Rejected One Day Restored The Next

The elders were well established by the time of Moses. They were the heads of the tribes of Israel and were that generation still alive who were the closest connection to the ancestors, the fathers of the tribes of Israel. They constituted that vital link between the present and the past, which guaranteed the survival of the Hebrew culture and custom. They could be referred to for their knowledge of past events. And because of their many years of experience they could speak with wisdom into the present. They may not have known it all, but they knew the most of any living generation.

The chief priests had been around since the time of Moses and the building of the Tabernacle. Their intimate knowledge of the infrastructure and function of the Tabernacle and later the Temple was infinitely valuable. They saw first hand the living testimony of God dwelling among His people. In all things in which the chief priests functioned God was pre-eminent. He was there dwelling among them as they went about their daily activities.

Also since the time of Moses the faithful scribes have diligently kept the Scriptural record, copying meticulously the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings – the Tenach. They have single-handedly maintained the integrity of the Word of God. And so they could be relied on for their intimate and extensive knowledge of the Scriptures.

If one wanted to select a group of reliable individuals who could with some measure of certainty identify the Messiah, this would be that group – the elders, chief priests and scribes. They would be at the very top of a large community of intellectuals and religious people, representing those who are the most qualified and distinguished in their particular spheres and occupations. They were without doubt the choicest of all groups when considering the identity of the Messiah.

That this honoured group would not announce Him was so shocking and horrible to contemplate. To consider He would be rejected by them, and then killed, was totally unexpected. Such a thing was cruel, particularly of a group so honoured in the Jewish community.

Therefore it is quite understandable that Yeshua's disciples were particularly unsettled and disturbed when He told them that He would " . . . suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes . . . " (Mark 8:31) The concept was truly unacceptable. It could not happen, or so His disciples thought.

"He (Yeshua) spoke this word openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned around and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, 'Get behind me Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.'" (Mark 8:32, 33)

Simon Peter, considered the spokesman for the disciples, was so concerned by the statement that He challenged Yeshua. So distressed was he that he even rebuked Yeshua for expressing such an outrageous concept. For any Jewish person who was waiting for the Messiah, the Promised One, such a notion was indeed unthinkable! Surely, if those on whom the children of Israel relied to announce the arrival of the Messiah, would not identify Him, then what hope was there?

Sadly though, the people of Israel have not had a good track record in their dealings with, and their acceptance of, those whom God has appointed. Throughout Israel's history many have been rejected, and some actually killed. For various reasons, many of the prophets were treated badly by their respective generations.

King David was another whom God had appointed who was treated shamefully, even though he had proved himself. His treatment by the elders was particularly harsh.

It was on the occasion when King David's son, Absalom, had rebelled against his father and led an army into the vacated city of Jerusalem. Whilst the plan to immediately send a special force after David to kill him was not implemented, it is interesting to note that all the elders of Israel readily endorsed the plan. (2 Samuel 17:4)

Then a battle was fought between David and Absalom. Absalom was killed but King David remained in exile. The people of Israel longed for King David's return to Jerusalem to rule but the elders hesitated. Hesitation grew into a lengthy delay. Finally the silence became an embarrassment.

The people of Israel grew restless – they wanted their king. David heard reports of the people's desire and so wrote to Zadok and Abiathar, the priests. They had remained in Jerusalem, as David's eyes and ears, during Absalom's reign. David commanded them to, "Speak to the elders of Judah, saying, 'Why are you the last to bring the king back to his house, since the words of all Israel have come to the king, even to his house?'" (2 Samuel 19:11)

There was no logical reason for the delay, as David was their king. God had appointed him. He had not appointed Absalom at any time before or during the rebellion. Nor had God appointed a replacement after Absalom's death. David was king.

Whatever reason the elders had to justify their reluctance to reaffirm him as king, David was still the one whom God had appointed. Though entrusted with the responsibility to endorse God's appointed king, the elders chose not to do so immediately. Their unwillingness to endorse him clearly displays their disapproval and rejection of him as king.

The elders eventually conceded, and invited King David to return, but the incident stands as a testimony against their judgement at that time.

In the same way the elders, chief priests, and scribes rejected Yeshua as the Messiah. Those on whom the people of Israel relied to announce Him were unwilling to endorse Him.

Instead the endorsement was left to some faithful Jewish fishermen from Galilee.

"In that hour Jesus (Yeshua) rejoiced in the Spirit and said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in your sight. All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is but the Father, and who the Father is but the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal him.' And he turned to his disciples and said privately, 'Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.'" (Luke 9:21-24)

Whatever reasons the elders, chief priests and scribes had to justify their rejection of Yeshua, as the Messiah, it did not alter the fact that He was the One whom God appointed. As Simon Peter later proclaimed before the council in Jerusalem, which included the chief priests. "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus (Yeshua) whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to his right hand to be Prince and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) whom God has given to those who obey him." (Acts 5:30-32)

Just as the leaders of Israel in King David's day, who after a lengthy delay, called David to return, so too the leaders of Israel will acknowledge Yeshua as the Messiah, and endorse Him as their king – as Yeshua prophesied. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house (Temple) is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see me no more till you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!'" (Matthew 23:37-39)