Letter To The Jews / Chapter 8

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8: An Ambiguous Oracle

Now, the ferocity of the Roman destruction would certainly appear to fit the description given by Malachi, yet it appears that your ancestors did not see the “messenger of the covenant” who was supposed to come to the Temple first.

Nevertheless, the people of those days were in expectation of some form of deliverance. They were led along by many false prophets, some of whom were in the pay of the rebels, and others were driven along by their own interpretation of prophecy.

Even Josephus says that what strengthened them in their war against the Romans “was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how 'about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth.'” 1

Now, Josephus does not tell us exactly which prophecy this is, and neither is there a specific prophecy that says this, so he is perhaps giving a summary of their interpretation of the prophets. But by writing this, he indicates that they believed prophecy was pointing to their day.

And so, we should take a careful look at prophecies related to this, to see if we can discern more accurately the will and purpose of YHWH, and perhaps discover further veils that can be removed.

Certainly we cannot be too harsh on your ancestors for not having a perfect understanding of prophecy. In many ways, prophecy is like a jigsaw puzzle. The complete picture has been broken up into many pieces and spread throughout the words of the prophets.

And there have been many disputes about the individual pieces of the prophetic puzzle. Some say a prophecy is meant to be read literally, others take it to be symbolic. Some say it applies to one thing, some to another thing.

More than that, individual pieces of prophecy seem to paint altogether different pictures. For example, Zechariah says your king will come to Jerusalem humble and riding on a donkey, while Daniel says he will come with the clouds of the heavens.

To solve this riddle, some of your teachers say there are two anointed ones; one who would suffer, and one who would conquer. Others say, if the people of Israel will be righteous, the Messiah will come in the clouds of heaven. If they will not be righteous, he will come as a poor man riding upon an ass.2

1 Josephus, The Wars Of The Jews, Book 6, Chapter 5, Section 4. 2 Sanhedrin 98a.

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