Have you ever thrown a pebble into a quiet pool of water? The waves emanate from where the pebble entered the water, outwards in concentric circles until the wave dissipates into the pond.
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When we read a passage in the Bible, we need to remember that there is no such thing as a single thought, or a single word, which represents the entire message God has for us. Like the pebble, the word is part of the sentence, which is part of the paragraph, which is part of the chapter, which is part of the book, which is part of the entire Bible.
The meaning emanates from the word all the way out until it is understood within the context of the entire Bible, which brings us to another tool for proper interpretation called Hermeneutics.
OK, so why the big word? I mean, I had enough trouble trying to remember what exegesis means, so who’s this Herman guy?
Let me give you a very simple explanation of what hermeneutics is, with regard to interpretation of the Bible: it means that whatever we read, wherever we read it, the meaning should be the same as we read in other messages or thoughts or lessons within the rest of the Bible.
For example, we read in Genesis that we should not eat the blood, and several times again in Leviticus, and again in Deuteronomy, in Ezekiel, in Acts, in Hebrews, in John, and even in Revelation. The one message is the same, throughout the Bible. So, if we were to have someone tell us that a particular passage says we can eat the blood, it would not be correct because it isn’t hermeneutically confirmed.
Let’s get back to Circles of Context.
Hebrew is a consonantal language, which doesn’t mean it originated in Europe- it means it is composed solely of consonants, with no vowels. Of course, there are vowel sounds used when we pronounce the words, but these are not found in the original Hebrew in the Torah. The Masoretes developed a system of vowel identification, called Masoretic Text or Cantillation Marks, between the 6th and 10th Centuries in order to secure a standard pronunciation of the Hebrew in the Torah. This was to help those who did not have an advanced ability to read Hebrew properly pronounce the words, thereby being able to interpret their meaning correctly, as well.
As an example, let’s take the two letters, G and D…does it stand for God? Maybe it means the word good? Is it Gad? Is it Aged? Is it Goad? Is it Egad!
The only way to properly understand the meaning of these two letters is to see how they make sense within the sentence (first circle), then to look at that sentence within the paragraph (second circle), and so on.
Circles of Context also applies to the author and the audience. For example, in the letter to the Hebrews the author is writing to Jews, but in the letter to the Colossians, the author is writing to a congregation of (mostly, if not all) converted pagans who are not that familiar with either Jewish law or lifestyle.
One letter is written to those who know how to understand Jewish logic and the other is written to ex-pagans who probably never talked to a Jew, except to give him or her orders and have no real understanding of Jewish logic.
What the heck is “Jewish Logic“? It’s my own term, and it describes how a Jewish person will present an argument, which is that he will tell you everything it isn’t before he tells you what it is. The trouble with this, as with the letters Shaul (Paul) wrote to the Gentile congregations he formed, is that he first proposed arguments against following Torah until he, eventually, showed how those very same arguments were wrong. The letter to the Romans is a great example; over the centuries it has been used as a polemic against the Torah, justifying that Believers in Messiah do not have to follow the Torah, but he wrote it as an apologetic to confirm the importance of Believers in Messiah to continue to follow the Torah.
The wrongful interpretation is not justified, either by proper use of the Circles of Context within the letter, or hermeneutically by comparing it with the rest of the New Covenant writings, especially the Gospels, or the Old Covenant.
Many people believe that Shaul stopped going to Jewish temples early in his ministry, but when we read all of the New Covenant Epistles, we can see throughout them the constant references to how Shaul did go to the Temples first. This is how hermeneutics helps us to understand the Bible correctly- Shaul never stopped living a Jewish lifestyle or being a Pharisee- he NEVER converted to anything and always went to the Jews first, then to the Gentiles. And that is hermeneutically confirmed by the prophecies in the Book of Isaiah, which state the Messiah would be a light to the Gentiles.
To properly interpret the Bible, we need to look at each word within the sentence, the sentence within the paragraph, all the way out until we take into account the entire Bible, as well as remembering who wrote what to whom. When Moses and the Prophets wrote and spoke to the Jewish population, the laws and the lifestyle were known, but when Shaul and other Disciples wrote to the new Believers who were Gentiles, they had to change their way of writing to (pardon the expression) “dumb down” the message and the interpretation so that these converting pagans wouldn’t have too much forced on them at one time.
When you read Galatians you have to remember this was written to new Believers who were Gentile, but being told by the Jewish Believers they had to convert to Judaism, completely, overnight! That’s why Shaul was so mad at those “Judaizers”: he knew that much of a paradigm shift of lifestyle and worship would cause more to apostatize than to convert. By using Circles of Context and Hermeneutics, we can see the true meaning of what Shaul was saying to the Galatians.
Todays lesson was to explain Circles of Context and Hermeneutics and show how they are essential tools to help you better understand and properly interpret what you read in the Bible.
Next time we will talk about another tool of biblical exegesis (there’s that word again!) called PaRDeS.
Until then, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!
That’s right. How can anyone really know what is in the Bible if they have never read it?
(I am having issues with my webcam so there won’t be a video today)
And I don’t mean to go buy one of those “Read a Bible Passage a Day” calendars. That’s like telling someone you are bringing a cake to their party and showing up with eggs, flour, salt, and some water. It may be what is in a cake, but it ain’t the same thing.
Maybe you’re thinking, “But Steve, I hear the Rabbi or Priest or Minister tell me what is in there every time I attend services.”
No, you don’t.
What you hear is what that person thinks the Bible is saying, and most likely because that is what he or she was taught it means, from people who were taught, from people who were taught, from…well, you get the idea.
Christianity has been teaching the same stuff for millennia, and they have never gotten most of it right. Why do you think there are so many different Christian religions? If they had it right, they wouldn’t have so many followers think it should be something else. In truth, if they had it right, they would be Jews, but now we’re getting way off-topic.
If you ask me, most of the religious leaders are doing nothing more than parroting their teachers. “Parroting” means repeating what you have been told without understand what you are saying, and that is what you learn when the only thing you learn about the Bible is what others tell you.
Do you know who Tarzan of the Apes is? Do you agree with me (and you should) that Johnny Weissmuller was the best Tarzan portrayer, ever? And that Tarzan lived in a treehouse, spoke English worse than Tonto, and had an adopted son named Boy?
The truth is quite different: I have read the entire series of Tarzan books (there are 27 of them) and Tarzan was fluent in French (his first human language), English, and some African dialects, as well as being able to converse with animals. His son was not called “Boy” but had a name, Korak. And they lived in a large plantation deep in the jungle, protected by a fierce warrior tribe of Africans who were Tarzan’s friends.
Now ain’t that a kick in the tuchas! You thought you knew about Tarzan, but I’ll bet very few of you did. So, do you think maybe, just maybe, there might be more to learn from the Bible than what you have been told or seen on TV?
You bet there is! And you will never know what is in there until you read it for yourself. If you don’t read the Bible, it is possible you are being taught an improper understanding of God’s word and you need to understand this- you will be held accountable for what you have learned, whether it is right or wrong.
When you get a new job, you read the Employee Handbook (if you’re smart) so you know what is expected of you and to stay out of trouble. When you get a new power tool, you read the instructions so you know how to use it without hurting yourself. When you have a new medication, you read the warning label so you know what to be aware of if you have a bad reaction. You read these instructions to ensure you are safe while alive, so why wouldn’t you read the instructions for how to be safe for all eternity?
One of the most wonderful things about the Bible is that no matter how many times you read it, there is always something new in there for you. When we get to a later lesson about the Jewish exegesis system called PaRDeS, you will see that underneath the written word is a spiritual message, and often you will not understand or comprehend that message when reading the words. But then, many readings later, you suddenly have an epiphany and say to yourself, “WOW! So that’s what it means…how come I didn’t see that before?”
When this happens to me, and it has many times over the past two decades or so I have been reading the Bible, I figure the reason I didn’t see it before was simply that I wasn’t ready for it. There is a certain level of spiritual maturity at which we all have to be in order to grasp the deeper meaning of the words we read, whether in the Bible or even in an Employee Handbook. There is a lot to be “read between the lines”, but until you have had enough exposure to the lines, you won’t be able to see what is between them.
I know many people don’t read the Bible because they tell themselves they don’t have the time or they can’t deal with all the “begots” and “begets” or the tough language. Well, don’t use a King James Version (I would never recommend that version, anyway, but that’s for a different time); use an NIV or CJB or some other version of the Bible written in easy to understand language.
As for not having the time, do what I do: I keep my Bible in the bathroom. Yes, that’s right- it is on the back of the toilet tank in a little basket with other reading material. I keep it there because that is the one place I know I will be spending 5-10 minutes, every day, with no one disturbing me. I read a chapter or two each day, and if you follow my example, you will be surprised how quickly you go through the book.
It makes me feel a little closer to God, knowing that he is on his throne and here I am, on mine.
And, one last thing: the Bible is from the first line of Genesis to the very last line of Revelation: it is one book, about one God, who choose one people to bring his instructions for how to worship him and treat each other to the world; it also tells of the Messiah he sent to help us to be forgiven of our sins so that we can be with God throughout eternity when this life is over. Don’t skimp on what you read, even the boring parts (and yes, there are some pretty boring sections but you have to muddle through them) because you never know what God will reveal to you, and to you, alone.
I believe there is something for everyone in the Bible that is uniquely for them, and God is just waiting for you to come to that point in your spiritual growth when he can show it to you. But you will never get there if you do not read the book.
Reading the Bible is not just part of being able to properly interpret it, it is the very keystone of interpretation. Without reading the Bible, you will never really know what is in there.
In our next lesson, we will begin learning about some different methods of Bible exegesis.
Until then, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!
Properly interpreting the Bible is about as easy to do as digging a tunnel through a sand dune. With each new shovel full of sand you remove, another shovel full takes its place; the same thing happens when we delve deeper and deeper into the Bible, and as our understanding of what it says increases.
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There is just so much to learn from this book, and the more we mature, spiritually, the more deeply we will understand what is written. Just like digging in a sand dune, as we remove some sand, more comes to fill in the hole we just made. So, too, when we get past the plain understanding of the words, the spiritual meaning will then be made clear to us. And the deeper we dig, the deeper our understanding, until we even get to a level of nearly mystical knowledge of what God is saying to us.
It is like when Yeshua (Jesus) taught during his Sermon on the Mount: the Pharisees and Scribes had taught the people only the literal meaning of the words, but Yeshua taught them the spiritual meaning, which is why they said he taught as no one had before.
In these lessons, I will share with you what I have learned over more than 2 decades of studying the Bible. I do not profess to be a “Bible expert”, but I have learned a bit and have had many people over the years confirm that I have a gift, if you will, for understanding God’s word and teaching. I say this not to brag, but simply to justify why it might be worth spending the time to go through these lessons with me. They will be short and at a very introductory level, and even maybe a little entertaining.
After all, what could it hoit to listen?
The lessons will be covering what I consider to be the basic building blocks for properly interpreting the Bible, which are:
– Reading the book yourself;
– Different methodologies of biblical exegesis;
– Use of extra-biblical resources; and
– Knowing the history and languages used, especially the cultural usage of the languages at that time.
These lessons will be posted on Tuesday and Thursday instead of my normal “Drash to Start the Day” messages until we complete the series. On Friday I will still post the Shabbat parashah message.
As we go through these lessons, please do not hesitate to make comments or ask questions about the topic I cover. Let me repeat that this is what I believe are the basic tools to use when interpreting the bible, and (as I said before) I am not professing to be the ultimate expert or that what I am teaching is the only means of properly interpreting the Bible: it is just what I have learned and what has helped me to better understand the Bible.
I pray that it will help you, as well.
This coming Tuesday, the 23rd of November 2020, we will cover the first lesson: read the book, yourself.
Until then, L’hitraot and Baruch haShem!
To date in this teaching series, we have examined both the Jewish and Christian perspective regarding salvation and the Messiah. We have seen why it is so difficult for Jews to accept Jesus (Yeshua) as their Messiah and why Christians have become so separated from their roots (Judaism) that their perception is skewed, as well. Bigotry, persecution, and ignorance have led to the animosity and extreme differences that these two religions have regarding the Messiah, who is the same person for both. We have also discussed some ways in which we can span this chasm of hatred and distrust when talking to Jews and Christians about Yeshua. Today we will conclude this teaching.
If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.
There is a need for both the Jewish and Christian religions, including all sects of each, to come together as one body, one belief about God, the Messiah and God’s commandments to all of us. Of course, we all know that this will never happen. As we have been told, the pathway to salvation is not wide, and the gate is small. Many are called but few are chosen (I have always thought this to mean that few choose) so how can we help to bridge the gap and reconcile everyone we can to God and his Messiah?
We start by telling the whole story, from Genesis to Revelation so that all can see this is one narrative of God creating the world and the people, choosing a representative who was faithful (Abraham) to spawn a nation of priests who will carry God’s instructions (Torah) to the world and be an example of how to live these instructions. He provided a Messiah to be our Intercessor, and through faith in that Messiah, we can achieve forgiveness of sin and eternal communion with God.
We have to be able to show that the messianic prophecies are valid and analyze them with an open mind. This we do, as has been suggested in this series, by approaching Jews with references only from the Tanakh, and using the terms “Yeshua” and “Messiah” instead of “Jesus” or “Savior.” We also approach Christians by showing them that the New Covenant is based entirely on the Old- there is nothing “new” in it, and that the modern form of Christianity is not what Yeshua taught but what Constantine created.
Most important is to demonstrate and remind everyone that Abraham’s righteousness did not come about by obedience as much as it did through faith. He was righteous not because he obeyed what God told him to do, but because he believed what God said, and that faithful belief was demonstrated by his obedience. Faith is something that we choose to have; there will never be absolute proof of the Messiah or of God, for that matter, because scientific proof is the antithesis of faith.
Ultimately, it won’t be by argumentation, or by archaeological evidence or even by the scriptures that will help someone believe in God and the Messiah, Yeshua: these things are helpful to bring someone to salvation and reconcile the chasm between Jews and Christians, but ultimately it must be their choice to accept the truth.
God has given each of us Free Will to believe what we want to believe, to act as we want to act and to be the kind of people we want to be. There is no one else responsible for what we do other than ourselves, and when we choose to reject God we choose to be outside of his protection and blessings. The greatest blessing of all, of course, is to be with him and bask in his presence throughout all eternity. This can only be done with the faithful acceptance that Yeshua IS the Messiah he promised throughout the Tanakh, and to live in accordance (as best as we can) with the instructions God gave us explaining how to worship him and how to treat each other found in the Torah.
There are thousands of years of wrongful teaching, on both sides, and people have trusted their religious leaders, who trusted their religious leaders, all the way back to the First Century. It will be difficult to change their minds, but try we must. You now have the tools you need to begin building a bridge across this gap of misunderstanding, so let’s get started!
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Thank you for being here, share me out and don’t forget to check out my books. I welcome your comments (be nice) and look forward to the next time we are together.
Until then, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!
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.
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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!
In part 4 of this series, we learned how these different perspectives evolved. Today we will look at ways that we can try to reconcile these vastly different ideologies to come to a singular, correct understanding of who the Messiah is and what we can expect from him.
If you prefer to watch a video, please click on this link: Watch the video.
To truly understand the Messiah, we need to look at what we are told about him from the original source, which is the Tanakh (the “Jewish” Bible) and with a proper interpretation of the prophecies we find there. When I say a proper interpretation, I am referring to the dual prophecies regarding the salvation of Israel. In some of the Messianic prophecies, the rabbinical interpretation has been that the prophecy is about Israel, the nation and is not about the Messiah. However, this teaching (looking back in history) is only half-true.
Prophecy can be both spiritual and physical. For example, Isaiah 9:6 (about the child being born and the government on his shoulders) was referring to King Hezekiah- no doubt about that, but that was the physical interpretation. The spiritual interpretation was for the distant future and clearly points to the Messiah. The prophecy in Matthew 24:29 (actually this comes from Isaiah 34:4 and Haggai 2:6 and 2:21) physically means that Jerusalem will be destroyed by Rome, but spiritually refers to the final Tribulation when Messiah returns.
The “New Covenant”, which we find in Jeremiah 31:31, refers physically to the return to Jerusalem of the exiled Babylonian Jews under Cyrus, and the covenant that we can have through Yeshua ha Maschiach (physical return and spiritual salvation.)
One last example: In 2 Samuel 7:12-13, God tells David that he will establish his kingdom forever through one of his descendants who will build a house for his (God) name. The physical prophecy is about Solomon and the spiritual side is about Yeshua. The house Solomon build did not last forever, but the house Yeshua has built, the spiritual house, is an everlasting dominion.
Now that we have established prophecies can be dual, we need to first approach Jews who reject Jesus and Christianity with the truth about Yeshua and his teachings, as well as the truth about Christianity. The first rule of approaching a Jewish person with the Good News of Messiah is this: do NOT use anything from the New Covenant.
First off, Jews do not recognize it as scripture. To use verses from the New Covenant to convince a Jew about Jesus is no different than using verses from the Quran to convince a Jew Allah is their God. Ain’t gonna work: no how, no way!
Next rule: do not use “Christian” terminology, especially the term “under the blood” because this is a filthy thing to the Jewish mindset. Do not use the name “Jesus Christ” because of what that name represents to Jews (as we discussed in Part 2 of this lesson.) Instead, use Yeshua ha Maschiach when you talk about the Messiah. And, again, use “Messiah” not “Savior” because Jesus Christ is a Savior, but Jews expect a Messiah. I know they mean the same thing, but Jews rarely use the term ‘Savior” so it will help them stay open to hearing you.
The most important thing is for you to know the prophecies about the Messiah that are in the Tanakh. If anything comes up from them about the New Covenant refer back to the original prophecy in the Tanakh.
You can also use extra-biblical writings to help. The works of Josephus are considered to be historically accurate and trustworthy, and he mentions in his history of the Jewish and Roman Wars about Yeshua (referred to as Jesus in some manuscripts) and even how he rose after the third day.
Most Jews, as we have discussed, expect one appearance of Messiah. To offset this we can use Isaiah 9:6 and Isaiah 53: Isaiah tells us the kingdom of the son of David will be established and rule forever, yet he later says that the Messiah will die. The only way to have a dead person rule forever is for that person to make two appearances, or (more accurately) to be resurrected. We can also find this in Hosea 6:2-3, where Hosea prophecies that after being torn we will be healed and that after 3 days we will be raised up (physical Israel and spiritually the Messiah.) There are also the prophecies in Zachariah: Zachariah 9:9 tells of the king of Israel riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and Zachariah 14:4 tells us about the return of Messiah in the Acharit HaYamim (End Days) and how God will rescue his people. There is also the reference here of the humble king and the fierce king, which coincides with Talmudic prophecy.
In the Talmud, Succah 52a it says the Messiah is the son of Joseph who must be slain, which coincides with Daniel 9:26 declaring that the Messiah will come and be put to death. The Talmud, the Targum and even the Zohar (which Judaism considers heretical) all agree that the Messiah will be both a suffering servant and a conquering king. You cannot have one Messiah fulfilling two totally opposites roles at the same time, so there have to be two comings.
The last thing to cover today is to know the Jewish roots of Christianity so that you can show where today’s Christian thoughts and beliefs about Messiah are similar, if not the same, as the Jewish beliefs. Here are some of those similarities:
- Through the work of the Messiah the people will be reconciled back to God by the forgiveness of their sins;
- the miracles that the Messiah will perform;
- the regathering of Israel in the End Days (use “Acharit HaYamim” and get some extra points!) and all will live in peace;
- there will be a one-world government, a Theocracy, with Messiah as King over all the world;
- death and sickness will be done away with; and
- there will be a great battle that Messiah will win.
We are getting close to the end of this lesson. The next time we get together for this we will continue to learn how to approach the Jewish people with the truth about Yeshua by debunking the many misinterpretations of New Covenant writings which have contributed to the rejection by Jews of anything Christian.
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Thank you for being here, please don’t hesitate to comment (just be nice) and until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!
Up to this point, we have reviewed what salvation means and that it comes from faith in a Messiah. There are certain expectations (based on biblical prophecy) regarding what the Messiah will do, which we have examined from both a Jewish and Christian perspective. In doing so, we have seen a vast difference in what each religion expects, even though this is supposed to be the same Messiah. In this lesson, the fourth part of our series, we will look at how these different viewpoints and beliefs developed over the millennia since Yeshua (Jesus) walked the earth.
If you would prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.
When Yeshua was with his Disciples, traveling and teaching in the Synagogues and towns throughout Judea, he was preaching from the Tanakh (the “Jewish” Bible) because that was the only “Word of God” that existed. After he was resurrected and returned to heaven, the Disciples continued his teachings. Eventually, they died out and Shaul (Paul) was one of the last of the (divinely appointed) Apostles who taught, and he went mainly to the Gentiles, although he always taught in the Synagogues first.
Back then there were, as there always have been, many more Gentiles than Jews, and once the Jewish population had been separated into those that accepted Yeshua and those that didn’t. It is very important to know that both groups were still practicing Judaism- there was no “conversion” event, but what started to happen is that the newer additions to this movement would be mainly composed of Gentiles. As these formerly pagan worshipers accepted Yeshua as their Messiah, they were the ones converting- to Judaism! There were no other religions around- you were either a Roman pagan worshiper or a Jewish God worshiper, and the Jewish ones were obeying what is written in the Torah.
With the advent of more and more Gentiles being added to this group of Messianic Jews, and because this conversion was such a paradigm shift in lifestyle, the Messianic leadership (Elders) in Jerusalem decided to make it easier for them. In Acts 15:20, by a suggestion from Yacov (James, the brother of Yeshua) it was determined that Gentiles converting to Judaism through Messiah Yeshua immediately had to change their lifestyle in this way:
1). no fornication;
2). no eating of blood;
3). no eating of anything strangled to death; and
4). not eating anything that had been sacrificed or devoted to an idol.
The important thing to note is that these were not the only requirements, they were only IMMEDIATE changes that had to be made. James’s suggestion ended with the statement that these new converts would be hearing the laws of Moses in the synagogues every Shabbat. That clearly indicates James expected that eventually these converts would learn and be obedient to all of the Mosaic Law, completing their conversion to Judaism.
In other words, there was never to be any difference between how Jews rejecting Messiah and Jews and Gentiles accepting Messiah would worship God.
The practice of Judaism was allowed in Judea because Rome had originally been invited into the land to help the Jewish people get rid of the Seleucid kings. Because the religion was well established and an integral part of the society and government, Rome allowed the people to continue to practice it. However, by the time Yeshua arrived, the Jewish population wanted (as discussed earlier) their Messiah to free them from Roman rule. When this expectation went unmet, they began to revolt themselves. This was not viewed favorably by Rome, and there was the beginning of political persecution by Rome against the Jewish people. The first Jewish-Roman War (70 CE) resulted in the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and the depopulation of the Jewish people (and renaming of Judea to Palestine by the Romans) was the result of the Bar Kochba revolt of 132-135 CE.
BTW– The Western Wall was not a part of Solomon’s temple- it was the remaining section of the wall built by Herod which surrounded the court of the original Temple.
As the population of “Believers” continued to grow, there were many more Gentiles joining than Jews, and eventually (as the original Apostles died out and were replaced) the leadership of this movement was populated by Gentiles and through wrongful interpretations and desire to separate from the Jewish population (which was having its own problems with Rome) led to a separation from Judaism of this new movement being called Christianity.
Let’s go back in history for a moment: when the 9 1/2 tribes of Israel living in the land God promised were split under Jeroboam into the Northern and Southern tribes (Shomron, also called Israel in the north and Judea in the south), the split was as much spiritual as it was political. In the north, idol worship took over and they rejected the Torah and the God of their fathers to worship the many Semitic gods of the surrounding peoples. This was as much a political move as a religious one; by doing this, Jeroboam ensured that his people would not be enticed to return to the southern kingdom.
Now we return to the end of the first century and see the Christian leadership following the example of Jeroboam. By separating themselves from the Jewish population, spiritually, they could try to avoid the Roman persecution by showing they were not Jews. This started with Ignatius of Antioch, one of the early “church” leaders. In 110 CE he changed the Sabbath day to Sunday.
Later, under the rulership of Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicene (third century), the doctrine of modern day Christianity was formed which completed the total separation of Jews and Christians.
Some examples of the Christian doctrine are the changing of the Sabbath day, the ideology of the Trinity, the festivals of Christmas and Easter, and the idea that salvation was available universally and not centered on Jerusalem. These changes, as well as many others, resulted in the total separation between Jews and Christians, which were now totally different religions. Yeshua was no longer a Jewish Messiah- he was now the Christian Savior.
For over two thousand years, between Jews and Christians, there has been animosity, bigotry, and ignorance. During these times the doctrine of the “Church” has been progressively hateful and derogatory towards the Jewish people. Ignatius, who already changed the Sabbath day, also declared (circa 110 AD) that where there is Christianity there cannot be Judaism. In or around 200 CE, Origin declared that because the Jewish people rejected Jesus Christ, it is right that their nation was destroyed and that God now offered his joy to the Christians; this is the beginning of Replacement Theology. And we get still more from Ignatius, who also said that living in accordance with Jewish law means that one has not really received Grace. This is still being taught today, which I can personally confirm as I have (more than once) been told that if I do all that “Jewish” stuff I am still “under the law” and not really saved.
When it comes to separating Christians from Jews and fostering hatred and fear, let’s not forget to mention the Crusades and the Inquisition, which (as we learned earlier) led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Jews by Christians who believed they were doing God’s work. Spain, the progenitor of the Inquisition, was the world power in the 15th Century when Queen Isabella exiled all Jews from Spain. However, by the end of the 18th Century Spain was not even considered a viable threat, and has never recovered her position as a world power (didn’t God tell Abraham that those who curse him will be cursed?)
As we have already learned, Nazi Germany also thought they were doing God’s work- their belt buckles had “Gott mit uns” engraved on them (God is with us), and from the Jewish perspective, they were no different than Christians.
Lastly, Replacement Theology is a rampant right-wing Christian movement that says, essentially, because the Jews rejected Christ God has rejected the Jews and Born-Again Christians are now God’s true Chosen people, the “real Jews! Of course, the Bible is totally against this, as we can see in the following verses:
Matthew 19:28- Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jeremiah 30:11-I am with you and will save you,’ declares the LORD. ‘Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you.
Isaiah 49:16- Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the son of her womb? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are ever before Me.
Jeremiah 30:31-At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.
In the letter to the Romans, Chapters 9 through 11 Shaul confirms the Jewish people will always be God’s chosen and will one day be grafted back onto the tree of Salvation. He warns the Gentiles not to become proud, which (apparently) they never paid attention to.
One last point regarding Replacement Theology: if they are truly God’s chosen people and the “real” Jews, then why didn’t they speak up during the Holocaust?
This ends lesson 4 of our series. In our next lesson, we will discuss methods we can use to try to reconcile the differences between the Jewish and Christian Messiah.
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Thank you for being here and please don’t hesitate to make comments- all I ask is that you be nice.
L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!
So far in this series, we have looked at the meaning of salvation, the Jewish expectations of the Messiah, and why Yeshua ha Maschiach (Jesus Christ) was and has been rejected by “mainstream” Judaism since his first appearance on earth.
Today we will delve into the Christian expectations of the Messiah, who is usually referred to as “Savior” and not “Messiah.”
If you prefer to watch a video teaching, click on this link: Watch the video.
One major difference we should point out right at the start between Jewish and Christian expectation and knowledge of the Messiah: Jews were, and still are, waiting and looking forward to the coming of the Messiah; however, Christians never looked forward to his coming- he was already here before Christianity started. Christians have always known who their Savior is, whereas Jews have never known who their Messiah was going to be.
Christian expectation of Messiah is not really an expectation, but more like 20/20 hindsight because what they believe about their Savior is what they have already seen.
They know he was born in a miraculous manner, being of a virgin who was impregnated by God through the Holy Spirit.
They know that he died for their sins, but since most Christian teachings are from the New Covenant, instead of referencing the Tanakh, they look to the Gospels and Epistles for the justification of their beliefs. So, instead of using Isaiah 53 to understand the sacrifice of the Messiah, they refer to 1st Corinthians 15:3. More specifically, within Catholicism, they quote John 20:21-23 not only to state that forgiveness of sin can only come through belief in Jesus but also that Jesus gave men the power to forgive sins through the priesthood. To further confirm forgiveness is only available through Jesus, Christianity references Ephesians 1:7 and Corinthians 5:17.
According to Ephesians 3:19 the Savior is all about love and complete acceptance, which lends itself to another Christian belief, which is that there is no need for the Torah or the laws God gave to Moses.
In my opinion, one of the most anti-Semitic teachings within Christianity is that Jesus did away with the “law” (the Torah) and that the “Jewish Bible” is just for Jews and doesn’t really have any meaning to Christians. It is still scripture, but they concentrate almost exclusively on the New Covenant writings.
Whereas Christians have been taught that the Jewish laws are not valid for them, one sect of Christianity takes it to the extreme. Their belief system is called Replacement Theology. This is the most virulent anti-Semitic sect of Christianity because they believe since the Jews rejected Jesus as their Savior, God has rejected the Jews as his chosen people! Christians (specifically “Born-Again” Christians) are now God’s “real” chosen people, the “Israel of God” that Shaul talks about at the very end of Galatians.
Most Christians haven’t gone this far and have been taught that the Law is really split into two types of law: Moral and Ceremonial. The moral laws are still valid for Christians, but the ceremonial laws are not. For instance, the laws of Kashrut (Kosher) are ceremonial so only Jews have to follow them, whereas murder and adultery are moral laws and they are still valid and must be followed. This belief system is justified by Matthew 5:17. This is where Yeshua said he came to fulfill the law, which has been interpreted to mean the (Mosaic) law was completed in him and therefore is no longer necessary to be followed. It is also confirmed by the teaching that when Shaul (Paul) says that our sins were “nailed to the cross” (Colossians 2:14), that meant the law was also nailed to the cross, i.e. done away with.
This is the same as saying if the car ahead of me makes a complete stop at the stop sign, thereby fulfilling the law for stop signs, then I can just go right through it. Or, if I live my entire life without murdering anyone, then murdering someone will be acceptable and not a sin when I die because I had fulfilled that law. Ain’t that da silliest thing you evah hoid?
Let’s get serious again…Christians believe that Jesus was resurrected and returned to his father in heaven, and will return to destroy the Antichrist and rule over all the earth, forever. And when this day finally arrives, Christians (and many Jews, as well) believe that they will be lifted up and live eternally in heaven.
As we can see, there is a very significant difference between Jewish and Christian understanding of who the Messiah is and what to expect from him when he arrives. How this vast chasm of belief in the same personage came about is what we will examine now.
As far as Jews are concerned, the advent of the Messiah’s coming has always been seen as a national event. He is not here for you or for me, but for Israel…for all Jews, everywhere. Christians see the relationship with their Savior as an individual and singular event: the Savior is here for me and you have to have your own relationship with him. This is a major difference in expectation: the Jewish Messiah’s relationship is with the entire nation of Israel, but the Christian Savior has a personal relationship just with me.
Judaism expects that the changes the Messiah will make will occur at or before his actual coming, and when he is here they will all come to completion. Christians believe that after someone accepts him as their Savior, then there will be some changes that happen (such as indwelling of the Holy Spirit) but most changes in the world won’t happen until his second coming.
Finally, Jews believe that Yeshua did not fulfill or meet the prophecies about the Messiah and Christians believe he met almost all of them, and the ones that he did not fulfill will be fulfilled with his second coming.
This ends our third segment in this series of teachings. In our next lesson, we will review the origins of these vastly different expectations and learn how they developed.
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Until then, l’hetraot and Baruch HaShem!