“BEHOLD!” That is the name of the current weekly reading.
More than actual, really beautiful. Behold (Hebrew: Re’eh), look carefully at this endless and magnificent future. Your soul is beautiful beyond words, if we are prepared to accept our own soul, our future – our God-given promise. Alas, we are separated, as we have often lost our ability to distinguish between holy and unholy, between blessing and curse (cf. Mose in the current Parasha – see Current Sabbath-Reading video). Only when we have carefully distinguished between both of them, are we able to receive the fruit of our ability of distinguishing (Hebrew: “Havdalah“), our choice. Moses encourages us: “Choose Life”!
You may have noticed that the actual HAFTAROT (the weekly readings from the Prophets, which are parallel to the weekly TORAH-readings from Deuteronomy) are taken from Isaiah – without any exception. BEHOLD! This initial word suddenly struck me, more than in all the previous years. Or rather I felt like in a sudden warm shower of rain in bright sunshine. And I expected a rainbow to appear very soon. And it did. Was this opening not identical with God’s address to the Goyim (= gentile peoples), where he first presented to all non-Jews HIS SERVANT exclusively chosen for them? And was this passage not found in Isaiah as well?
Driven by this expectation I opened the bible (Isaiah 42:1-9) with my heart beating and enjoyed every single word. Perfect beauty! Join me in the first verse:
BEHOLD MY Servant Whom I uphold, My elect in Whom my soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon him. He will bring justice and right and reveal truth to the nations.
Up to then the Nations had never had any rights before God. Vice versa they did not know His rights. So they could not obey them. Neither had they walked through the desert for forty years nor were they purified to be His people. So they could not be thankful to their God, who had freed them from imprisonment, who had given them Shabbat as – if I may say so –personal consulting hours for 25 hours, every single week. To these ignorant peoples he announced to send His servant he had elected in order to bring the same rights. Without any merits of themselves! What a wonderful, what a merciful God!
I had similar experiences when having read two further readings form Isaiah, when I was still a pagan myself. His servant – who was Jesus as I should learn later – kept every single word. So I began to celebrate God’s Shabbat, because Jesus did so as well. In these 25 hours I approached God more and more on a personal level. My heart was filled with thankfulness (for I, too, had walked through desert spiritually, actually almost for 40 years). Jesus’ very task as His servant was to save me from my personal desert, take me to the Father, and to reconcile me with HIM. Arrived there – finally – I fully understood. Jesus left. And I could let him go, him God’s SERVANT. Without him, without making up in my soul for my childhood and the history of my Jewish brothers and sisters, and of course for repentance for my sins I would never have grown adult, adult enough to meet God in perfect truth. Becoming adult is extremely important or we will never feel precious, full of values.
God’s Shabbath International always tries to bring out what is common between Jews and Christians. Still all this is the personal opinion of the author.
The SERVANT in Isaiah: 42:1-9 / 50:4-9 / 52:13 – 53:12
The MESSIAH in Isaiah: Chpt. 7 / 9:1-6 / Chpt. 11 / 28:16 ff
We will try a similar approach with the readings about the MESSIAH beginning with 7, 14:
Therefore the LORD Himself shall give you a sign: BEHOLD, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name IMMANUEL (= God with us).
In the German Wikipedia, the “stories about Jesus’ birth” are regarded mainly as legends with the aim to announce Jesus as MESSIAH (who has to be born in Bethlehem like King David). “Historian rather assume that Jesus was born and educated in the same place as his father, in Nazareth.”
In the Website “Religious Tolerance” we read that Bethlehem was devastated at the assumed time of Jesus’ birth. Further, on a medical perspective, a pregnant woman, shortly before birth, would loose her baby when riding a donkey for such a long distance.
Bethlehem, a myth invented, in order to fulfil (for the church) a godly promise? And what about Maria’s virgin conception? Today no problem (e.g. by in vitro fertilisation)!
We should accept such critical questions. So we can find God again and can distinguish, can “choose life”. That is all God wants us to do. Two more examples:
1) In 1976 the UN transposed GOD’s seventh day, which is holy, and made Monday the first day of the week, so despising GOD’s given order.
2) Catholics worship Maria seeing in her the female side of God, which they miss. But God has no sex (or both sexes in his character), as the Bible tells us. So the church misuses authority.
Shabbat is female, by the way. She is the queen of hearts, the bride, whom every creature is eager to meet on Friday evening. Magnificent! For this is true love based on GOD’s order.
I see a crucial difference between Jews and (a majority of) Christians in the ability to distinguish. Only things HE determined to be holy are really holy – man can never do so. Jews do accept that in their hearts and distinguish according to God’s decision.
Christians can learn that, too, in their hearts, having become adult and longing for meeting the only GOD, Abba, their father. Compromising (be it about Maria or about Eretz Israel) is necessary in human and political affairs, but not with God.
Once the relation to God is freed from all interests of the church, Jesus could appear in the “spirit God has laid upon him” to the nations in radiant light and fulfil his commission, which is “taking righteousness to the nations”, to you especially, because GOD created you in HIS image, magnificent and of pure beauty.
In our times, the nations should rather take back their robbery than claim anything from the Jews, as they have no rights whatsoever before God. Personally speaking (everybody has to check that for himself) to you who are a gentile: Would you admit God’s rights and keep them? Would you give up your own rights and idols, serve only HIM and stand before HIM as an adult who is responsible for his deeds? Would you not be thankful for ever to GOD’s servant that he brought GOD’s rights to you? Could you leave him thereafter, as he had kept his promise considering you once were a gentile? For now you are in the presence of the Father! You had really longed for that, for being accepted by God the Almighty – praise to him? I did experience that. Everybody from the nations is given that privilege. So choose life.
Then, by the grace of the One God, full of ardent desire and united with your elder brothers and sisters you will be able to wait for the Messiah’s coming, announced by Isaiah (of Jesse promised fruit). May-be, before saying farewell, you will ask HIS SERVANT, your redeemer
to teach you how to pray. And he will answer:
“When you pray, pray as follows: Father, hollowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come; give us our bread needed daily; and forgive us our sins, as we ourselves will forgive to each who is deeply indebted to us; and do not lead us into temptation.” The full version of this prayer is called Kaddish which is one of the most important prayers of the Jews – for about 3500 years. Distinguishing is beauty, beauty is love. He, who forgets about Israel, forgets about love.
GOD’s love be with all of you.
Eric C. Martienssen (English translation by Peter Nold)
The Kaddisch is one of the most important prayers of the Jews. “Our Father” sums up the most important thoughts of the Kaddish – here, for all of us – sung by Ofra Haza: