4. Israel's hopes for the future
In most passages in the NT, Jesus is seen as the Messiah and numerous refer- ences imply his godlike nature. As such, the origins of the Jewish belief in the Messiah need to first be ex- amined. Israel's political history is littered with numerous wars, most of which ended in defeat, and with just brief periods of peace between these wars. This situation repeatedly raised questions about the future of this country, which is small in terms of both population and land area. Over the course of time, the belief was fostered among the religious leaders of the people that the almighty and unique God of Israel would save his people and secure the eternal peace that they longed for so much. This level of deism is termed henotheism, which means that each ethnic community worshipped its God, just as Israel did.2 This can also be found in numerous passages in the early books of the Bible. For example: "You shall not bow down to them (other gods) or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God" (Exo 20:5 NRS), or "the LORD alone guided him; (Jacob) no foreign god was with him" (Deu 32:12 NRS). The sayings of the prophet Micah in the early 8th century BC also reveal that other nations worshipped other deities: "For all the peoples walk, each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever" (Mic...
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