The Angel of the Covenant is the Messiah

Behold, I am sending My messenger to clear the way before Me, and the Lord whom you seek shall come to His Temple suddenly.  As for the angel of the covenant that you desire, he is already coming.” (Malachi 3:1 NJPS)

     I have quoted the above verse from a Jewish translation of the text to demonstrate no Christian bias within the translation.  It has been my supposition for some time now, that the “Angel of the Covenant” is the pre-incarnate Messiah.  The above-quoted text validates this position.  Quite clearly, the messenger that cleared the way before Messiah was John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-12), and the one that followed him, was to be the Angel of the Covenant, the Messiah, who would come to His Temple, and this is Jesus (Yeshua) (see John 1:24-28)

     In Mark 1:2, the evangelist ascribes the first part of the verse to John the Baptist.  He is described in the New Testament as the forerunner of Messiah. John also validates the Messiahship of Jesus (John 1:24-28) and Jesus affirms the John was “Elijah who is to come.” (Matthew 17:12) However, Mark stops short of explaining all the Messianic implications in the remainder of the text that is quoted above.  The above quoted verse reads, “The Lord whom you seek shall come to His Temple suddenly.  As for the angel of the covenant that you desire, he is already coming.”  This text is thousands of years old. Written at least, 400 years before the coming of Jesus.  I would challenge anyone to explain to me who this verse applies to if it is not Jesus.  Remember, Malachi said that “He is already coming.”  If this is not Jesus, than who is it?   The text very plainly identifies two different messengers.  A forerunner who would prepare the way, and the Angel of the Covenant, the Lord, who is divine.  This text, very matter of factly, in a Peshat manner, connects the Angel of the Covenant with “The Lord.”  Thus, this angel of the covenant would become the Messiah and the angel of the covenant, as I have previously written, is a reincarnate Messiah.  Keil and Delitzsch write, “The idea view is precluded not only by the historical fact, that not a single prophet arose in Israel during the whole period between Malachi and John, but also by the context of the passage before us, according to which the sending of the messenger was to take place immediately before the coming of the Lord to His temple…The Lord (ha-adon) is God, this is evident both from the fact that he comes to His temple, the temple of Yahveh..” (1)

     The only historical example that fits the description of this verse is John and Jesus (Yohanan and Yeshua).  I would like to hear from anyone, particularly the Karaite Jews, who embrace a Peshat interpretation of scripture, who this verse applies to, if it is not them.  Shalom.

Endnotes

  1. 1.       C.F. Keil, F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody Mass, volume , page 655-656.
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Did Mark Even Read Isaiah?

     The New Testament is a profoundly Jewish book.  Many variants that have arisen over time have arisen from seemingly un-clarified sections of the text.  Mark 1:2&3 are no exceptions to this rule.  It reads, “As it is written by Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way.  The voice of one crying in the wilderness:  Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.” (ESV)  However, it should be noted that many translations change the passage and write, “As it is written in the prophets.”  The oldest manuscripts do ascribe the passage to Isaiah.  It should also be noted that these passages are not found in Isaiah.  The first part in the verse is found in Malachi 3:1 while the second part of the text is found in Isaiah 40:3.  So, was Mark wrong?  It is my belief that Mark originally wrote, “Isaiah the prophet” and that his Jewish audience would have understood what he meant.  It is the purpose of this article to present two valid reasons for believing such.

     To begin with, John Lightfoot, the author of the Commentary on the New Testament, from the Talmud and Hebraica, explains, “He that reads the prophets in the synagogues let him not skip from one prophet to another.  But in the lesser prophets he may skip; with this provision only, that he skip not backward; that is, not from the latter to the former.  But you see how Mark skips here from a prophet of one rank, namely from a prophet who was one of the twelve, to a prophet of another rank; and you see also how he skips backward from Malachi to Isaiah.” (1)  Thus, it would’ve been very obvious to Mark’s Jewish readers that he was not making an error but was upholding a Jewish tradition.  So, why would a later scribe change the reading to “in the prophets.”

     For the most part, scribes that changed the text sought to clarify the text that they copied. A general guideline for textual critics reads that the “strangest reading or the oddest reading, is probably the original.”  In this case, a scribe is more likely to have dropped “Isaiah” from the reading and left “ in the prophets” due to a seemingly obvious error on the part of Mark.  As Bruce Metzger writes, “The quotation in verses 2 and 3 is composite, the first part being from Malachi 3:1 and the second part from Is 40:3.  It is easy to see, therefore, why copyist would have altered the words “In Isaiah the prophet” (a reading found in the earliest representative witnesses of the Alexandrian and the Western types of text) to the more comprehensive introductory formula “in the prophets.” (2)  Because scribes who didn’t understand the Jewish tradition thought it erroneous, they changed the reading.  However, when we understand the traditions of Mark’s Jewish audience, we have no problem accepting the older and more reliable reading of “Isaiah the prophet.”

 

Endnotes

  1. 1.       Lightfoot, J.B. “Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica” Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Mass, vol 2;2003; page 395.
  2. 2.      Metzger, Bruce, “A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament”  United Bible Societies, U.S.A., 1971, page 62.

Covering the Glory: The Woman and the Headcovering

     Ironically, it is not the Torah (Law) or the Old Testament that commands the wearing of the head covering but it is the Apostle Paul.  He writes a lengthy discourse in I Corinthians 11:1-15.  I would like to briefly discuss the points that Paul draws out.  He begins with the issue of authority.  Who has authority over whom?  This is the essence of the covering.    He writes, “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.  Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head.  But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same is if her head were shaved.”(1)  The covering of the head is an understanding of role. (2)  The Greek word used in all of these passages for “covering” is the Greek word katakalupw (Strong’s #2619)  its basic meaning is “to veil, to cover wholly and to cover up.” The Septuagint, (The Greek translation of the Old Testament uses this word in replace of the Hebrew hsk which also means to cover or hide.  See Isaiah 58:7) Thus, the covering being addressed here is a literal covering that symbolizes a recognition of both role and authority.  It is a symbol that a woman places on her head as an outward manifestation that she, like Christ, submits to her role.  This manifests Christ-likeness.  It is a sign that she understands her own glory, the glory of God, the glory of her husband, her role in the spiritual realm, and her selflessness in covering her own glory so the glory of others can be manifested.   This is a manifestation of Messiah.

     Verses 7-12 continue on this same theme.  “For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn.  But if it is a shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered.  For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.  For man is not from woman, but woman from man.  Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.  For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.  Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord.  For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God. “

 These verses demonstrate our dependence upon one another and the nature of our interconnectedness.  The covering also represents this.  Shortly, Paul will bring up the subject of glory.  The Greek word us here is the word doxa.  Its basic meaning is a “reflection of the majesty of the divine Ruler/Creator.”  Paul explains that God’s majesty is reflected in man; man’s majesty is reflected in woman; and, as we will soon see, the majesty of woman is reflected in her hair.

     In verses 13 and 14, Paul sets up his closing arguments for the wearing of the head covering by representing an analogy from nature.  The Greek word that is often translated “long hair” is the Greek word “koma” and doesn’t necessarily address hair length.  The basic meaning to “make the hair ornamental or beautified.”  Paul is saying that, naturally, men don’t really invest in their hair the way women do.  Again, he is setting up his point that hair is a reflection of the woman’s majesty.  The verse reads,”Judge among yourselves.  Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?  Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has “beautified” hair it is a dishonor to him?  But if a woman has “beautified” hair, it is a glory to her.”

     Verse 15 may be the most controversial of the entire section.  The first part of the verse finished the thought that Paul has been developing.  It states, “But if a woman has beautified hair, it is a glory to her.”  This is a nice conclusion as to Paul’s thought on why the woman’s head should be literally covered.  However, the second part of the verse introduces an apparent contradiction.  “For her hair is given her for a covering.”  For many who read this verse, it seems to be saying that a woman’s hair has replaced the necessity of a literal covering.  There are two main reasons to disagree.

     The Greek of the verse reads, “oti h komh anti peribolaiou dedotai auth.” Roughly translated, “Because the ornamented hair has been given to her for a mantle.” While the English translations use the word “covering,” please note, the Greek has a completely different word.  It is the word peribalaiou which has the basic meaning “to wrap around, a wrapper, to throw around, a mantle” If the hair were to be the covering Paul is deeming necessary during prayer and worship, Paul would have used the word “katakalupa” from his previous verses but he does not do that.  Why?  It stands to reason that his intention is not to replace the literal covering but to close his argument for why the woman should cover her head from an argument based on nature (what is normally done and seen as right.)  This fits the context of all the verses leading up to it.  He is saying that by nature, the adoring of a woman’s hair has become her mantle.  This mantle has become her glory and this glory is what ought to be covered.  To say that the adorned hair is the new mantle is to take the verse out of its context.  The context is Paul’s rhetorical question, “Judge among yourselves, is it proper for a woman to pray with her head uncovered?”  The obvious answer to his question is no.  Why?  Because even in nature it is apparent that a woman’s glory is her adorned hair and it should be covered during times of worship so the glory of God is prevalent.  The very fact that the woman’s hair is a mantle, a beautiful garment given her by God, demonstrates that it ought to be covered.

     Secondly, we must examine the preposition that sits before the word covering.  It is the word “anti” and carries the basic meaning of “for” or “instead of.”  There are two basic ways to translate this word.  They either denote the exchange of one thing for another or the equivalence of one thing with another.  If it is used for exchange it is translated “instead of’ but if it is used as equivalence, it is translated “for.”  Hence, it is possible to translate this verse, “because her ornamented hair is given to her instead of a covering.’  In fact, when I first translated it, this was the translation I used.  What I found, was that the idea of exchange is never brought out in the context of the passage but the idea of equivalence is certainly present.  I wondered if any translators had ever introduced the idea of exchange here.   We live in a western centered mindset that is far removed culturally and otherwise from the time of Paul and the Corinthians.  If a translator could justify the exchange of the head covering for the hair in our society, I figured someone would’ve done it.  So, I began to search all the modern translations.  What did I find?  Absolutely no one introduced the idea of exchange here.  This tells me that as biblical scholars they recognized the content as equivalence and not exchange.  My list of translations includes the following”  KJV; NKJV; ESV; Holman; NASB; NIV; Amplified; the Greek Orthodox; Duey-Rheims (Latin vulgate); and the Aramiac Peshita.  None of these translations saw the idea of exchange in their translations.  In fact, the NIV carried the idea of equivalence so far that it translates the verse.”For her hair is given to her as a covering.”  The fact that equivalence with the covering fits the context demonstrates that the ornamented hair should be literally covered as it is a glory that is present and should submit to the glory of God.  To conclude the matter, a literal head covering is a biblical New Testament doctrine.

     To return to the original question, should one compromise their biblical conviction for the sake of witness?  I don’t know if there is a right or wrong answer here but I’m inclined to disagree.  The wearing of a head covering by Rina and the girls, my beard and tassels, our genuine love for each other and for others may be the only Bible that many will read.  All of these demonstrate biblical and spiritual principles that speak about who are in Christ and what are various roles are.  As we live out our faith in what we do, what we say, how we dress, this is a witness.  I have actually witnessed God using Rina’s head covering to draw others to us and we’ve actually gotten the opportunity to share Jesus with many people who I don’t think we would have otherwise been able to.   It may seem somewhat peculiar to our western post 9/11 mindset but peculiarity from the world is called holiness by God. (I Peter 2:9) When we live out our biblical convictions we present holiness to the world and this is our witness.  “Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me!  We are for signs and wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts who dwells in Mount Zion.” (Isaiah 8:18)

 

 

 

Endnotes

  1. 1.        There were two reasons to shave the head.  First, when one was a prisoner because they had not the right to display their own glory.  Secondly, is in mourning, when one is so distressed or sad that they wish not to have glory.

  2. 2.       Not to be used to degrade woman or place them as second class citizens beneath men, the passage clearly identifies both as having gifts and talents which should be exercised to glorify God.  I think it in error to use this passage to demonstrate that woman needs to be “lofrded over” by men.  This is just an unbiblical concept.

The Mundane and the Miraculous

     After writing my last post regarding revival and God’s work, I had a discussion with my good Patrick.  Patrick brought up a really profound point that I would like to share.  First, that if we can’t see God in the mundane, then we will struggle to see him in the miraculous.  Secondly, the desire we have to see miracles may be the exact reason why we are not seeing them.

     Noah Webster defines the mundane as “belonging to the world.”  It is derived from the Latin word “mundus” which means “world, universe.”  In the Latin Vulgate, this word is seen in some interesting places.  In John 1:10 we read, “He was in the world.”  Mundus or the mundane is the word deployed by St. Jerome here.  What is implied from the reading is that God is in the mundane.

    All things around us’ plants, animals, the cycles of seasons, the moon and the stars, and any other aspect of creation, God is “in them.”  When we begin to find intimacy with God in the things that are common we will position ourselves to view that which is uncommon.  Relationship with God in the mundane provides opportunities to see the miraculous.

     The children of Israel wandered in the desert a long time.  They were miraculously fed by God’s manna everyday.  The miraculous became mundane for them.  When they failed to appreciate the mundane, it altered their perception of reality.  We read, “And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?  For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” (Numbers 21:5) What they described as “worthless food” was the miraculous bread from heaven, the manna.  The children of Israel are really crying out for a miracle.  They desire to see some great work that will fulfill all the desires of their flesh.  Their desire for tasty food and beverage.  Their reality had become distorted.  They failed to see the miraculous that happened before their eyes.  Their desire for a new miracle prevented them from seeing the miracle that took place every morning.  They had lost their appreciation for the mundane.  Let us not make the same mistake.

Revive Me, Oh Lord!!

     The writer of Psalm 119 was no spiritual novice.  He was very acquainted with his God.  He was acquainted with spirituality, worship, and the study of the law.  He had “tasted and seen” that the Lord, He is good.  And yet, he prayed for personal revival.

     He writes, “Revive me, according to Your Word.” (Psalm 119:25); “Revive me in Your Way.” (119:37); “Revive me in Your Loving-kindness.” (119:88); “Revive me in Your Righteousness.” ((119:40); “Revive me, Oh Lord, according to your Word.”; “Revive me, according to Your Justice.” (119:144); “Revive me, according to Your Word.” (119:151); “Revive me, according to Your Judgments (119:156) and finally, “Revive me, according to your Loving-kindness.” (119:159). Eight times during this Psalm, he prays for personal revival according to the things of God that he has previously experienced.  And yet, he ends the Psalm with his current spiritual condition, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep!  Seek your servant.” (119:176) He is well aware that he has had a falling away from God.  He is acutely aware that he is powerless over his current condition and he seeks God for personal revival.

The Hebrew word used repeatedly in this Psalm is the word hyj pronounced “chaya.”  It basic meaning is “Life is the ability to exercise all one’s vital power to the fullest; death is the opposite.  The verb “haya”  ‘to live’ involves the ability to have life somewhere on the scale between the fullest enjoyment of all the powers of one’s being, with health and prosperity on the one hand and descent into trouble, sickness, and death on the other.” (1)  The Psalmist recognizes that life apart from God is death and that intimate communion with God according to the kingdom principles of promise, justice, loving-kindness, and righteousness is what it means “to live.”  This knowledge can only come by experience.  True personal revival presupposes a falling away.

Charles Finney once wrote, “A revival of true Christianity presupposes a falling away.  Almost all true Christianity in the world has been produced by revivals, because God has found it necessary to use humanity’s excitability to produce powerful awakenings among them before He can lead them to obey.  People are spiritually sluggish.  So many things lead their minds away from God and oppose the influence of the Gospel that God must arouse excitement in them until the wave rises so high that it sweeps away all obstacles.  Before they will obey God, people must be thoroughly awakened.  Only then will they overcome counteracting forces.  No that excited feeling is spirituality.  It is not.  But it is excited worldly desires, appetites, and feelings that prevent true Christianity.” (2)  Any relationship that involves humans will have revivals and falling aways.  It is somewhat to be expected based upon the human condition.  The enemy would have us believe that since we have fallen away, God has subsequently rejected us.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The fact of the matter is that this particular falling away has positioned us for perhaps the greatest personal revival of all time.  If only we can refrain from judging ourselves, we may be 5 minutes from a great personal awakening.  Perhaps this is the norm of Christianity and should be expected for real spiritual growth.

Endnotes

  1.  Harris, R. Laird; Archer, Gleason L.; Waltke, Bruce; “The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament” Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL, 1980, page 280.
  2. Finney, Charles G., Lectures on Revival,  Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Minn., 1988, page.