more about Jews and Jesus

How many times do you think I need to bring up the topic about Jews and Jesus? If it were up to me, I would prefer to use the alliteration Yids for Yeshua, but “Yids” is seen as a derogatory term for a Jewish person, so even though Yeshua is Jesus’s real name, I don’t think my idea will catch on.

When I say Yeshua is His real name, it’s because that is the name He was called by. The Hebrew means “Salvation of God”, and it became “Jesus” when being translated. There is no Greek name or word to represent what the Hebrew means, so they used a transliteration of Yeshua, which was Jesu. When the Greek versions of the Bible were Latinized, Jesu became Jesus. Christ is the Latin form of Christos, which has no real religious meaning. It represented pouring oil on the leather shields the Greek army used, which kept the leather supple. Mashiach (spelled differently sometimes) means “Anointed One” and underwent a similar transition as Yeshua did. The Greek culture and religion had no way to understand this Jewish ideal of a Saviour, or being anointed with oil, so Mashiach was described as Christos, which gave them an idea. Latin turned it into Christ. Much of the Greek that was used by Shaul was from the Septuagint, which was a sort of Hebrew-Greek. Jews that read it had an understanding because they knew the cultural background of the words, whereas a Greek-speaking Gentile would not catch the underlying meaning at all and think that many of these words being used weren’t “real” Greek.

If Jews were taught about Yeshua Ha Mashiach and not the westernized version of the Messiah they call Jesus Christ, all golden-haired and anti-Semitic, there would be more Jewish people accepting their own Messiah than we have now.

Fortunately, the truth is getting out. The Messianic Movement is growing, despite some of the right-wing Christians who are accusing the Messianic Movement, as well as the Hebraic Roots Movement, of being “Judaizers” by misusing the writings of Shaul (Paul) to justify their anti-Semitic programs and teachings. Their accusations of heresy are, in fact, the real heresy because they claim the Old Covenant laws and regulations are done away with and anyone who teaches what I do, which is that the laws God gave to Moses are the laws that everyone who worships the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (the same guy Yeshua worshipped) are to be followed just as much today as they were when the tablets were freshly cut, is a heretic.

They are like the person who farts in the elevator and immediately points to someone else and says, “Ugh! How could you?”

Salvation doesn’t come from obedience: not because obedience is wrong or done away with, but because obedience is impossible for us. At least, for more than a few minutes at a time. The truth is that obedience to the Torah will save you, but only if you follow every regulation, commandment, mitzvah, and law exactly and completely, 24/7/365, from birth to death.

Good luck with that.

If it were possible to be totally and completely obedient to Torah, if only one person could live as Yeshua did, we would not need Yeshua’s sacrificial death. That is what makes it possible for us to overcome our inability to live the Torah correctly and completely. And, as I have said before, if there was even one person who could live Torah perfectly, as Yeshua did, then we would all be done for. Eternity would have only three people in heaven: God, Yeshua, and that one creep who ruined it for the rest of us.

I have always felt a little uncomfortable with “Jesus”, mainly because I am Jewish and was raised to hate that name and all it represented. On the other hand, Shakespeare said, “What’s in a name?”, and he was right. Jesus, Yeshua, whatever…in the Acharit HaYamim (End Days) Yeshua will have a new name, won’t He? So, for all we know, both Jesus and Yeshua may be outdated when it all comes to pass, so I should just get over it! But it isn’t that easy; not for me, and especially not for the millions of my Jewish brothers and sisters who don’t have my learning and understanding of the etymology of the name “Jesus”. We need to get passed the reputation that name has because Jesus is a name that, to Jews, represents thousands of years of persecution. That’s tough to get over, believe-you-me. I am so amazed that God was able to get me to understand and accept Messiah. It was not until after I came to believe in Jesus that I learned about Messianic Judaism and who Yeshua is. That was like finding water in the desert for me, and I am so grateful to God for leading me to my Messiah, and then putting icing on the cake by introducing me, anew, to Yeshua.

If you are Jewish and not Messianic, well, you probably aren’t reading this at all. But, just in case God has led you, one way or another, to this blog please read more from the Jews and Jesus section. Also, read my book because it isn’t about proselytizing Jews to become “Christian”, nor is it about proselytizing Christians to become Jewish: it is about all people who worship Adonai to understand that His laws are for everyone who worships Him, no matter what label we humans have put on the form of worship. God has no religion and we need to worship Him as He says we should.

Yeshua is the Messiah that God promises to us in the Tanakh. The proof is overwhelming for those that wish to accept it, and for those that refuse to accept there is no proof we can submit to them. The proof that Yeshua is the Messiah, the same way it is with proof of God’s existence, is going to come after the acceptance. That is what faith is all about- believing without proof.

The next couple of weeks are going to be tough for everyone. The Jewish people will be celebrating Hanukkah right before Christmas, and Kwanzaa comes the day after. The Big Three, if you will, all in a row. If I were an Afro-American, Messianic Jewish person I would be broke by the time New Year’s Eve got here!

It’s not about the gifts or the candles or the even about the family reunions; it’s about God, and if we can somehow keep that in perspective during the next few weeks of advertising blitzes and religious fervor, we should be OK.

Reply to my post from yesterday

Thank you, John, for your interest and comments. I am replying here because I think the points you brought up are so important that I need to make sure they get a separate posting and not be hidden in a comment thread.

For those that didn’t see John’s comments, go to the post for yesterday, November 10, and scroll down.

Here is my answer to your counterpoints (good ones, and well made):

Your comments are the very reason I tell people to read the Bible for themselves- you point out that Yeshua did, indeed, give the authority (or so it seems) to the Disciples (except Thomas) to remit or forgive sins in John 20:19-24.I forgot about that part, and stand corrected. At least, in that there is a reference indicating authority over sins. I’m not quite ready to agree that this is absolutely for every “priest” to have. There is no reference that this authority was transferable. Your comment that it was thereby conferred to their successors is not specifically confirmed in the Bible. I learned a long time ago that when reading or interpreting the Bible one cannot make an argument from nothing. If Yeshua did give authority over forgiveness of sins to these men, He did not say it was transferable. If you would, please verify if there is anything else in the writings, either in the Gospels or the letters that follow, that specifically mentions these Elders transferring the authority over forgiveness of sins.

I read a few commentaries about this verse, and I have some questions. One is if Yeshua gave authority to forgive sins, and the same authority to not forgive sins, then is He saying that there are sins that can’t be forgiven? He did say that blaspheming the Ruach HaKodesh is an unforgivable sin, but if say, Kefa (Peter) said someone was going to die in their sin, does that mean there are sins that the Grace of God cannot overcome? Isn’t that against what Shaul (Paul) says? Doesn’t he say (I believe this is in Romans) that as sin increases so too does Grace? Can a man state that a sin will not be forgiven, and then God has to abide by that? I agree that Yeshua did give more authority to the Disciples at that time than He did when He sent them out, but I don’t necessarily agree that they were allowed to forgive or to convict the sins of others. I believe (maybe only because I choose to) that what Yeshua was saying was that these men had the authority to identify sins, to hold people responsible for the sins they committed and accuse them of such, and to lead people to forgiveness when they ask for it, by praying to God for them. Hermeneutically,this makes sense since God often has asked others to pray on behalf of sinners. Abraham for Abimelech and Job for his friends, just to mention a couple of examples. I believe that is what Yeshua meant. No commentary, no “true” interpretation, just me, Steve, saying what I believe. No one has to agree.
Next: I am Messianic- thank you for noticing. I also believe that Yeshua was/is God in the flesh, but He was 100% human when He walked the Earth for those 30+ years. He was also 100% human when He died- if God dies, then raises Himself, big deal, right? I mean, after all- God can’t die. Something else God can’t do- He can’t sin or be associated with sin. But Yeshua took on the sin of the world, so how could He be God and take on sin? He had to be human.

Another question: did Yeshua come to Earth and do what He did to replace God? If you worship Yeshua as God, or even just pray to Yeshua for forgiveness, then you place Him between you and God. That’s the definition of idolatry, isn’t it? To have something that is between us and God?

Thirdly, Yeshua is the Messiah, yes? As such, His role (if you will) is to be the ultimate High Priest, in the manner of Melchizedek, forever. As High Priest, He intercedes between us and God. Not replacing God or coming between us by superseding God’s position, but interceding. The purpose for His “birth”, life, death and resurrection is to be the Messiah, and to rule the Earth. If we continue to worship Him as God, we are rejecting the whole reason He came to Earth, aren’t we? Unless you can show me the new Temple, the New Earth, and Messiah ruling the world from Jerusalem, His role is still the Messiah. When the Acharit HaYamim (End Days) have come and gone and we are all resurrected and the Enemy is in the Lake of Fire with all his pals, then, and only then, will we see what is what and who will be whom. For now, I still see Yeshua/Jesus as the Messiah, the Saviour of the World, God’s son and God in the flesh but not the one, true, and only God. Dad is still Dad, and the Son is still the Son.

The Trinity exists and it is a Trinity- three in one, yes; three the same, yes; but three. I think the best example of this impossible to understand idea is ice in boiling water. You have a solid, a liquid and a gas- all three exactly the same at the atomic level, but in different forms physically. All three the exact same thing, but each one performing a different function. Ice to cool, water to slake thirst and cleanse, steam to heat up and provide power. All three the same exact thing, all three different in form and function. The function of Messiah, His “job”, if you will, was to bring the Good News of God’s salvation to the world and provide the means for everyone to be reconciled to God through the blood of His perfect sacrifice. After that His job is to intercede for us, to be our High Priest. Finally, His last position will be to rule the world. After the final battle, when all is done and we are all in the presence of God, well…I don’t know what Yeshua will do then. I don’t know what will happen to the Holy Spirit. Will they return to God? Once we are all perfect beings, will we need the Spirit or Yeshua? Will the ice and steam return to the Living Water and be one, again? Was it ever just One? Heck- I don’t know! The Bible doesn’t really help here, does it? John says there was the Word, and the Word became flesh. That implies a physiological change of existence. Something non-physical became physical, so can we assume or expect that when the plan of salvation is complete that things will go back to what they were? Again- I don’t know. Frankly, if I am there, I don’t care what happens. I’ll be there, and (for me) that’s all that matters.

One more final note, my new friend in the Lord: you say that Catholics don’t pray to statues. I have read some of the prayers that are directed to saints, and heard people pray TO Saint Peter, or pray TO Mother Mary. It makes no sense at all to “remember” a Saint when you are praying for something for yourself. And if the Saints don’t have special powers or authority, why is there an entire menu of things to pray for, each with it’s own Saint? Pray to Joseph for healing, pray to Mary to intercede with Yeshua, Pray to St. Jude for this, pray to St. Paul for that…c’mon, face it. Catholic people pray to the Saints.

The prayers of the saints, as mentioned in Revelations, is not the saints carrying the prayers of people to God- the context of that verse is that the saints (those who have died for Messiah and God- not the ones some Pope declared as a Saint) are sending God their own prayers. That’s why they ask, “How much longer?” Their prayers are for themselves. Yeshua said the only way to the Father is through the Son. “Only” doesn’t mean “only me, but you can also get to me through these others.” It means “only me.” Das ist alles! Nothing else, no interpretation, no malarkey about praying to others doesn’t affect the unique mediatorship of Christ (I saw that on a Catholic Answers web page.) Really? Praying to someone else doesn’t affect Yeshua’s unique position as the only path to God? How can something be unique if it is not singularly available? If I can pray to a saint, that does interfere with my prayer to Yeshua or to God. It is another level, an additional plea to another person.  I understand this is a doctrine of your faith, but it seems to be in direct conflict with what Yeshua said. I guess Jews could never make good Catholics: why pray retail to second-level saints when we can pray wholesale, right to God? It just don’t make sense! No-how, no-way.

God wants to hear our prayers, and He wants us to turn to Him for help. Not ourselves, not someone else, but to Him. That is clear throughout the Tanakh and the New Covenant. God is in charge, and He is the one to go to. Yeshua said when we look at Him we see the Father because He was the reflection of God’s holiness. Just as the Talmud says when we look in the Torah it should be a mirror in which we see ourselves. It is not literal, it is metaphoric. When Jeremiah told us about God’s New Covenant in 31:31 he was telling us that the Torah will be in our minds and written on our hearts- in other words, we will be living Torah, just as Yeshua. That’s why John said the Word became flesh- it is in keeping with Jewish thought about the Torah being a mirror.
One more, last, final note: you mention Paul writing about how no one is without sin. Not to pick on you, directly, but that is representative of the anti-Semitic attitude the Catholic church has had since day one! Paul did NOT say those things- he was quoting from David, Elijah and other prophets of the Old Covenant. That is the Catholic “uber-holy” mindset- they give all credit for God’s word to the New Covenant and are so adamant about not having any relationship or reference to the Jewish roots of Christianity that they plagiarize the word of God and associate all that he said in the Tanakh to being solely from the New Covenant. I don’t hate Catholics, but I have very little respect for the way the Catholic church has treated the Jewish people, and the very root of their “religion”. Yeshua said he won’t come back until Jerusalem (the Jewish people) say He is welcomed (I am paraphrasing) and Shaul confirms that by stating He won’t return until the full compliment of the Gentiles are brought into the kingdom, making the Jewish people jealous for their Messiah (implying the influx of Believing, or Messianic, Jews). The Catholic church is way, way behind a lot of the rest of Christianity in that they don’t want to recognize their Jewish roots. It is still as it has been: the Catholic church doesn’t want anything to do with the Jewish people, and they just don’t want Jews around, apparently. Convert them all to Catholicism, the only “true” religion. Until they get that rid of that ridiculous attitude, they are going to be unpleasantly surprised when the stuff hits the fan.

parashah vayyera (He Appeared) Genesis 18:1-22:24

This portion starts with the telling of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and ends with one of the most well-known passages, the Akedah, also called the Binding of Isaac. This is seen by most everyone, Jewish and Gentile alike, as a precursor to the sacrificial death of the Messiah.

Those of us who are Messianic or Christian accept that the Messiah is Yeshua, Jesus. I say Messianic or Christian because being Messianic is NOT being a Christian.

This has been a problem I have faced during my walk with the Lord- that people (especially Jews) who hear that I believe Jesus is the Messiah figure I have to be Christian because, as most any Jew will confirm, any Jew who believes in Jesus can’t be a Jew anymore.

What a load of…well, let’s just say you could grow roses in that statement.

Today I want to show how “Jewish” the teachings of Yeshua are (notice I said “are”, not “were”- that’s because His teachings are still valid, and because He is still alive what He said is still current.) And to do that I am going to use the commentary from the Chumash I still have from my Bar Mitzvah (that was so long ago I got a “Mazel Tov !” from Moshe, himself!) For those that are familiar with the Chumash, this is the Soncino edition with commentary from the Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, Dr. Hertz.

The first commentary note is in reference to chapter 18, verse 7 when the Angels visited Abraham. He ran to get them food and wash their feet, and Dr. Hertz references Leviticus 18:7 where we are told to love the stranger, for we were once strangers in Egypt.  Later,  when Abraham made the covenant with Abimelech and told the king about his servants taking away the well Abraham had dug, there is another reference to Leviticus, this time it’s 19:17 about not hating your brother in your heart.

Both of these teachings about being kind to strangers and not hating people are constantly mentioned by Yeshua. In fact, He said the two most important commandments are to love the Lord and love each other. These are not foreign ideas that formed a new religion- these are direct from the Word of God given to Moshe at the Mountain. Yeshua never taught anything but Torah, and he taught it correctly.That is why He said, in Matthew 5:17 that He came to “fulfill the law.” In First Century Rabbi-speak that didn’t mean to complete it or finish it, but to interpret it correctly. To interpret correctly was to complete and to interpret wrongly was to trespass.

Another lesson to show how Yeshua was not teaching anything different than what is in the Torah is when Yeshua tells us that anyone who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God. We can see this lesson clearly in this parashah when Lot’s wife looked back to Sodom and turned into a pillar of salt. She was going forward, protected and led by the Lord (or, in this case, His angel- close enough!) to a promised salvation. But she looked back. And what did she miss out on? Despite the Sodom-like actions of Lot’s daughters, they were the genesis of two of the greatest kingdoms of the times: the Ammonites and the Moabites. True, these peoples were godless and enemies of the Israelites, but they were great nations. Because Lot’s wife looked back she was not the progenitor of these kingdoms.

I see these two events, Yeshua teaching that you can’t look back and be worthy of God’s kingdom and what happened to Lot’s wife, as the same teaching. We can’t walk a straight path forward when we are looking behind us. And what are we looking at that is behind us? It’s our comfort zone. It’s what we are used to, it’s what makes us feel secure. It’s the place where we trust ourselves and others and not God. Yeshua taught to trust in God and walk in His way, leaving behind the faithlessness we had when we looked to our own devices and others for guidance. Yeshua was teaching what is in the Chumash. That’s real Jewish stuff!

Lastly, when Abraham told Abimelech about the well that Abimelech’s servants stole from Abraham, Rabbi Hertz refers again to Leviticus 19:17, where we are told to love they neighbor and also to rebuke them. This seems to be an oxymoron, to rebuke someone you are told to love, but it is meant (I believe) to demonstrate that it is for the good of the person doing wrong that we rebuke them. Not in a mean and spiteful way, but to lovingly bring to their attention their wrongdoing so that they can be aware of it, and as such, do T’Shuvah and turn from that sin. What we are being told in the Torah is not to enable wrongdoing, even by those we love, but to show “tough love” and not condone or allow wrongful actions. We are, actually, required by Torah to advise people when they are killing themselves (sin is death.) The prophets are often told by God that if they fail to warn the people, no matter what the people say or think of them, then the blood of those sinners will be on the head of the prophet. However, if the prophet does warn them and adjoin them, constantly, to do what is right, then if the people fail to pay attention their blood is on their own heads.

This is what Yeshua meant when He taught that if we are bringing a gift to the Lord but have some level of strife between us and another person, we are to leave the gift at the altar and make right our relationship. Then we can offer our gift. This is just what Abraham did- he was making a covenant of peace with Abimelech but first he settled this issue about the stolen well. After that was done, then there was the covenant of peace and the covenant of the well, with the exchange of gifts.

Yeshua did not start a new religion, and in this parashah we can see that the commentaries made by one of the most “Jewish” of Jews, the late, Great Rabbi of the British Empire, is exactly the same lessons that Yeshua taught. There is nothing new in the New Covenant writings- it is all Jewish. Yeshua taught from and about the Torah, Shaul (Paul) taught that Torah is correct, all scripture is useful (BTW…the only scripture then was the Tanakh) and the writer of Hebrews also told the Jewish Believers in the Diaspora that Torah was still valid. The New Covenant is not “new”- it is the continuation of and brings to completion God’s plan of salvation that He told Abraham about way, way back in Genesis.

If you are reading the New Covenant and ignoring the Old Covenant, it is like trying to build a house starting with the second floor. God’s plan is simple: since humans can’t save themselves He will provide the Escape Clause, the ultimate Get Out of Jail card- The Messiah. All though the Tanakh we read about His coming, what He will do so we can know Him, and what will happen when He takes charge. It never happens in the Tanakh. Messiah’s coming isn’t written for Season One of this show, it happens in Season Two. That’s also the Final Season, when the show called “God’s Plan of Salvation” is taken off the air, forever. Season Three is Eternity. If you missed Season One, you can’t possibly understand or appreciate the subtleties of the plot and characters in Season Two. Oh yeah, you can get the main point, but you miss a lot of why things are so important and the history of how things got that way.

If you are Jewish and reading this, please think about getting familiar with the New Covenant, but find a Messianic version. Read Dr. Stern’s “The Jewish New Covenant” to see the ‘Jewishness” of those writings. Allow yourself the right to make up your own mind. And if you are a Gentile Believer and reading this, talk about Yeshua’s teachings and don’t use the name “Jesus”- that will not go over well with a Jew. Use His real name, Yeshua. And relate the teachings to the Torah- stay out of the New Covenant.

Everything Yeshua taught us about the Kingdom of God, how we should live, how we should treat each other and how we should treat God was from the Tanakh: if that was good enough for Yeshua, why isn’t it good enough for you?

To reach Jewish people with the Good News, you need to show it to them in the Tanakh, and then let them know that Yeshua said the same thing. Before they can accept Yeshua as their Messiah, they need to see Him as He really was and is: a Jewish Messiah teaching Jewish lessons from the Jewish book of law, the Torah. Once Yeshua stops being a Jew-hating Gentile and is revealed as He truly is- the Jewish Messiah- then and only then can a Jewish person begin to accept Him as their Messiah.

And until the Jewish people say, “Baruch haba b’shem Adonai” (Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord), Yeshua said he would not return.

You want Messiah to return? So do I, so get started teaching your Jewish friends the truth about their Jewish Messiah!

Where Did the Salvation GPS Go Wrong?

How did it happen? In the First Century, if you were a Gentile (read that as Pagan, ’cause that’s all there was if you weren’t Jewish) and you accepted Yeshua as your Messiah, you were becoming Jewish. In Acts we read how the Elders decided, in regards to what the new Believers had to do, on four things (not eat food sacrificed to idols, not eat anything strangled, not eat the blood, and no fornication) that were initially forbidden. These were never meant to be the only things that were forbidden, it was just a stepping stone. When you read the rest of that section you see they justified this as being the start because the law of Moses would be read every Shabbat, indicating (clearly) that the new Believers were expected to be worshipping at Shabbat services and they would learn the other laws and requirements there. So, in essence, being a Gentile who wanted salvation during Yeshua’s time meant becoming Jewish.

Today, when a Jewish person wants to accept Yeshua as his or her Messiah, the Gentile world, which has overall rejected Torah, tells that person they must stop being Jewish and become a Christian. And what requirements are there? Do they have regulations regarding food- no. Do they have regulations regarding the Ten Commandments- not really, since Grace is supposed to cover everything. Actually, the only regulation they have is that you must reject the Torah and Judaism! I have been told, and I have heard from many others that they were also told, “You aren’t really under the blood of Christ if you still do those Jewish things.”

So sad.

When I was studying for my Certificate in Messianic Studies, I had an essay question asking how the separation between Judaism and Christianity occurred. Here is what I said:

As more and more Gentiles came to be grafted in, the Jewish representation became less and less. As persecution of the Jews grew during the 3rd and 4th centuries it actually was safer for believers to be “less Jewish”. Of course, Constantine didn’t help things, either. Eventually the Jewishness was overwritten with Gentile ideals and cultural ways, so that the church grew apart from the roots. It is like the scientific principle of phototropism. Phototropism is the tendency for a plant to grow towards the sunniest area, which explains why so many trees have trunks that are weirdly shaped. The church, which was grafted in and at first learning about the light (of the world) grew towards that light. What happened was the Enemy shone another light that detracted them from the true light and their branches grew in the wrong direction.

Did I mean to say that the “Church” is now of the Devil? As dangerous as this may be to admit, the truth is: that is exactly what I meant.

Now, now…don’t get all up in a fury. It is a hard word to hear, but before you send hate mail and stop following my ministry-blog, think about this: God gave us the Torah. He gave it to everyone who is to follow and worship Him. John says that there was the Word (Torah- it was the only word of God there was then), and the Word became flesh (he was talking about Yeshua- duh!). Now, later on Yeshua tells us that a house divided against itself cannot stand. So…if the Word/Torah became flesh, that means Yeshua is the living Word of God, or the Living Torah. If He taught that we should not obey or follow Torah, He is a house divided against Himself. In fact, it would be the same as Yeshua saying, “Don’t pay attention to what I say.” Now, no one will argue that Ha Satan is the enemy of God, right?  And does the Enemy want us to become closer to God, or does he want to drive a wedge between us and God so that we get so far from God we will worship the Enemy, instead? Okay- I am hoping we are all on the same page here, which is that the Enemy of God doesn’t want us to be close to God.

God says the way to be close to Him, and Yeshua says the way to show we love Him, is to (get ready- here it comes)… OBEY HIS COMMANDMENTS!!!

And where are His commandments? (three guesses, and the first two don’t count)… IN THE TORAH!!!

Get it? Telling people that want salvation that they do not have to obey the Torah separates us from God, it rejects Messiah and demonstrates we do NOT love him. That is the work of the Devil, and anyone who teaches that Yeshua did away with even so much as single stroke of the Torah is doing the work of Ha Satan because it is drawing that person away from God.

Judaism and Christianity should not be different, they should be the same thing. The Manual warns us that in the Acharit HaYamim (the End Days) there will be one world religion and one world government. This is not a bad thing, in and of itself; what makes it work or not work will be who is the one in charge. The Enemy will initially be the one to run things but he will be put down forever and then Yeshua will be the Eternal King of the Earth. Actually, if there is going to be only one religion throughout the world, there really won’t be any religion, will there? It will be  just us and God and the way we live.

In the beginning, salvation was for the Jews. “Jews” meaning anyone and everyone who worshipped the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as He commanded us to worship Him. As early as the Exodus we see many Gentiles sojourning with the Jewish people, converting to their way of life and way of worship. When Messiah came, many Jewish people (maybe as many as a quarter of a million Jews) accepted Him and the Grace that God gave through Him. They never stopped practicing Judaism. And through Messiah, salvation now came not just to the Jews, but to the Gentiles, as well.  They were grafted in and thereby saved, so long as they took their spiritual nourishment from the root of the Etz Chaim (Tree of Life, i.e., the Torah.) Gentiles who were saved were becoming Jews, accepting and worshipping a single way before God, as God said they should. That is the way it was at the very beginning, and how it was supposed to be. But we lost our way.

We need to get everyone back on the path that God said to follow. We all need to be getting closer to God, not further away. We need to reset the spiritual GPS so that we follow the straightest path to God, and that leads us to the Torah trail, not the Christian crossroads.

God has no religion, only Torah. Yeshua taught nothing different from Torah. Shaul never taught anything but Torah. John tells us that Yeshua is the Torah.

Hello? Christianity? You there? You listening?  Get with the program and return to working for the right guy.

 

 

How to Witness to Jewish People

When witnessing to Jewish people we must remember to be sensitive to the 2,000 years of anti-Semitic prejudice that has infiltrated the “church” teachings.

As a Jewish man, I can tell you that I have seen anti-Semitism, shrouded in the “Christian” Bible and also clearly demonstrated by those that have been told how the Christians are not subject to the “Law”, saved by the Blood and, in extreme cases, now the new Israel and God’s chosen people because since the Jews rejected Jesus, God has rejected the Jews (this is called Replacement Theology).

I don’t have the time to go into how absurd and anti-biblical that idealism is, and will discuss it some time in the future. It is a very serious sin, against God (essentially it calls Him a liar) and against His chosen people.

You might ask, if it is so hard to witness to Jews, why should we? Well, how about because Yeshua said you should. Remember the last words in the Gospels, i.e., the “Great Commission”?  Yeshua didn’t say go make disciples out of people who already believe, or out of only the Goyim (literally, the Nations), but go to the Jews.  Yeshua Himself told the Syrian woman that it wasn’t right to give the children’s food to their dogs (no offence, Syria), and Shaul (Paul) said that the Good News was to the Jew first, then the Gentile. It wasn’t until later that salvation was made available to the Gentiles, too.

That’s why you need to remember that you will not impress any Jewish person by quoting the New Covenant writings. Why? It’s simple- Jews are taught that the New Covenant is a different religion and they don’t believe anything in it. It caused thousands of years of death and persecution. If I tried to ask you to become a Nazi and quoted Mein Kampf, would it hold sway over you?  That may seem outrageous to compare Hitler and Jesus, but to a Jewish person, the Jesus Christ of the Western World isn’t far from that. The Crusades, the Inquisition, Martin Luther’s teachings, Nazi uniforms had the words “Gott mit uns” (God is with us) on their belt buckles.  Yeah, I think that it’s not too hard to see why Jews don’t trust anything in the New Covenant writings.

When I was a salesman, selling high priced items in the home on a one-call close (buy now or never), I learned you can’t tell people that their ideas or beliefs are wrong. You also can’t change their minds because people believe (maybe) 50% of what you say, but they believe 100% of what they say.

So, the way to get people to change their minds is to make them change it, themselves. How? By asking questions. Make them see that they do not have the information they need to make a proper decision.

For instance, if a Jewish person says they don’t believe Yeshua is the Messiah, I will ask them, “Why?”  Usually the answer is, “Because” (I did a drash on this recently- you should be able to find it under the Jews and Jesus category.)  Most Jews reject Yeshua simply because they have been told to. And by people they trust and respect: their parents, their Rabbi, their friends. It’s tough to overcome that.

After you make them realize they don’t really have a reason, the next step is to qualify why you believe, and use ONLY the Tanakh references as your justification.

DO NOT TRY TO SELL A JEW ON JESUS USING THE NEW COVENANT. It ain’t gonna work. And, if you can’t identify at least a couple of Messianic references in the Tanakh, you better brush up on your knowledge. You might want to ask yourself why you believe! If you believe only because of what you have been told, and if you can’t cite messianic prophecy from the Tanakh and show how it came true, you aren’t ready to minister to the outside world.  Study up, get to know your reasons for accepting Yeshua as your Messiah. That is what you need to tell Jewish people; in fact, that is the best witness to anyone.

No, wait- the best witness is to live as Yeshua wants us to live. To love God and to love each other.

Another lesson I learned in sales that you need in ministry is that if  you don’t have an absolutely firm belief in your “product”, if you don’t “own” the product, and not just physically but emotionally, then you won’t be successful.

“Whoa, Steven- what’s all this talk about ‘selling Jesus’? This isn’t a sale, it’s salvation!”

Get real- it’s a sale!

If you want to minister to people you need to sell Jesus. And, if you don’t like that idea, then you should consider another way of serving God. Ministering to the masses is tough work. I have a ton of respect for people that go into the darkness (in other words, the World) to save souls. It is the ultimate sale, and a “commission” that doesn’t have a commission. Although it is rewarding to save a soul, your reward will not be here on Earth but in Heaven. And it will be great.

Look at it another way- refusing to witness to Jews is like saying, “Let the Jews die unsaved.” You think God appreciates that? Is that what Yeshua would want?

You can expect a lot of rejection from Jews. After all, to a Jewish person believing in Jesus is like turning your back on God, your people and 5,000 years of  history. Some of the objections you will hear will be:

* Jesus could not have been the Messiah because there wasn’t peace after his death and we don’t have heaven on Earth

* I like being Jewish and don’t want to convert to Christianity (most Jews never heard of Messianic Judaism)

* Jesus was just a good teacher or prophet

* Christians have always killed and persecuted Jews- why should I believe you want to help me?

* Constantine’s effect on Christianity (Council of Nicene) solidified a gentile Christianity and replaced Jewish holidays and traditions with rebranded pagan ceremonies

* Anti-Semitic teachings of the Gentile leaders of the early church

– Crusaders murdered many Jews on their way to Jerusalem (by now renamed by Rome as Palestine)

– Stories like: Jews killed Christian children to use their blood to make matzo at Passover

* Forced to wear distinctive clothing, pushed into ghettos, kept out of many occupations

* Blamed for the Black Death plague

* During the 15th century the Pogroms (Poland/Russia) were responsible for the death of thousands (or more) Jews

And there’s more- much more. Today I think it is much harder for a Jewish person to accept their own Messiah than it is for a Believer to try to witness to that person.

Finally, you must be very sensitive to the words and names you use. Do not deny the anti-Semitic past, but say it is time to move forward, to atone for what was done by telling the truth and getting back to the “Jewishness” of the Gospels.

Don’t be cocky. Remember Shaul warned Gentile  Believers that if God was willing to cut off the natural branch, how much more will He be willing to cut off a transplanted branch? Believers aren’t any better than non-Believers, and Christians aren’t any better than Jews. Yeshua said to be first you must be a slave to others. Keep that in mind when you minister to anyone.

Always relate to people as people with courtesy, dignity and friendliness. Be natural and spontaneous, not derisive or argumentative, and always depend on the Ruach HaKodesh for your witnessing. As Yeshua told His disciples, do not worry about what you will say because the Ruach will give you what you will need. If you let the Ruach guide you, then it is really God witnessing to the people, not you. And His word never returns void.

If we are to make people jealous for the Messiah (Romans 11:11), the best witness is not what we say but how we live our lives and act towards others, even in a brief encounter. Avoid offensive terminology; instead of the word ‘conversion” use ‘turning from sin’, or T’Shuvah. Instead of ‘you Jews”, say ‘the Jewish people’, instead of ‘Old Testament”, say ‘Hebrew scriptures’, ‘Tanakh’, or ‘Torah”. And never, NEVER refer to a saved Jew as a “Completed Jew”. That is insulting and derisive. I like to call myself a “Born-anew Jew.”

And above all, instead of ‘Jesus Christ’, say ‘Yeshua’, ‘Mashiach’, or ‘Messiah’.

If you practice this, keep up on your Messianic prophecies, learn how to answer objections with leading questions, and act with compassion for what it is like to be Jewish, you will be more successful than you can imagine. It will take time: Jewish resistance to the B’rit Chadasha has been built up over millennia. It is based in prejudice, hate, fear, ignorance, and suffering.  It is a very thick wall to penetrate. But it can be penetrated- I am living proof of that.

If you want to see my witness, go here: http://www.jacobshope.com/pages/video3.php

Now! Get out there, save souls, and may God be with you.

Baruch ha Shem!!

Because “Because” Doesn’t Cut It

Growing up I was never much for God, although I wanted to be. I felt an emptiness when I went to Shul, and I never felt that talking to God was supposed to be using other people’s words. I found prayer difficult because I thought I should be talking from my heart, and not repeating what someone else wrote in a book for me to say. Needless to say, I gave up on religion and God pretty much right after my Bar Mitzvah.

It took me nearly 30 years to return to Him.

Now that I am Messianic, meaning I am a Jewish man who believes that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah God promised but I still follow the rules and regulations God gave us (remember: God has no religion), I am often asked by other Jews how can I believe in Jesus? In fact, being Messianic is being in the middle, and not understood by either side: Jews say I can’t be Jewish if I believe in Jesus and Christians tell me because I still do all that “Jewish” stuff I am still “under the Law” and not really “under the Blood.”

They’re both so very wrong.

This Drash is about the Jewish thought that if a Jew believes in Jesus that person can’t be Jewish anymore. How silly. First off, what does it mean to “believe in Jesus?”

I don’t know. Do you? Does it mean believe He existed at all? Believe He is the Messiah? Believe He is God? (BTW…He was a man. He had to be fully human or His sinless life was no big deal and His resurrection doesn’t mean anything.) Believe all the above?

Rabbi Akiba believed Bar Kochba was the Messiah and all it got him was dead. And thousands of Jews with him, too. Oh, not to mention Bar Kochba didn’t come out of it too well, either.

There have been many false Messiahs over the years, and Yeshua warned us about them.

I have found that explaining why I believe is like talking to a brick wall, so when asked, “How can you believe in Jesus?”,  I do the most Jewish thing I know of: I answer a question with a question. I ask them, “Why is it that you don’t believe?”

You see, I have my reasons for believing. And when I ask why they don’t believe, the answer I get almost every, single time is “Because he isn’t.” So I ask why they believe He isn’t. What are their reasons? What biblical arguments against Yeshua do they have to prove He isn’t the Messiah?  And they say, ” He just isn’t, that’s all.” WOW!! How can you argue with that?

It is so sad; here is someone who may be a wonderful person and really believe in God, but they are doomed to Sheol because they reject Messiah, and their reason for rejecting Him is “because.” Oy!

I can’t get a mature, thought-out and biblically sound reason from any Jews who have questioned me why they don’t believe. It comes down to this: they don’t believe Yeshua is the Messiah because they were told He isn’t. That’s the reason- their father and their mother and their Rabbi and Zayda  and Bubbe and all their friends…all the other Jews they know tell them He wasn’t the Messiah. Oh, yes, and that if they should ever even think He is our Messiah then they can’t be Jewish anymore.

This is a bigoted and anti-Yeshua idealism. It’s not anti-Christian- Yeshua wasn’t a Christian. He was and is Messiah. He is above religion, He is only for God and God’s rules because (here it comes again…get ready…almost there …) GOD HAS NO RELIGION!!! 

What makes this worse is the Christian teaching that Yeshua died a Jew but was resurrected a Christian, and now that He completed God’s work all that “Jewish” stuff isn’t necessary. Kosher, the Festivals, even the proper day for Shabbat…all old and done away with. We are under the blood, not the law. Again, Oy! Where do they get this stuff? Oh, yeah, they get it from the same place the Jews get their beliefs- someone told them that’s how it is.

What we ended up with is Jews are taught believing in Yeshua as the Messiah is wrong and one can’t be Jewish if they do, which is then supported by Christianity telling everyone that Jesus did away with all the rules and laws that make one “Jewish”, so now we have Jews and Christians agreeing that anyone who believes Yeshua / Jesus is the Messiah is anything but Jewish.

Blind guides and lost sheep.  Sad, sad, sad.

“Because” is no reason. If you are not sure about who Yeshua is, read the bible. Read the whole bible, Genesis through Revelations. And don’t read the King James (i.e., anti-Semitic) version, or any of the regular versions. Read the David Stern version. Read some Messianic version. Heck- read my book! There are links to it on my home page (softcover or digital.)  But read something! Get information, not opinion. Make up your own mind. For the sake of your Eternal soul, please don’t depend on anyone else to tell you what the “truth” is about Yeshua. Talk to people, sure, but read and study and make up your own mind.

Be assured that if you should choose to believe Yeshua is the Messiah , you absolutely do NOT have to stop being Jewish. In truth, there is nothing more Jewish than belief in a Messiah. The trick is believing in the right Messiah. So find out for yourself.

Please!! Do the work: Eternity is an awfully long time to spend being wrong, and you have until your last breath to accept Him.

Final word: for those that do not know what it means to “accept Yeshua as your Messiah”, let me tell you what it meant for me. It meant accepting that I am a sinner, accepting that God provided a way for me to be with Him through a Messiah’s sacrificial death, thereby atoning for my sins, and that by “accepting Yeshua” I am committing myself to do T’shuvah (turn/ atone) so I can be with God throughout Eternity. I am still Jewish; in fact, I am even more “Jewish” now than I ever was before I was “saved”. I worship God, not Yeshua- he was supernatural in many ways, but he was human and He is my Messiah. He is not God and should not be worshipped as God. That is idolatry, and (sadly) a very real part of much Christian worship.  I capitalize His name and pronouns referring to Him out of respect for Him and His position, not because He is God. At least, not at this time. Right now He is Messiah. Did Yeshua come from God? Is He God in the flesh (which, by definition, makes Him human, doesn’t it?) Is he just a Prophet?

That, my Friends, is for another Drash.

Who Really Killed Jesus?

Growing up during the 50’s and 60’s I often was called “Christ Killer” by those nice Catholic kids from Christ the King High School. I didn’t know the Lord, but knew enough to counter with, “If Jesus came to die for your sins, then all we Jews did was complete God’s plan- you should be thanking us!”

It’s funny that with so little understanding I actually wasn’t that far from the truth.

It’s indisputable that the Romans killed Jesus. After all, Pilate condemned him, the soldiers flogged him and they nailed him to the tree.

Oh, but wait a minute…. Pilate wanted to set Him free and the Jews said to crucify Him in place of Barrabus. So it really was the Jews who killed Jesus.

Oh, but wait a minute… it wasn’t “The Jews” that killed Him, for there were (probably) more than 250,000 followers, nearly all of whom were Jewish, so it wasn’t really the entire Jewish population. In fact, the trial was illegal under Jewish law, so it was really just a few politically empowered people that rallied the mob, using mob mentality, that caused Pilate to succumb to their demands. It was just the Pharisees and Sadducees leaders that killed Jesus.

Oh, but wait a minute…Herod could have set Him free but he chose not to, so really Herod was the reason Yeshua was killed- Herod did it!

Oh, but wait a minute…Yeshua said that if He wanted to, he could have had God send legions of angels to protect and save Him, and He had been telling the Talmudim (Students / Apostles) for days that He would be handed over to the Goyim (Nations) and caused to suffer and die, and that this had to happen. So Yeshua actually committed suicide! Sort of like when people shoot at the police to get the police to kill them because they can’t shoot themselves.

Oh, but wait a minute…we always say that,  “He died for our sins”. So then, actually, we all killed Him.

Now we’re getting close.

Here is the definitive, correct, and absolutely valid answer to the age-old question, “Who Killed Jesus?”: I did. That’s right- it was me. Me, and me alone.

Whoa! Stop the music! C’mon, Steve- you weren’t even born then!  That’s right, I wasn’t even born then. But I am a sinner. I was born into sin, my nature is to sin, I have sinned, I still sin (thanks to the Ruach and my love for the Lord, I sin a lot less and am getting better at not sinning) and I can guarantee that no matter how hard I try, I will continue to sin until I am dead.

The purpose of the Messiah is to bring us all back into relationship with the Almighty. That is a simple, but (I think you’ll agree) accurate description of His purpose. Since God cannot abide or even be in the presence of sin, the sacrificial death of the Messiah is what cleanses us of our sins. By this cleansing we can now approach God. Messiah comes, Messiah dies, we are cleansed by His blood sacrifice, we now have a right relationship with God and can be in His presence. Job done.

I think the expression “He died for our sins” is misleading and is designed to make us feel good about ourselves, like , “Oh, I’m really a good person and good people get to go to heaven.”

What a crock!

Yeshua died for my sins! If the rest of the world was sinless, if every single person born before me and after me lived a Torah-perfect life, Yeshua would still have given up His majesty, taken on a mantle of flesh, lived a Torah-perfect life, died a painful and torturous death, and bled out His last drop of blood…for ME! I believe, absolutely, He would have done that just for me. Doesn’t He tell us so? In the parable about the man who had 100 sheep and if missing one would leave the other 99 to find the missing one. And when he finds the one missing and brings it back, he is overjoyed. And the parable about the woman missing a valuable coin. Upon finding it she is so happy she entertains people at a party (I’m taking some cultural liberties here) to celebrate.

Yeshua did what He did not for us, but for me. It is soooo important that each one of us understand this, because we need to own our sin. We each need to own-up to our failure to live as God wants. Not to beat ourselves up (that is from the Enemy), but to really understand how much Yeshua went through for my sake. Yes, for your sake too, but it is absolutely essential I feel that He did it for me.

Why? Because when we “own” our sin, we can give it away. You can’t really give away something you don’t own, so to give up our sin we need to first own it. The “religious world” teaches everything about sin in a third-party format. Sin is shared with others. He died for our sins, We are saved, by his blood we are freed.  I think this is a bad teaching because when you are part of a crowd you don’t feel individually responsible. You don’t have that sense of personal accountability for what happened, and your devotion cannot be as strong as when it is you, and you alone.

That is why I killed Yeshua. It was my fault he had to die because I needed to be able to escape the spiritual consequences of my sins. The physical and immediate consequences of sin are inescapable. Messiah didn’t die so I won’t have to face the results of my sins in this world (there’s an entire Drash on this topic- I’ll have to make a note to do that one) but so that I won’t have to suffer for them throughout Eternity. It is my fault He died, He died for my sins, I killed Him. I own my sin, and that’s why I can give it to Him.

You need to own your sin. You need to accept that you are a sinner. I know many people who think (because it’s what they have been taught) that if they are a “good person” they get to go to heaven. I feel so bad for them. They don’t own their sin, they see it as something that, frankly, isn’t a problem because it’s all covered. Jesus has their back, and it’s all third-party, non-committal understanding. It’s not really them. It’s everyone else. It’s also a lie from the pit of Sheol (Hell) and I feel so bad for them because they have a really nasty reality check coming up.

I have rambled a little bit more than usual. I keep repeating this over and over, that we need to own our sin, we need to feel personally responsible for Yeshua’s death, we need to understand that He would have done this just for me, or for you, even if no one else on Earth needed it. We need to feel this way so that our commitment to Him is solid, built on rock, and with deep roots. When a person feels that they are just a part of a group, it is easy to place the onus on the group. That’s mob mentality. When it comes to my salvation, I am the only one responsible for it.

My salvation is between me and Messiah Yeshua, and no one else. He died because I needed Him to do so, because I can’t be Torah-perfect. It’s because of me He died, which means I killed Jesus.

I pray that you, every single, individual person reading this Drash today, will walk away with the absolute conviction to say, “I killed Jesus. He died for me, and because of me. No one else is involved.”

Feel it, believe it, own it.

You Can’t be Jewish if You Believe in Jesus

I have heard this said more times than I can count. It is based not in fact, of course, but in bias, and in ignorance, and in fear.

Fear? What are they afraid of?  Well, simply put, Jewish people are afraid of being traitors to God. After all, they’ve been told their whole life that if they believe in Jesus they can’t be Jewish.

People are usually afraid of what they don’t understand, right?  So, let’s take a look at that statement to see if  we can understand it.

We’ll start by taking out the “religious” aspects. When we remove “Jewish” and “Jesus”, and restate it in a logical format, it becomes a relationship:  If  A,  then Not B

One test of the logic of a relationship is to see if the converse is true, i.e., if not B, then A? That leaves us with: Not believing Yeshua is the Messiah means you must be Jewish.

I don’t think that works, do you? After all, Zen Buddhists (nothing against Zen Buddhists here, I’m am just using them as an example) don’t believe Yeshua is the Messiah, but they’re not Jewish. Hindi’s don’t believe Yeshua is the Messiah, and they’re not Jewish. Communists don’t even believe in God, for Pete’s sake, and they’re not Jewish (although in the 50’s, Senator McCarthy thought all Jews were Communists, but that’s a different story. Besides, he thought everyone was a Communist.)

So it’s a statement that works only in one direction, meaning the converse is not true.

Now let’s look at this from a different angle. If believing Yeshua is the Messiah is an absolute disqualifier for being Jewish, to have a disqualifier you must have a qualifier. In other words, to identify what is not Jewish you have to know what is Jewish.

That is a question I don’t think anyone has ever answered to everyone’s satisfaction. What is a Jew? I once read that a famous Rabbi (sorry- forgot who) said that anyone who believes in God is Jewish. That seems to be too easy, and I am sure makes many Replacement Theologists shudder in fear. It also weakens the legitimacy of the topic statement, doesn’t it? If you really don’t know what makes one Jewish, how can you declare there is something that absolutely prevents you from being Jewish?

For the purpose of this commentary, would you agree with this definition: anyone who does what Jews do is Jewish? Is that good? It kinda makes sense, is a simple enough concept, and seems to be a universal qualifier, doesn’t it?

The next thing is to figure out what Jews do.

1. Jews believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Messianic Jews believe that, too.

2. Jews observe the laws and commandments in the Torah.

Messianic Jews do that, too (actually, no one does that or ever has except Yeshua, so let’s just say Messianic Jews try to do that, just as Jews try)

3. Jews celebrate the Festivals of the Lord, as defined in Leviticus 23.

Messianic Jews do that, too.

4. Jews believe in the existence of a Messiah  promised by God to bring us back to Him.

Messianic Jews believe that, too. Nearly a quarter of a Million Jews, at that time in history, believed it was Yeshua. And that’s about the same number of Messianic Jews, today.

Remember, there was no “Church” in the first Century- there were two kinds of people: Jews and Pagans. That’s it.

Then Yeshua showed up, and there were three types of people: Those who believed Yeshua was the Messiah (made up of Jews and Gentiles), Jews who didn’t believe He was the Messiah, and Pagans (who, frankly, didn’t care either way because they had plenty of their own gods.)

But the Jews who believed were still considered Jews. And the Gentiles….now here’s the kicker….were becoming Jews! That’s right! The Gentiles were becoming Jews because following Yeshua meant to live like Jews did.

Yeshua was a Jew- no one argues that. The Christians try to make us believe He lived as a Jew but was resurrected a Christian!  Not so. He did all those Jewish things, and taught others how to do them the way God wanted them done.  Messianic Jews do all those Jewish things, and don’t forget that all those Jews in the First Century who believed He was the Messiah were all considered Jewish. So, if I do all these Jewish things and believe this Jewish man, who did and taught people how to do all these Jewish things, is the Messiah, why does that make me a Gentile?

I’ll tell you why. Because today, when a Jew wants to believe Yeshua is the Messiah, Christianity says they have to become Christian.  The Jews say you can’t be Jewish if you believe in Him, and the Christians say if you believe in Him you shouldn’t still do Jewish things. We finally got the Jews and Gentiles to agree on something about Jesus, but it’s the absolutely wrong thing!! Oy!

Did you know one of the greatest Jewish Rabbis of all time, Rabbi Akiba , believed a Jew named Bar Kochba was the Messiah, and no one says he wasn’t Jewish. Some Ultra Orthodox Jews believe Menachem Schneerson is the Messiah, and no one says they aren’t Jewish. Every Jewish mother believes her son is the Messiah, and they’re Oh-so-Jewish!

The truth is that believing Yeshua is the Messiah doesn’t disqualify you from being a Jew. In fact, even not doing Jewish things doesn’t really disqualify you if you are born Jewish. Therefore, bloodlines notwithstanding, as long as you do all the Jewish things described above, you are a Jew whether or not you choose to accept that Yeshua is the Messiah.

In Messianic Judaism, both the Jews and the Gentiles live a Jewish lifestyle. Messianic Jews do what Jews do (most, anyways. In truth, many, many Jews don’t do what Jews should do, and no one says they’re not Jewish. Not until they accept Yeshua, of course.) In fact, for the last 17 or so years since I decided to accept that Yeshua is the Messiah and became a “Messianic Jew” I am more Jewish now than I ever was before.

Hey, if you are Jewish and you are curious to know the truth about this Yeshua guy, don’t be afraid. Christianity has turned that nice, Jewish boy into someone totally different than who He truly is, so don’t buy the “Can’t be Jewish if” thing. Ask,  question, argue, learn, and then decide for yourself. After all, those are some of the most Jewish things we Jews do- we ask, we question, and (man-oh-man) do we ever argue.

So go ahead- be Jewish! Don’t be afraid, don’t be put off, don’t worry about losing your Judaism. Nu?… you just might find it.

How Can I believe in Yeshua and still be Jewish?

This is what I asked myself when I first began to accept the truth about who Yeshua is, and what I needed to do for myself. It’s tough because we have all (Jews, I mean) been told for nearly two Millennia that Jesus isn’t for Jews. 

I think the first thing we need to do is understand that the New Covenant isn’t really new; in fact, it is very Jewish when you get underneath the subtle anti semitism that Gentile interpreters have built into it. The truth is there is nothing “new” in the New Covenant!

Try this on for size…the Tanakh is a compilation of God-inspired, eye-witnessed writings by Jews, of Jews, to Jews telling about God and His laws, with the promise of a Messiah who is to come and reconcile the entire world to God. The B’rit Chadasha (Good News, or New Covenant) is a compilation of God-inspired, eye-witnessed writings by Jews, of Jews, to Jews (and Gentiles becoming Jewish), and is the continuation of the Tanakh telling us about the promised Messiah, what He did to prove who He was/is, and ends with the final judgement and what will happen in the Acharit HaYamim (The End Days). Together they take us from start to finish, from before time began to the end of time and Eternity.One without the other is like having only one bookend.

As Jews, we are told to stay away from that Christian book because it is all about a new religion. That is a lie from the pit of Hell. It is about the Jewish Messiah. 

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, more “Jewish” than to believe in a Messiah. The Ultra-Orthodox Lubavitchers believe that Menachem Shearson is the Messiah (out of respect I won’t absolutely deny this, but there hasn’t been any real evidence), and they’re still Jewish. The followers of R. Akiba believed, as he did, that Bar Kochba was the Messiah (he wasn’t, by the way) and they’re still considered to have been Jewish. If I believed that anyone was the Messiah, I wouldn’t be accused of not being Jewish. However, if I believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, well, that’s different! I once had a Rabbi, who was a Reconstructionist Rabbi, bang her fist on the table and say one couldn’t be Jewish if he believed in Jesus. A Reconstructionist said this! 

What makes up a Jew, anyway? Is it a lifestyle? Is it a birthright? Is it having good financial sense? If we look for the answer where all the answers we will ever need reside (three guesses what book I am talking about, and your first two guesses don’t count), God doesn’t have a religion. He has His rules and regulations. He doesn’t say, “Jews follow these rules, Catholics these, Methodists those, etc.” What He does say is simply that those who follow His ways are His people, and He will be their God. That’s it. So, as far as God is concerned, there aren’t Jews, or Baptists, or Mennonites: only those who follow His rules. He also states, more than once, that anyone who sojourns with the Israelites is an adopted son or daughter. That those people who accept Him are given the same rights and privileges as a natural born “Jew” (remember that Jew or Israelite is not used then like we would use it today. There were only two types of people then: Jew or Pagan. It was a term for those people who followed the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was not a religion, per se, but a lifestyle.) 

Likewise, if you were an adopted child of God, you were also expected to live by His rules. That means no pork, Shabbat (Sabbath) is on the 7th day, which is Saturday, and all 613 commandments from the Torah are for you, too. 

Therefore, believing in Yeshua as the Messiah is not anti-Jewish. It is perfectly Jewish. And if you are Jewish, and you want to discover the truth, or (at least) the facts, for yourself, then grab a Messianic Bible and check out this guy named Yeshua. Jesus certainly isn’t for Jews, at least not the Jesus that the Western world has portrayed for the past 1700 years or so. But Yeshua- He’s OK for Jews.  

The really important thing is to make your own decision. Jewish people I know have asked how I could believe in Jesus- not why do I, but how could I? It’s like asking  why did I betray them instead of why do I believe in Him. My reply to them is that I have reasons why I believe He is the Messiah, but why do they think He isn’t? Almost always I get the same answer, which is “Because He isn’t, that’s all”. They have no real reason other than because they were told he isn’t, and that’s it. 

If you are Jewish and reading this (wow- that would be great!) or if you are just not sure (which is how I started off), PLEASE!!! read the Bible, the whole Bible (Genesis to Revelations) and make up your own mind! God won’t buy the lame excuse that you believed what they told you to believe. It didn’t hold water at Nuremberg, and it won’t hold water at Judgement Day. 

 

Did Jesus Really Start a New Religion?

No. 

That should be enough, but I guess I need to give a more detailed reason why the answer is no.

God gave us His commandments, rules, regulations and all sorts of laws. Generally, these are known as mitzvot. Yeshua taught from the Tanakh, or Old Covenant (I don’t say New or Old ‘Testament’ because a testament is a death document that comes alive when one of the parties dies, and a covenant is an agreement between two living parties. God made covenants, not testaments). After all, that’s all there was when He was teaching. There were no New Covenant writings until decades after His death and resurrection. So, what He taught was Jewish.

God told us what to do, and Yeshua showed us how it’s done. That’s all. What He taught, and the real reason He was accused of being rebellious and teaching “new” stuff, was because He taught us that God’s Word is more important than religion. His main target was not what God said, but the traditions of Men- religion. He was always in trouble with the ruling groups, which at that time in history were not sons of David and sons of Aaron, as God commanded should be in charge, but (for the most part) political “hacks” appointed by Rome. The King (Herod) and Cohanim (Priests/Pharisees) were teaching that people should follow the man-made traditions with precedence over what God said. The sad thing is that this hasn’t changed, even today. The Talmud is given more importance regarding daily activities than the Torah by some of the Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Worse than that, the so-called Christian religions (which are supposed to have been created by Yeshua’s teachings) are almost entirely composed of traditions and rites and ceremonies that are not in the Bible, with holidays that God did not command us to celebrate. What the Jews did wrong during Yeshua’s time, and what He was absolutely against, has been multiplied ten-fold by Christianity!

Yeshua did exactly what a good Jew should have done- lived Torah as it was written, and taught others to do so. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) is so very much exactly what has been taught throughout the Tanakh- God sees the heart. David said it in Psalm 51, Isaiah said it, the prophets said it- God is not interested just in sacrifices or paying lip service to Him, He wants us to come to Him with a contrite heart. He wants us to feel the way we should, not just act correctly. That is what Yeshua taught: He said, “You have heard it said …..but I tell you….” and what He told us was to feel God’s love and righteousness, not just act correctly. Don’t just not commit murder: don’t even hate in your heart. Don’t just not commit adultery: don’t even lust with your eyes. These are hard teachings for humans, and exactly what God tells us He wants of us throughout the Tanakh. It’s Judaism in it’s purest form. More than that, it’s what anyone who worships God should be doing.

Yeshua taught Judaism as God wanted it- from the heart. The New Covenant promise (which, BTW, is not in the New Covenant writings, but in the Tanakh, Jeremiah 31:31, and also Joel) was that God would remove our hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh, and that He would write His Torah on our hearts. Yeshua taught that what mattered was what we felt in our hearts, not just what we did. He said follow God’s commandments and worship Him with all your heart, soul and might, and don’t follow these laws blindly just because you are told to do so. Basically, Yeshua wants us to not just walk the walk, but want to walk the walk and feel it; own it; let it fill you up and become it. 

That is Judaism- loving God and loving to love God, thereby wanting to please God. 

Religion teaches “do this or go to hell!” True, God teaches that, too (in a way) but not as a threat; indeed, as a request to live. God says in Ezekiel that the death of a sinner doesn’t please Him at all- in fact, He would much rather the sinner turn from his sin and live. That is what Yeshua taught.

Everything Yeshua taught was from God’s Word, it was purely the D’var Adonai (Word of God). He was not against the religious teachings, or even against the traditions, per se, but He was against when the traditions were given priority over God’s word.

Do you really think that teaching us to do what God says and not what men say is a different religion than Judaism? If so, you just don’t understand Judaism.

Read the New Covenant, but not King James or some other Gentile version- read a Messianic version (David Sterns “Jewish New Covenant” or “Complete Jewish Bible” is a good start) and get to know the Jewishness of the B’rit Chadashah (Good News). See for yourself if this guy Yeshua really is teaching something different.

Next post: How Can I believe in Yeshua and still be Jewish?