Four Leaping Lepers
On The Haftara of Metzora
There are two movements in the world today gathering momentum and converging. They are now within sight of one another and when they meet there will be shock and an awakening around the world. From within the Jewish world there are many who are awakening to the idea that Jesus Christ is not the blue-eyed blond Aryan leader of their nightmares. The Sunday Church has through the ages beaten the Jews with this cross from one end of Europe to the other. But as Churchianity itself seems a spent force in what was formerly known as Christendom, the trepidation of the Jewish people has diminished. No longer a blond blue-eyed crusader, Yeshua is returning to His Jewish identity. And with that Jews are allowing themselves to at least reconsider the possibility of him being Moshiah. In the same manner, from the decaying churches of The Mainline there is a movement out of the religion of Christmas Trees, Easter Eggs, Sunday worship and the deification of the Jesus Christ. It is increasingly difficult to read the Jewish People out of Bible Prophecy, as had been the case for the two millennia of the Age of the Gentiles. Since the IDF entered Jerusalem in 1967, the entire world has been reeling around this reality. Many are reconsidering the position that the Jewish People are no longer relevant to prophecy. Brave souls are reading Yeshua’s words, and Paul’s letters in an entirely new hermeneutic. They are coming to see the value of Yeshua not in “nailing the Law to the Cross” but rather in His being their way into the House of Israel. Initially they recognized themselves as “engrafted” into the people, Israel. But, even more deeply, many are coming to believe that they are not merely wild branches being newly engrafted, but are Lost Branches restored! No, they are not lost Jews. But, the entire understanding of who are, and what is Israel is changing. Yes the Jews are Israelites. But so too were the Lost Tribes, who were lost before the Southern Kingdom of Judah was exiled to Babylon. And it is in Babylon that the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levites were melded into The Jewish People. The Lost Tribes by definition therefore are not Jewish. Israelite, they are, but not Jews. But within both communities, Torah Observant Messianics from the Churches, and Messianic Jews are looked at as either apostates, insane, or suckers. This Haftara can be read as a beautiful metaphor for the current and future status of the brave individuals of both movements groping towards one another. It is read in conjunction with the parsha Metzora is 2 Kings 7: 3-20. The Torah portion is about “leprosy” and its treatment. That makes the connection with this story from Second Kings. The parsha: Lev. 15:31 towards the end of the Torah reading, summarizes the general topic. “31. And you shall separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness, so that they will not die on account of their uncleanness, if they defile My Sanctuary which is in their midst.
The story takes place in Samaria. Samaria was first encountered as Shechem in Genesis. The story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and Leah, took place here. Dinah allowed herself to be taken by the son of the king of Shechem. The upshot of this was that Levi and Simeon massacred the Shechemites in their recovery from circumcising themselves. For this Jacob had to pick up and flee the region, being made odious in the nose of the peoples. However later in Genesis (48)as the elderly Jacob is blessing his sons he adds to Joseph “22 Moreover, I am giving to you a sh’khem [shoulder, ridge, share, city of Sh’khem] more than to your brothers; I captured it from the Emori (Amorite) with my sword and bow.” Further, in Joshua 24:32 the connection of Joseph with Shechem is made more explicit: “And Joseph’s bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the tract of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. This became the inheritance of Joseph’s descendants. Second Kings chapter seven is part of the story of the latter days of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. This kingdom is referred to variously as Joseph, Ephraim, Samaria, Shechem, and Israel. (In contradistinction “Israel” is juxtaposed with “Judah”, the Southern Kingdom.) Samaria is besieged by the Arameans. 2 Kings 7:1 Elisha replied, “Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lord says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.” In a city under siege, where starvation is already occurring, (cannibalism is described in the previous chapter), Elisha is claiming that the next day the finest flour will be dirt-cheap! To the man of the world this was ridiculous prophecy. 2 The officer on whose arm the king was leaning said to the man of God, “Look, even if the Lord should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?”
“You will see it with your own eyes,” answered Elisha, “but you will not eat any of it!” Now we come to the point of relevance to Messianic Jews and Torah Observant Messianic Joes, and the leprosy connection. 3 Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? 4 If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’—the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”
Those unfortunates diagnosed with Tzaraat or “leprosy”, were excluded much nearly all communal activities. Forced to live beyond the city walls, in a city besieged was to suffer the worst of both worlds: not allowed to enter the walls, yet not allowed to leave because of the surrounding enemy! How many Messianic Jews have been scorned as “traitors” to Judaism even by close relatives? How many formerly secular Jews that have been touched by Yeshua and brought to the Torah and to then to mockery by their suburban relatives? How many Messianic “Joes” have been shunned for merely pointing out that Easter Eggs, and Christmas Trees are nowhere to be found in the Bible?
“5 At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans…” At dusk, as the Israelite day was ending and the new day beginning the four set out. At this point they were taking a leap of faith. All New Days begin with a leap of faith. “…When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there, 6 for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!”” And there before these four men only moments earlier outcasts, on the verge of starvation saw something that no one on either side had seen! Neither the Israelites in the city, nor the Arameans who fled understood that a camp filled with food and treasure was abandoned for no natural reason! It would be only natural for the men to eat drink and be merry, keep the treasure for themselves and turn their backs on the city that had in fact turned its back on them. 8 The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp entered one of the tents and ate and drank. Then they took silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also. They could have hid it all! But… here is the point! 9 Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace. “A DAY OF GOOD NEWS” is translated from the Hebrew “Yom Besorah”. “Besorah” is also the Hebrew for “The Gospels”. Who in the entire world is able to read this verse in this context and get it? I mean get the connection between “a day of good news” and “The Gospels”? Not the mainstream Jewish reader. Not the Sunday Churchgoer. Only we, who are of the exact same status of the four lepers get it! It is for us! It is for us, because we are the ones kept outside the walls of orthodoxy. And it is for us, because we are the ones who took a leap of faith. And even more so it is for us because rather than keep The Truth hidden, hidden from our Sunday sisters and Jewish brothers we seek to bring the Good News back with us!