Hesed

Books

Hesed: Does The Tanakh Foreshadow Jesus?

In Volume One, we will examine the Day of Atonement as well as some historical examples of sacrificial atonement from the Tanakh. Did these elements of ancient Judaism make up G-d’s solution to deal with the problem of our moral guilt, or were they just symbolic of a future sacrifice that actually could pay the price of justice for the sins of mankind?

We will also take a look at some key moments from the lives of Isaac, Joseph, Moses, David, Daniel, and Cyrus. Then we will compare each of their lives to Jesus’ life. The question is, are the parallels between these men’s lives and Jesus’ life just interesting coincidences, or are they more than that?

The Mashiah: A Study Of The Messianic Prophecies

The Tanakh contains a trove of prophecies that are specific and purposeful. One of the key subjects of Biblical prophecy is the coming of the Messiah.

Did Jesus fulfill any of the messianic prophecies? How many did He fulfill, and how well did He fulfill them? In this book, we will seek to answer these questions by examining the prophecies in the Tanakh.

The Esa: The Role of the Messiah in G-d's plan

The Tanakh contains G-d’s message to us, and it is therefore invaluable. In the Tanakh, G-d reveals who He is and who we are, how we got in the predicament we are in today, and how G-d has a plan to rescue us. G-d’s plan included sending a deliverer, the Messiah, to provide atonement for iniquity and to end evil human governments.

Jesus claimed to be the Messiah. In this book we will examine the Tanakh and its description of the role of the Messiah. Then we will consider Jesus’ life to see how well His accomplishments matched the first part of the description. We will also discuss why it is necessary for the Messiah to come two times and how Jesus will return to finish the work that G-d has for Him.
This post is sponsored by our partners Wigs

(coming in 2025)

The Tanakh: Its Unusual ending

The Tanakh is a literary masterpiece. Of course, that only makes sense as G-d is the ultimate author.

In this book we will examine the Tanakh as a piece of literature. We will take a look at its recurring themes and its conspicuously incomplete ending. Then we will consider how well the story of Jesus completes the Tanakh.

(coming in 2026)

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Joseph was his dad’s favorite, which caused his brothers to be jealous. In addition, he shared his dreams with them in which they were bowing down to him. As time went on, Joseph’s brothers reached a point where they could not stand the site of him. They almost killed him, but instead they sold him into slavery in a foreign land. There he suffered for thirteen years. Rather than wallowing in bitterness and self-pity, Joseph turned to G-d. G-d was with him all those dark days. One day, Joseph’s circumstances turned around. The narrative slows down at that point as G-d wants us to pay attention to this part of Joseph’s life. Genesis chapters 42 through 45 cover Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers and reconciliation with them.

Joseph was in a position of great power in Egypt when his brothers encountered him for the first time in many years. They did not recognize him, and he used his position to put them through a test. Joseph did not do this to exact a measure of justice, for he had already forgiven them in his heart. But rather, he did this because he wanted to be reconciled with his brothers. However, reconciliation requires the willingness of both parties. Therefore, Joseph made this effort to try to save his relationship with them.

Similarly, Jesus was loathed by the religious leaders of the Jews. They were jealous of His popularity with the people, and they could not stand Him for the claims He made of being the Messiah and even of being G-d! They plotted against Him, and they succeeded. He was crucified on Passover in the early 30s CE. Jesus did not try to defend Himself against this ghastly sentence. He came for this purpose – to die for the sins of mankind. Joseph foreshadowed Jesus in that Joseph was tremendously forgiving of those who sinned against him and robbed him of the prime of his life. Furthermore, Joseph did not just want to relinquish them from having to pay a price for their sins and be done with them. Rather, he wanted to be restored to a healthy relationship with them. So too, Jesus gave up His life in order to provide forgiveness to sinners, including His enemies. Ever since, He has been knocking on the doors of people’s hearts and offering them salvation in an attempt to be reconciled with them. In the words of Jesus:

“Behold, I stand at the door an knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:20)

Puzzle pieces fit together to form the picture on the box lid. Sometimes, the picture is a scenic view. Other times, it is a scene from a Walt Disney movie like Snow White or Peter Pan. Obviously, the more pieces there are, the more difficult it is to put  the puzzle together. What if you had a box of pieces from a large puzzle with no lid? That would really be challenging. This is the situation we have with Biblical prophecy.

But we can still get started. We can study the Hebrew Bible, and we can pull all the prophecies out and place them face up on the dining room table. Then we can try to form groups out of all the prophecies with the goal being to place each prophecy with other ones predicting the same future event or person. The final goal would be to see how the groups fit together to form a unified picture. For, in every painting, book, or movie there is a message that the artist is trying to express. So too, we can expect that G-d has placed a message in the overall picture of Biblical prophecy.

A clue to understanding what is being predicted by a prophecy is history. For, though technology has changed our world greatly, we humans have not changed all that much. We are motivated by the same basic desires we have always been. People behave largely the same today as they did in antiquity. Therefore, we can expect prophetic events that still lie in the future to mimic events from the past and to feature people acting the same way that they have always acted.

The wildcard in interpreting prophecy is G-d. For, we do not understand Him very well. He is righteous and infinite, and we have a weak grasp on those aspects of His nature. Furthermore, He has given us free will, and He has not intervened very often in history. Therefore, as we read prophecies foretelling acts of selfless love that He would perform, we are not sure what to make of them. Perhaps it is best to take them at face value.

We know that the Jews returning from the Babylonian exile had learned the message of Isiah and let go of worshipping pagan idols. That was very good.

But stopping a wrong behavior does not necessarily mean that you have replaced it with the right behavior.  Stopping worshipping false deities does not mean that you have started worshipping the one true G-d, and herein lies the message of Malachi.

Malachi was trying to warn them. Listen to this quote from G-d as He directly addresses the priests of that day:

“Behold, I am going to rebuke your offspring, and I will spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your feasts; and you will be taken away with it.”  (Mal. 2:3)

These words are scandalous. G-d was trying to use shock appeal to wake them up. It turns out that the priests were at the forefront of the commission of a new strain of sin that was angering G-d. The priests were the spiritual leaders and they were leading the people in the wrong direction. Here G-d had saved His people and given them another fresh start, and they were heading down the wrong path again! Namely, they started down another path that ends in exile. These Jews, of all people, should have seen that. So G-d called out to them to try to get them to think, and turn back and take the right path.

. . . 

What the priests were doing was presenting blind and lame animals for sacrifice. The problem for G-d was not the animals per se. The problem was with the hearts of both the priests and the people.

G-d’s enemy picked his moment and approached Eve when she was not with G-d. Then he whispered words of rebellion to Eve. His accusations against G-d’s character were not true, but they sounded reasonable. In their exchange, Satan may have embodied a snake. That is the plain meaning of the text, and that is entirely possible. Or, the writer of Genesis may have merely called him a snake metaphorically. In other words, Satan approached her stealthily, and his words were venomous and lethal.

Here is the passage:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the L-rd G-d had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has G-d said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, G-d has said, ‘You shall not eat from it our touch it, lest you die.’ ” And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! . . .”  (Gen. 3)

In their dialogue, she misquoted G-d. Evidently, she had not been paying attention very closely to G-d’s words or His character. But, Eve did hear Satan’s words. Upon absorbing Satan’s assault on G-d’s character, she did not pause to consider the truthfulness of his claims. She did not discuss it with Adam, and nor did she go to G-d to talk it over with Him. She just took the plunge and did the one thing G-d instructed her and her husband not to do. She ate the forbidden fruit. Then she handed the fruit to Adam, and he joined her!

Satan questioned G-d’s honesty. But, Satan is the one who is a liar. G-d had told Adam and Eve that they could eat the fruit of any tree in the garden except one. If they ate from the one specific tree, that would constitute their choice to sever their relationship with G-d, and they would die for their unfaithful act towards Him. Indeed, every word from G-d was true. In addition, Satan accused G-d of holding them down. Satan told them that if they ate the fruit from the one tree, they would become like G-d, knowing good and evil. That was a lie too, for G-d had created them in His image and they were already like G-d. Furthermore, the implication that G-d is a god who holds out on us was false. The truth is that G-d provided for their every need. First and foremost, they had a relationship with Him, and they experienced His love personally. Beyond that, He provided them with a perfect environment in which to live, wonderful food, and each other as a spouse. In addition, G-d gave Adam and Eve a purpose and free will. They were literally in paradise! Yet, Satan spoke to Eve and subtly leveled these charges against G-d’s character. Satan was partially right in that before this time, Adam and Eve knew nothing of evil. They were innocent and they only knew good. Satan’s words seemed to make sense to Eve, and she fell into his trap.

These lies are the first lies ever told to human beings against G-d’s character. There have been many told since that day. Today, G-d’s name has been so muddied that many people disdain Him and prefer not to even think about Him.

One of G-d’s attributes is justice. Previously, Adam was a gardener, and fruit trees would spring up wherever he would plant them. Their fruit was absolutely delicious as well as nutritious. Unfortunately, Adam did not appreciate how good G-d’s provision was. Therefore, after he rebelled, he was no longer a gardener in paradise, but rather he became a farmer who had to contend with weeds, insects, and a lack of rainfall. He had to work from sunup to sundown in order to produce a meager harvest. So too with Eve, she had the honor of bearing children. But no longer would giving birth be a special moment to look forward to for nine months. Rather, delivering babies became painful and even dangerous. Of course, eventually, Adam and Eve died, just as G-d had said they would.

One may ask, how is this fair? After all, they did not know what evil was. Yet, they did know what good was. They knew G-d and how good He is. In fact, unlike us today, they were not confused at all about G-d’s goodness. Hence, they should not have cast G-d aside so easily, and for that, they were held responsible.

However, as grave as G-d’s sentence of death was, in a sense, it was for our good. For, in our current state, we are unfit to enter G-d’s presence. Simply put, Adam and Eve could not take it back. They rebelled, and justice was required. Had they not been sentenced to die, perhaps they would have lived in this broken world, separated from G-d, forever. The world they and their offspring would have created in their morally compromised state would have been hellish, and we would all be stuck in it for eternity. But G-d had a better plan.

Needless to say, G-d was not caught off guard by their monumental mistake. He had a plan ready when the moment came, and He presented the outline of that plan to Adam and Eve in their dialogue.