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An Introduction to the Talmud

by Dr. Harris Brody

Part IX

In our last study we began to see the parallel, concerning the Messiah, between Matthew's account and the Zohar, a Jewish mystical book. We especially took note concerning the star which would precede Messiah, and the place where He would begin His ministry, which was Galilee.

The Zohar continues and explains that when this star would disappear Messiah would go into hiding. Some very interesting things will then occur. Let's see what they are.

"After the seventy days the one star shall vanish. Also the Messiah shall be hidden for twelve months in the pillar of fire, which shall return again, although it shall not be visible. After the twelve months the Messiah will be carried up to heaven in that pillar of fire and receive there power and dominion and the royal crown. When he descends, the pillar of fire will again be visible to the eyes of the world, and the Messiah will reveal himself, and mighty nations will gather round him, and he shall declare war against the world" (Zohar III, Shemoth 7b 8a).

From the above quote we should take note of the following words and phrases: "hidden," "shall return again," "not be visible," "carried up to heaven," "pillar of fire," "descends," "will reveal himself," "gather round him," and "declare war." Most of these we are familiar with in regard to the gospel and the Lord's return. Let's see if we could make some sense from the Zohar's statement and if there really is a parallel to the gospel and Yeshua's, Jesus', return.

The Zohar made the statement that when the star which identified Messiah would disappear, he would go into hiding. Did this actually take place? We know from Matthew's account that after the wise men presented their gifts to Yeshua as a young child, an angel appeared to Joseph and told him to take his family and go down to Egypt and hide, because Herod was seeking the young child's life (Matthew 2:11-14). Matthew then makes a connection to Hosea 11:1. He identifies the term "my son" in Hosea and Israel's early sojourn in Egypt. Matthew develops what is commonly known as a Midrash.

The Zohar did not say where the Messiah would hide except that He would be in the "pillar of fire." Jewish reference would be of the Holy Spirit and of His leading. The trip for Joseph and his family was definitely the leading of the Holy Spirit.

The Zohar then makes a statement that the Messiah will "return again," and yet He would "not be visible." What does this mean? Yeshua did indeed return to Israel and began His ministry in Galilee which we noted previously. But how could He return and not be visible? This means that He would not be recognized. Our own Messiah would be rejected and despised. This is where Isaiah 53 begins to fit into the picture (see the previous studies). "He came unto his own, and his own received him not" (John. 1:11).

What happens when one is rejected? He leaves. After Yeshua Messiah bore our sin on the tree and was resurrected, He then ascended. This is what the Zohar means when it states that He was "carried up to heaven." Yeshua, Jesus, ascended from the Mount of Olives forty days after His resurrection. He will return to that same place (Acts 1:3,10-11; Zechariah 14:4).

The Zohar adds that the Messiah receives in heaven "power and dominion and the royal crown." Of these things Yeshua did receive. We read in Hebrews:

"Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands; Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him" (Hebrews 2:7,8).

Next our passage from the Zohar states that when Messiah "descends, the pillar of fire will again be visible to the eyes of the world, and the Messiah will reveal himself." Yeshua Messiah will not return until the end of the Tribulation. He will return when all appears to be lost for Israel.

Then my people Israel will accept the rejected and despised Messiah (Zechariah12:10). They can only receive Him by the leading of the Holy Spirit, or in the Zohar's terms, by the "pillar of fire." John the Baptizer already identified Yeshua as the One who comes with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 2:11).

Those who are born from above have experienced these things, but the nation of Israel collectively awaits. When He "descends" He will "reveal himself as the Zohar says. He will come not as a lamb as He did previously, but this time as a warrior. The nation Israel will stare at the pierced hands of Messiah whom they have pierced. It will be a day of much mourning (Zechariah 12:10-14). It will be a day that the fountain is opened for them to be cleansed of sin and uncleanness (Zechariah 13:1). The mourning will not just be for the fact of acknowledging Yeshua as the Messiah whom they had rejected, but more so for the realization that their loved ones who died before His second advent have no atonement and will perish eternally.

Our Zohar section then adds, "mighty nations will gather round him and he shall declare war against all the world." This is the battle of Armageddon. 

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