YESHUA BAR ELOHIM: THE ENIGMA OF JESUS AS SON

JESUS AS SON: PART 3 “JESUS AS EMBODIED ISRAEL”

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols” (vv. 1–2).

– Hosea 11:1–7

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Another aspect tied to the title of Son of God, is that of the identity of the nation of Israel. As Hosea points out in the verse, Yahweh actually refers to Israel as his own beloved child, and as his son. Although it should be noted that Moses is the first to point this out in Exodus, but he isn’t permitted by God to speak of it. This particular identity is historic in nature; implying that it is tied to the Jacob, the father of the 12 sons of Israel. Now, what’s even peculiar about this is that Jacob who was given a new name by a divine stranger was called ‘Prince with God’. This identity ties well with the identity of the Messiah as Prince of Shalom (as the true Prince/Ruler with God).

Jesus exercises his authority as the ultimate Patriarch that will redefine the world by selecting the 12. Now, if this isn’t made clear enough, Jacob’s name literally meant liar; Jesus intentionally revealed his name as ‘The Truth’. There’s not only that revelation but the continued allusion to his very being as the ‘Vine’ and his followers as the ‘branches’ as seen in John 15. This identity is essential to Jesus’s teachings as he anchors his church to his identity as the sole source of teaching. This is how God’s working in the messiah manifests its weight; God has revealed that he redeems by redefining and replacing the old in a manner that only he could.

The kingdom of God is unlikely to be formed unless Jesus lived the life that Israel was to live in all its history, and that is a righteous, devoted life to Yahweh alone; this is based off Deuteronomy 6:6. So, the theory goes, that when Jesus lived the perfect sinless life, his very life was made capable of enveloping all who were going to fall under the umbrella of his name as Son. It is in this very belief that the generational gap that stretched over for centuries is now reduced because Israel Incarnate has truly become Immanuel. He is our direct connection to God the Father as he is also now our Elder Brother as the book of Hebrews tells us.

So, you see, there’s quite a lot going on here with Jesus’ title of ‘Son of God’. Each of these implications are reflected in Jesus’ teachings as well as the doctrines surrounding him in the entire New Testament. What then does all this mean for us today? I have 3 main ideas:

a. Jesus identity as Israel gives us direct access to God and as such we can approach him directly (not relying on traditions as the Pharisees did).

b. We are assured of a genuine cover of our lives when we submit to him; Jesus is capable of understanding us “at all our points of weakness” because he himself was tested but yet without sin as the book of Hebrews tells us.

c. Jesus has given his followers a new identity as the members of the divine city, we have become, in him true Israel; if we remain in him we continue to be true Israel according to John 15.

And, to make things even more interesting. The New Testament would paint Jesus’s life in the same way as the Israelite journey, especially Jesus’s Flee to Egypt, his Baptism, His Period in the Wilderness for 40 days, His Temptation, His Passion and the eschatological aspect of Israel; His Resurrection. The Resurrection is blanketed over mankind and over all creation for those who believe in him. This is why John 1 would tell us, “those who believed in him he gave the power to become sons of God”. Paul the Apostle on the same note would say, “As he is, so also shall we be”.

“Do not fear, I have overcome…behold I was alive, and was dead and now I am alive forever more”

-Jesus to John

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BLACK PANTHER: THE MOST UNIQUE CONTRIBUTION TO BLACK THEOLOGY

God works through me, the same as you. There is no feat I achieve that you are not capable of.”

-Black Panther

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As fascinating and as unexpected as it may sound, the Black Panther is indeed a very important figure in comics. This exception of the Black Panther does not exclude other significant black superheroes of authority and influence such as the Blue Marvel. But, the Panther takes first place because he came before the rest. His impact on African American thought was revolutionary. At a time when the African American community battled with self identity, Marvel Comics showed that they could rise up to the occasion and create a character who would be the image of African Americans. The Black Panther, though unassociated to the group that went by the same name did something unimaginable. It not only changed how African Americans saw themselves, it also demonstrated that though they originally hailed from Africa [which had been christened the ‘Dark Continent’ in the sixties], that they and their homeland were not so ‘dark’ after all.

In a manner that must have stunned DC readers at the time, the Black Panther was a point in and of himself. Unlike DC’s Cyborg, the Panther was not a sidekick, he was his own authority. He has remained, since the time of his creation, a king, a genius of Marvel’s top cream, a superhero and a priceless contribution to the Avengers’ team on panel. Now, here’s where some of you may ask some questions like, “Wasn’t Marvel just trying to capitalize on a present issue to earn some extra income?”. The answer, a resounding “No”, here’s why; Stan Lee had pointed out that he did not like his character being ‘shadows’ of the so-called ‘main hero’ because he felt that they took something away from this main hero. He later on went to state that he would not do to any of his characters what DC had done to Batman’s Robin and subjugate them.

At a time when comic books themselves were seeking relevance, Stan Lee and Marvel Comics were on the right path. Seeking to create characters of substance, and relatability; meaning that the selling point of the characters would not be on their power or abilities but on their diverse personalities, weaknesses, challenges and ability to ‘rise up’ as it were after being knocked down several times over. This, if I must say, is a strength. And as recent comic news is showing us, Cap’s history has been re-written. He is now a triple agent and a HYDRA project?? Anyway, many fans are a bit confused about this reveal but this story is bound to be one that may lead fans to respect the Captain even more. Some of you might be skeptical but watch this space…

Now, to the issue at hand, Black Theology and Black Panther’s contribution to the same. Black theology has had a very powerful influence on American society as a whole. Be it loved or hated, it is a force to reckon with. Seeing the likes of Martin Luther King Junior, pardon me, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. springboard the revolution in the U.S. that shook the very core of the rest of America we got the best comparison to the Black Panther character. We got Barack Obama, an educated African man who made African American history through his dual heritage as a Hawaii-born black man. It’s this point that makes me respect Marvel; they looked into the future by being great analysts of the present. I speak and express myself in these posts as a young African man of black descent and I have grown up reading comics. Not only do I love them, I relish their perspectives on several events. As an African theologian, I am thrilled to see the parallels that can be made from the comic book/fictional realm and the realm of theology. If some of the greatest ministers advised other preachers/theologians to hold a paper in one hand and the Bible in another, then comic books qualify right there near the newspaper.

Kudos Marvel on bringing the character to the big screen in Captain America Civil War!

“The more different we are, the more we find that we are the same”

-Chinese Proverb

GENESIS: BEAUTY’S TRUE NAME

WHY BEING MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE AND LIKENESS IS THE PRIME ACHIEVEMENT OF OUR SPECIES, AND THE ASPIRATION OF THE ‘TOMORROW’

“Adam, where are you?”

-God to Adam

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I have no idea how this topic came to me, but ever since it dropped on my lap I have had this pressing feeling that I have got to do something about it. What is that something, you ask? Blog it, of course! Ha ha. I think every blogger out there appreciates the thrill of sharing from their various fields of interest as they provide insights that were never before witnessed and/or shared by others. To all my fellow bloggers out there, I salute you and appreciate you for the work you do, keep the fire burning. For it was because of you that I gained interest in this art and for that I remain forever grateful.

So, down to the subject of interest, the creation of man in God’s image as the ultimate objective of our existence. What I love about this post today is its uniqueness as it is both the example and the hope of mankind. Our starting point on this subject? God’s question to Adam. When the the first couple experienced the effects of the catastrophe that was the identity changing Fall, they were not prepared for what came next. “Adam, where are you?” Are the first words that the first man heard from God after eating from the tree of good and evil. These words were timely as they were a reflection of concern; they were not words that came from God immediately after the disobedient act of the couple, but rather, later on.

What could Adam have been thinking at this point, as he was being sought after? “Oh no, I’m a goner. That does it, Eve, we are through; we had this coming…”, he, together with Eve probably riddled themselves with guilt to a standstill, with the guilt eating into their conscience. But what’s more peculiar about this is that, although we tend to ask why we as people are in trouble over an issue in life, we often look at the one who confronts us rather than look introspectively at ourselves. If we take the latter option we find that we gain more of our personal identity and character and we actually do become better people in the long-run, an option that the first couple did not consider.

Here’s where I wanted to take this discussion for today; whereas the story of Adam and Eve has been one of the most debated narratives of all time, it offers profound insight into the first sign of our loss as human beings. This loss being the very first sign of the shortcomings of our new identity, person and being. No wonder the name of God, I Am, is of such significant value when it comes to cracking the message of the Bible especially as far as humanity finding its being is concerned.

Although we are at present imperfect, we should be able to understand imperfection as a gift of mortality. We do not live forever, but we can’t surely conclude that it’s Y.O.L.O. either (catchy as the slogan might be). We are limited, we have various flaws and imperfections but we are not hopeless, neither are we useless. We are each of us one of a kind with a journey ahead of us. I’d like to propose that the fullness of this being that was once lost has been regained and that it is attainable today-and right now. God wasn’t concerned about destroying Adam, because as the texts show us, he was looking for him. He wanted to restore him and not merely finish him off.

His mercy is amazing and his greatest desire is that we rest in him in the midst of our failures and crowning achievements. Because, at the end of it all, what defines is not the material but the immaterial. And so begins the search for human beauty, the restoration of being to humanity; filled with purpose, drive, enthusiasm, joy, wholeness, love and peace.

May we truly unlock our potential in His name.