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Waiting for Messiah





David Russell, Editor



Co-Authors

Ronnie Dauber

Karen Hopkins

Donna B. Comeaux

Glenda Reynolds





Glenda Reynolds, Cover Artist

Jamie K. Wilson, Finishing Editor





All Rights Reserved

Waiting for Messiah © 2017 by David Russell



Cover Art © 2017 by Glenda Reynolds



Extended copyrights appear at end of book.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Word List

Setting the Stones

One Glorious Night!

A Mother’s Tale

The First Gentiles

Free at Last

Born Again

In Full Unity

Yeshua the Rabbi

A Gift Multiplied

Redemption of a Thief

Musings of a God-Fearer

Copyrights

Acknowledgments





Introduction



“Waiting for Messiah” is a journey back in time before and during the earthly life of Christ Jesus, Messiah Yeshua, who is believed to have been born to Jewish parents over twenty centuries ago. The setting is the Holy Land.

Each of these authors have imagined life in this time period for known Biblical figures who waited for Messiah. These people had an inner assurance the King of the Universe, who is called Hashem, would hear their heart cry and send the anointed One to free them from all that is unjust. This heart cry continues down through the centuries from ancient Yisrael to modern Indiana and everywhere in between.

In this book, three Hebrew words are used for wait or waiting: damam, qava, and yachal. Collectively, their meanings include the actions of looking eagerly, hoping expectantly, trusting, binding together, and silent and being still.

In these accounts:

  • Shepherds wait through an extraordinary night like no other to discover the newborn Messiah;

  • Magi come together to plan and execute a 1500-mile trip to find and meet the young Yeshua and his parents;

  • An aging temple priest is filled with new hope on meeting Yeshua and his parents inside the temple;

  • Two stone cutters quietly discuss what life may be like when a Messiah does arrive on the scene.



I invite you to consider what oppressive, vexing unalterable exists for us that requires nothing short of Messianic intervention. Your answers may help identify with these persons and their wait for Messiah.

Names and places have been changed from English to Hebrew renderings, according to the online versions of The Complete Jewish Bible or the Hebrew Names Version of the online World English Bible. A word list has been included in this book to aid readers with English-to-Hebrew words with short definitions provided.

This style of using the Hebrew is chosen to show gratitude to the Jewish people for our faith heritage as non-Jewish professing believers. It also serves to remind us that an era existed during which outward customs differed considerably from the present.

The desire for a deliverer from that beyond one's control is centuries old. Today, as then, the question we each answer is: Who is the Messiah for whom we wait?



For God to explain a trial would be to destroy its purpose, calling forth simple faith and implicit obedience.”

- Alfred Edersheim, 1825-1889

 

Word List



Hebrew transliteration is used in this anthology for Biblical names and places. The stories are set in the time believed to encompass the early period of the common era. The reader is asked to begin a journey that considers the influence of the Holy Land on the Judeo-Christian faith heritage: has the Jewish faith heritage been altered through human practice down through the centuries?

A limited English to Hebrew word list with short definitions follows as a reading aid.



Avigayil: Abigail, story character, Setting the Stones

Adonai: Lord God

Avraham Avinu: Abraham our father

Bar Mitzvah: Son of the commandments

Bat Mitzvah: Daughter of the commandments

Bavith: House, not home

Beit-Lechem: Bethlehem, House of bread, believed to be birth place of Yeshua, Jesus

Beit Midrash: House of study

Berakhah: Blessing

Calendar: Lunar/solar calendar whose months begin with each new moon

Diaspora: Jewish people living outside nation of Israel

Ef'od: A tunic, robe

Ein Sheva: Location of the miracle involving the loaves and fish recorded in the Gospels

Elisheva: Elizabeth, Mother of Yochanan, John, (See Luke 1).

Eliyahu: Elijah the Prophet.

Elokaynu: Substitute name for G-d.

Erev: Evening, start of a new day on the Jewish calendar

Galil: Refers to the lake of Galilee

G-d: Used in Orthodox Jewish writings to represent the Holy One, blessed be he!

Kefa: Peter, a disciple and apostle of Yeshua

Miryam: Mary, earthly mother of Messiah Yeshua

Miryam of Magdala: Mary of Magdalene, follower of Yeshua

Mashiach: Messiah, Messiah Yeshua

Matzah: Unleavened bread, cracker, eaten throughout the season of Passover

Natzeret: Nazareth, hometown of Yeshua and his earthly family

Niddah: Separation of husband and wife during menstrual period

Ovad: Ovadiah, Obadiah, story character in Setting The Stones

Patriarchs: Refers to Avraham, Yitz'chak and Ya'akov, (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob)

Pesach: Passover

Shabbat: Sabbath

Talmud: One of the central works of the Jewish people (See reformjudaism.org)

Tanakh: The Jewish Bible, Old Testament

Tehillim: Psalms

Ya'akov: Jacob, also name for one of Yeshua's disciples.

Yeshua: Jesus, HaMashiach, The Messiah

Yirmeyahu: Jeremiah the Prophet

Yesha'yahu: Isaiah the Prophet

Yerushalayim: Jerusalem

Yosef: Joseph, the earthly father of Yeshua the Messiah, husband to Miryam, Yeshua's mother

Z'kharyah: Zacharias, husband of Elisheva, temple priest, kohanim (see Luke 1).



Setting the Stones

David Russell

Ovadiah instructed Itan and me to unload another crate of Opus Sectile to be added to the Temple floor that Herod the Great wanted laid in Yerushalayim.* His palaces featured this stonework. Its color scheme was attractive and bright in tone when contrasted with mosaic. Throughout the region, daily life reflected ongoing oppression by the Romans, and yet there had been recent talk and increased interest in a Messiah arriving on the scene. The Roman rule was good for business climate in Yisrael, but oppressive to the populace whose tax burden was cumbersome to shoulder; this was especially so at the whim of a roadside tax collector who might approach travelers at any time. Surely a Messiah would bring about justice that would be levied against the tyranny of Rome.

Removing a sectile from the crate, Itan observed, “Only the best for the boss,”

“Careful Itan. Your mouth is going to get you in deep trouble one day,” I said. Itan wedged the tile in place.

“Make just the slightest indentation with the knife-blade. These aren't meant to be separated,” I said.

“Ariel, look at that Herod triangle. Notice the glow?” I took a quick glance and nodded.

“You're right. It matches the stucco and the other construction above the flooring,” I added. Just then, our foreman, Ovadiah walked in and observed our progress.

“Itan, Ariel, good work. Glad you were able to put in some extra hours after Shabbat last week. The family complain?”

“Not mine,” Itan said, displaying an unconvincing grin.

“After you finish here, go over to the governor's across the way to do some work for him. They, of course, get the mosaic.” He lightly tapped his foot on the sectile and then turned to depart. We laid a few more sectile pieces in place with the background of the street infiltrating our workspace. Itan then broke the silence.

“Ariel, do you imagine that inspector ever thinks about a Messiah coming? Is he so satisfied with himself and life that . . . ?”

“If he's got a position of prestige, then his concerns are possibly different from ours. If not, I suspect his concerns are much like ours. I heard he belongs to a heathen group, so he doesn't observe the Torah, or do the traditions we observe.”

“Really?”

“Not that many people came back from Babylon after the exile. Several did, but not as many as one might assume.”

Itan set his tools down and faced me directly. His facial expression took on a serious nature. I thought he was going to bring attention to a defective tile.

He said, “I'm surprised you didn't become a heathen after losing your son.”

“What do you mean?”

“You observe the Torah, and keep the annual customs.”

I walked a few steps toward Itan and asked,

“Your point?”

“Your son! He, you know, hanged himself. He was only twenty-two.”

“Yes, you are right. It tore me and my wife apart. We still miss him.” Wiping a tear away with the back of my hand, I walked over to stand next to Itan.

“Itan, I agree with Yob* who said: Though he test me with fire, I shall come forth as gold. Adonai knows exactly what he is doing.”

We stood there for a moment, letting the words, the conversation, the mood, the appreciation for friendship and shared faith in Adonai encompass us. I then turned and walked back to my work area. We were quiet again for a few moments.

“Itan, just before our son died, he had trouble finding something to do in life. He did not like working with me. He did not like being at home and helping his mother with the farm animals. He did not like working in a field. One of his acquaintances had the same problem. So, our son and his acquaintance worked together as road robbers. I won't call them friends, because they let each other break one of G-d's guiding principles: Do not take what belongs to others.

“How long did they do this?” Itan asked.

“A few months. Then it was over. Our son ended his life. He ended his twenty-two-year-old life!”

I pounded my fist in my hand on feeling a sudden burst of hurt, anger, and sadness all rolled into one gigantic emotion.

“Have people cared?” Itan asked.

“It's strange. Every time I see that heathen, Abdul, he always tells me two things. He is thinking of me and Avigail, and hopes we will be better in time. People at synagogue stopped talking about it after a few Shabbats.”

Itan came over to pick up four more sectiles, then returned to his work area. Our conversation took a turn.

“The other day at synagogue it was mentioned in some places that Hebrew has some elements of Greek or Aramaic,” Itan said.

“That's true; by the way, south of here in Tyre and Sidon, heathen groups and Jews live side by side,”

“I've heard that too. You might be right.”

“Ariel, concerning the Messiah, the Rabbi told me the Talmud mentions he will be both a suffering servant and a conquering king.”

“Do you remember where?”

“Yes. Sanhedrin, I believe in Tractate 98b.”

“How did you remember that?”

“Sanhedrin are the ruling council. Somehow, 98b stayed in my memory,” Itan said.

Just then Itan showed me a sectile that was slightly malformed. We took time to reshape it and get it to fit in place with the other colorful pieces that adorned the temple floor.

I enjoyed working with Itan. We had done a few jobs together over my fifteen years in the stonecutting trade, and we both attended synagogue on the Sabbath. He was what they call a God-fearer, and my family were from the tribe of Dan, one of Yacov's sons from centuries ago. His wife Nur, made clothing, and my wife Avigail raised chickens and hens. We start our day reciting the shemoneh esrei*Hear O Yisrael, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your might, all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself.” This comes right from Moses in the book of Devarim. We found much happiness in loving Adonai with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor.

Yes, we pray for the Messiah's soon coming to set things right in a broken world; that includes our broken heart and home after the untimely passage of our son. Memories of him live with us, and Hanukkah or Passover will never be the same even if he were to suddenly come back and join us again. I think about when he was four years old, he took his hard-boiled egg at Passover and gave it to our dog just before the Seder started. At least it wasn't a raw egg.

The constant badgering by the publican tax collectors caused us to decide not to have a larger family. A Messiah who would suffer and rule at the same time, breaking the band of oppression, would truly be a promised miracle! We believe it will happen, and leave the hour, the day, the week, and the season up to the King of the universe. It is the ability to be still and know that Adonai knows all, every detail that helps us endure the day in and the day out of life. We cry aloud and ask for reasons as did the author of the Tehillim, but also worship Him with our mind and being.

The Fall Feast of Tabernacles would be occurring in just a few weeks. Yerushalayim would be full of pilgrims for this week-long occasion. Despite yet another tax deadline being issued by Rome along with a census, hope and anticipation were in the air. Something good for the people was about to happen. Speculation concerning a real Messiah coming on the scene was being discussed throughout the Galil.

Our Shabbat meal was going to be special this week. We were going to have lamb stew with barley and eggplant. Along with most of the citizens of Yisrael, we also had lentils, barley, beans, figs, dates, pomegranates, fish, occasional lamb and goat as food choices.

Like our ancestors, our challenge is to learn. Renewed strength comes from waiting on Adonai.





David Russell is a Hebrew Christian and a blogger on an array of subjects: http://www.graftedinandonthejourney.blogspot.com




One Glorious Night!

Ronnie Dauber



I will never forget the amazement, the wonder of that glorious night! As I sit here alone in my tent, the fire in the hearth stoked to keep my feeble body warm, my mind seems to forever wander back to that night when I saw the greatest miracle this world has ever known.

I will never forget this night as long as I live, even though it was so many years ago. I was in the field with my father and my brothers, along with many other shepherds. It was in the early spring, the season when the ewes deliver their baby lambs. Many of the adults helped with the birthing, but I was too young, so I just sat nearby and watched the miracle of one lamb after the other being born.

It was a peaceful night with clear skies and stars that sparkled with articulated splendor; almost as if they were set out intentionally for that night. I sat on a sheaf of hay and watched this one little lamb test out his legs, and then he came to me and my heart melted. Every year I seemed to find that one particular lamb that I'd just fall in love with, and this year was no exception. He was perfect in every way, and I knew that his destination would likely be the sacrifice of his life as an offering to G-d. Only the best of the flock were good enough for our G-d, and I felt so blessed to be able to witness these events again this year.

And yet, this night felt very different. As I held him tightly in my arms, I felt something very unusual. As perfect as this lamb was, he was not going to be the highlight of the evening. I felt deep inside that the ultimate lamb was yet to be born!

My father was devoted to G-d and read the Torah diligently. He especially liked to read the book of Yesha'yahu* to us because it spoke so passionately of the coming Messiah. I knew the verses by heart, the ones that spoke so promising of the Messiah's birth. My favorite was the prophecy in Yesha'yahu 7:14* about how the Messiah would be born of a young Jewish virgin. My father was very sure that He would be born in his lifetime and he talked about it often. But I have to be honest, and maybe it's because I was only a boy at the time, but as much as I believed it would happen, I never ever dreamed that I would witness it.

Every night when we were in the field watching over the sheep, my father and the other men would worship G-d and tell Him how much they looked forward to the coming of the Messiah. And this night was no different. They praised G-d for each new baby lamb, and just as my father was about to lift one of them in his arms up to G-d and give Him thanks, the skies lit up brighter than daylight.

We all looked at each other because this was so strange. And then we heard a voice from behind us that took us all by surprise and caused us to gawk in fear. There beside my father stood a tall glorious angel! No one moved. We watched in utter amazement as the angel called out to us, and I'll never forget the excitement in my heart as he spoke.

“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good news of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the town of David a deliverer, who is Messiah the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in cloth, lying in a feeding trough.”*

I was completely taken back by the glory that shone from this mighty angel of G-d. I looked over at my father and he just stood there. He didn't say a word as the tears flowed like rivers down his face. I glanced around at my older brothers and my uncles and at all the other shepherds. Their faces were also soaked with tears. They all raised their arms and praised G-d.

And then suddenly, the skies were filled with a host of angels! I could barely believe my own eyes as I watched Heaven open and heard them praise G-d. We all fell to the ground and worshipped G-d as the angels cried out,

“Glory to G-d in the highest, and on earth peace and good will toward men.”*

***

It was some time later, perhaps a few minutes or maybe an hour; it was hard to say because time seemed to stand still when this miraculous event happened. But then the angels disappeared and the skies returned to normal. The men gathered together and began to talk among themselves. They spoke with excitement and my father could barely contain himself.