Article 1 The Akedah (the binding of Isaac) and the Angel of the Lord - by Michael Harris.
In the Jewish News of 10th November 2016 a liberal rabbi wrote on the subject of the Akedah (the binding of Isaac - recounted in Genesis 22), and indicated that “sometimes we must say no to God”. This is my response:
On reading the rabbi’s comments, I asked myself “Whose side is he on?” I seem to recall that once upon a time it was man’s Enemy in the guise of a serpent who encouraged disobedience to God’s command, and look what a mess that has got us in. Saying no to God surely has no place in Judaism, or Christianity. We are at one in that.
In my view this testing had a dual purpose. First, a test of the faith of Abraham and Isaac, who surrendered unconditionally to God’s will, knowing that God did not make false promises concerning Isaac’s future. Abraham believed that God would raise Isaac up from death to fulfil those promises He made.
But more than that, we see in this account a glimpse into the mystery of the nature of God and His purposes. As Abraham took up the knife to slay Isaac, the Angel of the Lord intervened and said, “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from Me your son, your only son” (Genesis 22:12). This was no ordinary angel. In saying “from Me” we see that the Angel of the Lord was the same as the One that Jacob wrestled with…and became Israel – Genesis 32:22-30 when he saw God face to face. The Angel of the Lord was no less than the One present at the very beginning, when God said “Let Us make man in Our image.” (Genesis 1:26).
Here we have a glimpse of the plural unity, echad, in the Eternal and of Him who in a more lowly form many years later said “I and the Father are One”.
As importantly, we see in the account of the Akedah a picture of the once and for all sacrifice that God would provide for the atonement of the sins of mankind by the blood of His beloved son Yeshua. No animals or even men could do this, only the perfect “Lamb of God”, who was without sin. It was as if God were saying, “If you Abraham are prepared to sacrifice your beloved son for me, I will do the same for mankind.”
In His sacrificial death for us, Yeshua paid the full price to redeem those who turn to Him in repentance and faith, and God raised Him to life.
At the end of the account of the Akedah, we see a ram, caught by its horns in a thicket, who was sacrificed in Isaac’s place (Genesis 22:13). Many years later in the same location a crown of thorns was placed on Yeshua’s head. It is as if the Eternal were now saying to us and Abraham, “I kept My promise.”
Article 2 "In the Beginning: Genesis 1 v 26" - These are some thoughts by Michael Harris, on his studying of the Scriptures. Enlightenment is given to those who seek the truth with an open mind.
In the Beginning…..
G-d (in Hebrew Elohim, which is plural) said,
“Let Us make man in Our image and in Our likeness.”
Hence Adam was formed, then Eve from Adam.
We read in Genesis 18 that God appeared to Abraham as one of three men. This was “the Angel of the Lord” - Elohim visible to men’s eyes. Abraham acknowledged Him as God and prayed to Him to spare the city from destruction.
Later, Abraham’s faith was tested (Genesis 22). He was about to slay his son, but the Angel of the Lord called to him and said “Abraham! Do not lay a hand on the boy. Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld your only son from Me”, again signifying that the Angel of the Lord was God.
In response to Isaac’s question, “Father, where is the lamb for the sacrifice?”, Abraham had replied,
“God Himself will provide the lamb for the sacrifice.”
In the event, it was actually a ram that God provided, caught by its horns in a thicket: a foreshadowing of Yeshua, whose head displayed a crown of thorns when he died as a substitutionary sacrifice for sin.
Reading between the lines, this was no ordinary test of faith; it had special significance because it was as if God were saying “If you are prepared to sacrifice your son for me, I will do the same for humanity.”
Moreover, Abraham reasoned that, because God’s promise for the future nation was through Isaac, if he went through with the sacrifice, God would raise Isaac up from death in order to fulfil His original promises. This also points to the sacrifice of God’s beloved Son, Yeshua, and His resurrection from death.
(His death was prophesied in the Tenach: Isaiah 53; Psalm 22., and the testing of Abraham foreshadows it.)
In the Beginning…..
In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with Elohim. He was with Elohim in the beginning. Through Him all things were made from His heavenly dwelling with the Father. Without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life and that life was the light of humanity. All things and nature exist through His divine Word, who is the living visible representation of the Father.
This explains the “Us” in Genesis 1:26.
“No-one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.”
Yeshua was Immanuel, God present with us in a body, the image of the invisible God. His words have been passed on to us by an eye-witness:
“Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.” “The Father and I are one.” (John 14:9; 10:30)
“The Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees the Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (5:19)
“If you knew Me, you would know my Father also.” (8:19)
“Whoever accepts Me accepts the One Who sent me.” (13:20)
“He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father Who sent Him.” (5:23)
“If you do not believe that I am the One I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” (8:24)
It was the corrupt and self-seeking religious hierarchy who were responsible for Yeshua’s death, not the Jewish people in general, who were amazed at His miracles and by His teaching, which could only have come from God. For example, the eminent Pharisee Nicodemus said, “We know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no-one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Thinking seriously, dare one deny the unity of the Angel of the Lord, (who became and is the Messiah of Israel, Yeshua) with the Father? Denying the Son will not please the Father, whose wrath can be very severe. May I present a situation, concerning oneself maybe, you own a small business or factory, you have a very eligible son to take over the business and run it for you, you decide to do this, and hand over the running of the business to him, but those who work under your authority refuse to work under your son and deny his authority. How would you respond to this?...................................................................................................
Would Elohim not be right to display His anger too?
If the blind hierarchy put themselves above the will of Elohim and deny His Son, to maintain their pride and misguided authority over their flock, where is their love for the flock, and where is the freedom of the flock? Sheep need a shepherd to lead them into heavenly pastures.
We see the condemnation of the shepherds in the prophecies of Ezekiel: Ezekiel 34:10,
“This is what the Sovereign LORD says, “I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock.”
Rabbis, by denying the Messiah, take a great responsibility on their shoulders. They are not serving the will of HaShem, but the one opposed to Him. And they are keeping their congregation from salvation through the Messiah Yeshua.
Why do Jewish leaders fear the New Testament? If its message was not authentic, it would have fizzled out and come to nothing. At the time when the first disciples of Jesus were brought before the Sanhedrin, accused of teaching in the name of Jesus, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was a revered rabbi, said (Acts 6:38):
“I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God”
These were wise words and he was proved right.
If you were presented with a jigsaw puzzle and only bothered to do half of it, would you have the full picture? Likewise, you do not have the full picture of HaShem’s will if you do not read the New Testament, as it is a continuation of God’s revelation. As it is written in Jeremiah the Prophet, (Jeremiah 31:31):
“The time is coming” declares HaShem, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah”.
This is the New Covenant, or New Testament, which is God’s desire for His chosen people.
Jesus was the Messenger of the Covenant written about by the prophet Malachi (Malachi 3:1-2):
“Suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple; the Messenger of the Covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.”
And we know that His word is infallible and trustworthy.