Home > Articles > Exhortation and Consolation

The White Space

To uncover the “white space” of the Word of God, it must be read “from faith to faith.” (Rom 1:17).
Read Time: 7 minutes

I had a problem. Maybe some of you can relate to it. It was my turn to exhort, and I had no idea what I would talk about. I had taken all the usual steps. I looked at the readings for the day, but nothing was grabbing me. I perused prior exhortations I’d given in the hope of inspiration, but there was none. I prayed a little. I panicked a lot. I hoped I’d come down with the flu, but all to no avail. Then, amid total exasperation, I stumbled upon a couple of videos online from a certain Jewish rabbi, and from these, I found inspiration. 

The rabbi was a fairly young man, maybe in his thirties, and he had produced (and continues to produce) a series of 10–15-minute videos about his Jewish faith. The first video was about the Jewish perspective on Christianity. Speaking to his fellow Jews, he said this (I’m paraphrasing, but you’ll get the idea): 

As Jews, we have little to nothing to do with Christianity. We don’t teach it in our schools, we don’t talk about it in our synagogues, we don’t really give it much thought at all. The reason for this is very easy to understand. We believe that the fundamental principle of Christianity is at odds with the fundamental principle of Judaism.

The fundamental principle of Judaism is that the LORD God is one, whereas the fundamental principle of Christianity is that God is three. Christianity tries to say that three is actually one and one is three (which they refer to as ‘trinity’), but the fact is you don’t get to play around with the numbers. God is one. The Messiah is not God, the spirit of God is not God, only God is God, and everything else we believe emanates from this principle. So, we have always passed off Christianity as blasphemy because if your foundational principle is wrong, then everything else built upon it is going to be wrong as well. So, we leave Christianity over there, and we stay over here and as far as we’re concerned, never the twain shall meet.

But I learned something recently that blew me away and forces us, Jews, to look at certain Christians differently than we ever looked at any Christians before. I recently discovered there are people who consider themselves Christians who do not believe in the “Trinity.” They believe that Jesus of Nazareth, who came and died over 2000 years ago, is the Messiah. They’re wrong, of course [his words, not mine], but they do believe he was a man and not God.

Now, I want you to consider what this means. Over the centuries, many Jews have believed that one certain individual or another was the promised Messiah. Ultimately, they have always been proved wrong, but we did not cast them out as blasphemers. We still considered them Jews, just misinformed Jews. Therefore, we must consider these “Christians” not as blasphemers but simply as misguided fellow Jews. 

The reason why this rabbi says that Jesus of Nazareth is not the proclaimed Messiah is because Jews believe that when the Messiah comes, he will immediately initiate the Kingdom age on earth. The rabbi claimed that nowhere in the Hebrew Bible does it teach that the Messiah would first die and then return and establish the Kingdom.

We, of course, know there are several references to the death and return of the Messiah in the Hebrew Bible. For instance, a simple look at the timeline of Isaiah 53 clearly shows that the Messiah must die and then return, but that idea touches upon the subject of his second presentation that I was blessed to watch.

In his second video, he starts by holding up an open Hebrew Bible and says (paraphrased again, of course): 

This is a holy book, given to us by the very hand of the Almighty. Every space in this book is sacred. Now, on each page, words in black ink are written on a white background. We can read these words, comprehend what they say and gain understanding from them, but all around these words, between the lines and the letters, even underneath the black ink, there is “white space.”

Right now, we cannot comprehend what is revealed in this white space. That means there are major revelations in this holy book that have yet to be revealed. We believe, as devout Jews, that when the Messiah comes, he will reveal to us the glorious messages found in this white space.

Now, he wasn’t suggesting for a minute that this “white space” has been revealed to anyone else. But we are blessed to know that it has because we know that the true Messiah has come and, by the grace of God, has revealed to his disciples the many beautiful revelations found in the white space. This glorious message is in, around, and underneath the words written on God’s holy pages. The “white space” is nothing more than the spiritual truths written in black ink on the pages of the Word of Truth. 

There are innumerable examples of the white space found throughout Scripture, whether from the words of Jesus or the interpretations of Paul and others. Even the lessons we hear every Sunday from those speakers who are blessed to see the white space! Here are just a few we can consider showing that the very “revelations” the rabbi desires have already been revealed by the Messiah, who came to those who believe in him in spirit and truth.

In Matthew 22, Jesus asks the Pharisees:

What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?’ If David then calls him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions. (Matt 22:42-46). 

The fact that they refused to ask any more questions proves two things. First, they understood that David, as the Messiah’s “father,” would not naturally refer to his later kin as his LORD, as the former is always blessed by the latter, not vice versa. But it also proves that they had no idea of the right answer. They couldn’t comprehend the “white space” hidden from them because they refused to believe Jesus was the Christ. 

Consider the lesson of Melchizedek In Hebrews 7. The author writes: 

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. (Heb 7:1-3). 

Now, it wouldn’t be “white space” to figure out the meaning of Melchizedek’s name, his role as king and priest, or even the meaning of Salem. But to realize that he’s presented as being without father and mother, and with no end of days, as well as that this is the priesthood of the Messiah, is pure “white space” understanding. It’s the spiritual message of Melchizedek found in the white space.

We are blessed to have examples such as these and many others. But the greater blessing is to be given the tools to search out the white space. As Christadelphians, we are dedicated to the truth of God’s word. We understand that to uncover the “white space” of the Word of God, it must be read “from faith to faith.” (Rom 1:17). That is, you must faithfully read the Word (to faith) and understand and accept that it is offered faithfully (from faith).

The one who recognizes that the Word of God is holy and true places God’s word above their own opinion and prejudices. This task isn’t an easy thing to do; our natural inclination is to believe something from our own perspective and seek the Word of God only to reinforce those beliefs. However, reading and believing in His Word from faith to faith is to believe that God is real and His Word is true. When we accept that idea and read His Word “from faith to faith,” then the meaning, the principles, and the “white space” of the Almighty’s Word are revealed.

The rabbi couldn’t see the Second Coming of Christ in Isaiah 53. In fact, in a later video, he denies that Isaiah 53 is even about Messiah, claiming the prophet was speaking about the role of Israel in history. Now, to be fair, you could interpret certain aspects of Isaiah’s prophecy as relating to Israel: “Growing up as a tender plant” and “acquainted with grief,” just to name a couple. But because we know it to be about Israel, the entire prophecy must relate to Israel. Yet, many parts of this prophecy simply can’t refer to Israel—not then, not now, not ever.

For instance, the prophecy says his appearance was “not comely” or impressive, yet Israel is never described that way in Scripture. The nation is repeatedly described as a land “flowing with milk and honey.” Isaiah 53:9 says he “made his grave with the wicked, and the rich in his death because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit found in his mouth.”

These are words that could never be said about the nation of Israel. Not only do the people have a history of violence (still perpetuated to this day), but their deceitful tongue is constantly condemned in Scripture. Additionally, the soul of Israel never serves as “an offering for sin,” (v. 10), not for the nation nor anyone else. That role is relegated solely to Christ, the world’s Savior.

In Isaiah 53:9, the Messiah dies. The prophecy reads, “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death.” It then later says in verse 10 that God shall “prolong his days.” You don’t prolong the days of a dead man. Therefore, the Messiah must die, be raised, and come back.

The white space of Isaiah 53 makes it abundantly clear why he had to die, why he would return and what happens when he does. The prophet, therefore, says God, “Will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death.” (Isa 53:12). 

We are truly blessed to be able to see the “white space” and be transformed thereby. It offers us so much to be reassured and strengthened that we should never take it for granted. By grace, we understand the nature of man, Christ, the atonement, God’s glorious plan and purpose, the hope of Israel, the Kingdom to come, and so much more. These truths can transform the mind and renew the heart. So, let’s never grow complacent about what we’ve been given, but give all glory and honor to our heavenly Father, who has chosen to reveal to us the wonder of the “white space.”

Jim Sullivan,
Stoughton Ecclesia, MA

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Barbara Abel
1 month ago

Thanks Jim Sullivan. I really enjoyed reading your article.

Jim Sullivan
1 month ago
Reply to  Barbara Abel

Thank you!

Suggested Readings
View all events
Upcoming Events