the shafts of corruption fly, with none to turn them back, . . . when they are hurled apace, . . . when the hour of judgment strikes?" "Warfare the like of which has never been!"
This individual, this servant, feels that he joins the heavenly host in their understanding. He experiences the meaning of holiness and praises his Lord for bringing him into communion with the Sons of Heaven. But what mortal would dare to make such comparisons? Would any mortal, molded of clay and kneaded with water, presume to such expressions? Only divine beings would venture into such style.
I shall now offer a few other brief quotations to show the specific application of this important document.
Through his work the individual exhibits unusual insights. Note the common accord and pledge of dedication to God. This is a work of faith, and of decisions. The statements suggest that brothers and sisters are willing to accept the extraordinary meaning of the teachings of this individual.
Again, indications are given how others may accept the teachings of this individual. But their response is far more than
mere acceptance. They recognize the spiritual soundness of that which he teaches and make supreme decisions based on that spiritual sense. The use of the word "token" shows a humility and lack of charismatic fervor in the nature of the individual.
This statement shows that the individual waited for indications of God's good time.
Many of the Psalms are designed to express the feelings of this servant.
This again shows the degraded spiritual environment in which the individual lives and works.
Other statements tell much of the personality and attitudes of the servant.
Psalm #15 has many parallels with the first few verses of Isaiah 50, and some highly specific statements.
The autobiographical remarks show knowledge of intimate personal relationships and physical conditions of the servant. Concern for God's people, and the responsibility of executing this service, weigh heavily on the servant. Irregular sleeping hours reflect that mental and spiritual tension.
Failure of the eyes could be from strain in a younger person; they could be from the deteriorations of age. Most probably the latter is intended.
The attitudes of his parents condition their relationship. The father does not understand the unusual relationship of the servant with God, the conditions of the age, new revelations, or how those elements affect the conduct of the servant. The mother may recognize the sincerity of the servant but is at a loss on how to deal with his unusual behavior. She turns it over to God.
The document certainly conveys mighty sustenance for a servant who is dedicated to God. It also carries mighty sustenance for those who might elect to join this servant in an awesome demonstration of faith and service.
The Old Testament prophecies of a new teacher, or a new prophet, when weighed against the material from the Dead Sea Scrolls, show that a unique individual was destined to appear on the world stage at a time of great social, physical and spiritual crises.
The descriptions of this individual show that he does not engage in a work of personal salvation, as Christianity has emphasized for two thousand years. He works for the salvation of mankind and a new spiritual era for this planet.
This servant labors to inform people who shall arise to form a "new covenant," not as an invention for a modern "new age," but as groups who rededicate themselves to the "old covenant" and to God. These rededicated groups then "flee into the wilderness" to escape the destructions forecast by the prophets. Without the work of this servant they would not be aware of the need to form a "new covenant" nor would they recognize the need for physical preservation of God's dedicated people.
The idea of "covenant" carries with it the arrangements made between God and man, both at the time of Abraham and the time of Moses. Although it is not my purpose here to discuss the genetic components of this covenant, it is important to recognize that much of God's work over the past four thousand years involves attention toward those who are of Abrahamic descent, whether they are of the "true vine" or merely "wild branches." Refer Romans 11:13-27.
A new life for this world is stirring in the birth pangs of the new planetary age. As a woman may deliver a beautiful child with great pain and turmoil, just such beautiful new age will spring forth from the cosmic trauma of the close of this present planetary age. We may challenge God that he would subject us to such severe tribulation, but we should remember that he is truly in command, and that his wisdom far exceeds the myopic visions of human kind.
In the final analysis, we must always ask if we love ourselves more than we love God.