Thursday, December 13, 2012

Eliyahu, Meshiach, and the Salvation of the World

Today was a great day for me, particularly my Judeophile self. [Is that a word? I just made it a word. After 5 months in Israel during my junior year, I have developed a love for Jews and Israel, and I relish every chance I get to interact with that culture.]

First, I saw a bumper sticker for Obama, but ‘Barak Obama’ was written using Hebrew characters. I was pleased with my ability to read Hebrew (I took 11 credits’ worth of that language) and posted a picture of the bumper sticker on facebook, as you may have seen. I also spent some time looking for a way to type Hebrew letters on my phone so I could tell my friends Happy Hanukah, although I ultimately gave up.

I also spent some time in first three chapters of the biblical book of Luke.

[In Luke, we come across Jews who are longing for Elijah (‘Eliyahu’ in Hebrew), who will prepare the way for the Messiah (‘Meshiach’). In Luke, 1 we meet two childless women (the Bible is full of them!), as well as their husbands. Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah await a child, and then an angel appears promising a child “in the spirit and power of Eliyahu, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). The angel, of course, is quoting directly from the prophecy in Malachi 4:5-6, in which God promises that he will send Eliyahu before the Meshiach arrives. Soon after Elizabeth becomes pregnant with “Eliyahu,” her childless cousin Mary is told by an angel that she would bear a son to be named “Jesus” (or “Yeshua” in Hebrew). Yeshua would “be given the throne of his father David”…in other words, he would be the Meshiach. Finally, in Luke 2 we meet the Jewish prophets Simeon and Anna who also are awaiting Eliyahu and the Meshiach. When they meet baby Jesus at the Temple for his dedication, they praise God that they were able to see the Meshiach before they died.
So in just two chapters of Luke we meet Eliyahu, Yeshua the Meshiach, and the Jews who are eagerly awaiting both of them.]

This evening I walked into a gift shop owned by a Jewish man, Mark Levine, and his wife. [It turns out they live in Carlisle, PA and know my friend Rachel Jetter!] In their shop I found a cup that had two things written on it in Hebrew. On one side it said “Cos Eliyahu”—the Cup of Elijah/Eliyahu. At Pesach (‘Passover’), Jews must always have a chair at the table that is open for Eliyahu, since they never know when he will come back to prepare the way for the Meshiach.

On the other side of the Cup of Eliyahu was a phrase I did not know. It said “Cos Yeshuaot Asha.” I asked Mark (who spent 10 years in Israel) what it meant. We talked about how the name “Yeshua” (Joshua/Jesus) means “redemption” or “salvation”, and so the phrase probably means “Cup that brings salvation.” Mark helped explain that when Eliyahu comes, he will be bringing God’s salvation because he will be ushering in the kingdom of the Meshiach. I was able to confirm and clarify this understanding further after a great conversation with my good friend (and Hebrew expert!) Adela, who also studied abroad in Israel with me.

So, in conclusion: I started today reading in Luke about Jews who eagerly awaited the coming of Eliyahu—who would prepare the way for Meshiach, who was named Yeshua, the bringer of Yeshuaot (salvation).

Then I ended the day by actually meeting Jews who eagerly await the coming of Eliyahu who will prepare the way for the Meshiach, the bringer of Yeshuaot (salvation).


Today was a great day for me, particularly my Judeophile self.