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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 8: Matthew 11-12, by Kevin M. Williams

There was only one reason for Elijah to come. He is the forbearer of whom? The Messiah, as prophesied in Malachi 3:1, “‘Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,’ says the LORD of hosts.”

It was long believed that before the Messiah could appear, Elijah would appear. But lauding John before the crowds, Yeshua was making a clandestine revelation. If Elijah had come, then Messiah must be very, very near. Perhaps even in their midst. His own words, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear,” may have been a significant signal.

If the hearer heard—really heard—then he understood the relevance of Yeshua’s statements. He was praising John, and rightfully so, but there was an underlying message that still speaks today.

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“But to what shall I compare this generation? …” Then He began to reproach the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You shall descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you” (Matthew 11:16-24).

Among Yeshua’s modern detractors, these verses are used to allege that Yeshua was anti-Semitic. His hard tone and condemnation, His curse of Hades, and comparison to wicked Sodom does not fit into a modern theology of a merciful and loving Messiah come to redeem mankind.

If Yeshua—or anyone—were saying such things out of sheer contempt, with no basis in fact, then these anti-Semitic allegations might find fertile ground. However, they are juxtaposed against Yeshua’s praise of the character of John the Baptist, the precursor Elijah. Elijah’s prophesied role was to be that voice in the wilderness crying “make straight the ways of the LORD.” That assumes therefore that the ways had been made crooked and corrupted. If the paths did not lead to destruction, to Hades, then there would be no reason for Elijah to appear. Yeshua was making His statements in contrast to John’s accolades to draw attention to the reality of society’s overall moral decay.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Winter 2003

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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