Salvation From Both a Jewish and Christian Perspective- Part 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Is God’s Name Really a Name?

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

I will unquestionably be opening a can of worms with this post, so to all reading this (or watching the video) I ask that you please do not shout back at the monitor or bang your fist on the table shouting “NO! NO! NO!” until the end.

I think this will blow a lot of people’s minds. I know it did mine.

Let’s start with the simple question: What is a “name?”  When I searched on line for an answer, it said, “a word or set of words by which a person, animal, place, or thing is known, addressed, or referred to.”

In the ancient days, many names were more than just a means of identifying someone. Some of the names were almost prophetic in that they described who the person was. Jedidiah is someone beloved by God; Joshua is God’s salvation; Abraham is father of multitudes; Emmanuel means God is with us.  These names didn’t just identify the person but also indicated what we should expect from them during their lifetime.

What about God’s name? There are many names that are used to identify God: God (of course), El, Yah, Shadai, and the Holy Name that is called the Tetragrammaton (I will use the term ‘Tetra” in this discussion just to make it easier to type) which is Y-H-V-H, or also shown as Y-H-W-H.

Most people believe this is God’s Holy Name, the very one he told Moses to use when Moses asked to know what name to tell the people in Exodus 3:13-15. But they are wrong! This is what God told Moses:

Then Moses asked God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ What should I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God also told Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.…  (Berean Study Bible) 

So God didn’t give a specific name, he gave a description of who he is when he told Moses to say “I am has sent me to you.”

I have looked in the JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh (one of the most respected interpretations of the Tanakh today), my Chumash (The Pentateuch and Haftorahs) edited by Dr. Hertz (Soncino Edition) and also my Tikkun.

NOTE: For those who may not be familiar with the Tikkun, it is a book of the Torah scroll with the Torah Hebrew (a very different font of Hebrew), the modern Hebrew with vowel points and the English translation with commentary of the scriptures. It is used for preparation of chanting the Torah when reading the weekly parashah.

In every one of these highly authentic Jewish volumes, the word used for God in this passage is Elohim (generally meaning is “God is judge”) and he doesn’t use the Y-H-V-H anywhere in this passage. What is used is: אה’ה אשר אה’ה, which means “I am who I am.”

So, nu?  What’s this mean? It means that the Tetra is not the name God gave to Moses to identify who he is to the children of Israel. So now we have to ask, “Where did the Tetra come from?”

It was first used in Genesis 2:4. The very first appearance of the Tetra in the Torah is right after God finished making the earth, in the second half of verse 2:4. The Hebrew says: ב’ומ עשות ‘הוה אלה’מ which in English is translated as ‘When the Lord God..”, which tells us the Tetra is translated from the Torah as “Lord.” The word we use for the Tetra in Judaism is “Adonai”, which means “Lord.”

The Tikkun explains what the Tetra means: it is really an acronym. Each of the letters represent a word, and those words are (I will transliterate): Hah-yah  Ho-veh  veh-yee-yeh, which means “He was, he is and he will be.”

So after all the hullabaloo about the correct spelling of God’s name and how it should be pronounced, we find out that what we have always thought to be God’s Holy Name isn’t really a name! It is an acronym for words that describe the eternal nature of God.

And that fits with God’s command to Moses in front of the burning bush that the name he gave to Moses is how he should be remembered in every generation.  God was not giving Moses a name we should use to call him but how we should remember and refer to him. Remember at the beginning the definition of a name can also mean how we refer to someone? God doesn’t want us to have a specific name for him, he wants us to refer to him for who and what he is. He is our eternal Lord. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And that is what he told Moses he wants us to call him.

People are given a name we can call them during their lifetime, but because God has no lifetime he is known only by his eternal nature.

He is and he was and he shall be: that is what the Tetra means. It is not a name as we define what a name is, it is a memorial to remind us that God is eternal.

And from the very first time we see the Tetra in the Torah it is interpreted as “Lord”, who are we to change it?

So where do we go from here? I suspect that those who absolutely must use the Tetra and pronounce it as they believe it should be pronounced will continue to do so. I hope at least some will reconsider their understanding and verify what I have said here. And there may be some who will start to use “Lord” or “Adonai” as we Jews have been doing forever.

Others may just wander around the house muttering to themselves, “What should I believe? What is right? Who can I trust?”

I can answer that last one: trust God and trust his word. Trust that the interpretation Jews have been using for thousands of years is more dependable (and probably more accurate) than the one many Gentile’s just now learning about God and Yeshua are using.

And always, always, ALWAYS go to the Jewish versions of the Torah and Tanakh (Old Covenant) to see what the Hebrew says. The Torah is absolutely dependable to be the exact same way it is today as it was when it was first written. If you knew all the different ways the Torah is verified when a new one is written you would be able to trust that it is absolutely dependable. The Hebrew, that is- the interpretations are subject to individual bios and predetermined understanding.

I have been reading and studying the bible for over 20 years and after all this time I just now learned that what I have always known to be the Holy Name of God isn’t a name at all. OY! I just love the exciting and new things we learn from God’s word when we really look at it.

The Other Side of the Doom and Gloom

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

 

OK, OK…yes, I have been a little on the “It’s the end of the world” tirade lately. I have been told by my older sister, who one always has to listen to, that I need to “lighten up”, so let’s see what the balance scales have against the doom and gloom of God’s judgement on the nations.

Hey, guess what? It’s pretty good stuff on the other side! Those who have accepted Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah; who worship God as He has commanded (that means obeying the Torah); who live their lives always repentant of their sins; who are trying to follow the leading of the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) which they accepted when they asked God for it as part of their forgiveness prayer…all those people are going to be spending eternity in total joy and peace, basking in the presence of the Almighty.

Now they will have to go through tribulations- not everyone will be lucky enough to escape this. God promises He will judge the nations in the Acharit haYamim (End Dyas) and I DO believe we are in them, now. The astrological signs (4 blood moons in a single year in 2017), the significant climatic changes we are seeing and the world-wide social unrest are all signs that we have been warned about from the Prophets in the Tanakh all the way through the Bible, including the letters from Shaul (Paul) and John’s recording of his vision in the book of Revelation.

It is happening now, it’s going to get worse and it is not going to be fun for anyone.

The good news is that for those of us who are God-fearing and working through our salvation, we will live past this event. We will not suffer the second death or be left in the cold and dark where people gnash their teeth. We will be presented before the Judge of All Things, the Lord, God and have at our side Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ) to represent us. God will not see our unworthiness but rather Messiah’s righteousness in us. We will be absolved, forgiven and welcomed into the presence of the Lord. Forever.

No more tears, no more sickness, no more disparity, no more suffering. Now that’s what I call a good word!

Going forward let’s recall what every Prophet in the Tanakh did when they spoke God’s warning to repent: they started off relating God’s promises of punishment for those who choose to reject His commandments, specifying the horrors that will befall them (that’s the doom and gloom), then they ended with a word of comfort for those who will choose repentance (REAL repentance), confirming for them that God promises they will have joy and eternal peace.

God tells us in Ezekiel 18:32 what He wants:

For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!

God’s judgement on those that have rejected Him will be terrible, and His blessings for those that worship Him will be wonderful.

Like the bank commercial that asks, “What’s in your wallet?” I am asking you now: “What’s in your heart?”

Sheep Without a Shepherd

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

Do any of you read Dear Abby? Or maybe Ask Ann Landers? I read these every morning, but not because I like to get some voyeuristic pleasure from sharing other’s problems with their lives. I see it as a thermometer, measuring the degree to which people in our society have no guidance, mostly regarding interpersonal relationships.

Often I get inspiration from the multitude of personal issues people present publically to a total stranger. I am always thinking of one of my favorite verses from the Tanakh, Hosea 4:6:

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

The knowledge they lack is the knowledge of God, the knowledge that comes from reading His Word every day, the understanding of the human condition that we see exemplified through the stories in the Bible. This is important stuff!

I feel saddened and frustrated when I read the almost inane situations people get themselves into; and then, as if they haven’t hurt themselves enough already, they go to Ann or Abby for help. For the record? I’ve got nothing against Ann or Abby. I think, overall, they do a wonderful job. And even though I wish they had more spiritual answers, they are usually spot on with their advice.

However, I can’t help thinking that if the people who write these letters stopped asking humans and went to God for help, they would find that God has the best answers.  All the time.

So, nu?  What can we do? We can make ourselves available to our own family and friends, to let them know that we have the same problems in our life but we also have the best answers, Then show them where the answers to their problems are found in the Bible.  When we relate our own story, not forcing it on anyone but just using it as an example of what worked for us, we can lead them to a better answer, a greener pasture.

And we should be prepared to be rejected and (maybe even) laughed at. That goes along with the territory and is part of the job when you live your life to help others.

Life is tough; there are many times we get ourselves into a situation we don’t want to be in. And when we are there, we cannot fathom how to get out of it.

That’s when we need to go to God. As we read in Matthew 19:26:

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Be a good shepherd to your family and friends and lead them to the answers they really need, which are always found in the Bible.

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.

Approaching Jews About Yeshua

People who have been raised as Christians, no matter what denomination, cannot understand what it is like to be a Jewish person who is approached about Jesus.

Many people I have talked to in the Messianic or Hebrew Roots congregations I have belonged to tell me they haven’t heard anyone they know do or say the things I tell them about, but that’s because they have been hanging around with people who have a heart for the Jewish people, and accept their Jewish roots.

There are some very important rules you need to follow when you are talking to Jews, and if you don’t follow them you will be wasting your time.

 

Why No One Understood Yeshua

Yeshua (Jesus) taught from the Torah, which was very familiar to the Jews in the First Century, so why is it, then, that we are constantly told no one understood His messages? Even the Apostles, His closest friends and followers, had to ask for an explanation.

Perhaps it was because He was teaching the “advanced” course, and they were all still just learning the basics?

What Kohelet Was Really Talking About

Most descriptions of the writing of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) say it is a rather droll and depressing book. After all, how many times does he tell us that whatever he did was as useless as “chasing the wind”? The very beginning starts with “Useless, useless- all is useless!”

But I find this book to be uplifting and empowering because when we get past his kvetching we can see the reason for his feelings of despair and uselessness, and that what he learned is actually very good for us.

He tells us what he is trying to do in Kohelet 1:12-18:

I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted. I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind. For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.  (bold print added by author) 

He repeats this desire to understand what is wisdom and what is folly in Kohelet 2:12, and he defines exactly what he discovers about seeking wisdom in Kohelet 8:16-17:

When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how neither day nor night do one’s eyes see sleep, then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.

Can you see why Kohelet is so frustrated?  He is trying to figure out why God does what He does! He is a human being trying to understand the mind of the Almighty- no wonder he sees all his attempts to understand the activities of mankind as useless and chasing the wind. He cannot understand why good things happen to bad people, and vice-versa. He cannot fathom why people who have no family build up fortunes, only to die and have those fortunes wasted by strangers.

What Kohelet really sees as useless is not so much the activities of men, but his attempt to understand why they happen.

And there are parts throughout the book where he begins to realize what is really important: he tells us this in Kohelet 2:24:

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God.

and in Kohelet 3:12:

I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live;

and, once more, he advises us what is really important in Kohelet 9:7:

Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.

Most of the teachings I have heard regarding Kohelet bypass all the wisdom, warnings, and complaints that are in this book and go straight to the end, which is where Kohelet concludes that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This is, of course, an absolute truth, and good advice, but by ignoring the diatribe in this book they have missed the whole point of what Kohelet found out in all his efforts to understand God.

Kohelet is telling us what he learned is that we are to accept with full appreciation all that God has given us, and we should just enjoy whatever we have from Him because nothing ever really stays the same. Our wealth, our family, our activities, our work, everything we do will be changed, lost or gained, only to be given to our descendants or others we don’t even know, The lesson is:  whatever we have is from God and we should appreciate it, and be joyful in it.

Can you see now why I find this book to be so uplifting, even when it is written with such disdain for all human activity? It reminds me that it doesn’t matter what I have or don’t have, nothing will remain the same (so there is hope) and whatever I enjoy now, I will probably lose at sometime, so I might as well really enjoy it now while I have it. And even if I lose it, I may gain it all back again. There is always hope.  Kohelet is telling me that I will never understand why things happen, so stop frying my brain trying to figure it out- just enjoy it!  WOW! That is like lifting a giant weight off my shoulders!

God is in charge and you aren’t, so stop trying to run the show or figure it out. You can’t.

I once read a very wise statement: Any god that can be understood by the mind of Man is not worthy of the worship of Man.  Our God is far beyond our understanding, and trying to understand the “why” of life is a lost cause before you even start, so stop chasing the wind and enjoy all that God does for you.

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.

Let’s Talk Trinity

Get your fishing rod because I am about to open a can of worms. Hopefully I can do this without insulting or degrading anyone’s beliefs, which may or may not agree with mine.

Since this is my blog, I get to say what I want. Please do not hesitate to comment if you feel there is something you want to add- the comment field is below the blog entry, so just scroll on down and write away! Be aware that I am not going to confirm what I believe with verses from the bible as you can look them all up on your own. I am not doing this because I am lazy, but as a means to force you, the reader, to confirm what I say for yourself. One of the reasons so many people have so many wrong ideas is because they are too lazy to confirm what they are told by looking it up in the bible. This is what Yeshua called the blind leading the blind, and He tells us what happens to them: they both fall into a hole.

Ready? OK, then, here we go…

I believe that Yeshua was originally eternal and divine, equatable to, if not actually the same entity, as God the Father (hereafter to be referred to simply as God.) I am not sure if there was a Trinity before human existence, and after humans were created and living on the earth I believe Yeshua did visit the earth and interact with humans, but as a divine being in human form. I also believe that God would occasionally send His spirit (as a form of supernatural empowering) to humans as it fit His purposes, but that Spirit was not indwelling- power by the Spirit was given to the person, and when the action God wanted was completed, He took His spirit back again.

Once God decided it was time for Yeshua to go to earth and perform His duty as Messiah, in order that Yeshua be subject to temptation, illness, all the weaknesses of human nature, and be able to die, Yeshua had to voluntarily strip off His divinity so that He could take on a mantle of flesh. Consequently, He was born 100% human to a human woman, and lived a totally human existence except for the fact that being fathered by God’s Holy Spirit, Yeshua was born without the stain of Original Sin upon Him. Other than that, He was a human being. His power and authority was not of His own, but that which was given to Him by God through the Holy Spirit. He confirms this often enough throughout the Gospels, telling us that He does only what God tells Him to do, and says only what God tells Him to say. He also said that those following Him would perform the same, and even greater miracles, which leaves us with the question how can humans do more than God? As such, Yeshua on earth was a mirror image of God in the flesh. When Yeshua said He and the Father are one, He meant that being an exact human representation of God’s actions and thoughts, they were essentially the same. Not the exact same; since Yeshua did and said only what God told Him to do and say, He was the prefect representation of God in the flesh, but He was not God, Himself.

Yeshua, being totally human, allows Himself to be killed. When He was dead, he had no ability to do anything. God resurrected Him, in the same body that He died with. We know this because we read in the Gospel of John that Thomas put his hand in the hole in Yeshua’s chest and his fingers through the holes in Yeshua’s feet and hands. A new, resurrected body wouldn’t come with holes in it, would it?  Therefore, Yeshua is still in a physical form, but having been resurrected by God He is again eternal, but still separate.

Every letter Shaul writes to the Messianic Communities he founded starts with greetings from God and the Messiah, Yeshua. From God, and the son, the Messiah, Yeshua- Shaul knew that God and Yeshua were separate and different entities. In the Gospels, as I mentioned above, Yeshua told us He and the Father are One because Yeshua is doing and saying only that which God tells Him to do and say. The book of Hebrews also identifies Yeshua as a totally separate entity from God. Acts tells us when Stephen was just about to die, he saw Yeshua sitting at the right hand of God; at His trial Yeshua told the Cohen Gadol that He would be sitting at the right hand of God. We have heard that someone may be so angry that they are said to be “beside themselves”, but that doesn’t really happen, so if Yeshua, the Apostles, Stephen, and all the other writers of the B’rit Chadasha ( New Covenant) state that Yeshua is a separate entity from God, and they refer to the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) in the same manner, then from the point of Yeshua’s birth up to the present day, Yeshua is eternal, but not totally divine because He is still acting as Cohen Gadol for all humanity; He is sitting at the right hand of God but He is not God.  He cannot be God: if He is God then there is no High Priest, if he is God then He is not a Cohen Gadol to be compared with Melchizedek. That would mean the Messianic prophecies about Him are untrue, or that He isn’t really the Messiah God promised in the Tanakh.

But, He IS the Messiah God promised in the Tanakh, and He IS a Cohen Gadol to be compared with Melchizedek, and He IS our Intercessor who sits at the right hand of God. He is not to be worshiped in lieu of God, although He is our Lord (meaning that He has authority over us- Yeshua is our Lord, but not the LORD) and as such He is worthy of worship on His own merits. He is the one who carries our prayers to God, but He is not the one we should be praying to. Yeshua told us that in order to receive from prayer we needed to pray IN HIS NAME- that doesn’t mean pray to Yeshua, it means pray to God while invoking Yeshua’s name as the authority by which we present our prayer. We could say that His name serves to confirm our prayer, His name grants us access to the Holy of Holies, and that His name (as Shaul says) gives us the authority to march right up to the throne of God and present our petition directly to Him.

Lastly, Yeshua will return to earth as the conquering King; He will rule the entire earth until the Adversary is released and the final battle is completed. Then, and only then, will things change. The Torah will be written on our hearts, there will be a new earth and a new Jerusalem, where spirit and physical form are on the same plane of existence, and then…well, who knows? Will Yeshua then leave the right hand of God and be reabsorbed (for lack of a better word) into the Father? Will the Holy Spirit also disappear as a separate entity? Will the Trinity that has to exist at this time for God’s plan to be fulfilled no longer be needed once that plan is complete?

I don’t know, and I don’t believe anyone can be absolutely positive about what will happen once everything we know will happen has happened.

I will finish with this: maybe Yeshua is God, maybe He is not God, and maybe He is something totally different. Maybe the Holy Spirit is in the same boat. I am humble enough to confess that I really don’t know: for those that I hear tell me they are absolutely sure, well, maybe they need more humility or maybe God has singled them out with this knowledge. Generally, what I hear from people who want to express their belief as absolutely correct is that they have “received this knowledge from the Ruach HaKodesh.”  Maybe they have been blessed to have God grant them this special knowledge, maybe they are just saying that so we have to believe them. For me, it doesn’t matter.

The one thing I feel confident we all can agree on is this: as long as we accept Yeshua as our Messiah, constantly repent of our sins and ask forgiveness through the sacrificial death of Yeshua, and trusting in God faithfully try to be what He said He wants us to be, then this whole Trinity “thing” won’t matter as far as our salvation is concerned. Our salvation comes through confessing our sins before God and faithfully believing Yeshua is the Messiah whose sacrificial death enables us to receive forgiveness of sin. Our salvation is not based on whether Yeshua is God or is separate from God; salvation is based on faithfully believing Yeshua did exist, He did sacrifice His life, He did rise from the dead and He is still working on our behalf to help us be cleansed of our sins so we can be resurrected through Him and live eternal lives in God’s presence.

What we all should do is stay focused on what affects our salvation, and not let impotent discussion pull us off-course from that destination.