I often tell my children that a salvation will be found at the heart of a problem.
If a mistake is made they may believe that what I’m saying is that if we understand a problem at its core, if we know it well enough we can defeat it or circumvent it all together, but that’s not what I mean to say at all.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from the Torah its that the answer is actually hidden in the problem. The problem is the answer–almost.
Pursuing a Jewish walk with forbidden Yeshua is scary. It can mean getting phone calls and emails from friends, teachers, and family who no longer want you around. Sometimes it means having them scream in your face. Those of us wearing these shoes only survive by taking comfort in the Torah:
Jacob’s mother bound goat skins to her holy son so he would appear like another man. Esav knew that his father had been willing to lay on the altar. He wasn’t.
“My life is a path of death. What is this birthright to me?” (Gen. 25:32)
So Jacob’s mother tied goat skins to her holy son, not hard dry hides laced with leather but the fleshy skins of fresh slaughter.
The skin of a goat is removed like a surgical glove from a hand. It remains elastic and pliable for some time. Jacob pushed each hand into inverted skins that rolled back over his forearms snug and firm. He pushed his head through the neck of the animal in the same way; pulling his beard free removed any sight of a border separating himself from the new skin.
In Hebrew the word for “surface" is פָּנִים (panim), the word for “inside” is nearly the same, פְּנִים (pnim). At once Jacob was both hidden and revealed. On the surface he appeared as Esav but deeper down and on another level altogether the skins were not hiding Jacob but revealing something from his depth; Jacob was the goat–the sacrifice. He was a true son of his father.
Moses was a man from Pharaoh’s house and Esther saved the Jewish people from inside the enemy empire but no saint has come to symbolize the hidden savior in the same way that Joseph has…Joseph…because he was hated.
We take comfort knowing that Judah who had been willing to hand his brother over to gentiles was changed by the trauma of loosing sons. Now confronted with the suggestion that his small brother be left in Egypt Judah would sooner give himself. Its this that pierces Joseph’s heart and breaks his disguise.
The torah says that Judah “Went up” to Joseph before arguing for his brother. While the text would have Judah pleading with tact and eloquence the midrash describes Judah as ready with a sword and roaring in the face of what seemed a foreign adversary. It was a roar heard four-hundred miles away which shook the earth.
The salvation is found at the very heart of the problem. This will not only be true when our redeemer is found hidden as King of the Gentiles but it will also prove true when this salvation comes, not in spite of but because of the righteous anti-missionaries of Israel who are unwilling to loose even one more Jewish soul to exile.
Joseph was pleased with the man Judah had become, more than that, his heart melted and tears fell from his eyes as he revealed himself to his brothers. Empty hatred will only extend the exile, but authentic ahavat Yisrael (love for Israel), even if it is expressed as anger by a holy brother screaming in your face, this will bring the redemption.
Those of us following Yeshua have already seen some hand their blessing away. Like Esav they wanted a life of comfort not service. But others will prove true sons of Jacob who like his father was a willing sacrifice and ready for the altar.