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The Messianic Revival

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER…

Jesus and John the Baptist band together to inaugurate new dispensation  

In terms of the change of the political guard, the year AD 26 was just as momentous as AD 14/15. The tectonic plates in fact began to shift in AD 23:  that year, Drusus, Roman Emperor Tiberius’s heir and one of his only two children, died at the tender age of 34. The death was such a blow to Tiberius that he gradually began to withdraw from everyday conduct of the affairs of his empire. Finally in AD 26, he removed to the Isle of Capri, about 263 km from Rome, and fixed his abode there – the first time he departed from  Rome since enthronement in August AD 14.


Although Tiberius still called the shots as emperor, the man he trusted to exercise imperial power on his behalf  was his closest confidant Lucius Aelius Sejanus. In the very same year that he was so exalted, Sejanus had Valerius Gratus recalled as governor of Judea and replaced with his lapdog, Pontius Pilate, arguably history’s most infamous Roman.  Pilate would remain in office from AD 26 to AD 36.


It was in the same crossroads year of AD 26 that John emerged from self-imposed hibernation to become  the now famous John the Baptist. His partner-in-chief in this seminal mission was none other than Jesus. This enterprise was not incidental: it had been three years in the making, jointly charted by the two messiahs of Aaron and David. What was so special about AD 26 that John and Jesus had to earmark it as the “acceptable year of the Lord”?    
 
HEEDING THE DANIEL TIMETABLE

Both the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible tell of the imminence of the “Kingdom of God”. Contrary to the interpretation of much of Christendom, this was not an ethereal, “Heavenly” Kingdom. It was a through-and-through righteous, Earth-based realm ruled by a descended God, also called a theocracy (Jehovah’s Witnesses demonstrate a truer understanding of this particular theme than evangelicals).  This theocracy would not suddenly dawn on mankind: it was to be heralded by two Earthling messengers of God called messiahs. These were the messiah of Aaron and the messiah of David.


The term messiah in this context  meant “anointed one”, that is, a figure who was divinely commissioned to undertake a divinely assigned role. The two messiahs were inferred from passages in the Old Testament – most of which imprecise – and were plainly anticipated in the Dead Sea Scrolls. They were to be  preceded by Elijah and an unnamed prophet. The Old Testament document that Elijah did not die but was straightaway conducted to Heaven by God. (The more categorical Sumerian records relate that the Anunnaki, the Old Testament gods, transported him by a “celestial boat” to their planet Nibiru, like they had done with Enoch, Noah, and Jacob before). As such, he was expected to return and prepare  Israel for the emergence of the Levitic and Davidic messiah just before the advent of the terrestrial Kingdom of God.  
As to when the two messiahs were to appear, the timelines were not uniform. But the first century  was one of fevered expectation particularly that mathematically it marked a crossover into a new zodiacal age – that of Pisces. Just as the birth of Abraham had inaugurated  the age of Aries, another epoch-making figure was expected to arise at the onset of the Age of Pisces. The time table that was the baseline frame of reference was that according to the prophet Daniel – the so-called Seventy Weeks of Daniel.


Daniel had postulated that from the time of a certain decree to “restore and rebuild Jerusalem”  following its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar to the “time of the end”, “seventy weeks of years” would elapse. In other words, every 7 years amounted to one week of years and therefore seventy such week-years yielded a total of 490 years. (According to Sumerian records, 7 was the number of Enlil, the Anunnaki god of the Jews who the Old Testament generally refers to as Jehovah or Yahweh.) 

The Jewish number crunchers reckoned the beginning of these 70 weeks from 457 BC, the year Ezra the scribe returned from Babylonian exile.  Counting from 457 BC to AD 26, we come to a total elapsed time of 69 week-years, meaning in that year there was only one more week-year remaining, that is, 7 years, for all the 70 week years to come to pass. AD 26 was therefore the beginning of the countdown to the establishment of  messianic rule in Israel and it was in heed of Daniel’s timetable that Jesus and John the  Baptist, the dynastic kingly and priestly figures of the day, decided to spring into action and institute a messianic revival.       

JOHN BECOMES POPE

Although John the Baptist had disclaimed the Essene priesthood when he became eligible at age 30, he was in AD 26 persuaded to assume leadership of the order. He insisted, albeit, that he would do so only in an elective capacity and not as the dynastic Zadok priest.


Just to recap, the Essenes had to have three dynastic priestly heads. These were the Zadok, the Abiathar, and the Levi in line with the setup that obtained under King David in the 10th century BC. From 6 AD onwards, however, the top two positions had been vacant in a substantive sense. Zechariah, the Zadok, had been killed: Annas, who had acted on behalf of Zechariah’s heir John the Baptist, had forfeited his position when he was sacked as the national high priest in AD 14.    Simeon, the Abiathar, had resigned right in AD 6. They did have a Levi priest all right, namely Jonathan Annas, but his stature was nowhere near that of the Zadok or that of the Abiathar. That’s why the Essenes pitted themselves as practically leaderless.


In AD 26, John the Baptist finally consented to be the Essene leader but under the title of Father rather than the Michael-Zadok. The title of Father was not dynastic: it was elective. It was not as prestigious, therefore, as that of the Zadok succession but it had considerable clout nonetheless.

As the acting Zadok on behalf of young John, Annas also had held the title Father. His son Eleazer and his son-in-law Caiaphas had gone by the same title too, though unlike Annas the latter two never acted as Zadok priests. The title of Father was in homage to Abraham, the Father of the Jewish nation. Hence the Father was sometimes also referred to as Abraham. As we saw in earlier articles, the great Rabbi Menahem was the Essenes’ first symbolic Abraham. The setup today where the Pope is elected and also carries the title “Holy Father” was purloined from the Essene setup. Indeed the term Pope is simply a corruption of “Papa”, meaning “Father”.


In the event therefore, Caiaphas stepped down as the Father and John, who had a qualifying pedigree, was elected in his stead. The Essenes were exultant.  “For 20 years we were like blind men groping for the way” they wrote in a Dead Sea Scroll dubbed the Damascus Document.  In the Dead Sea Scrolls, John is referred to as the “Teacher of Righteousness”. The Essenes document that the Teacher of Righteousness appeared 20 years after the formation of the “Plant Root”. The “Plant Root” referred to Jesus, who in AD 6 was officially recognised as the Davidic heir when he turned 12 on the occasion of his Bar Mitzvah ceremony.


As the titular Father, John the Baptist had the right to appoint two deputies. These went by the titles “Son” and “Spirit”. Accordingly, John decided to appoint his fellow dynastic cousin Jesus as Son. As for the Spirit, he opted for Jonathan Annas, the son of former national high priest Annas. In the gospels, Jonathan Annas is best-known as Nathaniel.

The three were directly addressed as Holy Father, Holy Son, and Holy Spirit and they were deemed to operate in one accord, that is, as “one”. This is highly instructive. When we read the Bible and we come across references to “Father”, “Holy Spirit” or “Son”, our tendency as Christians has been to generalise these into one, across-the-board meaning.

That is unfortunate. It is imperative that we look at the context and fathom whether “Father” in that situation meant “God in Heaven” or it meant something else. This is because there are times when the term “Father” or “God” actually refers to mere mortals, such as a sitting high priest or John the Baptist himself. By the same token, “Holy Spirit” at times referred to Joseph, the father of Jesus, particularly in the nativity accounts as we demonstrated in earlier pieces. Then as today, words or titles meant different things in different contexts and junctures of history.  

THE BAPTIST ON PEDESTAL

In the gospels, it is not clear-cut as to who was senior in messianic status between Jesus and John. There are passages that suggest Jesus was senior and there are those that exalt John above Jesus. It is only when you read between the lines and filter out the sectarian interpolations that you realise who was the more esteemed of the two. Christians of course take it as an article of faith that Jesus was the main man and John was a mere harbinger. It is to the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were never tampered with for over 2000 years,   we have to turn if we are to know the real truth.


To the Essenes, John was senior to Jesus, just as Zechariah had been senior to Joseph. In a Dead Sea text titled the Testament of Levi and catalogued 4Q541, this is what the Essenes say of the messiah of Aaron: “He will atone for the sons of his generation and he will be sent to the sons of his people. His word is like a word of Heaven and his teaching is according to the will of God.

His eternal sun will shine, and his fire will blaze in all the corners of the earth. Then darkness will disappear from the earth and deep darkness from the dry land.” Put simply, John was the “atoning” messiah as far as the Essenes were concerned, not Jesus as Christendom wrongly believes. In another Dead Sea scroll titled the Community Rule, the Essenes state that in a future, liberated Israel, the Priest messiah would preside over the “Messianic Banquet” with the King messiah as his “companion”. Clearly, this makes Jesus subordinate to John.


There is also this apocryphal book titled The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs which dates from the 2nd century BC. In it, Judah himself declares that, “For to me the Lord gave the kingship and to him (his brother Levi) the priesthood and he set the kingship under the priesthood”. This is the messianic paradigm the Essene followed and therefore rightfully had John take precedence over Jesus.


In sum, two Jewish messiahs were expected by the children of Israel. They were the messiah of David, from the tribe of Judah, and the messiah of Aaron, from the tribe of Levi. The Davidic messiah was to be the king in a self-governing Israel and the Levitic messiah was to be the high priest. In the first century, the prospects in this regard were Jesus as the future king (with James his brother as a from-time-to-time contender) and John the Baptist as the future high priest. Although John did disown the Essene priesthood, he still valued the national priesthood as that was his birthright.


Of the two young messiahs, it was Jesus who was junior and was therefore expected to defer to and follow the direction of John. Jesus meekly accepted this relationship without rancour. It explains why he was comfortable with being the “Son” to the “Father” that was John.                

NEXT WEEK: FISSURES IN THE ALLIANCE

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DIS Parley Committee selection disingenuous 

25th November 2020

Intelligence and Security Service Act, which is a law that establishes the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DIS), provides for establishment of a Parliamentary Committee. Recently, the President announced nine names of Members of Parliament he had appointed to the Committee.

This announcement was preceded by a meeting the President held with the Speaker and the Leader of Opposition. Following the announcement of Committee MPs by the President, the opposition, through its leader, made it clear that it will not participate in the Committee unless certain conditions that would ensure effective oversight are met. The opposition acted on the non-participation threat through resignation of its three MPs from the Committee.

The Act at Section 38 provides for the establishment of the Committee to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Directorate. The law provides that the Parliamentary Committee shall have the same powers and privileges set out under the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act.

On composition, the Committee shall consist of nine members who shall not be members of Cabinet and its quorum shall be five members.  The MPs in the Committee elect a chairperson from among their number at their first meeting.

The Members of the Committee are appointed by the President after consultation with the Speaker of the National Assembly and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. It is the provision of the law that the Committee, relative to its size, reflect the numerical strengths of the political parties represented in the National Assembly.

The Act provides that that a member of the Committee holds office for the duration of the Parliament in which he or she is appointed.  The Committee is mandated to make an annual report on the discharge of their functions to the President and may at any time report to him or her on any matter relating to the discharge of those functions.

The Minister responsible for intelligence and security is obliged to lay before the National Assembly a copy of each annual report made by the Committee together with a statement as to whether any matter has been excluded from that copy in pursuance of the provision of the Act.

If it appears to the Minister, after consultation with the Parliamentary Committee, that the publication of any matter in a report would be prejudicial to the continued discharge of the functions of the Directorate, the Minister may exclude that matter from the copy of the report as laid before the National Assembly.

So, what are the specific demands of the Opposition and why are they not participating in the Committee? What should happen as a way forward? The Opposition demanded that there be a forensic audit of the Directorate. The DIS has never been audited since it was set up in 2008, more than a decade ago.

The institution has been a law unto itself for a longtime, feared by all oversight bodies. The Auditor General, who had no security of tenure, could not audit the DIS. The Directorate’s personnel, especially at a high level, have been implicated in corruption.  Some of its operatives are in courts of law defending corruption charges preferred against them. Some of the corruption cases which appeared in the media have not made it to the courts.

The DIS has been accused of non-accountability and unethical practices as well as of being a burden on the fiscus.  So, the Opposition demanded, from the President, a forensic audit for the purpose of cleaning up the DIS.  They demand a start from a clean slate.

The second demand by the Opposition is that the law be reviewed to ensure greater accountability of the DIS to Parliament. What are some of the issues that the opposition think should be reviewed? The contention is that the executive cannot appoint a Committee of Parliament to scrutinize an executive institution.

Already, it is argued, Parliament is less independent and it is dominated by the executive. It is contended that the Committee should be established by the Standing Orders and be appointed by a Select Committee of Parliament. There is also an argument that the Committee should report to Parliament and not to the President and that the Minister should not have any role in the Committee.

Democratic and Parliamentary oversight of the intelligence is relatively a new phenomenon across the World. Even developed democracies are still grappling with some of these issues. However, there are acceptable standards or what might be called international best practices which have evolved over the past two or so decades.

In the UK for instance, MPs of the Intelligence and Security Committee are appointed by the Houses of Parliament, having been nominated by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. This is a good balancing exercise of involvement of both the executive and the legislature. Consultation is taken for granted in Botswana context in the sense that it has been reduced to just informing the Leader of Opposition without much regard to his or her ideas; they are never taken seriously.

Furthermore, the current Committee in the UK has four Members of the ruling party and five MPs from the opposition. It is a fairly balanced Committee in terms of Parliamentary representation. However, as said above, the President of Botswana appointed six ruling party MPs and three from the opposition.

The imbalance is preposterous and more pronounced with clear intentions of getting the executive way through the ruling party representatives in the Committee. The intention to avoid scrutiny is clear from the numbers of the ruling party MPs in the Committee.

There is also an international standard of removing sensitive parts which may harm national security from the report before it is tabled in the legislature. The previous and current reluctance of the executive arms to open up on Defence and Security matters emanate from this very reason of preserving and protecting national security.

But national security should be balanced with public interest and other democratic principles. The decision to expunge certain information which may be prejudicial to national security should not be an arbitrary and exclusive decision of the executive but a collective decision of a well fairly balanced Committee in consultation with the Speaker and the minister responsible.

There is no doubt that the DIS has been a rogue institution. The reluctance by the President to commit to democratic-parliamentary oversight reforms presupposes a lack of commitment to democratization. The President has no interest in seeing a reformed DIS with effective oversight of the agency.

He is insincere. This is because the President loathes the idea losing an iota of power and sharing it with any other democratic institution. He sees the agency as his power lever to sustain his stay in the high office. He thought he could sanitize himself with an ineffective DIS Committee that would dance to his tune.

The non-participation of the opposition MPs renders the Committee dysfunctional; it cannot function as this would be unlawful. Participation of the opposition is a legal requirement. Even if it can meet, it would lack legitimacy; it cannot be taken seriously. The President should therefore act on the oversight demands and reform the DIS if he is to be taken seriously.

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The Maccabean Uprising

25th November 2020
Jewish freedom fighters

 Jews drive away occupying power under the command of guerrilla leader Judas Maccabees but only just

Although it was the Desolation Sacrilege act, General Atiku, that officially sparked the Maccabean revolt, it in truth simply stoked the fires of an already simmering revolution. How so General?

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Atomic (CON)Fusion

25th November 2020

For years I have trained people about paradigm shifts – those light-bulb-switch-on moments – where there is a seismic change from the usual way of thinking about something to a newer, better way. 

I like to refer to them as ‘aha’ moments because of the sudden understanding of something which was previously incomprehensible. However,  the topic of today’s article is the complete antithesis of ‘aha’.  Though I’d love to tell you I’d had a ‘eureka ‘, ‘problem solved’ moment, I am faced with the complete opposite – an ‘oh-no’ moment or Lost Leader Syndrome.

No matter how well prepared or capable a leader is. they often find themselves facing perplexing events, confounding information, or puzzling situations. Confused by developments of which they can’t make sense and by challenges that they don’t know how to solve they become confused, sometimes lost and completely clueless about what to do.

I am told by Jentz and Murphy (JM) in ‘What leaders do when they don’t know what to do’ that this is normal, and that rapid change is making confusion a defining feature of management in the 21st century.  Now doesn’t that sound like the story of 2020 summed up in a single sentence?

The basic premise of their writing is that “confusion is not a weakness to be ashamed of but a regular and inevitable condition of leadership. By learning to embrace their confusion, managers are able to set in motion a constructive process for addressing baffling issues.

In fact, confusion turns out to be a fruitful environment in which the best managers thrive by using the instability around them to open up better lines of communication, test their old assumptions and values against changing realities, and develop more creative approaches to problem solving.”

The problem with this ideology however is that it doesn’t help my overwhelming feelings of fear and panic which is exacerbated by a tape playing on a loop in my head saying  ‘you’re supposed to know what to do, do something’. My angst is compounded by annoying motivational phrases also unhelpfully playing in my head like.

  • Nothing happens until something moves
  • The secret of getting ahead is getting started

and

  • Act or be acted upon

All these platitudes are urging me to pull something out of the bag, but I know that this is a trap. This need to forge ahead is nothing but a coping mechanism and disguise. Instead of owning the fact that I haven’t got a foggy about what to do, part of me worries that I’ll lose authority if I acknowledge that I can’t provide direction – I’m supposed to know the answers, I’m the MD!  This feeling of not being in control is common for managers in ‘oh no’ situations and as a result they often start reflexively and unilaterally attempting to impose quick fixes to restore equilibrium because, lets be honest, sometimes we find it hard to resist hiding our confusion.

To admit that I am lost in an “Oh, No!” moment opens the door not only to the fear of losing authority but also to a plethora of other troubling emotions and thoughts:  *Shame and loss of face: “You’ll look like a fool!” * Panic and loss of control: “You’ve let this get out of hand!” * Incompetence and incapacitation: “You don’t know what you’re doing!”

As if by saying “I’m at a loss here” is tantamount to declaring “I am not fit to lead.” Of course the real problem for me and any other leader is if they don’t admit when they are disoriented, it sends a signal to others in the organisation stating it’s not cool to be lost and that, by its very nature encourages them to hide.  What’s the saying about ‘a real man never asks for direction. ..so they end up driving around in circles’.

As managers we need to embrace the confusion, show vulnerability (remember that’s not a bad word) and accept that leadership is not about pretending to have all the answers but about having the courage to search with others to discover a solution.

JM point out that “being confused, however, does not mean being incapacitated.  Indeed, one of the most liberating truths of leadership is that confusion is not quicksand from which to escape but rather the potter’s clay of leadership – the very stuff with which managers can work.”

2020 has certainly been a year to remember and all indications are that the confusion which has characterised this year will still follow us into the New Year, thereby making confusion a defining characteristic of the new normal and how managers need to manage. Our competence as leaders will then surely be measured not only by ‘what I know’ but increasingly by ‘how I behave when I accept, I don’t know, lose my sense of direction and become confused.

.I guess the message for all organizational cultures going forward is that sticking with the belief that we need all-knowing, omni-competent executives will cost them dearly and send a message to managers that it is better to hide their confusion than to address it openly and constructively.

Take comfort in these wise words ‘Confusion is a word we have invented for an order not yet understood’!

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