Where is the Kingdom?
One first century rabbi utterly despaired over the region of Israel where he lived. No one in the area ever asked him about the Torah. He balked at their disinterest. “O Galilee, O Galilee,” he exclaimed. “In the end you will be filled with wrongdoers!” (Jerusalem Talmud, Shabbat 16:7, 15d)
Religious leaders in Jerusalem all agreed. In their estimation, the Galilee was the most pagan of all Jewish provinces. Galileans were loose in their study of Torah, looser still in their pronunciation of Hebrew, and biblically beneath those who lived closer to the Beit HaMikdash, the Temple.
It was true that the Galilee was geographically distant from Jerusalem. It was also true that the study of Hebrew traditions was not a Galilean virtue. This was an area of odd characters and irreverent ideas. The name Galil haGoyim rightly stood for Galilee of the Nations, or Circle of Heathens.
Yet, this is where Yeshua began His ministry. The Galilean hills may have been populated by ignorant, unlearned people. But with them, He shared the secrets of the kingdom.
Until then, the Children of Israel never fully understood the kingdom. They simply elevated their heavenly King. In the Song at the Sea, they exclaimed, Yahweh yimlokh le-olam va’ed – the Lord will reign forever and ever (Exodus 15:18)! Curiously, there was a missing Hebrew letter in the text of their song. The word yimlokh should have included the letter Vav. Yet, the letter was conspicuously absent. Through this omission, ancient Bible scribes were communicating a hidden message.
Yes, sing! But, know that the Kingdom of God is incomplete. The Kingdom requires a King enthroned. It requires obedient subjects. As the month of Elul closes and the High Holy Days approach, let us confirm that the King is seated on our heart’s throne.
Published September 4, 2018