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WHAT IS IN A NAME?: “[YESHUA] SHALL BE CALLED A NAZARENE”

Ps. 138:1-6     “. . .for Thou hast magnified Thy word [saying] upon all Your Name” (v. 2)
–recognition of God’s Name brings forth songs of praise (psalms included musical  instrumentation);
–songs of YHVH and of His ways;
–the names of God a progressive revelation of Himself to His people–in fact to the world–finding fulfillment under Heaven and in this present creation in the Name above all names, Yeshua (Jesus), our Savior God;
–names are significant throughout Bible, both prophetically and in reference to character of a person, sometimes becoming forever associated with good or with evil, e.g., Abram/Abraham, Jacob/Israel, Samuel, Daniel, Delilah, Jezebel
–in eternity, both the Lord Jesus and we will have new names–an eternal testimony from God our Father of  who and what we are (Rev. 2:17; 3:12; 19:12)
–The YHVH’s  name is praised for His lovingkindness (grace) and truth:  we come to know Him as He has revealed Himself through His names which He has made known to us, e.g., El Shaddai (God Almighty or Nurturer);     God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob; I AM; YEHOVAH; YHVH our Righteousness, our Healer, our Peace; YHVH of Hosts; Wonderful; Father of Eternity; Immanuel. . .
–We, as the people of the Living God, are called by His Name–that which gives us identity and identifies us with YEHOVAH GOD of Israel and with His Son Yeshua whom He sent.  (Num 6:23-27)
–the LORD tells Israel that He would call His servants by a new name (Is. 65:15)
–in the N.T. the Holy Spirit says that Jesus would be called a Nazarene, according to the prophets  (Mt. 2:23)

Is. 11:1       (also read the added segment from Tree and Shrub in Our Biblical Heritage about the “shoot”, the netzer)
The netzer is specially chosen from among many offshoots from the roots of the olive tree.  It is by all appearances small and insignificant, yet in truth it is the one in which is contained the life and hope of future generations.  Yeshua is God’s Twig; He is the Netzer–the Nazarene.  God in His wisdom chose a small, lowly regarded town called Nazareth (נצרת ) as the place in which His Son would grow up “in order that” Yeshua  should be called “Notzri“.  Not Bethlehem, and so perhaps a Yehudi or Beitlachmi; not Jerusalem, and so Yerushalmi; but Nazareth and a Notzri (“my netzer” / “נצר שלי”).

In the eyes of Israel, Jesus is insignificant, of low esteem, not the Hope of Israel in Whom is her life.  He is the Stone which the builders rejected, but whom the Father, the Husbandman and Vinedresser, has made the rock of offense and the head of the corner (cornerstone and foundation stone). (Ps 118:22; Is 8:14; 28:16; 1Pet 2:6-8)

God chooses the foolish and the weak things in the eyes of the world to confound the wise (Ps 119:141; 1 Cor. 1:23-31).  YHVH chose Isaac, and his half-brother Ishmael mocked him;  God chose the children of Israel, the fewest in number, because He loves them; God chose David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons, but a man after God’s own heart; the LORD chose Jerusalem to be His city, yet it has no natural resources of the great capital cities of the world; Jesus emptied Himself of all glory to become not the rightful King, but rather the servant of servants – meek and lowly in heart.  The meek shall inherit the earth; those who fear God and do righteousness will see His favor.  To the world foolishness and weakness–”friars”; to God wisdom and salvation, life from death.

[Other examples of God's foolishness being wiser than man's wisdom are His choices of the Seed of the Woman; Jacob; Bethlehem; Ruth the Moabitess;  Solomon, the son of David and Batsheva; Mary; the Lamb.]

God will fulfill His Word.  In Mt. 2:23 the Word of God says that through the prophets Yeshua would be called a Nazarene.  A few examples from the Scriptures of the use of the Hebrew word netzer and its root derivations are:
Ex. 34:7        in connection with the Name of God, who keeps lovingkindness for thousands
Deut. 33:9    Levites (esp. Pinhas) kept covenant with YHVH in preference over his family and kinsmen
Is. 49:6         the preserved of Israel by the Servant of YEHOVAH
Jer. 4:16       the watchers sent by God against Jerusalem and Judah
Ps. 25:10       the paths of YHVH are grace and truth for the keepers of the LORD’s covenant and testimonies
                      Ps. 119:2      blessedness ( inner-man happiness, satisfaction) of those who keep the LORD’s testimonies
                       Ps 119:22    supplicating God to remove reproach and despite on account of keeping His testimonies
                      Prov. 4:23    keeping of one’s heart essential to the issues of life

Yeshua fulfills all these, and we are called to do so as believers in Him; Israel is also called to be notzrim in truth, both morally and spiritually.  Yeshua is YHVH’s Tzemach (Branch; Plant; Sprout – Is 4:2; Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zech 3:8; 6:12).

From the Greek texts, we find the following applications of the Messianic use of the name Notzri/Nazarene:
Lk. 18:37-38     Associated with the Son of David, Messiah
Lk. 24:19          Known by His disciples (on way to Emmaus after resurrection of Yeshua)
Rom. 2:28-3:4   An issue of the heart, both to be a Jew and a Christian (whether Jewish or gentile by birth)
–seeking God’s approval
–suffering indignity for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ the Nazarene (not merely Jesus of/from Nazareth, though this has its own proper use as well) (Acts 5:41-42)
Mk. 16:6     The angels refer to Jesus the Nazarene as the One the women are seeking at His tomb
Acts 22:8; 9:5   Yeshua calls Himself the Nazarene (הנצרי ) after His ascension when He appears to Saul (Paul) and identifies Himself to him, according to Paul’s own testimony.

The apostles and disciples are identified with Jesus as Christians (משיחיים ) or as of the Nazarenes (נצרים).
Acts 11:26        first called Christians (meaning belonging to Messiah/Christ, or followers of Messiah/Christ)
Acts 24:5          scornfully referred to as Nazarenes; Paul takes the opportunity to declare his faith and hope
Acts 26:28        Jewish King Agrippa referred to Paul’s persuasiveness to make him a Christian; Paul had borne testimony to the sufferings of Messiah and of His resurrection
1 Pet. 4:14-16   apostle to Jewish believers refers to suffering as Christians for the Name of Christ
Acts 6:14           a name of contempt by false witnesses
Acts 3:6; 4:10    healings and miracles done in the Name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene (Yeshua ha-Mashiach ha-Notzri)
Mk. 1:24; Lk. 4:34  demons, evil and unclean spirits, knew Yeshua as the Nazarene, the Holy One of God

The devil always desires to make God’s people ashamed or afraid of being known by the names God uses.  Both Jews and Christians have done much which has brought reproach and dishonor to our own people and so to our God and Savior.  Yet if we pay notice only to the ways in which the seed of the serpent has abused the Name of YHVH or of His Anointed One, then we will not hear the voice of our Shepherd, whose Name is honorable to God, and He has placed His Name upon us.

Just as Jews in the diaspora often times want(ed) to dissociate themselves from their God-given identity (also oft used in derision), so many Christians do the same–some due to rebellious unbelief or to a bitter root, others due to a sense of shame or of guilt, still others from fear of ridicule or of disapproval.  Nonetheless, even as the name of Israel and of Jews remain to this day, so too has YHVH preserved the name (Hebraically- and English-wise today) of Notzri/Christian.  If we look to Yeshua/Jesus and suffer with Him for His Name’s sake, then we will be glorified together with Him.  The cross of our Lord does not permit us to find our comfort by seeking to save our own lives and names (reputations), but rather by losing our life for Yeshua’s  sake.  Then His promise is that we will indeed find life.  We are hidden with Messiah in God.

As we see through faith God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ as the Holy Spirit reveals and enlightens through the Scriptures, then the sayings ( (אמרים of God–not His words (דברים) only, but what He is saying with His words–are magnified, enlarged, are seen more fully and clearly:  great is the glory of YHVH, our pride of self is exposed and abased–grace and truth come through Jesus Christ the Nazarene.  We have no boast but in the cross of our Lord.

Through believing on the Name of the Son of God, the Spirit of God opens up the whole of Scripture to lead us and confront us with liberating and sanctifying truth and love, as He magnifies all that comes forth from the mouth of God and fulfills in us and through us all that His Name means.  Do you know this in your own life, and do we know this together as a congregation gathered together in His Name?

To whomever has an ear to hear, let him/her hear what the Spirit is saying.  God is faithful to His own Name (He is not unknown or anonymous, and it is our duty and our privilege to make known and honorable His Name–especially here in Israel where they have forgotten it or show their broken relationship with Him through much vain superstitions), and to the name He has sovereignly chosen to bestow upon His beloved Son – hated without cause — who died upon the cross for our sins (John 19:19):

                         Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews                  הנצרי המלך היהודיםישוע 

 Nazarene – נצר

(from Tree and Shrub in Our Biblical Heritage; pages 82-88; written by Nogah Hareuveni)

“Frequently the olive tree is surrounded by offshoots, the strongest of which are kept by the farmer for transplanting.  In this context it is easy to understand the words of the prophet Isaiah: ‘And a shoot (hoter) shall grow out of the trunk of Jesse, and a twig (netzer) shall sprout from his roots.’  (Is. 11:1)

The offshoots that surround an olive tree grow both from the roots and the trunk of the tree.  When a trunk offshoot grows into a sturdy “branch”, it is sometimes cut out from the trunk, together with a thick knob at its head–the hoter, or shepherd’s staff.  It serves the shepherd both as a weapon and as a tool for directing the flock.

Unlike the hoter,  worked from the offshoot that grows from the trunk of the olive tree, the netzer is an offshoot that grows from the roots of the tree.  The olive grower destroys most of these offshoots, leaving only one or two of the sturdiest to develop into new saplings for transplant.  This is the guarded offshoot [the word netzer being derived from the Hebrew word natzor, to guard], selected from among all the others to propagate the new generation of olive trees. . . .

These characteristics of the olive offshoots help explain the words of Isaiah (in 11:1) which describe the Messiah, a descendant of David, son of Jesse, who will be a leader of his flock (represented by the hoter, the shepherd’s staff with which he leads his flock) and who will grow as the guarded sapling (the netzer) from the roots of the stock of Jesse.  Though that ancient stock was chopped down during the destruction of the Temple, the roots did not lose their ability to put forth the new growth of a fruitful tree. . . .  After being planted, the olive tree offshoot grows into an olive tree of great age. . . .

Moreover, the olive offshoot can survive for days after being severed from the parent tree, even without soil or water.”

“. . .מסביב לגזע הזית גרופיות-גרופיות, אשר החזקות בהן תישמרנה בידי האיכר כ”נצרים” לנטיעת עצים חדשים

 בקשר זה אפשר להבין את דברי הנביא:  “ויצא חוטר מגזע ישי ונצר משורשיו יפרה” (ישעיה י”א: א’).  הגרפיות, אשר מסביב לעץ זית, יוצאות בחלקן מן הגזע ואחרות עולות מן השורשים.  כאשר גדלה ומתעבה גרופית שצמיחתה מן הגזע, יש המנתקים אותה ממנו, עם האזור המעובה אשר במקום הניתוק.  לאחר מכן מחליקים אותה ומעבדים אותה למקל, אשר בראשו גולה, או “חוטרת”.  זהו מקל הרועים – החוטר – המשמש את הרועה ככלי נשק וגם ההנחיית העדר. . . .

 שלא כמו החוטר, המעובד מגרופית הגדלה מן הגזע, מתפתח הנצר מגרופית העולה מן השורשים.  הכורמים נוהגים להשמיד את מרבית הגרופיות הללו, ולהשאיר רק אחד או אחדות מהן ברצותם לטפח שתילים חדשים.  אלו הם הנצרים:  הגרופיות אשר נצרו אותן מבין כל אלה שהושמדו, כדי להעמיד מהן דור חדש של עצי זית. . . .

 בתכונות אלו של גרפיות הזית מוסברים יפה דברי ישעיה על המלך לעתיד-לבוא מבני בניו של דוד בן-ישי, שיהיו בו תכונות של מנהיג (המסומלות בחוטר, הוא מכשיר הנחיית העדר שבידי הרועה), ואשר יצמח כנצר

משורשי גזע-ישי, הוא הגזע העתיק שנכרת עם החורבן, אך שורשיו לא איבדו את חיוניותם להצמיח מחדש אילן פורה (“יפרה“). . .לאחר נטיעתה גרופית של זית, היא מצמיחה עץ רב-שנים.  יתר על כן:  גרופית הזית עשוייה לשמור על חיוניותה גם ימים רבים לאחר תלישתה מאילן האם – וזאת גם אם לא תינטע באדמה ואף לא תקבל אספקת מים . . . .”    (שיח ועץ במורשת ישראל, כתב: נגה בראובני, עמ’ 88-82)

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