| Why the Exile?
©July 26, 2009 Asher Intrater
This Wednesday night starts the yearly traditional fast of Tisha B'av, the 9th day of the 4th month (Jeremiah 52:6), which remembers several disastrous events in Jewish history, including the destruction of the First and Second Temples, and the expulsion from Spain in 1492.
The meaning of the exile [first to Babylon (586 BC), and then the great exile (70 AD to 1948)] has enormous biblical significance both to Jewish and Christian thought. The meaning of the exile in Jewish mysticism is parallel to the meaning of the death of Yeshua (Jesus) in Christian theology. Biblically, the two are connected.
The history of Israel is parallel to the life of Yeshua: the descent into Egypt (Matthew 2:15), the 40 days-years in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1), the Passover and the Crucifixion (Matthew 26-27), etc. The Jewish people's leaving the land of Israel is parallel to the soul of the Messiah leaving His body at death. [The return of the Jewish people to the land is parallel to the resurrection of Yeshua (Ezekiel 37:12).]
When Yeshua saw that the religious leaders in Jerusalem were about to have Him put to death, He realized that the destruction of the Temple and the Great Exile were close at hand. Matthew 23:37-39 – "O Jerusalem… who kills the prophets and stones those sent to you! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Behold, your house is left to you desolate…" The Messiah's role is to gather and restore the nation. If He is rejected, the nation will be destroyed and scattered. The scattering of the Jewish people was a result of the rejection of Messiah, and the re-gathering of the nation is for the purpose of receiving Him.
Yeshua came as a prophet and predicted the destruction of the second Temple and the second exile, just as Jeremiah came and predicted the destruction of the first Temple and the first exile. Luke 21:20, 24 – "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, know that her destruction is near. Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." Jesus described the destruction and eventual restoration of Israel. For this reason, Yeshua was likened to Jeremiah (Matthew 16:14). Yeshua was a Hebrew prophet who described the punishment and plan of God in His generation just as Jeremiah did in his.
The meaning of the exile is so important to understanding the messiah-ship of Yeshua that it is cited as one of the three key events leading up to His birth. Matthew 1:17 – "The generations from Abraham to David are fourteen…, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen…, and from the captivity until the Messiah are fourteen…" Abraham brought the covenant; David brought the kingdom, and the Messiah is to redeem Israel from exile.
Yeshua's disciples asked Him: "Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" – Acts 1:6. That Yeshua would restore the kingdom to Israel was as obvious to the early disciples as it is foreign to most Christians today. The Messiah brings both personal salvation and world redemption. The crucifixion and resurrection is the primary axle for personal salvation. The exile and re-gathering is the primary axle for world redemption.
Not understanding the connection between Yeshua and Israel is a crack in the foundation of both Christianity and Judaism. Most Christians do not see the importance of the exile and restoration, and therefore do not understand national redemption. Most Jews do not believe in Yeshua, and therefore their understanding of redemption is limited, not to mention the blindness concerning personal salvation.
The sins of the Jewish people in the time of Jeremiah led to an exile of 70 years. What great sin led to the exile of almost 2,000 years? As the rejection of Jeremiah and his words led to the first exile, so the rejection of Yeshua and His words led to the second exile.
Not seeing the rejection of Yeshua as the cause of the destruction of Jerusalem is in part the result of an anti-Christ spirit. Reading this passage and not weeping as Yeshua wept is in part the result of an anti-Semitic spirit.
Yeshua said that this matter was "hidden" from the eyes of the Jewish people. There is more to this matter than meets the eye. There is a profound mystery here that pertains to the relationship between Israel and the Church. Romans 11:25 – "blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." One reason that Israel was destroyed and exiled was to allow the fullness of God's destiny to come to the Gentile nations.
Israel's exile and suffering was predestined by God as a means to bless the Gentiles. Ephesians 3:3,6 – "By revelation God made known to me the mystery which in other ages was not made known, that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs of the same body and partners of His promise in the Messiah." This mystery needs supernatural revelation to be understood.
The weekly Torah portion during Tisha B'av contains: Deuteronomy 4:27 – "The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the Lord will drive you." The exile of Israel was predicted a thousand years before it happened. It was not a chance historic event, but an essential part of the predestined plan of God for Israel and the nations.
In part two we will look at the rabbinic, prophetic, and end times' significance of the exile and suffering of Israel.
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