Then the Lord said, ‘Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; and the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.” (Isa 29:13-14 NASB)
With the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., the seed bed was already in place for the rabbis to create an entirely new Judaism. This new Judaism would branch out from the sect of the Pharisees. It was this seed bed that Jesus spoke against:
Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Mt15:3)
Without question this new Judaism had a number of problems. They had a powerful contender for the hearts of the Jewish people from a fast growing movement in Judaism that was taking on the name Christian. Rabbinic Judaism began developing alongside Christianity but in opposition to the Christian faith. The Christian faith would soon outgrow its Jewish clothing to encompass all the nations of the world. Rabbinic Judaism would forever remain very small in comparison.
That was the beginning of their problems. Whereas Rabbinic Judaism had no temple or a priesthood in place, the Jewish Christians could easily appeal to Moses and the prophets with regard to their Lord and Savior. The Messiah had come and was now the high priest of the new covenant. No further sacrifice was needed. The eternal blood of the covenant had been shed. The Spirit of Messiah now resided in the hearts of all true believers.
In a letter written to Jewish people we read this:
Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb 13:20-21 NASB)
The path of foolishness begins…
The depth of foolishness began with the rejection of Jesus Christ. But how could the rabbis counter the Christian movement? Over time they began issuing warnings to the Jewish peoples about reading certain portions of the Old Testament. A curse was placed upon the reading of the book of Daniel and trying to calculate the times of Messiah. A strong warning was put in place against the study of Ezekiel with a special view to the ‘chariot of God.’ (Daniel set forth the very time for the coming of Messiah. Ezekiel spoke of the ‘form’ of God.)
The former testament began to taking on a dead shroud for the Jewish people. The glory of Israel had been rejected.
Paul wrote about the death shroud:
But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” (2Co 3:14-16 NASB)
It continued. The rabbis discarded the Septuagint translation, the writings of Josephus and the writings of Philo. The Targums were held at a distance. Everything that could have any bearing on Jesus Christ must be discarded. The people would have to view the Scriptures through another lens, the lens of the rabbis. They would set themselves up as the ‘final voice of God’ to the people. Even God would learn from them. (Don’t be surprised. This is in the writings of the rabbis.)
Why was Jesus and the apostles such a threat to the Jewish authorities
Why is the big question – Why does Talmudic Judaism to this day carry such a blindness to those who are held in its sway. Why is Judaism filled with such darkness? It all has to do with authority. The authority of the Jewish leaders was in question. In Talmudic Judaism the rabbis have actually taken the place of God. They consider themselves to be greater than Moses or any of the prophets. Their word is the final word.
We ought not be surprised? The Old Testament warned that the traditions of the elders would evolve into rabbinic Judaism. Listen again as God speaks through Isaiah, saying,
Because this people draws near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence consists of tradition learned by rote….
…Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; and the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.” (Cf. Isaiah 29:13,14)
It is crucial to place the apostolic writings in their proper role. The apostles were not simply called to be apostles to the Church. They were apostles to Israel, with Paul having an extended role with a view to the Gentiles. It is in this sense that apostles took up the mantle of the prophets of old. Jesus said to them,
I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others [the prophets] have labored and you [the apostles] have entered into their labor.” (Jn4:38)
The prophets spoke to the coming of Messiah. They were His beforehand servants. The apostles spoke after the fact, that is, Israel’s Messiah had come, had ministered to the people, had been rejected, was crucified, rose from the dead, ascended on high and is now at the right hand of the glory on high. The apostles were His witnesses.
A second thing that needs to be understood has to do with Israel’s judgment of 70 A.D., over the rejection of Jesus Christ. These two issues are placed side-by-side by the Lord. Listen carefully:
So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your fathers; because it was they who killed them [the prophets], and you build their tombs. For this reason the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation.” (Cf. Luke 11:46-51)
A Matter of Redemption
This is a matter of redemption history. Why would the blood of the prophets and apostles be charged against that generation? It would be due to the greater sin of their leaders. If anyone should have recognized Jesus Christ as Israel’s Messiah, it would be that generation. All the prophets from ancient time spoke of the days of Christ. And the time of Messiah had been prophesied by Daniel.
The deeper side is that when the high priest and the elders of Israel rejected Jesus Christ, they were rejecting God Himself. You see, the blood that ran through the veins of Jesus was the very blood of God. And because they had rejected God Himself, there was no other sacrifice to be had. All that was left was a judgment. Israel would be given a transitional time for entering into the new covenant of Christ.
But there is more to the greater sin. Jesus said to Pilate,
You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” (Jn19:11)
The greater sin was the sin of knowledge. Many of the leaders especially of the Pharisees knew that Jesus was the Messiah. I realize we find this hard to believe, but a careful search of the gospels shows this to be the case. (It wasn’t the godly leadership that rejected Jesus. It was those of the house of Satan.)
And so we hear in the book of Hebrews this final warning:
For if we go on sinning willfully [Jewish people by rejecting Jesus] after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.”
The apostolic writer goes on to say,
Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Cf. Heb10:26-31)
The book of Hebrews has to do with whole of the Jewish people. It was written as a final warning not long before the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple in 70 A.D. The temple went up in a fiery judgment. The time of transition was over. The gospel had been sent to the Jew first. The new covenant no longer had a Jewish exclusiveness to it. It would belong to the people of the world. For God so loved the world….
Christianity was not some upstart religion
The point is that Christianity was not some upstart religion to be counted among the various movements in Judaism of the day. The testimony of God, the testimony of Moses, the testimony of the prophets, of David, of John the Baptist, the testimony of nature itself, the wonders and miracles, and the testimony of those Jews who had truly received Him as Lord and Savior, all bore witness against those who would reject Him. No further testimony was needed. That testimony remains in place today along with multiplied millions of people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their own Lord and Savior.
An example of the testimony is where Paul wrote,
Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.”
When hearing this the Jewish mind would instantly go to the prophet Ezekiel.
When Jesus said,
And what if you should see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before,”
These terms ‘form of God’ and ‘Son of Man’ were almost exclusively used with regard to the One who was spoken of as the ‘Wisdom’ of God, the ‘Form’ of God, the ‘Glory’ of God, the ‘Power’ of God, the ‘Son’ of God, the ‘Rock’ of Israel, and the ‘Shepherd’ of Israel. There are other appellations, but these will suffice for now. The fact remaining is that Jesus is all that these names speak of and more. The testimony was so plain that the rabbis had to remove the testimony from the people. Thus a curse was placed upon the reading of Daniel, etc.
Why such a curse upon Daniel? Not only did Daniel prophecy the time of the coming of Messiah, but he also had a vision concerning the Messiah receiving His kingdom. Daniel’s vision was a beforehand vision concerning the ascension of Jesus Christ. The prophets of old spoke in ‘prophetic perfects.’ This means they saw the very thing they were prophesying. It was as though they were there. So Daniel saw Jesus coming to the throne.
What gives wonder to this is that the apostles saw the earthly departure of Jesus into the heavens whereas Daniel saw Jesus entering into His glory.
What the apostles saw:
And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” (Act 1:9 NASB)
What Daniel saw:
I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days, and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.” (Dan7:13,14)
The Son of Man – The Form of God
The ‘Son of Man’ designation by the time of Jesus it had become a major designation for the Messiah. The term ‘form of God’ was an expression that had a special view to Messiah. This expression actually reaches back to Moses.
When Moses entered the holiest of holies, he stood before the radiant glory that rested over the mercy-seat. In the resplendent light, Moses saw a form. While the Hebrews were commanded not to make any actual form to represent God, listen to what God says to Miriam and Aaron:
‘If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses, He is faithful with all My household; with Him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant, even Moses.’” (Num12:6-8.)
Did you catch it? When Paul said that Jesus existed in the form of God, this meant that it was Jesus who appeared over the mercy seat in the radiant light. Paul explains it also by saying that Jesus is ‘the image of the invisible God.’ So we have God who is unseen, but who is fully seen in Jesus Christ. Thus we have Paul saying that in Jesus is the fullness of Deity in bodily form. We also know that Paul himself had been accosted by the radiant light on his way to Damascus.
What does all this have to do with the wisdom of the wise perishing? It has much to do, indeed. When Isaiah spoke of the wise losing their wisdom, it was with a view to rabbinic traditions that would eventually evolve into a full-blown religion called Talmudic Judaism.
The point at hand is that Talmudic Judaism is a blinding religion. It places a death shroud over the book of God. In fact the best thing you could ever tell a Jew is for them to read their own Bible. If they will do that, it will destroy the shroud of Talmudic Judaism.
Here again we must come back to Isaiah. Listen:
The entire vision will be to you like the words of a sealed book, which when they give it to the one who is literate, saying, ‘Please read this,’ he will say, ‘I cannot, for it is sealed.’” Then the book will be given to the one who is illiterate, saying, ‘Please read this.’ And he will say, ‘I cannot read.’”(Isa29:11,12)
What I’ve just shared is the prelude to the earlier quote from Isaiah, where God says, “The wisdom of their wise men will perish.”
What is going to make the wise men’s wisdom perish
It comes back to the book that will be opened by Jesus and will continue to be opened by God’s servants through the ages.
God speaks further in Isaiah, saying,
On that day the deaf will hear words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. The afflicted also will increase their gladness in the Lord, and the needy of mankind will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.” (Vv18,19)
Yes, the gospel messaged weaves itself through all the Old Testament. And Talmudic wisdom will deflower itself and show itself for what it really is. It has been a death shroud to hide the glory of Israel from the Jewish people. Two thousand years ago and old man prophesied over the child Jesus and His mother, saying,
Behold, this Child is appointed for THE FALL and RISE of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed.” (Luke 2:34)
The fall came with the rejection of Jesus. The rise comes with the acceptance. The cross was a sign that has been opposed by Rabbinic Judaism throughout the church age.
Oh yes, the Bible is a wonderful book. It is the only book of any religion that actually records history before it happens. It is the only book that speaks from the throne of God. Listen to this ancient prophecy given by Moses. (It is alluded to by Peter on the day of Pentecost 33 a.d.)
Then He said, ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be; For they are a perverse generation, Sons in whom is no faithfulness. ‘They have made Me jealous with what is not God; They have provoked Me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.” (Deu 32:20-21 NASB) — This quote is from the song of Moses. Compare Rev15:3
And so we hear the apostle Paul quote from Isaiah the prophet, saying,
For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1Co1:19,20)
Take time to listen to the Song of Moses and the Lamb…
In Christ always,