In examining the text of Isaiah 60:22 the ancient Rabbis noticed what they called a "contradiction" in the phrase "I, the L-RD, will hasten it in its time." The Talmud discusses this verse as follows:
R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua b. Levi pointed out a contradiction. It is written, "In its time [will the Messianic Kingdom come], whilst it is also written, "I [the L-RD] will hasten it!"-- If they are worthy, I will hasten it; if not, [it will come] at the due time.
Thus, the Rabbis understood this verse to mean that the L-RD would offer to hasten the Messianic Kingdom, if they were worthy but if not, the Kingdom would not come until its due time.
Tractate Sanhedrin of the Talmud also tells us that the Rabbis believed that such an offer was to be made around the Hebrew year 4,000 (around the first Century). The Talmud relates this tradition which it accredits to the school of Elijah:
The school of Elijah teaches: The world is to exist six thousand years. In the first two thousand years was chaos; two thousand years the Torah flourished; and the next two thousand years are the days of the Messiah, but through our many iniquities all these years have been lost.
The text goes on to discuss the delay of the Messianic Kingdom, and then says:
Rab said: All the predetermined dates [for the Messianic Kingdom] have passed, and the matter [now] depends only on repentance and good deeds.
This requirement for repentance prior to the Messianic Kingdom is taken directly from the Torah (see Deut. 30:1-6).
MESSIAH OFFERS THE KINGDOM
Now as we have already discussed, Is. 60:22 tells us that the L-RD will either "hasten" the Kingdom, or let it come about "in its [due] time", all depending on the requirement of repentance (Deut. 30:1-6.) This Kingdom offer began in the days of Yochanan the immerser (John the Baptist), as we read in Mt. 11:12:
Only from the days of Yochanan the immerser until now the Kingdom of Heaven is constricted and the forceful despoil it.
[Mt. 11:12 from the DuTillet Hebrew ms.]
and in Luke 16:16 we read:
The Law and the prophets were until Yochanan henceforth the Kingdom of G-d is announced but everyone treats it with violence.
[Lk.16:16 from Old Syriac & Peshitta Aramaic]
Yochanan had been announcing, "Repent you of your lives, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near to come" (Mt. 3:2 DuTillet.) And as soon as his work began, Y'shua proclaimed, "Turn you, turn you, in repentance: for the Kingdom of Heaven is near."(Mt. 4:17 DuTillet = Mk. 1:14-15) Now the word for "near" here in the DuTillet and ShemTob Hebrew versions is hbrq, in the Aramaic of the Old Syriac and Peshitta the Aramaic equivalent thbrqd appears. In their book Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus, David Bivin and Roy Blizzard Jr. correctly point out that the Hebrew word "karav" brq means "to come up to and be with," or "to be where something or someone else is."; "It's here! It has arrived!" (p. 88) An example of its usage may be seen in 2Kn. 16:12 where we read "...and the king drew near (brqyv) to the altar..." meaning he was right there at the alter. Bivin and Blizzard, however, appear to have an amillennial view of the Kingdom, writing "It [the Kingdom] is G-d ruling in the lives of men. Those who are ruled by G-d are the Kingdom of G-d." (p. 90) In truth, the phrase "Kingdom of G-d" is a variation of the phrase in the Tenach (Old Testament) "Kingdom of YHWH" (1Chron. 28:5; 2Chron. 13:8) a term used to describe the Kingdom of Israel. After studying the "Kingdom of G-d" with the Messiah for forty days (Acts 1:3) the emissaries wanted to know if the Kingdom would be restored to Israel "at this time", Y'shua answers that it is not for them to know the time (Acts 1:6-7). The truth is that the Kingdom of G-d/Heaven is the restored Kingdom of Israel (see Jer. 23:5-6; Is. 9:6-7; 11 with 1Chron. 28:5; 2Chron.13:8.) The Hebrew text of Mt. 3:2 & 4:17 = Mk. 1:14-15 does indicate that the Kingdom was right there, available, if they would just repent. The passage is a conditional statement with an implied "if" as we find in Jonah 3:4.
Y'shua continued to proclaim this Kingdom offer throughout his career (Mt. 12:28 = Lk. 11:20; Mk. 12:34; Lk.10:9, 11; 17:21) even sending out his emissaries with the same proclamation (Mt. 10:7.) This is the meaning of the passage, "...if you are willing to receive it [the Kingdom], he [Yochanan] is Elijah who is to come." (Mt. 11:14 see 11:12).
THE KINGDOM REJECTED
Despite the fact that the Kingdom was being offered as early as the service of Yochanan (John) the immerser, repentance was required for it to be realized (Mt. 3:2-3; Mt.4:17 = Mk. 1:14-15; Dt. 30:1-6). However, from the time of Yochanan forward, the Kingdom was being rejected, "plundered" and "treated with violence" (Mt. 11:12 DuTillet; Lk. 16:16 Old Syriac & Peshitta.) Y'shua compared this rejection to those who would not dance for flute players (Mt. 11:12, 16-19.) Y'shua also mentions this rejection in Lk. 17 where we read "...the Kingdom of G-d is among you... But first he [Y'shua] must suffer many things and BE REJECTED BY THIS GENERATION." (Lk. 17:21, 25.) Mt. 21:43 tells us that the Kingdom would be taken from those to whom Y'shua was speaking and given "to a nation" bearing its fruits (the fruits being repentance, see Mt. 3:2, 8) the words "to a nation" in the Aramaic is L'AM meaning "to a people" i.e. another generation (see Lk. 17:21,25; Jer. 31:35-37; Rom. 11) This is also the meaning of Mt.8:11-12 = Lk. 13:28.
THE KINGDOM OFFER EXTENDED
It would seem that the Kingdom offer was extended beyond the crucifixion. In his discourse at the Temple in Acts 3:12-26 Kefa repeated the Kingdom offer saying:
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the L-rd, and that He may send Y'shua the Messiah, who was proclaimed to you before, whom heaven must receive until the time of restoration of all things, which G-d has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
Thus it would appear that if the people of Israel had entered a national repentance, even then, the Messiah would have returned to restore the Kingdom to Israel right then and there.
THE KINGDOM OFFER EXPIRES
This Kingdom offer seems to have continued throughout the entire Acts period, until it expired at the end of the Book of Acts. In Acts 28 "Paul called the leaders of the Jews together... to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the Kingdom of G-d, persuading them concerning Y'shua..." (Acts 28:17, 23). Once again a corporate repentance did not occur "... some disbelieved. So they did not agree among themselves." (Acts 28:24b-25a). At this time Paul made known that the Kingdom offer had ended saying "...the salvation of G-d has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!" (Acts. 28:28) this parallels Romans 11:11 "...to provoke them [Israel] to jealousy, salvation has been sent to the Gentiles." Which ties this concept to the Olive Tree Parable of Romans 11.
THE OLIVE TREE AND THE MYSTERY
The Olive Tree Parable of Romans 11 , when viewed in light of the Kingdom offer, teaches that when the Kingdom offer expired in Acts 28:28 = Rom. 11:11, that wild branches (Gentiles) were grafted into the natural olive tree, but that at some point in the future, the natural branches would be grafted into their own olive tree. This concept of unity between Jews and Gentiles in the one body is echoed in Eph. 2-3 and Col. 1:19-26 a unity which Paul describes as a mystery "which was in the past concealed but now revealed" (Eph. 3:3-6 & Col. 1:26) This is because the time period of the wild branches in the olive tree following the Kingdom offer was in the past concealed. Daniel's prophecy of weeks of years (Dan. 9:24-27) goes directly from the coming of the Messiah to the final seven year period commonly known as the tribulation. Daniel accounts for no space between the two. This is why there was such expectation that the Kingdom would come in the first century. There was a mystery, a parenthetical period of time in Daniel's prophecy which was in the past concealed but later revealed. Had the Kingdom offer been accepted in the first century, then Daniel's last seven years would have run from 63 C.E. to 70 C.E.. These Years seemed in many ways to fulfil endtime prophecies (so much so that post-millenialists claim that the events of Revelations and Mt. 24 occurred during these years). This is because these years WOULD have been Daniel's final week, had the Kingdom offer been accepted.
WHY THE KINGDOM OFFER EXPIRED
It has already been discussed that the Kingdom offer expired in 63 C.E., but why? What happened in 63 C.E.? This year was the year of the death of James the Just. According to the ancient Nazarene writer Hegesippus, James the Just was very popular with the Jewish community in general, and many had come to be believers in Y'shua as the Messiah as a result of his charisma with the people. Certain of James's enemies, fearing that all Israel would join the Nazarene movement, pressed him to stand on a wing of the Temple and deny Y'shua. Instead, James repeated the same hybrid of Ps. 110:1 & Dan. 7:13 which Y'shua had recited at his trial. In response, James' opponents cast him to the ground and stoned him to death (Hegesippus as quoted by Eusebius in Eccl. Hist 2:23). Upon the death of James the Just, the Nazarene movement lost its steam. Even within the movement apostate elements began to arise. Furthermore, the Essene and Pharisaic elements of the movement began to polarize. There was no longer any chance that the Kingdom offer would receive national acceptance in time for the Messianic Kingdom to occur in the first century. This was the very year that Acts 28:28 took place.
THE KINGDOM RESTORED
Now despite the fact that the condition of repentance was not met in the first Century, G-d had still promised that if the Kingdom was not hastened, that it would still take place "in its [due] time." (Is. 60:22). The emissaries understood, after studying the Kingdom of G-d with Y'shua for forty days, that the Kingdom would eventually be restored to Israel (Acts 1:3, 6-7). Prophecies regarding this Kingdom were yet to be fulfilled (Jer. 23:5-6; Is. 9:6-7; 11), and in the New Scriptures G-d reiterated this promise (Rev. 20:1-6).
James Scott Trimm
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