Who Really Made Christianity a New Religion?

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Being raised on Long Island as a Reform Jew I was always told that Jesus was a Jew who betrayed his Jewish roots and created Christianity, a totally separate religion which has historically hated and persecuted the Jewish people. Consequently, no real Jew believes in Jesus; in fact, if you believe in Jesus you can’t be a Jew anymore!

I spent 2/3 of my life believing this; fortunately, I have learned the truth about Christianity, who Jesus really was and what he really taught. And through that study and the guiding of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) I have come to accept that Yeshua (Jesus’s real name) was a Jew, still is a Jew, and taught from the Torah. He did not create a new and separate religion at all.

As I studied the New Covenant writings, especially the Epistles of Shaul (Paul) I began to understand that he did not convert to Christianity or write against the Torah and Judaism (as most Christian teachings profess), but remained a Jew and always confirmed the importance of following the Torah. The problem with reading Shaul’s writings is that one has to get into the right “mindset” to understand what Shaul was saying, as well as be trained in biblical exegesis. Shaul wrote to Gentiles that were first learning how to be Jews; there wasn’t anything else to be at that time. You were either a Jew or a Pagan. The early churches he set up weren’t churches at all; at least, not as we understand what a church is today. The first time they were called a “church” was in the early 1600’s, when King James decided to call them that, despite the fact that his bible experts disagreed.  In my opinion, the organizations that Shaul created as he preached the Gospels would be more accurately called “Kehillot“, the plural of the Hebrew word Kehillah which means “community organizations.”  So although Shaul’s preaching has been confused and misinterpreted probably ever since he wrote the first letter, he did not create Christianity as a separate religion.

I finally came to understand that the Christian Canon of today was developed mainly by Constantine at the Council of Nicene in the 3rd Century. The rules and separation of Christian worship from it’s beginnings in Judaic worship was confirmed and finalized, so to speak, by what Constantine did. Therefore, I (and many others I know) have been accusing Constantine of being the real creator of Christianity as a separate religion from Judaism.

I have been wrong.

Constantine definitely is the creator of Christian Canon that all of the modern Christian religions are based on, but he was not the first one to identify Christianity as a religion separate and unique from Judaism. It wasn’t Ignatius of Antioch, either, although he certainly did what he could to separate it (he changed the Sabbath to Sunday and also stated that one cannot have Judaism and Christianity together.) And it wasn’t first declared separate and unique by any of the other early “church” fathers.

Sherman, warm up the WABAC Machine and let’s go back before Yeshua and just after the Maccabees revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, which is the story of Hanukkah.”

 

After that last Seleucid king was defeated, there was still political upheaval in Judea and the Judeans invited the Hasmoneans to mediate, eventually leading to Roman rule over Judea. However, because the Romans were “invited” in they allowed the Jews to continue to worship in accordance to their religion. This was very unique, since almost every Roman-conquered city or province was forced to worship as Rome did. Under normal conditions, it was illegal for any Roman ruled people to have their own religion (this is important to remember.)

Now we come to the point where the power elite Judeans, who rejected Yeshua as Messiah, needed to get Pontius Pilate to convict Yeshua. So what did they say? They first accused him of blasphemy, but Pilate said that was an internal religious issue and not a legal one. They next accused him of stirring up the people and telling them not to pay taxes, making him an enemy of the Emperor. Pilate didn’t fall for that one, either. Their final accusation was that Yeshua was a King, which he admitted to being but said his kingdom was not of this world, so Pilate had no legal reason to find him guilty of treason. In truth, they couldn’t get Pilate to find Yeshua guilty of anything. They had the same problem with Shaul when they brought him before the Roman rulers of whatever province he was preaching in. But then later, the Jews in the provinces around Judea who wanted to stop the Apostles from preaching about Yeshua found the one argument they could use that got the Romans to take action: they accused the Apostles of creating a new religion! This was against Roman law. The Jewish religion was tolerated by Rome but this new “Way” was denounced as a separate religion from Judaism so Rome had to take action. By the 2nd Century, both Jews and Christians were being persecuted, but for different reasons: Jewish persecution was for political reasons (they were rebelling against Roman rule) and Christian persecution was for religious reasons (practicing a religion that wasn’t approved by Rome.)

So, who really created Christianity as a separate religion? It was the Jewish power elite of the First Century!  We created our own “Frankenstein’s Monster” which turned against us and since then caused us harm and suffering. This was a real surprise to me: imagine…it was us! Jews are the reason that Christianity has become a separate religion from its Jewish roots. Who wuddah tought it?

If the Jewish elite had only ignored the Jews and Gentiles that accepted Yeshua as Messiah, then who knows what might have happened?  But, of course, that didn’t happen and maybe it was, in the long run, for the best. After all, didn’t Shaul write to the Kihillot in Rome (Romans 11:11):

“Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.”

This shows that God’s plan of salvation for the Gentiles could only come through the Jews and eventually we will all be one in Messiah.

Now, for those of you out there who love to take a word or sentence out of context and go off in all sorts of tangential arguments that have nothing to do with the point of the message, let me address the fact that when I say “the Jews” I am not using it as a universally descriptive term but a reference to the power elite of the Judean political system at that time. And let me also say the Jews aren’t the only ones responsible: Ignatius, Constantine and nearly every Pope and Christian leader since the 2nd Century has contributed to making Christianity a separate and different religion. Christianity has become a separate and unique religion from Judaism as the result of the work of many people over many years.

My message today is that Christianity as a separate religion wasn’t proposed or initiated by Yeshua or any of his early followers- it came about as a result of the accusation from the non-Believing Jewish power elite in order to give Rome legal justification to persecute those people who accepted Yeshua as the Messiah.

So Yeshua didn’t create a new religion. Neither did the Apostles or Shaul or Constantine- the ones who first identified Christianity as a new religion were the Jews of the First Century!

Passover Message 2018

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Chag Sameach!! Pesach Tov! Shabbat Shalom!

These are the greetings we will be giving to each other this evening because Passover (Pesach) starts at sundown, and this year (2018) so does Shabbat. Our preparations are twice as important today: not only do we prepare for Shabbat but we also prepare for Pesach.

For those people who keep their home Kosher according to Talmudic (also called Rabbinic) tradition, the plates might be the special, once-a-year Pesach servings. The house will not just be cleaned of dirt and dust, but also everything with any form of leavening in it. The Orthodox will even have the Rabbi confirm this and give them a certificate to state their house is “clean.” The removed foods will be given to the (Gentile) poor.

The Seder plate will be set: we will need chicken (the traditional meat for the Seder since we cannot sacrifice a lamb), a roasted egg, charoset (an apple, walnut, honey and wine mixture), matzo (lotsa matzo!), wine that has been approved as Kosher for Pesach, horse radish, parsley and salt-water. A lamb shank bone is also needed.  All of these food items are part of the Seder, which we celebrate with the reading of the Haggadah.  That is the Passover story, taken from Exodus 12, and as we read from the Haggadah we sample the foods and remember the bitterness of their slavery as we taste of their bitter tears when we dip the parsley in the salt water and eat it. In the middle of the story, just after they’ plagues are recited, we eat the Passover meal. After dinner the children look for the Afikomen (a hidden piece of matzo) so that we can then have desert and complete the reading of the Haggadah.

All told, it is more than a meal- it is an experience.

Over the past twenty years or so Donna and I have shared our Seder with different friends each year, trying to invite those friends who have never experienced a Seder. We use a Messianic Haggadah so that our Gentile friends can see where Yeshua (Jesus) fits into the Seder. It is surprising (I should say, disappointing) that so many of our Gentile friends have no idea that this Seder was what they know as the Last Supper. Their Christian training has done nothing to help them understand their connection to Judaism.

I want to leave you with this interesting thought: did you know that even though Yeshua is called the Passover Lamb because he died for our sins, the real Passover lamb was NOT a sin sacrifice? It was a peace offering, also called a Thanksgiving sacrifice. However, the Yom Kippur sacrifice (which was a goat, not a lamb) is a sin sacrifice. So Yeshua really was a Yom Kippur sacrifice but he performed that function on Passover. Do you know why?

I don’t! But…I do know that because we are cleansed of our sin by Yeshua’s sacrifice we can then come into the presence of God. What Yeshua did was actually perform two sacrificial functions at one time: he made it possible for us to be cleansed of sin which allows us to come into the presence of God and share our thanksgiving meal with him.

If you are having a Seder tonight then may God’s blessing be on you and all with you.

If you are enjoying an Easter ham this Sunday, well…I wish God’s blessings on you if your heart is for Messiah and God, but please consider this: you will be eating something that the person you are celebrating would find to be an abomination on his table.

I will end today’s message with the phrase that concludes every Seder:

לשנה הבאה ב’רושל’ם

(Lashanah haba’ah bi Yerushalayim)

Next year in Jerusalem! 

Parashah Tzav 2018 (Give an order) Leviticus 6:1 – 8:36

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As we continue in Vayikra (Leviticus), God gives the orders and commands regarding the daily offerings, specifically the wholly burnt, meal, guilt, peace and thanksgiving offerings.

The procedure and requirements for anointing of the Priests and the Cohen haGadol (High Priest) are given, and Aaron and his sons are anointed by Moses.

There are so many different things we could discuss in these few chapters, but since in this year (2018) Passover falls next Friday night, I would like to talk about the Passover lamb and its significance in the sacrificial system.

Yeshua (Jesus) has been referred to as the “Passover Lamb” for centuries, and His sacrifice is the means by which we are able to be absolved of our sins, so why is He called a “Passover” lamb? The lamb sacrificed on Passover was not a sin sacrifice.

We are told the requirements for the 5 different types of sacrifices outlined in Leviticus; by definition, Yeshua’s sacrifice was a Thanksgiving, or Peace sacrifice. We know this because only the peace sacrifice was eaten by the one bringing the sacrifice. In all the other forms of sacrifice some of the animal was given to the Priest as his compensation, with the remaining parts either burned on the Altar or removed and thrown away. Only the Peace sacrifice was also shared with the one bringing the animal.

Yeshua’s sacrifice was a sin sacrifice, and also served as a Passover sacrifice; in fact, His sacrifice fulfilled three sacrifices: peace, sin and wholly burnt. Of course, His body wasn’t consumed by fire, but His entire body was sacrificed (which is what was done with the wholly-burnt sacrifice.)

The wholly burnt sacrifice represents our complete devotion to God- no question that Yeshua was completely devoted to His Father in heaven.

The sin sacrifice is the means by which we are forgiven our sins when we do T’shuvah (repentance) and ask God for forgiveness (now by means of Yeshua’s sacrifice.)

The peace offering is how we enter into communion with God by sharing the meal made from the sacrifice, which we do at the Passover Seder.

Can you see how Yeshua’s once-and-for-all sacrifice accomplished all three types of sacrifice? Through our acceptance of Yeshua we can show our complete devotion to God, receive forgiveness of sins and enter into communion with God.

Does this mean we shouldn’t call Yeshua the “Passover Lamb” anymore? I think it is still appropriate to refer to Him that way, just as it would also be appropriate to refer to Him as the Yom Kippur goat.

Personally, I prefer to use “lamb” other than “goat” when I refer to Yeshua, although from a technical perspective either would be correct.

For those that will celebrate the Holy Days of Passover and Hag ha Matzot, I pray you thoroughly enjoy this festive festival. I am always afraid I will accidentally eat something with yeast during the week of this festival, and have done so, once or twice, in the past. I hope it is easier for you to keep away from leavening than it is for me (I just LOVE bread!)

Donna and I have different people to our Seder every year, and we usually try to have Gentile friends who have not enjoyed this Holy Day. Every single couple we have shared our Seder with, for nearly 20 years now, has enjoyed it and it has helped them to get closer to their Jewish roots.

I may be a week early, but…Chag Sameach!

Who Killed Who?

As a child I was constantly reminded that “You Jews killed Jesus” by my Christian friends and acquaintances.

Back then I didn’t know and (frankly) didn’t care about God or the Messiah, but I knew enough to say that Jesus came to die for their sins, so all we did was help Him.

Now I know better- it wasn’t the Jews who killed Jesus, nor was it the Romans: it was ME.

Parashah Yayyechi 2017 (and he lived) Genesis 47:28 – 50:26)

This week we come to the end of the book of Genesis.

Jacob blesses Joseph’s children, and adopts them. He later blesses each of the 12 Tribes, then acob dies. The book ends with Joseph’s death and his request to make sure his bones are brought back to the Land when the children of Israel return.

When Jacob blesses Judah, we have a messianic prophecy of the coming of Yeshua…or do we? Where as Christianity sees this as a messianic prophecy, Judaism rejects it as such,,,but why?

WHY I THINK CHRISTMAS ISN’T SO BAD. 

Now, before some of you jump down my throat, please use two of the Fruits of the Spirit: patience and self-control. Read what I say (I will try to keep it short) and then jump down my throat, if you still need to. 
First off, a little background…. the reason that Jews were allowed to remain Jewish when Rome controlled Judea is because they invited Rome in to help them get rid of the Seleucid kings. When the followers of Yeshua (Jesus) began to grow, they were made up of Jews, and of Gentiles (mostly Romans) converting to Judaism. However, by the end of the 1st Century, Rome had problems with the Jews and were persecuting them, but it was NOT a religious persecution. It was a political persecution because the Jews were rebelling against Roman authority. As such, the Jews following “the Way” and the newly converting Gentiles began to separate themselves from the persecuted Jews, which was to be safe from persecution. That backfired, because as they started to form a new religion, that was not acceptable to Rome, and so the (now called) Christians were persecuted; this was a religious persecution. In the 3rd Century, along comes Constantine and he converts to Christianity (now very different from Judaism) and he makes it even more separate, essentially creating modern Christianity.
That brings us up to Christmas. Constantine had a problem, which was how to make Christianity more popular to a people who have worshiped Roman gods for centuries, and most likely will not be as happy to trade them off as Constantine is. The answer: re-boot the holidays! Take the celebratory feeling that comes with their big holidays, and redirect it to a new holiday with the same feel, but make it a celebration of Messiah instead of a pagan god. This is why I don’t think Christmas is so bad- it isn’t worshiping a pagan god, it isn’t a pagan holiday, and it never was. Saturnalia WAS a pagan holiday that worshiped a pagan god, but Christmas was created to celebrate the birth of the Messiah. I believe a lot of the anti-Christmas feeling comes from the fact that it was placed at the same time as the pagan celebration. The reason for that was not to put a different face on the same holiday, but so that it would easily fit into their schedule, and that made it easy for Constantine to switch focus/worship of the population from paganism to Christianity.
Here’s the point- Christmas is not Saturnalia with a new name, it is a totally new and different celebration; Saturnalia was rejected and done away with. Just as the Golden Calf was rejected and destroyed, so too did Constantine do away with Saturnalia, and it was replaced (NOT re-instituted, but replaced!) with Christmas, which is from it’s inception a celebration of Messiah’s birth.
Now, the fact that the birth of Messiah was months earlier in the calendar isn’t relevant to the topic, which is that Christmas was never a pagan holiday. Christmas was created as a righteous memorial to Messiah, and was “timed” to occur at the same time as an old, now rejected, pagan holiday so that it would be an “easy sell” to the populace.
Therefore, I don’t see anything wrong with Christmas so long as the people celebrating it are celebrating Messiah Yeshua. If you really want to come down on someone, come down on the retail companies that have prostituted this celebration into a social event that has made gift giving more important than celebrating the birth of our Messiah.

One last note: Joseph’s brothers conspired to murder him, but Joseph later understood something that I think we need to relate to Christmas (Genesis 50:20): “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” What had been an unrighteous pagan celebration has been replaced and changed into a righteous celebration of the Messiah, who is the ultimate means of saving people’s lives. I think celebrating the birth of our Messiah, whether on the correct day or not, is always a good thing, no matter how it started or where it came from.

Special Reading for Sukkot- Chol Hamoed (Weekday of the Festival) Exodus 33:12 – 34:26

This reading is from the parashah Ki Thissa, and recounts Moses asking God to stay with the Israelites as they travel through the desert. Moses also asks God to show His Glory, which God agrees to do but Moses can only see His back as He passes by. God tells him He will put him in a cleft of a rock and cover Moses’ face as He passes because no one can see God’s face. As God passes He declares (what in Judaism is called) the “13 Attributes of God’s Nature” to Moses, and (consequently) to us. The reading ends with God reiterating commandments regarding idolatry, ransom of the first-born, not allowing intermixing with other cultures, the Shabbat, the festivals of Shavuot, Bikkurim (First Fruits) and Sukkot and certain Kashrut (Kosher) laws.

The way Moses prayed when he asked God to forgive the sins of the people is one of the most identifying aspects of Jewish prayer: we pray communally, not individually. Moses certainly was not one of the sinful, rebellious types that were rampant within the million or so Israelites he was leading, but yet when he asked God to forgive the sins that they (not him, but they) committed, he included himself with them. Jewish prayer is communal, we know that in God’s eyes we are one entity, one nation, one people, and when one of us sins we are all covered with that sin. It is one of the things that is really unique about the Jewish relationship with God. This is not meant as an attack or accusation, but most every Christian prayer I have ever heard is on an individual relationship with God; it is a one-to-one, personal relationship that doesn’t include anyone else, take responsibility for anyone else, or even acknowledge anyone else as part of that relationship. When a Christian prays for forgiveness it is only for themself.

In Judaism we pray differently. Yes, we ask God for forgiveness of our own sins, but we also always take responsibility for the sins of the nation. On Yom Kippur we recite the Ashamnu prayer which translates as “We are guilty”; the prayer “Act for the Sake of” ends with asking God to act for His sake if not “our” sake; the Al Het (All Sins) prayer is a recitation of every sin you could ever think of, and we ask for forgiveness of each one, but (as I said) it is not “For the sin I committed in Your sight”, but it is “For the sin WE committed in Your sight”, and what is repeated throughout this prayer is:

ועל כלמ, אלוה סליחות, סלח לנו, מחל לנו, כפר-לנן  (Forgive us all sins, O God of forgiveness, and cleanse us.)

Jewish prayer and relationship with God goes way beyond just “You-and-me.” And even though we pray as a nation, we still have a personal relationship with God: being one people doesn’t mean we aren’t each uniquely loved and known by God.

After Moses has interceded for the people and gained God’s forgiveness, God hides Moses in the rock cleft and passes by announcing His 13 attributes (these definitions are from my Chumash):

1. and 2.- The Lord, the Lord. The Rabbis interpret this as meaning God is the same before we sin, and the same after we sin, indicating that change must be from the sinner’s heart because God is the same all the time;

3. God– the allmighty Lord of the Universe;

4. Merciful– full of affectionate sympathy for the sufferings and miseries of human frailty;

5. Gracious– assisting, helping, consoling the afflicted and raising up the oppressed. In Man these attributes are temporary but with God they are inherently eternal.

6. Long-suffering– slow to anger and not rushing to punish the sinner but affording opportunities for the sinner to retrace his evil courses;

7. Abundant in goodness– plentiful in mercy and blessing beyond what Man deserves;

8. Truth– eternally true to himself pursuing His plans for the salvation of mankind and rewarding those who are obedient to His will;

We need to take note that the Hebrew used here is “v’rav chesed v’emet“: loving-kindness (rav chesed) comes before truth (emet), indicating that we are always to tell the truth, but to tell it in love.  We see this message often in Yeshua’s teachings and the Epistles of the New Covenant…Gee, I wonder where they got it from?

9. Keeping mercy unto the thousandth generation– remembering the good deeds of our ancestors and reserving reward to their descendants;

10. Forgiving iniquity– bearing with indulgence the failings of Man;

11. (forgiving) Transgression– deeds that spring from malice and rebellion against God;

12. (forgiving) Sin– the shortcomings of Man due to heedlessness and error; and

13. Will by no means clear the guilty– no matter how willing or how strongly God desires to forgive us our sins, He is also holy and will not allow the impenitent to go unpunished.

 

So nu…  there you have it! You want to know God? Here He is. This is what God wants us to know about Him, and for me that is all I need to know about Him. I think the most important attributes we human beings (and especially worshipers of God) need to remember above all are long suffering and willingness to forgive. The old saying, “To err is human; to forgive, Divine.” is absolutely in line with Torah.

We are to imitate God, but (of course) we can’t imitate God- He is eternal, spirit, holy and ineffable. But we can imitate some of His attributes, such as His forgiveness, His charity, His love for others, His desire to help the needy and to prosecute the guilty. Love of righteousness and hatred of evil: these things we can imitate, and I believe God wants us to do exactly that- imitate those of His attributes which we can imitate!

God gave us this “To Do” list, so let’s get to work on it.

 

Is Yeshua God?

I am proving myself either crazy, suicidal or brave by even thinking about approaching this topic.

But, then again, if I believe I am given insight (the same should be the rule with everyone) and can show in the bible why I believe this way, then I should share it with you. If you disagree with me, I will not say you are wrong- I am simply telling you what I believe. I wish more people could have discussions without attacking each other’s beliefs, because in the long run, God will be the judge if I am right or wrong, and it is up to Him to set me straight. If we disagree, we should be able to do so with mutual respect, compassion, and leave it at we agree to disagree. Too often I see and hear people attacking each other, insulting each other, calling each other stupid or uneducated simply because they don’t agree. That is not how we should act.

So, here it comes.

Let’s start with the basics: Yeshua is the Messiah, and He existed before He came to earth. I really don’t know if He was God then, and became a separate entity in order to exist in our physical plane, or if He was always a separate entity but equal in divinity to God. I can’t find anything in the bible except that He appears to have been an eternal being with divine powers.

When He came to earth, He had to be able to suffer the temptations and illnesses of all humans (Isaiah 53) and to be able to die. For that to happen, and here is what is really amazing- which most people never understand the impact of- He voluntarily stripped off His divinity and took on a mantle of flesh! Yeshua was divine, He was eternal, He was all-powerful, yet He gave all that up just so that He could be a human being and die in order to give us a chance, just a chance, to be with God forever. Have you ever really thought about that? Could you have done that?

When Yeshua was born, He came out of Miryam’s womb as a human being: not eternal, not divine, just plain, old human. I say again, He had to be totally human so that He could take on our sins (a divine being cannot be associated with sin) and so that He could die. A sacrifice that cannot die (in other words, a divine being that is immortal) would not have been a “real’ sacrifice, and without a sacrificial death there is no remittance of sin, and our salvation is unfounded. But…our salvation is founded in that death, for Yeshua surely did die. The spear in His side proved it. So, whatever Yeshua was before He came to earth, He was 100% human while He lived on the earth and all the miracles He performed were done with the power that came from (a separate and unique) God through the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), which was the same exact way miracles had been performed by the Prophets before Him, and by the Apostles after Him.

The one, and most important, difference between Yeshua and all other humans was that Yeshua was not born into the sin of Adam and Eve. Because of His supernatural birth, and through His resurrection, His sacrifice was able to free us of our sins and continues to do so, for now He is a Priest and Cohen forever (Hebrews 7:17.) His blood is still viable, He is still able to cleanse us with His blood because it still exists, and will forever.

I think that every time someone asks for forgiveness in Yeshua’s name, He spills a little more of His blood.

Finally, Yeshua was resurrected and became eternal, again, but he is not divine because he has to serve as Cohen HaGadol for all humanity until the plan of salvation is complete, which won’t be until the Millennial Rule is over, the Adversary and all his demons are thrown into the Lake of Fire and the new heaven, new earth and new Jerusalem appear. In other words, He is still a separate and unique living entity from God. Once all is done, I do not know what will happen. Maybe He will remain the way He is, maybe He will be divine again and still the Son, maybe He will be “absorbed” back into God (which would imply the Holy Spirit would be,also) and there will be just the one and only God…who knows? I sure don’t! But, then again, who cares? I won’t, because I will be in God’s presence for all eternity, and it won’t really matter.

So, now for the biblical “proof” that I have for my position. First off, every letter that Shaul wrote to the Messianic Communities started off with a greeting from Shaul, then from God AND Yeshua. Not God, who is Yeshua, not Yeshua, who is God, but from “God the Father and Yeshua the Messiah.” Every letter from every Apostle, who lived with Yeshua for years, identifies God and Yeshua as separate entities. In Revelation 20:6– now remember that this book is the vision given to John directly from Yeshua- it says this:

Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Yeshua and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Notice it says priests (cohanim) of God AND of Yeshua: not priest of God, who is Yeshua, or of God who is Messiah, but “of God and of Yeshua.” The vision of John sees two separate, unique entities ruling in heaven.

There are some places where we hear Yeshua refer to Himself as being the “A” and the “Z”, and how before Abraham was, He is, which means He had no beginning and no end, and that is true in my understanding. As I started off saying, He was eternal and divine, then He gave that up to die, but when He was resurrected, although not divine, He is again eternal, so being ‘the beginning and the end’ while remaining a separate being from God is a valid statement about Himself.  He also constantly talked using parables and riddles, hyperbole and speaking spiritually in the same breath He would speak regarding the physical world. He was of spiritual birth but in a physical form, so He was in both a spiritual and physical place at the same time. Sort of like the Prophets that were taken up in the spirit (Ezekiel, for example) but still physically present on earth. But Yeshua was able to be in both places at the same time and stay in control of Himself.

When He told His Talmudim (students, or Disciples) that when we see Him we see the Father so He and the Father are One, it was a metaphorical statement. He said that He did nothing other than what the Father told Him to do, and said nothing other than what the Father told Him to say, which means (literally) Yeshua was a puppet, so to speak, whose actions and words were not of His own but directly from the Father. That being the case, in His statement that when we see Him we see the Father, for they are One, He was telling us that He is a perfect representation of what the Father does and says. A separate, unique and different entity but still only doing and saying what the Father wants Him to do and say, therefore, seeing Him is seeing the Father, in a matter of speaking, and as such, there is no difference between them from the viewpoint of what Yeshua did and said.

This is very hard to understand, and you don’t have to agree with my belief. If you would like to discuss this, I would ask that you post your comments below, but please don’t be abusive or impolite. I review all comments before they are made public and one’s that do not serve to edify or educate, but are simply attacks without merit, will not be honored with a reply.

Hopefully, those of you who believe differently may have an open mind, and think what I believe may be possible, and maybe there are those who believe as I believe. Let me add one more thing, if I may- we don’t need to know if Yeshua is God or not, really. All we need is to do T’Shuvah (repentance), be faithfully obedient to God, accept Yeshua as our Messiah, observe Torah (as best we can) and constantly ask forgiveness of our sins by reason of Yeshua’s sacrifice.

 

 

Introduction to Messianic Judaism

I am not an expert in Messianic Judaism, but I do hold a Certificate of Messianic Studies (if I paid dues I would “officially” be a Messianic Minister) and I have been a Believer for over 20 years. I have been a Ministry head (Shamash) for multiple ministries and once was “Rabbi Pro Tem” for almost 2 years. I have been at two places of worship over these years and been asked to be a Council member at both. I am currently on the Council where I worship (a Hebraic Roots congregation here in Melbourne, Florida) where I help teach and lead the liturgy with the Senior Pastor.

I say all this not to brag, but simply to validate that what I am writing has some substance, both from theological training and experience.

Now that all that is out of the way, I want to approach those who are new Believers, either in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) or who are already Believers and now feeling the pull back to their Jewish roots, wanting to know more about the truth of who Yeshua was and is, and how they fit (as Gentiles) in God’s plan of salvation.

First off, let’s get the important basics covered:

  1. Yeshua is a Jew, lived as a Jew, died as a criminal on a stake, and was resurrected as a Jew who still worshiped His Father, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The “Jesus” that most Christians know is not the real Yeshua who walked the earth and died for them. Christianity, today, doesn’t come from Yeshua’s teachings, it comes from Constantine’s establishment of the Christian Canon at the Council of Nicene. This is an important truth that you must know to understand why Jews want nothing to do with Christianity. Since as early as 98 AD, the Gentile leaders of the newly forming Christian religion have theologically and ritually separated themselves from Judaism, and persecuted their Jewish brothers and sisters.
  2. Yeshua never said anything against the Torah. His teachings were not as the Pharisees taught, which was only the P’shat (literal meaning of the words); Yeshua taught us the Remez, or Drash, which is the spiritual meaning underneath the written, literal meaning of the words.
  3. When we are “saved” through our repentance and acceptance of Yeshua as the Messiah (whose sacrifice provides forgiveness of our sins), that does not mean we are saved once and forever. When Yeshua died and was resurrected, His sacrifice did not replace the entire sacrificial system designed by God in the Torah. What He replaced was the need to bring a sacrifice to the Temple in Jerusalem: we still need to ask forgiveness from God, the Father when we sin, and that is for every sin we commit. We are sinful in nature, and even though as Believers we do not want to sin, we do. And when we sin we need to confess, repent (do T’Shuvah) and ask forgiveness, which we do now (since there is no Temple) through the sacrifice that Yeshua made for us. Salvation is a free gift from God which He will never take back, but through our lack of repentance (assuming that all sins are automatically forgiven and, thereby, failing to repent of the ones we perform) we can throw it away.
  4. You will get many to argue against what I am now about to say, and ultimately you must study, ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and understanding, and make your own decision, but as for me, whatever Yeshua was before He came to earth, conceived by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and born of a woman, when He came out of Miryam (Mary) He was 100% human, and was (and still is) separate from God, the Father. Yeshua is our Lord, but He is not THE LORD. This is clear from all the greetings in the letters Shaul writes (he always says “from God, the Father and Yeshua, the Messiah”- clearly two entities) and from 2 John 1:7:
    1.   “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, people who do not acknowledge Yeshua the Messiah’s coming as a human being. Such a person is a deceiver and an anti-Messiah” (Complete Jewish Bible)

Messianic Judaism is, simply put, living a Jewish lifestyle according to the Torah, and accepting that Yeshua is the Messiah God promised us throughout the Tanakh (Tanakh is an acronym for Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim- the teachings, the writings of the Prophets, and the other writings); remember that “Torah” does not mean “law”, but “teaching” so through honoring God by obeying what is in the Torah we learn what God wants from us, meaning how to worship Him, how to live, and how to treat each other. Most Jews (I call them ‘Mainstream Jews”) will refuse to accept Yeshua because of the thousands of years of bigotry, persecution and misleading teachings that the “Church” has taught their own. I am a Jew, born a Jew by blood, circumcised, a Bar Mitzvah, and living a Jewish lifestyle in accordance with the Torah, yet if I told another Jew (one who doesn’t believe Yeshua is the Messiah) that I believe Yeshua is the Messiah, then that Jew would call me a traitor and a Christian. To a Jew, another Jew who accepts Yeshua is no longer a Jew. Of course that is ridiculous, but it is what they are taught. It is what I was taught, and believed, for over 40 years.

To a Christian, if I say I am “saved by the blood of Jesus Christ” but still obey the Torah and live a Jewish lifestyle, they accuse me of not really being “saved” because I live as a Jew, so I am not “under the blood” but “under the law!” They have ben taught Yeshua did away with Torah. Again, millennia of misleading teachings and lack of understanding.

There are a few books you could find on this topic that will help you. One I suggest is “Hebraic Roots” by Ken Garrison; it is an easy to read history of how today’s Christianity has become totally separated from Judaism. You can also read “The Jewish Manifesto” by Dr. Daniel Stern, as well as his other books, “The Complete Jewish Bible” and his “Jewish New Testament Commentary.”  This will help you understand Messianic Jewish viewpoints and the writings of Shaul (Paul) much better than an NIV or KJV bible ever will.

Finally (since this is just a brief introduction) understand that Judaism is as diverse and confusing as Christianity, in that within Christianity there are so many different religions and within Judaism there are so many different sects. There are the Chasidic Jews (ultra-Orthodox and mystical), Orthodox (the remains of the Pharisees), the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist (mostly interested in the traditions of Judaism.) I include Messianic Jews as a sect of Judaism, but the mainstream Jews won’t. In fact, even within Messianic Judaism, there are different organizations, each one with a different viewpoint of who Yeshua was/is with regard to His divinity, position, etc. There is the  Chosen People Ministries, the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA) and the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC). There are other Messianic organizations, as well, but these three are the major ones you may hear about.

If you look these up in Wikipedia, it will say these are Evangelistic Christian organizations, which is an example of the subtle Anti-Semitic tone that most Christians take towards Jews, even today.

What is interesting is that if you visit a Messianic Synagogue, you will find (as I have in my experience) that the majority of the people there are Gentiles wanting to get back to their Jewish roots and actually live as Yeshua lived. This is the role the “church” has in God’s plan of salvation: to make their Jewish brothers and sisters “jealous” for their own Messiah by seeing the Gentiles (the Goyim, or Nations) worshiping God and honoring Torah as they do, but with the closeness and relationship that Jews cannot have because they maintain their need for the Temple (in Jerusalem) instead of accepting Yeshua as their substitution for the The Temple, through whom they can be cleansed of their sin.

I have given you a lot to think about, and done so in a very blatant, open teaching. If I may add one last thing, my own definition of what Messianic Judaism is to me: Messianic Judaism is Judaism that has come full circle: living as God told us all we should live (as the Torah says) and being saved from the death we all deserve from our sinful lives through the Messiah God promised us he would send, who is Yeshua. I am not a “Born Again Christian”- I am a “Born Anew Jew!”

GOD HAS NO RELIGION!!  He gave the Torah to the descendants of Abraham in order to fulfill the promise He made to Abraham, which was that all people would be blessed by Abraham’s seed. The Torah is for all living beings, and Judaism is a religion only because other man-made religions arose, causing the need for labels.

Finally, please constantly read the bible, verify EVERYTHING (including all I have said) and accept nothing without asking God to show you the truth of it. Always remember that what you hear from people is going to be what they heard from people- rarely does anyone do any real research. People have been misled and lied to by people who thought they knew the truth, and who learned it from people who thought they knew the truth, who learned it from people who…well, you get the point. Humans, if you tell them something often enough, no matter how ridiculous it may sound, will eventually accept it as true.

Good luck, and may God send His Ruach HaKodesh to you to guide you in your journey to find the truth God has for you.

The First Hurdle to Overcome When Talking to Jews About Yeshua

If you have ever tried to talk to a Jewish person about Jesus, you are already done. The moment you use the name “Jesus” pretty much any Jew you are talking to will be screaming, “Shields up, Scotty!!” because, to a Jew, Jesus is a Jew who betrayed Judaism and created his own religion, which has historically hated and persecuted Jews.

As I have talked about before (check out the blogs under the category “Jews and Jesus”), approaching a Jewish man or woman with the Good News is something that has to be done with total respect for, and only referencing, the Tanakh. Use “Yeshua” or “Messiah/Maschiach” when referencing Yeshua. Do not use the terms “Under the blood” or “Under the law” or even imply that Torah is not still valid and necessary, and do not, under any circumstances, use anything from the New Covenant writings to justify a position.

This teaching within Judaism, that Jesus created Christianity, is the major hurdle preventing Jews from even wanting to listen to anything about Jesus. And what makes this even more potent, as a wedge between Jews and Christians, is that Christians believe it, too! The fact is that Jesus did NOT create Christianity as it is practiced today. He did not create anything new, all He did was better define the existing laws in the Torah. Yeshua (let’s practice not using “Jesus”) did not change or delete or teach against anything in the Torah. Christianity teaches that He was the living Torah, that the Word became flesh (the only “word” at that time was the Torah) and that Yeshua lived a perfectly sinless life, which is why He was an acceptable sacrifice for our sins. Christianity teaches and is based completely upon that truth: Yeshua was sinless. Yet, much of Christianity teaches that the Torah is no longer necessary; in other words, Christians are told to live and do what Yeshua did, but in the next breath they are told that they don’t have to obey Torah, which is what Yeshua did! Huh??  Do as Yeshua did, but don’t do what He did? The popular idea of living as Jesus did with the bracelet that has written on it, “WWJD?” (What Would Jesus Do) is creating a lie, because what Christianity teaches is “DDWJD” (Don’t Do What Jesus Did).

To be fair I should say, most of Christianity teaches this. There are the Messianic and Hebraic Roots Christian movements which are turning back to the roots of Christianity and accepting Yeshua as a Jew, and also accepting the Torah as a valid and necessary list of commandments that are, and always have been, as much a part of the New Covenant God made with us (through Yeshua) as the Old Covenant. Mosaic laws are still valid and need to be obeyed for blessings and to remain saved. Ignoring or rejecting Torah is rejecting God, and rejecting Messiah. We are told this in 1 John 2:4-6:

Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.  But if anyone obeys his word,love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

So, how do we overcome this hurdle? It ain’t gonna be easy, I can tell you that!

First, we should re-train the “Church” to recognize that being saved by Yeshua’s sacrifice does not mean they are no longer subject to the commandments in the Torah. We all need to recognize that the Torah is God’s commandments to the world, not just to Jews.

Second, the “Church” needs to understand that Constantine created modern day Christianity. Before then, there was growing political and social upheaval that caused the rift between Jews and followers of Messiah Yeshua (which was composed of Jews and Gentiles converting to Judaism.) Once the Christian world understands how and why the rift between Jews and Gentiles began, we can begin to overcome the wrongful, hateful and Satanic (yes, Satan is behind the split between Jews and Christians- no doubt about it!) teachings that came from the early “church elders.”

When I use the term “church elders” I am referring to Gentiles who took control of the early followers of Messiah. Even though there may have been thousands upon thousands of Jews that initially accepted Yeshua (and never, ever changed their Jewish lifestyle or worship), by the beginning of the Second Century people following “The Way” were being led by Gentile converts, and the majority of Messianic followers were Gentiles who had been converting from their pagan practices to Judaism. Those Gentile leaders did not want to get in any more trouble then they were already with Rome, so they began to separate themselves from the Jewish lifestyle and worship practices (if you read the letters from Shaul/Paul to his Messianic Communities, you can see between the lines that already they were beginning to fall away from Judaism in their worship and lifestyle, which is what he was trying to prevent.) In the same way Jeroboam separated Israel from Judea when he first took over the 10 Tribes that rebelled against Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, these elders became so passionate about no longer being associated with Judaism that they literally created a new religion, which Constantine made “official” at the Council of Nicene; those canon are the foundation for what we today call Christianity.

Finally, the third step in this process is to approach Jews with the truth about Yeshua: He was a Jew and is still a Jew, Torah is what He preached and followed and that He taught others to do so. His Disciples (use the term “Talmudim”, which means students) also lived a Jewish lifestyle, worshiped as Jews do, and taught others to do so. The early “church” was not a church at all, but made up of Messianic communities (use the term “Kehillot” (ka-hee-lote), which is Hebrew for communities) that were Jews who accepted Yeshua as their Messiah and pagans converting to Judaism.

God willing, once we can get past the wrongful teachings, which are from Satan’s desire to weaken God’s union of those who follow the Messiah, we may then have our Jewish Brothers and Sisters give the order to “lower shields”, and communication can begin.

The truth WILL set you free, and it will also bring us into union as one new person, under Messiah, worshiping God and treating each other as God commanded us to do.