The Greatest Counterattack That Ever Succeeded

For those of you who may not know, I was a First Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.  And, as such, I was very well trained in combat skills, including all types of attacks and counterattacks.  One thing I learned is that it is very important to pre-organize a counterattack because the best time to do so is immediately after you lose a battle. That is when the foe is the most vulnerable because they have just taken over your position and are trying to organize themselves.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

The battle between God and Satan has been raging for quite a while. Like most wars, there are victories and losses on both sides, and often even after the war has been won, the winning battle is not the last skirmish.

When Yeshua rose from the dead, the war which Satan started against God was won, then and there, but the battles did not stop. Yeshua’s victory over death is complete, but there is still a lot of “mopping up” that needs to be done, and we know (from the vision given to John on Patmos) that there are more battles yet to come before this war is completely finished.

Satan was defeated with Yeshua’s victory, but he organized a counterattack that has been devastating to that victory. And what was that counterattack?

It was separating the Gentile Believers from Judaism, resulting in the creation of what we call Christianity.

It started as soon as the people began referring to the Gentile converts to “the Way” as Christians. That separated them from the Jewish population by name. Then, in or around 98 CE, the early Gentile leaders of what was now being called Christianity declared Sunday to be the Sabbath for those who follow Christ. Later they also rejected the idea that Judaism and Christianity could be compatible. By the end of the Second Century, new Christians were almost exclusively Gentiles, and by the time of the Council of Nicene, the New Covenant was being composed by Gentiles. From that time forward, Christianity (in nearly all its forms) has ignored or rejected the Tanakh, teaching only from the New Covenant.

And by ignoring the Tanakh, they never learned about all the mistakes the Jewish people made; consequently, Christianity has made all those mistakes, all over again. And what is worse, they have added new ones to it.

In Romans 11:25, Shaul warns the Gentile Believers not to become proud simply because they are accepting Yeshua as the Messiah, whereas the mainstream Jewish population did not. He tells them that if God was willing to lop off the natural branches from the Tree of Life for lack of faith, how much more so will he lop off the unnatural branches that have been grafted on if they also lose faith?

Yet, despite this warning, Gentile Believers have, from the start, ignored the instructions God gave in the Torah, organized their own holidays, rituals, and soon after Constantine they actually began to persecute the Jewish people in order to separate them from Judaism, as well.

Christianity has not learned the lessons that God’s Chosen people learned. These lessons were learned when they were in the desert, and later when they were in Canaan, and later when their kingdom was divided; in fact, it is my opinion that we Jews still haven’t learned our lesson and are making mistakes, even today. I have heard or read of some synagogues that celebrate people or activities that are clearly identified as a sin in the Torah, but they do so in order to appear “politically correct”; in other words, they are seeking the approval of human beings instead of seeking the approval of God.

The “Church” has done even worse things than that! In the Catholic churches, there are statues that people bow before and pray to; in some non-Catholic sects they have gay ministers; in some other sects they celebrate Halloween. There are so many things that they do wrong, and I believe it is because they haven’t learned from their Jewish ancestors because the Enemy made it easy to sin by separating Christians from Jews.

I won’t even start with the generations of Christians who have been taught to ignore the Torah because of the misinterpretations of the letters that Paul wrote to his congregations, all of which were composed almost exclusively of Gentiles. He wrote to them in a way that would help them to slowly learn about God’s instructions by feeding them a little at a time and specifically telling each congregation only what they needed to hear to keep them on the right path. Unfortunately, since the Gentiles didn’t learn or want to deal with all of God’s instructions, Satan taught them that Jesus nailed the Torah to the Cross.

That’s right, that’s what I said…the idea that the Torah isn’t valid for Christians is a lie that comes straight out of the depths of hell!

So, nu? What do we do? How can we breach this 2,000-year-old gap between God’s instructions and Christianity that Satan has succeeded in creating?

Don’t look to me for an answer because I don’t know what can work.  Actually, I don’t think it will be possible for us to close this gap. God will have to do this on a case-by-case basis. I am doing what I can by having this ministry. This is a teaching ministry, and as the tag line at the bottom of my Home Page indicates, I am here trying to get the correct information to people so they can make an informed decision about how they will worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the truth about what the Messiah, Yeshua, taught.

Only after the Acharit HaYamim (The End Days) is upon us, the final battle is won, Yeshua is ruling the world and the new heavens and new earth are in place, will this gap be closed. But, I am sorry to say, I do not see it happening until then. Humans can’t close it, and I don’t think God wants to until it is time for all things to be completed.

Maybe this is what Yeshua was talking about when he told the parable about the and the tares and the wheat (Matthew 13.) The owner of the field planted wheat, but the enemy came in at night and planted tares. When they were growing together the owner said to leave them growing together and only after the harvest will they be separated. I think we are living this parable in real life.

The separation of Christianity from Judaism is the greatest counterattack that has ever succeeded. If you are a Christian who has been separated from your roots, you can still win your individual battle against the enemy of God by studying the Tanakh (Old Covenant) and re-reading the teachings of Yeshua that are in the first three Gospels. Ignore John and only concentrate on Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And forget about reading any of the Epistles by Shaul (Paul) until you have had a chance to get a Messianic Bible or Messianic Commentary on the New Covenant so you can see where he wasn’t really against following the instruction in the Torah, but was trying to spoon-feed it to his Gentile congregations. He did that because he knew it was very hard for these Gentiles to make the paradigm shift from a self-serving hedonistic lifestyle to one of selfless love for others and righteous living.

The war has been won, but there are still battles raging, and they will not stop until Yeshua returns to do a final mop-up of the mess the Enemy has created with his counterattack. Be prepared for that day by learning how God told us we should worship him and treat each other, which is in the Torah. Then decide for yourself what you will do.

When Yeshua returns and you face the Lord at his Judgement throne, whichever way you have decided to live is what you will be judged on. Make sure that what you choose to do it is your own decision and not just what someone else told you.

Think about this: God said not obeying the Torah was a sin, and Satan knows that sin separates people from God, so the best way to win souls for himself is to make sure that the Torah is ignored.

One last piece of advice? The easiest road to travel leads to death.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe to this website and my YouTube channel, as well. Share this out with everyone you know so they can also have a chance to be judged on their own decision instead of what someone else tells them.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Yom Kippur 2019 Message

Today I would like to share a message that I had given every Yom Kippur service when I was still living in Northeast Philadelphia and attending Beth Emmanuel Messianic Synagogue. For about 2 years we didn’t have a Rabbi and the Council members (of which I was one) kept the temple going, with me serving (pretty much) as Rabbi-pro-tem. The following is an updated version of the sermon I had been giving on this day.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video. 

There is an undeniable relationship between Yom Kippur and Passover, and together they provide total atonement which allows us to have life everlasting. Yeshua is called the Lamb of God, the Pesach Lamb, and by means of his death and the blood he shed, we can find atonement for our sins. But, it wasn’t just as the Passover lamb that He accomplished this.

It’s important to know that the sacrifice of the Passover lamb, as we read of it in Exodus, Chapter 12, was not a sin sacrifice: it was a thanksgiving sacrifice. And the blood was not a sin atonement, but rather a kippur, a covering, which was meant to identify the people of God. It was spread on the sides and over the doorway of the house and as the identification of God’s people, it protected those people from being killed by the angel of death.

The blood from the sacrificed lamb on Passover provided protection from physical death for the people of God, and today Yeshua’s blood not only identifies us as God’s people, but also protects us from spiritual death. Yeshua’s sacrificial death may have occurred on Passover but is actually what the sacrifice of the Yom Kippur goats is all about.

The Yom Kippur goats (the one killed and the one released) together provide for our atonement (Lev. 16:9-10.) The scapegoat (which is the one released into the desert) had the sins of all the people transferred to it before being released into the desert, or as the Bible tells us, to Azazel. Let’s take a moment and talk a little about Azazel:

  • The Talmud interprets this word to mean a steep mountain, and for many years the scapegoat was not released into the desert but instead was thrown off of a steep mountain;
  • In the Book of Enoch, Azazel is a fallen angel. Of course, it is unthinkable that we would be told by God to sacrifice a goat to a god-like satyr in the desert;
  • According to Rabbi Hertz, the Late Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, in his 1965 edition of the Chumash, Azazel is a rare Hebrew noun that means “dismissal”, or “entire removal”. The transference of the sins of Israel by the Cohen HaGadol onto the goat released into the desert symbolized the total removal of sin from the community of God’s people.

I had always wondered why we needed two goats. If all the sins were removed by the scapegoat why kill another one? It’s because sin can only be forgiven by the shedding of blood (Leviticus 17:11) so the goat’s blood had to be shed.  That still leaves me with the question, what did the scapegoat represent?

The scapegoat released into the desert represents our T’ShuvahIt represents our willingness to let go of our sinful desires and remove them totally from our lives. That is why all the people were present when the goat was released. It meant that we all were giving up our sinful ways and desires.

Atonement is a five-step process:

  1.  You commit a sin (after all, without sin there is nothing to be forgiven for);
  2. Recognizing and taking responsibility for that sin;
  3. Doing T’shuvah (repentance);
  4.  Shedding innocent blood to atone for the sin, and finally
  5.  Asking forgiveness from God by means of the first four steps we took.

Yeshua’s sacrifice was more than just as the “Passover Lamb”; his death fulfilled the meaning of the two Holy Days most associated with freedom from both physical and spiritual death: Passover and Yom Kippur.

On the execution stake, Yeshua took upon himself all our sins just as the Yom Kippur scapegoat does, and when he died, just as the scapegoat sacrificed to Azazel, he carried them not just into the desert but beyond the grave. He also fulfilled the role of the goat sacrificed on the altar, the one whose blood atoned for the sins and made it possible for God to forgive us.

The blood of the Passover lamb gave protection from death and the Yom Kippur blood allows forgiveness of sin. Passover and Yom Kippur, although two separate Holy Days, through Yeshua have become spiritually one and the same thing.

In the Acharit HaYamim (the End Times) when Yeshua returns and we are all gathered up into the clouds with Him, then will the ultimate fulfillment of both of these festivals be realized. Yeshua is both the Passover Lamb and the Yom Kippur scapegoat. When He said He was the beginning and the end it meant more than just some timeline: he is the beginning of our eternal life and the end of our sin.

Praise God for his goodness and mercy, and give thanks to Yeshua, ha Maschiach for his sacrifice so that we could all be saved.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share me out to friends, family, and anyone seeking to know the Lord and Messiah better.

Until next time, L’hitraot and may you have an easy fast.

My Problem with the Gospel of John

In case you didn’t get the hint from the title, let me give a caveat to those reading this who are infatuated with the Gospel of John: you ain’t gonna like what I am about to say.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

Before we begin I want to point out that many scholars doubt the authenticity of the author of pretty much every book in the Bible. From my research, it seems most scholars agree that the Gospels were not written by the ones they are named for, and the true writers of the Epistles in the New Covenant are also subject to doubt. We know for certain that scribes interpreted the Codex’s and letters they had been given when formulating the New Covenant and that men decided which books and letters should be included, and which should be excluded (meaning not a divinely-inspired item), and those men were mainly Gentiles who had accepted Yeshua. I have found anything to indicate that there was a single Jewish person who was part of the group that decided what would be included in the New Covenant.

So is the Bible the exact word of God? Is it God-inspired teaching? Or is it the work of men writing what they think God meant? The answer is this: each of us must choose what we will believe.

Let me tell you a little something about me, so you know where I am coming from.

I was brought up in a Jewish home, am Jewish by descent, and over 20 years ago I accepted Yeshua as the Messiah God promised to send to the Jews, and then to the world.  I have been studying the Bible ever since; I have a Certificate of Messianic Studies and have served in two separate houses of worship (a Messianic synagogue and a Hebraic Roots church) on their Counsel and as one of the leaders of the Shabbat services. I say this to establish that I do believe in Yeshua (Jesus) and have a good, working knowledge and understanding of the entire Bible, which has been independently confirmed to me by more than just a handful of spiritually mature people.

Now, let’s talk a bit about the Bible so we are all on the same page.

The Torah (first 5 books) is more than just a set of laws: it is a historical narrative that tells us how God created everything, made mankind to be a steward of the world he created, and gave us free will so we could choose to love and worship him. He chose a man (Abraham) and told him his descendants would become a nation (“The Jews”) and be a blessing to the world (Genesis 22:18), and God told Moses that the Jews are to be his nation of priests to the world (Ex. 19:6.) For that to happen, God gave Moses the Torah, which is the instructions from God telling us how we are to worship him and how we are to treat each other; Moses was to teach the Torah to the Jewish people so they could teach it to the world.

Before Moses dies he tells us of one who will come to lead the people and will be a prophet like him, and throughout the books of the Prophets we read of God’s continual confirmation of this promise to send us a Messiah, who will gather the Jews back into their nation and, with them, all the Goyim (the other nations) into eternal communion with God.

The Old Covenant, which is misnamed “The Jewish Bible”, ends about 400 years before the coming of Yeshua, with the rebuilding of the Temple and the wall surrounding Jerusalem. The New Covenant is the continuation of this narrative, which begins with the Gospels, telling of the arrival of Yeshua, his ministry, teachings, death and resurrection which (along with the miracles he performed during his ministry) prove that he is the Messiah God promised to send.

The rest of the New Covenant is composed of one book telling of the events that occurred during the early years of the acceptance of Yeshua as the Messiah (Acts), followed by the letters written by Shaul (Paul) to the congregations of Messianic Gentiles he formed throughout Asia and the Middle East, as well as letters which were written by other disciples to both Believing Gentiles and Believing Jews. It ends with (in my opinion) the almost impossible to interpret or understand Book of Revelation, the spiritual vision given to John on Patmos of the End Times, known in Judaism as the Acharit HaYamim.

Now let’s get into the main point of today’s rather long message, and thank you for staying with me this far.

The first three Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, are called the Synoptic Gospels because they are fairly straight-forward in their style and writing. Matthew is the most “Jewish” identifying Yeshua as King (some 35 times), Mark identifies him as a servant, and Luke identifies him as the Savior. All three are written in a way that is easy to follow.

Now we come to the Gospel of John, called the Spiritual Gospel. It is anything but easy to follow, using many series of verses that are so circular that by the time one is done reading it one forgets what the point was. Another difference is that the other three show Yeshua to be human endowed with power from God, but in John, we are told that Yeshua and God are one. This is a significant difference between John and the other Gospels and has been misinterpreted (or purposefully misused?) to provide the basis for forming the Doctrine of Trinity.

John isn’t just different from the other three Gospels, it is in opposition to them; let me give you some examples.

In the three, Yeshua does not make public the fact that he is the Messiah.

After cleansing men of their diseases:

Mark 1:43-44Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”

Matthew 8:4…Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” 

After exorcising demons:

Mark 1:23-25… Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!”

Luke 4:41...Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.

After Kefa (Peter) proclaims he is the Messiah:

Matthew 16:20…Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

However, in John Yeshua publically announces he is the Messiah on more than one occasion:

With the woman at the well:

John 4:25-26The woman said, “I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

In the synagogue:

John 5:46…If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.

At the temple in Jerusalem:

John 7:28-29Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”

One exception is in Luke 4 when we read how Yeshua, after reading from the scroll of Isaiah about the Messiah, tells the people there that what he read to them is now fulfilled.

One other major difference between the three and John is that in the three, Yeshua never claimed to be divine, yet in John, he constantly claims to be one with the Father, implying he is the father. In the three, here are examples of where he talks of the father as a separate entity:

Matthew 11:27…All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Matthew 26:39…Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Luke 23:34…Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Matthew 18:14…In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

Yet in John, Yeshua constantly claims he is divine and that he the Father are the same:

John 10:30…I and the Father are one.”

John 8:58Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!
                    (In Judaism, God is often referred to as “the great I am!”)

John 1:1…In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

I am sure we can find more such examples within the Gospels, but I am not trying to overload people with biblical quotes, only to show the difference in the intent of these Gospels: the first three show Yeshua to be a man empowered by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and who tells no one (except his Disciples) that he is the Messiah, and never claims to be God. Whereas in John’s Gospel, Yeshua constantly makes a public announcement that he is the Messiah and claims to be equal with God.

How much more in opposition can you get?

A more subtle issue I have with John is John 8:17, where Yeshua is arguing with the Pharisees and says, “In your own Law (some versions have Torah) it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true.” Now, at the very beginning of this Gospel John tells us that Yeshua is the Torah come to life (John 1:14) so why then does Yeshua say “your law”? Why didn’t he say “in the law”? Or better yet, because he is Jewish, say “in our law”? The way this verse is worded is a subtle implication that separates Yeshua from the Law (Torah), which became one of the foundation stones on which the early “church” built the teaching that Yeshua and Christians are separate from Judaism, altogether.

And THAT is my major problem with the Gospel of John – its wording and the constant reference to Yeshua and God as one entity is so far afield of Judaic thought that I cannot believe it was written by a Jewish follower of Yeshua.

We also have to consider that it is the youngest of the four Gospels, written probably at the very end of the First Century, certainly not by the same John that lived with Yeshua, and during a time when the (now called) Christians, composed mainly of Gentiles, began to separate themselves from the mainstream Jewish population. John was written around the same time Ignatius of Antioch proclaimed Sunday as the Sabbath and that Christians and Jews cannot possibly be together.

These were the days when the Gentile Messianic congregations, who were initially converting to Judaism (since there was no other religion except the Roman one) wanted to be seen as separate from the Jews in Judea. They didn’t want Rome to come after them like they were going after the non-believing Jewish population, which was in a political rebellion.

The separation between followers of Yeshua and Judaism was made complete at the Council of Nicene when Emperor Constantine created the dogma, traditions, holidays, and doctrine that is modern Christianity.

My opinion is that the Gospel of John was written by Gentile Believers who wanted to turn followers of Yeshua away from Judaism.

If it was up to me, I would take the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, the Book of Acts and the Book of Revelation, add them to the Tanakh and that would make the Bible complete. It would be a homogeneous narrative of God and his works, from creation through mankind, their failures and their successes, the Messiah coming and the final Judgement.

The letters from Shaul and the other items aren’t really necessary for the completion of the narrative God gave us through Moses and the Prophets.  The letters from the apostles were all written mostly to Gentiles converting to a form of Judaism who were confused and having troubles within their congregations. These letters speak of God and his laws, and of Yeshua and his teachings, but they have nothing “new” in them. And because Gentiles back then didn’t understand the cultural nuances and forms of argumentation that Jews use, and also (as I mentioned earlier) because they wanted to separate themselves from the Jews Rome was persecuting, they misinterpreted these letters and  have taught this wrongful understanding throughout the centuries, so that today Christians believe the Jews have their Torah and Christians have Jesus.

I don’t think the letters of the Apostles are valid as scripture and I would get rid of the Gospel of John, too, which (from my experience) many Christians I have known find to be the “best” Gospel for new Believers to read. And I can see why- it confirms Trinitarianism and separates Jesus from Jews. Add to that the traditional Christian misinterpretations of the Epistles and you come up with the “Jesus nailed the Law to the Cross” and the “Once saved, always saved” lies, leading people away from God’s instructions and into lawlessness.

So there you have it! Label me a heretic!

You have to decide if you think I have a valid point or not, and if you want to discuss it I am open to discussion, but I can tell you right now that you will not change my mind about this. I have prayed an awful lot on it, and if I am doing John, God or Yeshua an injustice, then that will be between them and me.

Today I wanted to share with you my misgivings about the Gospels of John, and that is what I have done.

Thank you for being here and especially for staying through this message, one of the longest I have ever given through this ministry.

If you appreciate what you have read today, please subscribe to this ministry and also use the link above to subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

 

 

Christian or Constantinian?

Wait a minute! Isn’t Constantine the guy who ran the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE, where some of the modern Christian doctrines were first formalized?  Didn’t they say Christ was divine there? Didn’t they set up the Christian holidays, such as Easter?

(Actually, they had Easter but couldn’t decide what day to celebrate it.)

So if we are asking whether someone is Christian or Constantinian, isn’t that the same thing?

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

To answer this, let’s go to the Cloud and ask Wikipedia.

Here is what it says about Constantine (I have condensed this to save space):

Constantine was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. Although he lived much of his life as a pagan, and later as a catechumen, he joined the Christian faith on his deathbed, being baptized by Eusebius of Nicomedia. He called the First Council of Nicaea in 325, which produced the statement of Christian belief known as the Nicene Creed. He has historically been referred to as the “First Christian Emperor”, and he did heavily promote the Christian Church.

As for the definition of Christianity, Wikipedia says:

Christianity is divided between Eastern and Western theology. In these two divisions, there are six branches: Catholicism, Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Oriental Orthodoxy, and Assyrians. Restorationism is sometimes considered the seventh branch.

To add to what Wikipedia says, within these major divisions there are many sects, such as Amish, Mennonites, Anabaptists, etc.  In all, there are over a dozen different religions that call themselves “Christian”, even though some Christian religions have beliefs in opposition to other Christian religious beliefs.

For the record, Judaism isn’t too far behind, with Chasidic, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and Messianic (although the other sects of Judaism would not recognize Messianic Jews as being Jews.)

Getting back to the original question, let me set some ground rules. Christianity is, for the purposes of this discussion, following the teachings of Jesus Christ, who is Yeshua ha Mashiach. A Constantinian is someone who follows the doctrines of “The Church”, meaning the doctrines established at the Council of Nicaea and at Ecumenical councils since then. A Constantinian is someone who celebrates Christmas, Easter, Sunday Sabbath, ignores the Torah because it is just for Jews, fasts during Lent, obeys the 8th-day baptism, goes through Catechism, etc., and so forth.

Now we need to identify what is different, if anything, from the teachings of Yeshua and the doctrines of the “Church”, which I will refer to as Constantinian doctrine.

(Yes, I know Constantine did not create all the doctrines of the modern church, but for the purposes of this discussion we will use the term “Constantinian” to refer to modern church doctrine.)

Well, this is actually pretty simple to understand. If Christianity is following the teaching of Yeshua, then whatever is in the Old Covenant is Christianity because Yeshua didn’t teach anything else. In truth, there was nothing else to teach from- even the Talmud wasn’t written down in its complete form at that time. The Talmud is composed of the Mishna and the Gemara; the Mishna was written in 200 CE and the Gemara in 500 CE.

Everything in the New Covenant was not written until well after Yeshua was resurrected and raised back into the heavens; the earliest versions of the Gospels and letters from Shaul (Paul) to his newly formed Messianic congregations throughout the Middle East and Asia were not written until sometime around 50-60 CE. So, because there was no New Covenant, Yeshua could not have taught anything from it.

You might be thinking, “Well, DUH! Steve. Of course, he didn’t teach from the New Covenant, because what he taught became the New Covenant.”  I would say that makes sense, except for one thing- it is wrong.

Within the New Covenant, we have the Gospels, which are eye-witness accounts of the life and ministry of Yeshua, and the letters that were written by the Apostles, ending with John’s Revelation. Nearly 2/3 of the entire N.C. is made up of the letters from Shaul to the congregations he formed, and their intent was to help these newly converted Believers to stay on the course he set them upon, with regards to learning how to follow the teachings of Yeshua, which (as I stated earlier) are the instructions in the Torah.

The major source of confusion between Christianity (following Yeshua) and modern church doctrine (Constantinian) is that Shaul’s letters were not written to become doctrine, but were only meant to help guide these neophyte Believers in learning how to go from the gluttonous, sinful, sexually perverted lifestyle that they lived their whole lives as worshipers of paganistic gods to righteous, humble and self-controlled followers of God and Messiah. That’s quite a paradigm shift, and no one could do that “cold turkey.”  Shaul’s letters were never meant to be absolute and permanent doctrine but instead just “stepping stones”, designed to help get his congregations past their immediate problems and further along the pathway to living (what we would call today) a Jewish lifestyle.

When we compartmentalize God’s instructions in the Torah as “Jewish worship” we are restricting what God wanted to give the whole world to only about one-fourth of one percent of it. The Torah was given to the Jewish people to learn so that they, as a nation of priests to the world (Exodus 19:6) could bring it to everyone.

God has no religion, only those instructions for how to worship him and how to treat each other, and that is what Yeshua taught. The Pharisees had been teaching only the written word or the literal meaning of the Torah (called the P’ shat) but Yeshua taught us the spiritual meaning (called the Remes) so that we would know not just what God wanted us to do, but why we should be doing it.

For me, the answer to the original question is that “true” Christianity is the religion which follows what Yeshua taught, which means following the instructions found in the Torah, which the world would call Judaism.

That means Christianity is Judaism, but with one difference: Christians accept that Yeshua is the Messiah God promised to send, and the “mainstream” Jews do not. Given how many doctrinal differences there are just between Orthodox and Reform Jews, one would think that this difference (Yeshua being the Messiah) would not keep us that far apart, but it does. The reason is because of how Constantinian doctrine has become known as Christianity, which separated itself from Judaism so much that they became totally different religions.

If you call yourself a Christian but ignore the instructions in the Torah, you are a Constantinian. If you are a Gentile who accepts Yeshua as your Messiah and lives according to the Torah (i.e., a “Jewish” lifestyle and worship), you can call yourself a Hebraic Roots follower, a Messianic Gentile, or a Christian, but you are not a Constantinian. And, if you are Jewish (by blood), live according to the Torah and believe Yeshua is the Messiah, you are not a Christian or a Constantinian- you are a Messianic Jew, which means you are still a Jew.

There you have it.  A Constantinian will follow the modern day Christian doctrines, but a “true” Christian will follow the Torah. Also, a “true” Christian and a Jew should worship and live the same way, and only disagree on the matter of Yeshua.

One day, when the Messiah comes to straighten this whole “religion” thing out once and for all, we will have no more religions, no more doctrines, no more confusion, and no more hatred and bigotry. We will only have God, Messiah, and eternal peace.

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Thank you for being here and please remember to subscribe. Comments are always welcomed, so long as you can be nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Yeshua as First Fruits…the Right Way

At this time of the year, everyone is talking about “First Fruits”, or in the Hebrew, HaBikkurim. Yeshua (Jesus) was referred to as first fruits by Shaul (Paul) in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 15:23), and as far as I can see, that was the only reference to Yeshua and HaBikkurim throughout the entire Bible.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

The real first fruits festival, the one commanded by God in the Torah, is a harvest festival. God instructs us how and when it should be celebrated in Leviticus 23:9-10, and again in Deuteronomy 26:1-2.  Let’s see exactly when God said we should celebrate first fruits:

Leviticus– The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest.

Deuteronomy– When you have entered the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name.

As we can see, the instructions regarding when we are to celebrate the first fruits are not related to any other festival. They are directly related to the harvest, which any farmer will tell you cannot be associated with or dependent upon a calendar day. The crop will be ready for harvesting when, and only when, the crop decides it will be ready for harvesting.

I believe a lot of the confusion is because Yom HaBikkurim is not just considered the celebration of the first fruits, but it is also the day that we begin to count the 50 days of the Omer. Actually, it is at the Shavuot celebration that we bring the sheaf to the Cohen. The day to start counting is related directly to Unleavened Bread but that is also under debate, which is a different story.

The reference to Yeshua by Shaul as the first fruits, within the context of what Shaul was writing, I believe was meant to be understood that as through Adam death entered the world, through the Messiah, we can again have eternal life. The references as “first fruits” was not to HaBikkurim, but Shaul used the term “fruits” as in “works”, meaning that the “fruit” of Yeshua’s ministry is salvation.

Look at how the word “fruit” is used throughout the Bible and you will see it is often used metaphorically for works or actions. Hermeneutically, doesn’t Shaul’s reference makes more sense as first fruits representing the harvest of Yeshua’s ministry than related to HaBikkurim?

Let’s now look at what God instructs us to do in Leviticus 19:23-24:

When you enter the land and plant any kind of tree for food, you shall regard the fruit as forbidden. For three years it will be forbidden to you and must not be eaten. In the fourth year all its fruit must be consecrated as a praise offering to the LORD.

Now, isn’t that interesting?  The trees planted in the land are not to be touched for three years, and after that, all their fruit is to be offered to Adonai at the place where he dwells. Yeshua’s ministry grew for three years, and how many times do we read that when the people tried to get to Yeshua to do him harm he was left untouched because it wasn’t his time yet?

What we also have to note, although I will not go into it in detail here, is that Yeshua’s sacrifice was not just a sin sacrifice, but was also a peace-offering, which is what “first fruits” is. The Passover lamb sacrifice was not a sin sacrifice it was a peace-offering, also called a Thanksgiving sacrifice. However, Yeshua’s sacrifice was both for sin and as a peace-offering.

What I am saying is that Shaul’s reference to Yeshua as first fruits was only a metaphor to show that Adam’s actions (his fruit, if you will) brought death and Yeshua’s actions (his fruit) brought life: Yeshua’s fruits represent the first fruits from the harvest of people.

How many times did Yeshua refer to people as a crop ready to be harvested?

Yeshua as the “first fruits” is really unrelated to the celebration of Passover or Unleavened Bread, but should be seen as the peace-offering to God which we are to make as commanded in Deuteronomy.  Yeshua was planted in the land as soon as the Ruach HaKodesh was placed upon him when John baptized him. For three years he was allowed to grow, and after three years he was taken to the place where God put his name (Jerusalem) and offered (himself) up to God as a peace-offering, through which we are able to come back into communion with God.

Firstfruits is really a harvest celebration, unrelated to when Passover or Hag HaMatzot arrive, but the Counting of the Omer is called Yom haBikkurim, which we also call “First Fruits.”

I submit that Yeshua as the real First Fruits is not related to Yom HaBikkurim (thereby associated with Passover and Hag HaMatzot) but as a tree (the tree fo life) planted in Israel (when he was baptized) and after three years offered up to God in Jerusalem. And, as the instructions for first fruits state, only after the offering can we then eat from that tree, whose fruit is our salvation.

Adam’s fruit (his sin) brought death and Yeshua’s fruit (his sacrifice) brings life: Adam was the first fruits of destruction and Yeshua is the first fruits of life.

Of course, that’s how I see it. I believe many will fight against this interpretation without even checking it out in the Bible simply because what we have been traditionally taught is so comfortable. It just fits so nicely to have Passover, Unleavened Bread, HaBikkurim, resurrection and Shaul’s reference as first fruits all come one after the other.

But that’s OK, because none of this really matters when it comes to our salvation, and I only offer it up (pardon the expression) as a different interpretation and simply something to think about.

Thank you for being here and I hope you will subscribe (if you haven’t yet done so), as well as share this post with others. Please, if you like what you hear and read on my website, help this ministry to grow. I don’t have a “DONATE” button, and the proceeds from any book sales go to helping pay to ship my books to Believers in Third World Countries who ask for them.

I also welcome comments and ask only that you be nice when you make them.

Until next time…L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Salvation From Both a Jewish and Christian Perspective- Final

To date in this teaching series, we have examined both the Jewish and Christian perspective regarding salvation and the Messiah.  We have seen why it is so difficult for Jews to accept Jesus (Yeshua) as their Messiah and why Christians have become so separated from their roots (Judaism) that their perception is skewed, as well. Bigotry, persecution, and ignorance have led to the animosity and extreme differences that these two religions have regarding the Messiah, who is the same person for both. We have also discussed some ways in which we can span this chasm of hatred and distrust when talking to Jews and Christians about Yeshua. Today we will conclude this teaching.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

There is a need for both the Jewish and Christian religions, including all sects of each, to come together as one body, one belief about God, the Messiah and God’s commandments to all of us. Of course, we all know that this will never happen. As we have been told, the pathway to salvation is not wide, and the gate is small. Many are called but few are chosen (I have always thought this to mean that few choose) so how can we help to bridge the gap and reconcile everyone we can to God and his Messiah?

We start by telling the whole story, from Genesis to Revelation so that all can see this is one narrative of God creating the world and the people, choosing a representative who was faithful (Abraham) to spawn a nation of priests  who will carry God’s instructions (Torah) to the world and be an example of how to live these instructions. He provided a Messiah to be our Intercessor, and through faith in that Messiah, we can achieve forgiveness of sin and eternal communion with God.

We have to be able to show that the messianic prophecies are valid and analyze them with an open mind. This we do, as has been suggested in this series, by approaching Jews with references only from the Tanakh, and using the terms “Yeshua” and “Messiah” instead of “Jesus” or “Savior.” We also approach Christians by showing them that the New Covenant is based entirely on the Old- there is nothing “new” in it, and that the modern form of Christianity is not what Yeshua taught but what Constantine created.

Most important is to demonstrate and remind everyone that Abraham’s righteousness did not come about by obedience as much as it did through faith. He was righteous not because he obeyed what God told him to do, but because he believed what God said, and that faithful belief was demonstrated by his obedience. Faith is something that we choose to have; there will never be absolute proof of the Messiah or of God, for that matter, because scientific proof is the antithesis of faith.

Ultimately, it won’t be by argumentation, or by archaeological evidence or even by the scriptures that will help someone believe in God and the Messiah, Yeshua: these things are helpful to bring someone to salvation and reconcile the chasm between Jews and Christians, but ultimately it must be their choice to accept the truth.

God has given each of us Free Will to believe what we want to believe, to act as we want to act and to be the kind of people we want to be. There is no one else responsible for what we do other than ourselves, and when we choose to reject God we choose to be outside of his protection and blessings. The greatest blessing of all, of course, is to be with him and bask in his presence throughout all eternity. This can only be done with the faithful acceptance that Yeshua IS the Messiah he promised throughout the Tanakh, and to live in accordance (as best as we can) with the instructions God gave us explaining how to worship him and how to treat each other found in the Torah.

There are thousands of years of wrongful teaching, on both sides, and people have trusted their religious leaders, who trusted their religious leaders, all the way back to the First Century. It will be difficult to change their minds, but try we must. You now have the tools you need to begin building a bridge across this gap of misunderstanding, so let’s get started!

If you like what you have read, please go to the right-hand margin and SUBSCRIBE. Also, go to the YouTube (click on the link above) and please SUBSCRIBE there, as well.

Thank you for being here, share me out and don’t forget to check out my books. I welcome your comments (be nice) and look forward to the next time we are together.

Until then, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Salvation From Both a Jewish and Christian Perspective- Part 6

We left Part 5 of this teaching series with a set of instructions regarding how to approach Jews with the truth about Christianity in a way that they might be willing to listen to. Now we will learn about how to approach both Jews and Christians with the truth about Christianity, the one Yeshua taught, by debunking the wrongful teachings and anti-Semitic interpretations of much of the New Covenant writings.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

Earlier in this series, I said that to approach a Jewish person with the truth about Yeshua you need to know the Old Covenant (Tanakh) prophecies. In today’s lesson, we will learn which letters and narratives in the New Covenant have been used as a polemic against the Torah and Judaism and we will show the correct interpretation of them.

Let’s start with the Christian teaching that the Laws of Kashrut (Kosher laws in Leviticus 11) are not required for Christians. The two stories from the New Covenant most used to justify this are Mark 7:19 and Acts 10-11.  In Mark, which we discussed briefly in an earlier lesson, Yeshua was talking with the Pharisees about hand washing prior to eating, and how we will not make our food ceremoniously unclean if we don’t first wash our hands, which was a rabbinic (Talmudic) requirement. In this discussion, Mark states that Yeshua declared all food clean. This verse has been used to show that the kosher laws were overruled and abandoned by Yeshua. Nothing could be further from the truth: Yeshua wasn’t talking about clean and unclean as in what was allowed to be eaten, he was talking about a ceremony, a ritual. As far as declaring all food clean, what was “food” for a First Century Jew is not what the world considers food, today. In India, beef is not considered food; to some African tribes warm blood taken from a cow is considered food; to some other people, monkey brains are a delicacy. And for a Frist Century Jew, the items that are specified in Lev. 11 as forbidden are not “food.” So, all food being clean means that all those things which were allowed to be eaten were the food that was declared clean and, therefore, would not make us ceremoniously unclean if we did not first wash out hands before eating it.

The Book of Acts, Chapters 10 and 11 tells us about a dream (vision) that Kefa (Peter) had while sleeping. The vision had a sheet with all kinds of non-kosher animals on it, and a voice from heaven said to kill and eat. Kefa refused to do so, and each time he refused he heard the voice say, “Do not declare unclean that which I have made clean.” This happened three times. As soon as he awoke, there were three servants of a Roman Centurion named Cornelius at the door of the house, asking for Kefa to come to the Roman soldier’s house. This narrative is used to show that God told Kefa that it is now allowed to eat non-kosher animals. Again, nothing could be further from the truth: first of all, this is a vision and visions are usually interpretive and not to be taken literally. The narrative even tells us that Kefa didn’t understand the meaning of it. At that time, a Roman person’s house was an unclean place to a Jew, and to go into one would make one unclean. That means you would have to wash your body and clothes and would not be allowed into the Temple or even the Courts until after evening. But the true interpretation is that there were three times the sheets came down because there were three servants at the door, and that meant Kefa was to go with them. At the end of the chapter, we are told about the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) coming upon the Roman people in that house who accepted Yeshua as their Messiah. They were the “unclean” thing that God made clean because Romans (as I have said) were considered to be unclean people. And the fact that this had nothing to do with food is confirmed in Chapter 11 when the Elders, upon hearing what happened, didn’t say, “Yahoo!! Now we can go to Bob Evans for eggs and sausages!” but instead praised God that he made it possible for the Gentiles to be saved from their sins, as well as God’s chosen people, the Jews.

The entire Letter to the Romans has been used as a polemic against Judaism and the Mosaic Laws, but it is, in reality, an apologetic FOR the continued importance of obedience to God’s laws in the Torah. There is just too much in there for us to go into in this lesson, but if you are interested please let me know in the comments and I will do another lesson on that letter.

Matthew 5:17 is often used to show that the law was completed in Yeshua, meaning that through him it was done away with. Yet, the actual words Yeshua used were “I have not come to do away with the law, but to fulfill it.” In First Century Rabbi-speak, to “fulfill” meant to interpret it correctly. Yeshua went even further to say nothing in the law will change until all things come to pass, meaning after the Apocalypse and not until he has taken rulership over all the earth.

An argument we can use against the (usual) Christian teaching that Yeshua did away with the law is found here, in John 1:1; he says Yeshua is the Living Word, the word in the flesh. There was no “Word” other than Torah, so since Yeshua said a house divided against itself cannot stand (Matthew 12:22-28), if he preached or taught anything against the Torah then his house could not stand. Yet, we know that God promised David that the house of David (i.e., the Messiah) would stand forever (2 Samuel 7:16.) The truth of the Gospels is that everything Yeshua did or said, he told us came directly from God. And we know God doesn’t lie or change his mind, so everything Yeshua taught had to be from the Torah and validated the Torah.

The idea of the Trinity is a serious blasphemy in the Jewish mind. The watchword of the Judaic faith is the Shema, where we are told that the Lord is our God, the Lord is One! Many sects of Christianity believe in the Trinity and justify it with Yeshua saying that he and the Father are one (John 10:30.) The proper way to interpret this is to show it was metaphoric and in accordance with Jewish teaching. Yeshua did not mean he and God were a single entity in different forms, being one and the same person, but that because Yeshua only did and said what the Father told him to do and say, he was the image of the Father- he was the very reflection of God because he obeyed God exactly. Jews would understand this because of the Jewish idea that the Torah should be a mirror so that when we look into it we see ourselves. The idea of Yeshua being the living Torah and the perfect image of God, meaning when we see him we see God, fits in with this Jewish teaching. Gentiles have never been able to fully understand it because they don’t know the Jewish mindset.

Another wrong teaching is that when Yeshua was crucified, he nailed “the law” to the cross with him. This means the Torah is no longer necessary for those who are “nailed to the cross” with Yeshua. Again, this is incorrect. In Colossians 2:14, Shaul says that our sins were nailed to the cross with Yeshua, and that is correct- our SINS were nailed, not the Torah.  When a criminal was crucified, the list of charges against him was nailed above his head, just as we are told that Pilate nailed “Here is the King of the Jews” above Yeshua’s head. Through the sacrifice of Yeshua we can have our sins forgiven, but not all sins- only the ones we had committed to that point. Any future sins still need to be repented and asked to be forgiven. Much of Christianity believes, “Once saved, always saved” which denies the need for any further repentance or change of lifestyle once we profess faith in Yeshua. The only thing under the sacrificial system that changed with Yeshua’s sacrifice was the need to bring an animal to the Temple in Jerusalem; Yeshua is the substitution for that sacrificial animal and removed only the need to sacrifice at the Temple in order to be forgiven.

To conclude today’s lesson, we have looked at the main arguments against the Torah that Christianity has proliferated, and we have shown how to debunk them by giving the proper interpretation and meaning. Through these correct interpretations, we can help both Jews and Christians see the “Jewishness” that exists in the teachings of Yeshua, and how the “Christianity” that Yeshua taught, which was only a more spiritual understanding of the Mosaic Law, is what both Jews and Gentiles need to follow.

The next lesson will be the concluding lesson for this teaching series, in which we will bring it all together.

If you like what you have read, please SUBSCRIBE in the right-hand corner, and also go to the YouTube link (above) and subscribe there, as well. Please share this out and don’t hesitate to make comments (as always, be nice), even if it is a simple confirmation that you appreciate this teaching.

I look forward to our next time together, so until then…L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

Salvation From Both a Jewish and Christian Perspective- Part 5

In part 4 of this series, we learned how these different perspectives evolved. Today we will look at ways that we can try to reconcile these vastly different ideologies to come to a singular, correct understanding of who the Messiah is and what we can expect from him.

If you prefer to watch a video, please click on this link: Watch the video.

To truly understand the Messiah, we need to look at what we are told about him from the original source, which is the Tanakh (the “Jewish” Bible) and with a proper interpretation of the prophecies we find there. When I say a proper interpretation, I am referring to the dual prophecies regarding the salvation of Israel. In some of the Messianic prophecies, the rabbinical interpretation has been that the prophecy is about Israel, the nation and is not about the Messiah. However, this teaching (looking back in history) is only half-true.

Prophecy can be both spiritual and physical. For example, Isaiah 9:6 (about the child being born and the government on his shoulders) was referring to King Hezekiah- no doubt about that, but that was the physical interpretation. The spiritual interpretation was for the distant future and clearly points to the Messiah. The prophecy in Matthew 24:29 (actually this comes from Isaiah 34:4 and Haggai 2:6 and 2:21) physically means that Jerusalem will be destroyed by Rome, but spiritually refers to the final Tribulation when Messiah returns.

The “New Covenant”, which we find in Jeremiah 31:31, refers physically to the return to Jerusalem of the exiled Babylonian Jews under Cyrus, and the covenant that we can have through Yeshua ha Maschiach (physical return and spiritual salvation.)

One last example: In 2 Samuel 7:12-13, God tells David that he will establish his kingdom forever through one of his descendants who will build a house for his (God) name. The physical prophecy is about Solomon and the spiritual side is about Yeshua. The house Solomon build did not last forever, but the house Yeshua has built, the spiritual house, is an everlasting dominion.

Now that we have established prophecies can be dual, we need to first approach Jews who reject Jesus and Christianity with the truth about Yeshua and his teachings, as well as the truth about Christianity. The first rule of approaching a Jewish person with the Good News of Messiah is this: do NOT use anything from the New Covenant.

First off, Jews do not recognize it as scripture. To use verses from the New Covenant to convince a Jew about Jesus is no different than using verses from the Quran to convince a Jew Allah is their God. Ain’t gonna work:  no how, no way!

Next rule: do not use “Christian” terminology, especially the term “under the blood” because this is a filthy thing to the Jewish mindset. Do not use the name “Jesus Christ” because of what that name represents to Jews (as we discussed in Part 2 of this lesson.) Instead, use Yeshua ha Maschiach when you talk about the Messiah. And, again, use “Messiah” not “Savior” because Jesus Christ is a Savior, but Jews expect a Messiah. I know they mean the same thing, but Jews rarely use the term ‘Savior” so it will help them stay open to hearing you.

The most important thing is for you to know the prophecies about the Messiah that are in the Tanakh. If anything comes up from them about the New Covenant refer back to the original prophecy in the Tanakh.

You can also use extra-biblical writings to help. The works of Josephus are considered to be historically accurate and trustworthy, and he mentions in his history of the Jewish and Roman Wars about Yeshua (referred to as Jesus in some manuscripts) and even how he rose after the third day.

Most Jews, as we have discussed, expect one appearance of Messiah. To offset this we can use Isaiah 9:6 and Isaiah 53: Isaiah tells us the kingdom of the son of David will be established and rule forever, yet he later says that the Messiah will die. The only way to have a dead person rule forever is for that person to make two appearances, or (more accurately) to be resurrected.  We can also find this in Hosea 6:2-3, where Hosea prophecies that after being torn we will be healed and that after 3 days we will be raised up (physical Israel and spiritually the Messiah.) There are also the prophecies in Zachariah: Zachariah 9:9 tells of the king of Israel riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and Zachariah 14:4 tells us about the return of Messiah in the Acharit HaYamim (End Days) and how God will rescue his people. There is also the reference here of the humble king and the fierce king, which coincides with Talmudic prophecy.

In the Talmud, Succah 52a it says the Messiah is the son of Joseph who must be slain, which coincides with Daniel 9:26 declaring that the Messiah will come and be put to death. The Talmud, the Targum and even the Zohar (which Judaism considers heretical) all agree that the Messiah will be both a suffering servant and a conquering king. You cannot have one Messiah fulfilling two totally opposites roles at the same time, so there have to be two comings.

The last thing to cover today is to know the Jewish roots of Christianity so that you can show where today’s Christian thoughts and beliefs about Messiah are similar, if not the same, as the Jewish beliefs. Here are some of those similarities:

  • Through the work of the Messiah the people will be reconciled back to God by the forgiveness of their sins;
  • the miracles that the Messiah will perform;
  • the regathering of Israel in the End Days (use “Acharit HaYamim” and get some extra points!) and all will live in peace;
  • there will be a one-world government, a Theocracy, with Messiah as King over all the world;
  • death and sickness will be done away with; and
  • there will be a great battle that Messiah will win.

We are getting close to the end of this lesson. The next time we get together for this we will continue to learn how to approach the Jewish people with the truth about Yeshua by debunking the many misinterpretations of New Covenant writings which have contributed to the rejection by Jews of anything Christian.

 

If you like what you have read, please click on the SUBSCRIBE button in the right-hand margin, and go to the YouTube channel (click on the link above) to subscribe there, as well.

Thank you for being here, please don’t hesitate to comment (just be nice) and until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Salvation From Both a Jewish and Christian Perspective- Part 4

Up to this point, we have reviewed what salvation means and that it comes from faith in a Messiah. There are certain expectations (based on biblical prophecy) regarding what the Messiah will do, which we have examined from both a Jewish and Christian perspective. In doing so, we have seen a vast difference in what each religion expects, even though this is supposed to be the same Messiah. In this lesson, the fourth part of our series, we will look at how these different viewpoints and beliefs developed over the millennia since Yeshua (Jesus) walked the earth.

If you would prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

When Yeshua was with his Disciples, traveling and teaching in the Synagogues and towns throughout Judea, he was preaching from the Tanakh (the “Jewish” Bible) because that was the only “Word of God” that existed. After he was resurrected and returned to heaven, the Disciples continued his teachings. Eventually, they died out and Shaul (Paul) was one of the last of the (divinely appointed) Apostles who taught, and he went mainly to the Gentiles, although he always taught in the Synagogues first.

Back then there were, as there always have been, many more Gentiles than Jews, and once the Jewish population had been separated into those that accepted Yeshua and those that didn’t. It is very important to know that both groups were still practicing Judaism- there was no “conversion” event, but what started to happen is that the newer additions to this movement would be mainly composed of Gentiles. As these formerly pagan worshipers accepted Yeshua as their Messiah, they were the ones converting- to Judaism! There were no other religions around- you were either a Roman pagan worshiper or a Jewish God worshiper, and the Jewish ones were obeying what is written in the Torah.

With the advent of more and more Gentiles being added to this group of Messianic Jews, and because this conversion was such a paradigm shift in lifestyle, the Messianic leadership (Elders) in Jerusalem decided to make it easier for them. In Acts 15:20, by a suggestion from Yacov (James, the brother of Yeshua) it was determined that Gentiles converting to Judaism through Messiah Yeshua immediately had to change their lifestyle in this way:

1). no fornication;

2). no eating of blood;

3). no eating of anything strangled to death; and

4). not eating anything that had been sacrificed or devoted to an idol.

The important thing to note is that these were not the only requirements, they were only IMMEDIATE changes that had to be made. James’s suggestion ended with the statement that these new converts would be hearing the laws of Moses in the synagogues every Shabbat.  That clearly indicates James expected that eventually these converts would learn and be obedient to all of the Mosaic Law, completing their conversion to Judaism.

In other words, there was never to be any difference between how Jews rejecting Messiah and Jews and Gentiles accepting Messiah would worship God.

The practice of Judaism was allowed in Judea because Rome had originally been invited into the land to help the Jewish people get rid of the Seleucid kings. Because the religion was well established and an integral part of the society and government, Rome allowed the people to continue to practice it. However, by the time Yeshua arrived, the Jewish population wanted (as discussed earlier) their Messiah to free them from Roman rule. When this expectation went unmet, they began to revolt themselves. This was not viewed favorably by Rome, and there was the beginning of political persecution by Rome against the Jewish people. The first Jewish-Roman War (70 CE) resulted in the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and the depopulation of the Jewish people (and renaming of Judea to Palestine by the Romans) was the result of the Bar Kochba revolt of 132-135 CE.

BTW– The Western Wall was not a part of Solomon’s temple- it was the remaining section of the wall built by Herod which surrounded the court of the original Temple.

As the population of “Believers” continued to grow, there were many more Gentiles joining than Jews, and eventually (as the original Apostles died out and were replaced) the leadership of this movement was populated by Gentiles and through wrongful interpretations and desire to separate from the Jewish population (which was having its own problems with Rome) led to a separation from Judaism of this new movement being called Christianity.

Let’s go back in history for a moment: when the 9 1/2 tribes of Israel living in the land God promised were split under Jeroboam into the Northern and Southern tribes (Shomron, also called Israel in the north and Judea in the south), the split was as much spiritual as it was political. In the north, idol worship took over and they rejected the Torah and the God of their fathers to worship the many Semitic gods of the surrounding peoples. This was as much a political move as a religious one; by doing this, Jeroboam ensured that his people would not be enticed to return to the southern kingdom.

Now we return to the end of the first century and see the Christian leadership following the example of Jeroboam. By separating themselves from the Jewish population, spiritually, they could try to avoid the Roman persecution by showing they were not Jews. This started with Ignatius of Antioch, one of the early “church” leaders. In 110 CE he changed the Sabbath day to Sunday.

Later, under the rulership of Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicene (third century), the doctrine of modern day Christianity was formed which completed the total separation of Jews and Christians.

Some examples of the Christian doctrine are the changing of the Sabbath day, the ideology of the Trinity, the festivals of Christmas and Easter, and the idea that salvation was available universally and not centered on Jerusalem. These changes, as well as many others, resulted in the total separation between Jews and Christians, which were now totally different religions. Yeshua was no longer a Jewish Messiah- he was now the Christian Savior.

For over two thousand years, between Jews and Christians, there has been animosity, bigotry, and ignorance. During these times the doctrine of the “Church” has been progressively hateful and derogatory towards the Jewish people. Ignatius, who already changed the Sabbath day, also declared (circa 110 AD) that where there is Christianity there cannot be Judaism. In or around 200 CE, Origin declared that because the Jewish people rejected Jesus Christ, it is right that their nation was destroyed and that God now offered his joy to the Christians; this is the beginning of Replacement Theology. And we get still more from Ignatius, who also said that living in accordance with Jewish law means that one has not really received Grace. This is still being taught today, which I can personally confirm as I have (more than once) been told that if I do all that “Jewish” stuff I am still “under the law” and not really saved.

When it comes to separating Christians from Jews and fostering hatred and fear, let’s not forget to mention the Crusades and the Inquisition, which (as we learned earlier) led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Jews by Christians who believed they were doing God’s work.  Spain, the progenitor of the Inquisition, was the world power in the 15th Century when Queen Isabella exiled all Jews from Spain. However, by the end of the 18th Century Spain was not even considered a viable threat, and has never recovered her position as a world power (didn’t God tell Abraham that those who curse him will be cursed?)

As we have already learned, Nazi Germany also thought they were doing God’s work- their belt buckles had “Gott mit uns” engraved on them (God is with us), and from the Jewish perspective, they were no different than Christians.

Lastly, Replacement Theology is a rampant right-wing Christian movement that says, essentially, because the Jews rejected Christ God has rejected the Jews and Born-Again Christians are now God’s true Chosen people, the “real Jews! Of course, the Bible is totally against this, as we can see in the following verses:

Matthew 19:28- Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Jeremiah 30:11-I am with you and will save you,’ declares the LORD. ‘Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. 

Isaiah 49:16- Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the son of her womb? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are ever before Me.

Jeremiah 30:31-At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.

In the letter to the Romans, Chapters 9 through 11 Shaul confirms the Jewish people will always be God’s chosen and will one day be grafted back onto the tree of Salvation. He warns the Gentiles not to become proud, which (apparently) they never paid attention to.

One last point regarding Replacement Theology: if they are truly God’s chosen people and the “real” Jews, then why didn’t they speak up during the Holocaust?

This ends lesson 4 of our series. In our next lesson, we will discuss methods we can use to try to reconcile the differences between the Jewish and Christian Messiah.

 

If you like what you are reading, please share me out and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE in the right-hand margin. Also, please go to the video and subscribe to my YouTube channel, as well.

Thank you for being here and please don’t hesitate to make comments- all I ask is that you be nice.

L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Salvation From Both a Jewish and Christian Perspective- Part 3

So far in this series, we have looked at the meaning of salvation, the Jewish expectations of the Messiah, and why Yeshua ha Maschiach (Jesus Christ) was and has been rejected by “mainstream” Judaism since his first appearance on earth.

Today we will delve into the Christian expectations of the Messiah, who is usually referred to as “Savior” and not “Messiah.”

If you prefer to watch a video teaching, click on this link: Watch the video.

One major difference we should point out right at the start between Jewish and Christian expectation and knowledge of the Messiah: Jews were, and still are, waiting and looking forward to the coming of the Messiah; however, Christians never looked forward to his coming- he was already here before Christianity started. Christians have always known who their Savior is, whereas Jews have never known who their Messiah was going to be.

Christian expectation of Messiah is not really an expectation, but more like 20/20 hindsight because what they believe about their Savior is what they have already seen.

They know he was born in a miraculous manner, being of a virgin who was impregnated by God through the Holy Spirit.

They know that he died for their sins, but since most Christian teachings are from the New Covenant, instead of referencing the Tanakh, they look to the Gospels and Epistles for the justification of their beliefs. So, instead of using Isaiah 53 to understand the sacrifice of the Messiah, they refer to 1st Corinthians 15:3. More specifically, within Catholicism, they quote John 20:21-23 not only to state that forgiveness of sin can only come through belief in Jesus but also that Jesus gave men the power to forgive sins through the priesthood. To further confirm forgiveness is only available through Jesus, Christianity references Ephesians 1:7 and Corinthians 5:17.

According to Ephesians 3:19 the Savior is all about love and complete acceptance, which lends itself to another Christian belief, which is that there is no need for the Torah or the laws God gave to Moses.

In my opinion, one of the most anti-Semitic teachings within Christianity is that Jesus did away with the “law” (the Torah) and that the “Jewish Bible” is just for Jews and doesn’t really have any meaning to Christians. It is still scripture, but they concentrate almost exclusively on the New Covenant writings.

Whereas Christians have been taught that the Jewish laws are not valid for them, one sect of Christianity takes it to the extreme. Their belief system is called Replacement Theology. This is the most virulent anti-Semitic sect of Christianity because they believe since the Jews rejected Jesus as their Savior, God has rejected the Jews as his chosen people! Christians (specifically “Born-Again” Christians) are now God’s “real” chosen people, the “Israel of God” that Shaul talks about at the very end of Galatians.

Most Christians haven’t gone this far and have been taught that the Law is really split into two types of law: Moral and Ceremonial. The moral laws are still valid for Christians, but the ceremonial laws are not. For instance, the laws of Kashrut (Kosher) are ceremonial so only Jews have to follow them, whereas murder and adultery are moral laws and they are still valid and must be followed. This belief system is justified by Matthew 5:17. This is where Yeshua said he came to fulfill the law, which has been interpreted to mean the (Mosaic) law was completed in him and therefore is no longer necessary to be followed. It is also confirmed by the teaching that when Shaul (Paul) says that our sins were “nailed to the cross” (Colossians 2:14), that meant the law was also nailed to the cross, i.e. done away with.

This is the same as saying if the car ahead of me makes a complete stop at the stop sign, thereby fulfilling the law for stop signs, then I can just go right through it. Or, if I live my entire life without murdering anyone, then murdering someone will be acceptable and not a sin when I die because I had fulfilled that law. Ain’t that da silliest thing you evah hoid?

Let’s get serious again…Christians believe that Jesus was resurrected and returned to his father in heaven, and will return to destroy the Antichrist and rule over all the earth, forever. And when this day finally arrives, Christians (and many Jews, as well) believe that they will be lifted up and live eternally in heaven.

As we can see, there is a very significant difference between Jewish and Christian understanding of who the Messiah is and what to expect from him when he arrives. How this vast chasm of belief in the same personage came about is what we will examine now.

As far as Jews are concerned, the advent of the Messiah’s coming has always been seen as a national event. He is not here for you or for me, but for Israel…for all Jews, everywhere. Christians see the relationship with their Savior as an individual and singular event: the Savior is here for me and you have to have your own relationship with him. This is a major difference in expectation: the Jewish Messiah’s relationship is with the entire nation of Israel, but the Christian Savior has a personal relationship just with me.

Judaism expects that the changes the Messiah will make will occur at or before his actual coming, and when he is here they will all come to completion. Christians believe that after someone accepts him as their Savior, then there will be some changes that happen (such as indwelling of the Holy Spirit) but most changes in the world won’t happen until his second coming.

Finally, Jews believe that Yeshua did not fulfill or meet the prophecies about the Messiah and Christians believe he met almost all of them, and the ones that he did not fulfill will be fulfilled with his second coming.

This ends our third segment in this series of teachings. In our next lesson, we will review the origins of these vastly different expectations and learn how they developed.

If you like what we have covered so far please “share me out”, and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE so you will be notified when the next lesson is posted. Thank you for being here and I welcome any comments you may have, and remember to please always be nice.

Until then, l’hetraot and Baruch HaShem!