Q&A: “Israel prophecy” – “veiled in obscurity”?

Image from www.bloomsbury.com

Image from www.bloomsbury.com

[This was first posted in 2015; since then, it has become the most clicked post of all time.  Why?  We’re not sure, but read through and find out for yourself.—Admin1]

 

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If you’ve clicked our search-aid post titled YO, searchers, can we help you?   you will read the day-to-day entries of searchers which we post, including the articles that are intended to address their query. We get a lot of good search terms and a few weird ones we can’t address, perhaps accidentally landing on our website. Occasionally, a searcher keeps repeating his entry: either he keeps landing on this website and not finding the answer, or he did find the answer right here —- we just didn’t know we’ve already provided it and he’s simply coming back for more info. Such a one started like this:

 

 

3/20/14   Q:origins of prophecy in israel veiled in obscurity discuss”   We answered this post showing a bit of annoyance because of the words “veiled in obscurity”:

 

 

A:  Think about this:  if you were God, YHWH the Revelator on Sinai, the Creator who gave instructions to the first couple, spoke to Cain, Noah, Abraham and others—-would you not make your instructions CLEAR as clear as can be?

What is the point of giving “prophecies” to be fulfilled in the future if the recipient or hearer at the time it was given has to guess what it means?

Why would the Self-revealing God who speaks through his human mouthpieces, the prophets of Israel, “veil in obscurity” the important declarations He would want His people to understand? No, No, NO!

 

 

Surely in communication, YHWH is perfect and wishes the recipients of His messages to understand, specially if it has to do with JUDGMENT!  The purpose of sending prophet after prophet to HIS PEOPLE, was to remind them to return to Him, to His Torah, to live it individually, in community, and as a ‘chosen’ people whose lifestyle the nations who were not privy to the Torah (as yet) would envy.

 

 

He says so in Davarim or Deuteronomy, for instance 28:9-10.  

 

YHVH will establish you

to be a people holy to him,

as he swore to you,

when you keep the commandments

of YHVH your God and walk in his ways. 

Now when all the peoples of the earth see

that the name of YHVH is proclaimed over you, they will hold you in awe.

 

 

The prophecy/revelation is “obscure” only for those with eyes but cannot or refuse to see, with minds but refuse to disengage it from previous religious orientation.   Why not simply read the books on the prophets of Israel with a Hebrew mindset and in the context of Israel instead of looking for justification for futuristic religions unrelated to these prophecies.

 

 

Religionists misinterpret the declarations of Israel’s prophets because of their religious agenda.  Fortunately, we have posts from the literary perspective, whereby the commentators understand figurative language and stick to simple reading rules applicable to any piece of writing, including the Hebrew Scriptures. Please check these out:

 

 

 

 

Surely that would have more than satisfied the searcher, or so we thought . . . but wrong thought, for on 3/27/14, this was entered again:

 

“what were the views that the origins of israel prophecy remains veiled in obscurity” 

 

So, we wrote this to that second Q:

 

A:  Pasting a previous answer to this same query, this was posted 3/20/14 [and the whole answer was repeated.]

 

Don’t get us wrong, we love PERSISTENT seachers, they remind us of . . . US!  We will never quit searching and studying to our dying day!  We certainly can relate to them so we’ve cultivated the virtue of patience in answering the same question as many times as we need to, in other ways, specially if the previous one was not satisfactory.  However, this third time around, we discovered it was one of our own sourcebooks that provided this searcher the phrase he kept entering.

 

And so, this was our third round:

 

3/28  Q:  discuss the view that the origins of lsraelites prophecy remains veiled in obscurity” – 

 

A.  This is the third time this search phrase has come up, most likely by the same searcher.  We’ve answered it on two different dates;  however, it turns out that the post from which “remains veiled in obscurity” comes from is one of our sourcebooks titled:  The Prophets of Israel – Christian Perspective.  Ay, ‘there’s the rub’ (as Hamlet would say).  What’s the ‘rub’?   ”Christian Perspective.”

 

 

This is the problem with reading phrases/sentences/verses/texts in isolation, without the context or outside of the context.  Guilty, as charged.

 

 

In the context where the phrase is embedded, it is understandable that Curt Kuhl the author of the recommended book explains that at his time of writing his book, his sources were limited:  [highlighted and reformatted for emphasis]:

 

The lack of precise data for the dating of individual prophets, and still more for the dating of the many isolated utterances, has rendered our task all the more difficult. On the other hand the defective nature of what has come down to us has become all the more perceptible.

Notice:

  • For long periods of time, sources are lacking.
  • There are thus entire ages of which we have no knowledge.
  • The origin of Israelite prophecy remains veiled in obscurity.

All the information we possess on many a prophet (especially in the earlier monarchy) consists either in brief utterances or in narratives of a legendary nature which are insufficient to give us a true picture of the prophet and his work.

 

 

But let us not leave it at that; here’s part of his concluding statement: [highlight and bracketed comments ours]:

 

Yet the greatness of the prophets of Israel
and their significance for religion and spiritual life
does not lie in these prophecies
but in the lofty and exceptional knowledge of God
that the best of them possessed.  [AMEN!!]
Their call and their other mysterious spiritual experiences bring them to the knowledge of God as a living powerful Person, the One whose almighty will rules in righteousness and love over the lives and destinies of nations and men. His holiness and majesty bring home to man what a vast distance separates him from God.
It is true that the prophets were unable to save their people from downfall and could not prevent its religion from degenerating into cultic religiosity and legalism [S6Ka Christian misperception resulting from their NT writers].
Yet they preserved the faith of their people during and after the Exile. Form of worship, moral action and social sensibility–the particular expression of these is not fundamental.

 

 

What is authoritative and decisive is
a new vision and knowledge of God
leading the nation and men one by one
into a new spiritual attitude to Him
which must then be expressed
in their life and their faith.

It is our understanding and reading of the Hebrew Prophetic books that there was no “new” vision and knowledge of God by the time of the Prophets—there was simply a reiteration of all that the God on Sinai had already revealed to the first generation of Israelites and gentiles mixed among them and reiterated to the 2nd generation that entered the Land.  This supports the Sinaite’s conclusion that the Sinai Revelation was complete in the sense that all that humankind needed to know in relating to the One True God and to one another is there;  in fact, condensed in the Decalogue. But to Israel, more instructions would be given about the Priesthood, the Tabernacle, dietary laws and Israel’s feasts, how to treat the nations, etc. as they moved forward to their historical destiny as the chosen firstborn to model YHWH’s Torah lifestyle.

 

 

What might have been “new” are the judgments that were to fall on Israel and Judah if they refused to obey . . . and worse, if they did not repent: judgments of being overtaken by gentile powers and being exiled to lands that practiced idolatry.  In effect, ‘give them what they want,  the gods of the nations’,  but at what cost! And it is not as though these warnings were not already embedded in the five books of Moses, reiterated just before the 2nd generation born in the wilderness were about to enter and conquer the Land with Joshua and Caleb.   All of this is repeated in Deuteronomy with new applications relating to living in the Land. YHWH had revealed Himself and His Way of Life to Israel and repeatedly emphasized the importance of their keeping the Covenant and obeying His Torah.

 

For what?   To keep this way of life and the Name of their God exclusively to themselves?  No, on the contrary . . . to start the Torah movement . . . a way of living, YHWH’s guidelines for Israel and the nations.  But He had to start with an identifiable people—

  • who will be different,
  • be ‘other’,
  • be His ‘servant’,
  • His ‘son’,
  • be His model community
  • where individuals are ‘other’-centered instead of ‘self’-centered.

And most of all, direct all nations to the One True God, the Self-revealing God on Sinai—that is the objective and purpose of having a ‘chosen’ among vast humanity.

 

 

After their dismal track record of repeated disobedience as their own Historical-Scriptures/Kings-Chronicles attest to, Israel’s Prophets were merely sent to redirect them back to YHWH and His Torah.

 

 

Like a firstborn son, Israel was taught from the start but unfortunately learned the hard way because of disobedience resulting judgment.  Eventually, to recover and retain its Covenant legacy after it had lost its Land and Temple though not its God and His Torah, the religious remnant of Israel started over with a strict religion “Judaism.”  Indeed the pendulum had swung the other way, perhaps to an extreme but indeed, better safe than sorry.

 

 

Why does Christianity call a strict observance of YHWH’s Torah “legalism”?  As long as one did not add to the original Torah, one is simply obeying.

 

Is obedience to YHWH’s Torah “legalism”? Is YHWH’s Torah a “burden,”  a “load,” a “yoke” around one’s neck?

 

 

To the Christian, yes, because their NT scriptures had declared it thus.  The culprit?   ‘Thus saith Paul of Tarsus’ whose teachings in his epistles dominate Christian theology and in fact is virtually the ‘creator’ of a new religion that became known as ‘Christianity.’

 

 

Where can one find ‘Thus Saith the LORD YHWH?’  Back to basics, the original Sinai revelation, the TORAH.

 

 

What part of “HEAR” don’t we still get,  oh Jew, oh Gentile?

 

 

 

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