The Consolation of Israel or What’s in Your Bible?

“Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed….so that thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
(Luke 2: 34, ESV)

Being devout Jews, Joseph and Mary took their baby, Jesus, to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord according to the Law of Moses. When they entered the temple compound, a man called Simeon took Jesus in his arms and declared him to be the consolation of Israel.
On the surface of things, it is miraculous enough that Simeon was able to recognize our Savior as an infant. Only the Holy Spirit could have revealed this to him. But as Pastor Dan was speaking about how the “consolation of Israel” was generally envisioned by the Jews at that time as being a warrior who would lead an uprising that would push the Romans out of Israel but God sent an infant instead, I couldn’t helpĀ  but recall an earlier story in the Old Testament.
The people of God wanted to be like everyone else and have a king. Samuel was not happy with this request and warned them that they would not be happy with a king since he would take the best of the best of everything they had but they would not listen. God was not pleased that His people wanted a human king to rule over them instead of Him but acquiesced to their request nonetheless.
Samuel chose Samuel who was tall and handsome to be king and the people liked what they saw.

To make a long story short, King Saul started out well. He defeated their enemies all around and tried to please the people. But in trying to please the people, he strayed from following God and was ultimately rejected by Him. In the end, Saul went insane and was consumed by his hatred for a man after God’s own heart, David, who would ultimately replace him on the throne just as Saul feared.
David was anointed as God’s chosen king long before he rose to the throne and, at the time did not look or act kingly at all. Unlike Saul, however, David was one of the greatest kings, next to perhaps his son Solomon, God’s people ever experienced and, arguably, the world has ever known.

The Jews of Jesus’ time were expecting a Messiah who would be a warlord who would lead an uprising that would run the Romans out of Israel by force of arms. This was the expected consolation. Jesus did not fit such a preconceived construct. He was not what was expected nor even what was wanted. Even though He was and offered something far greater and permanent, he was rejected out of hand and murdered for his efforts. He wasn’t what his people were looking for and so wasn’t seen for who he was.

My fear is that the Church oftentimes describes a Savior who does not exist. Church goers hear false Gospels and believe in a Jesus who does not exist. Such faith is faulty and as such is not a saving faith. The way is narrow indeed and never easy. The only things that a saving faith guarantees in this life is hardships and persecution and a seemingly paradoxical peace even so.

What’s in your Bible? What are you being taught? In Whom does your faith lie? One cannot serve two masters.

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