Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Rise of the False Teachers: Ron Cantor's Anti-One-Law Series

I feel sorry for these liberal Messianic Jews who promote such garbage.  And I regret that we have to even address this at all.  But we're obligated to analyze and respond to false teaching.  So here's Ron Cantor on why non-Jews shouldn't follow the Torah of Moses.  Read it and then we'll discuss.


PART ONE

PART TWO

PART THREE

PART FOUR


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Does Circumcision Function as an Initiatory Rite?

I'd like to make two points:

(1) Ishmael was circumcised and yet OUT of covenant with G-d.

(2) Avraham was uncircumcised and yet IN covenant with G-d.

Misc. Note:  Thought this was an interesting observation made by Gary Porton:


"...the Shammaites required the gentile to be circumcised for the expressed purpose of his conversion, and this position is supported by the discussion of the heave offering in the Palestinian Talmud.  On the other hand, the Hillelites held that while converts, like all other Israelites, needed to be circumcised, they did not have to be circumcised upon their conversion.  If they had been circumcised before they decided to convert, that circumcision was valid.  From the Hillelites' point of view circumcision was not necessarily a part of the conversion ritual, it was merely the physical mark of the covenant between [Adonai] and the Israelites.  For the Shammaites, on the other hand, circumcision was a ritual which had to be performed specifically for the purpose of joining the People Israel;  therefore, a circumcised gentile had to undergo a symbolic circumcision at the time he became an Israelite.  Thus, while both the Shammaites and the Hillelites require converts to be circumcised, they do so for different reasons because they seem to have different views concerning the significance of the act.  For the Shammaites, circumcision appears to be an entrance requirement into the People Israel:  Native-born Israelite babies and converts must be circumcised as a sign that they have entered the Israelite community.  According to the Hillelites, males are circumcised as a sign that they belong to [Adonai's] people, so that gentiles do not need to undergo a symbolic circumcision if they were already circumcised at the time of their conversion," pg. 141 The Stranger Within Your Gates by Gary Porton

Torah Readings for Rosh HaShanah


Ten Reasons For Sounding the Shofar on Rosh HaShanah (Saadiah Gaon)


"1.  God completed the creation of the heavens and the earth on Rosh ha-Shanah thus establishing His sovereignty over the Universe.  We herald our acknowledgement of HIs being King with blowing the shofar.

2.  Rosh ha-Shanah is the beginning of the Ten Days of Penitence.  The shofar admonishes us to repentance.

3.  It is to remind us of the momentous occasion when we stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai and received the Torah amidst the sound of the shofar.

4.  It is to impress upon us the importance of the Prophets, and their exhortations which are compared to the blasts of a shofar.

5.  The broken blasts (shevarim) of the shofar remind us of the destroyed Temple.  We must pray for its rebuilding and the restoration of its services.

6.  We must remember and emulate Abraham's readiness to obey God and sacrifice his son Isaac.  It was a ram that was substituted for Isaac, hence the use of a ram's horn.

7.  The stirring sounds of the shofar prompt us to address our prayers to God with broken hearts and feelings of awe. 

8.  It helps us recognize the solemnity of the day and to be imbued by its sanctity.

9.  To remind us of the day of the ingathering of the Jews into the Land of Israel, an event which will be heralded by the blasts of the shofar.

10.  To impress upon us the belief in the resurrection of the dead, which will also be heralded by the shofar sounds in the Messianic era," pg. 190 of The Minhagim by Abraham Chill

Iran Threatens to Attack Israel

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Syria Threatens to Attack Israel

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Monday, August 26, 2013

UMJC to Messianic Jews: "Get Rid of the Crosses!"

So I'm curious to hear what you think of this:

My wife and I were talking to a Jewish friend of ours the other day.  She said that a certain former president of the UMJC told her that she shouldn't be wearing a cross.  See, she wears a star of David necklace and, additionally, a cross necklace.

Any thoughts on this guys?  Is the UMJC going too far here?  Or do you all agree with the former president's position that Yeshua-Believing Jews shouldn't wear crosses?


Friday, August 23, 2013

Review of "Colossians and Philemon For the Practical Messianic" by J.K. McKee [COMPLETED]

[This book can be purchased HERE]
"Every Messianic Believer…at one point in his or her faith experience has been quoted Colossians…often by a well-meaning Christian friend or family member who wonders why we attend worship services on Saturday (Shabbat), remember special times of year like Passover, or abstain from pork and shellfish....Many of the Christian family and friends you have will take Colossians 2:16 and inappropriately use it to judge you for your obedience to God's commandments," (pgs. 67-68). 

Is the Book of Colossians really an attack on Judaism?

While this may be what the Christian layperson believes, McKee observes that, "...many of today's evangelical commentators correctly recognize that the overarching issue [in Colossians] is a proto-Gnostic/mystical and Jewish amalgamation of errors unique to Colossae and the Lycus Valley.  Their thoughts will be carefully considered in our examination," (pg. 52).

Thus, this review will highlight McKee's methodology of using evangelical Christian commentators to bolster his own case that Paul never attacks Judaism in the Book of Colossians; rather, Paul attacks a "hijacked" version of Judaism (to use McKee's expression).

TEXT:  COLOSSIANS 2:13-15

"13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him," (Colossians 2:13-15)

COMMON PRESUPPOSITION:  "...Colossians 2:14 ["certificate of debt...nailed to the cross"] is commonly used to assert that 'the Law of Moses has been nailed to the cross,'" (pg. 60).

CONTEXTUALIZED EXEGESIS:  But was it the Law of Moses that was nailed to the cross?  The following scholars disagree that the "certificate of debt...nailed to the cross" was in fact the Torah of Moses:

Dunn:  "...[W]e should note that it is not the law which is thought of as thus destroyed, but rather its particular condemnation...of transgressions, absorbed in the sacrificial death of the Christ (cf. Rom. 8:3)," [emphasis added] (pgs. 62-63). 

Ben Witherington III:  "Here [the term 'cheirograph'] seems to be a reference to the heavenly book of deeds in which a record of one's wrongdoings is kept.  In fact in Apocalypse of Zephaniah 3.6-9; 7.1-8 the same word is used for that book..." (pg. 63). 

McKee concludes:  "It is perfectly legitimate to recognize how the 'certificate of debt' that has been paid by Yeshua's sacrifice, is the condemnation and record of human sin.  The power of this condemnation was found in various 'decrees against us,' the stated death penalties for high crimes as specified in the Torah.  It is not at all incorrect to recognize that by His death and shed blood, our relationship to the Torah has certainly been changed, but that does not mean that the Torah is to be thrown by the wayside and never studied or meditated upon (Psalm 119:15, 27).  The Torah remains relevant instruction that is to be upheld and taught as a standard of God's righteousness and holiness (Romans 3:31)..." (pg. 66).  Lastly, McKee notes that the term nomos ("law") is noticeably absent from the passage.

TEXT:  COLOSSIANS 2:16-17

"16 Therefore no on is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day--17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Messiah," (Colossians 2:16-17).

COMMON PRESUPPOSITION 1:   The false teachers taught a pure, unadulterated form of Judaism.  They judged the Colossians Believers for refusing or neglecting to keep these standard Jewish observances. 

"Many Christian lay readers simply conclude that the false teachers in Colossae were judging Paul's readers for not observing these various rituals," (pg. 68).

CONTEXTUALIZED EXEGESIS 1:  "...is it at all possible that the Colossians were told not to accept judgment for not keeping these things in the manner that the false teachers did?" (pg. 68) [emphasis added].  In other words, McKee here suggests that the standard by which the false teachers were so presumptuously judging was in fact a paganized (and minority-held) version of Judaism.  He finds corroboration from the following scholars:

Moo:  "We should therefore at least keep open the possibility that the Colossian false teachers' abstinence from food and drink had its origins elsewhere, since many ancient Greco-Roman philosophical and religious traditions also featured prohibitions of meat and wine,' (pg. 69).  "Only Sabbath observance that is connected inappropriately to a wider religious viewpoint is here being condemned.  These interpreters [who agree] are quite right to emphasize the importance of interpreting contextually and historically.  And they are also right, we have suggested, to argue that Sabbath was taken up into a larger, syncretistic mix," (pg. 70).

Lincoln:   "...the false teaching at Colossae...was a fusion of Jewish and pagan elements..." (pg. 48) "[T]here is no indication here that the motivation for abstinence from food and drink was due to observance of Torah....Instead, it is probable that in the philosophy they were linked to a desire to please the cosmic powers," (pg. 69).

O'Brien:  "There are various reasons why abstinence from food and drink was practiced in the ancient world:  the belief in the transmigration of souls might prevent a person from eating meat.  Some practiced asceticism since it was bound up with their views of purity.  Others thought that by fasting one served the deity, came closer to him or prepared oneself for receiving a divine revelation, a point that is important in the light of verse 18....For Israel the keeping of these holy days was evidence of obedience to God's law and a sign of her election among the nations.  At Colossae, however, the sacred days were to be kept for the sake of the 'elemental spirits of the universe,' those astral powers who directed the course of the stars and regulated the order of the calendar.  So Paul is not condemning the use of sacred days or seasons as such; it is the wrong motive involved when the observance of these days is bound up with the recognition of the elemental spirits,"  (pgs. 69-70). 

F.F. Bruce:  "[The Colossian false teaching] appears to have been basically Jewish, but to have included features of pagan affinity...associated with an asceticism which was not characteristic of the mainstream of Jewish life," (pg. 52).


COMMON PRESUPPOSITION 2:  Some people read v. 17 as Paul denouncing Jewish observances as unhelpful "shadows."

"The NIV Study Bible is about as far as many Christian  laypeople go in examining the meaning of Colossians 2:17.  Its brief commentary describes, 'The ceremonial laws of the OT are here referred to as shadows...because they symbolically depicted the coming of Christ; so any insistence on the observance of such ceremonies is a failure to recognize that their fulfillment has already taken place,"  (pg. 71).

Even certain Messianic Jewish teachers have used the "shadows" reference to argue that the Biblical Appointed Times are unhelpful for non-Jews.  Stern writes "For Gentiles...[these] Jewish practices are in most cases nothing more than a shadow, insofar as they do not arise out of their own national experience....these shadows are irrelevant to Gentiles, since God did not give these commands to Gentiles..." (pgs. 75-76).

CONTEXTUALIZED EXEGESIS 2:  But is Paul really using the "shadow" language to undermine the legitimacy or helpfulness of Biblical Appointed Times?  Or might he simply be noting an incongruity--that false teachers were judging others when they themselves had not even grasped that Yeshua was the source reality behind the instructionary shadows?  McKee suggests that the false teachers were "only able to go after shadows with their philosophy of error," (pg. 74) because their philosophy rejected Yeshua's Divinity:

"8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Messiah.  9 For in Him all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority," (Colossians 2:8-10).

And given that the false teachers had used such observances (e.g. Shabbat) as a time for starvation-induced hallucinations and ecstatic angel-worship, it seems that the false teachers had undermined even the shadows themselves:

"Paul says that the false teachers were advocating tapeinophrosune [Col. 2:18]...most often related to fasting--or in this case, an extreme fasting..." which was "designed to give them ecstatic hallucinations" (pg. 77, 76).  In short, McKee writes that the false teachers had "perverted [the Appointed Times]," (pg. 76).

TEXT:  COLOSSIANS 2:20-23

"20 If you have died with Messiah to the elementary principles of the world, why, as it you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 'Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!' 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)--in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?  23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence."

COMMON PRESUPPOSITION:  Paul here argues that the Torah's food laws and purity laws ("Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch) are elementary principles of the world, destined to perish, containing only an appearance of wisdom, and offering no value when it comes to curbing fleshly appetites:

"Too frequently when encountering v. 20, lay readers will focus their attention upon 'submit yourself to decrees,' and then assume that God's commandments in the Torah are being spoken against," (pg. 80).

"It is very tempting for readers to conclude that various aspects of the Torah are specifically being targeted against here, especially regulations that regard touching an unclean person (Leviticus 15; Numbers 19:11-13) or unclean animals/meat (Leviticus 5:2-3; 11)," (pg. 81).

CONTEXTUALIZED EXEGESIS:  But are the worldly, ascetic, deceptive "decrees" spoken against in vs. 20-23 really the commandments contained in G-d's Word?

McKee argues that, "[t]hese principles or 'commandments' are not considered by Paul to be of Divine origin.  He finds corroboration with Vaughan and Moo:

Vaughan:  "Some may have been reenactments of the Mosaic law; others were doubtless prohibitions stemming from pagan asceticism.  There is a descending order in the terms, the climax being reaching in the last word--i.e., 'Don't even touch,'" (pg. 80).

Moo:  "...Paul's claim that the rules involved here are closely related to 'the elemental forces,' and that they are 'worldly' in orientation (v. 20), also suggests that these Jewish-oriented...rules have been taken up into a larger and syncretistic religious philosophy."

McKee concludes that since the false teacher's prohibitions "Do not handle, taste, or touch" are connected to "elementary forces", extreme self-debasement, worldliness, and angel-worship, "...it is inappropriate to assume an exclusive Jewish context..." pg. 81.  To put it another way, the false teachers were not teaching a pure, unadulterated version of Judaism but rather a paganized version of Judaism.  

THE COMMENTARY ON PHILEMON

"The letter to Philemon...is a Biblical text that often draws a blank stare from many people today...it is often thought to be too small to demand any serious attention....It has been my observation that too frequently, it is those small, rather obscure Biblical books that often contain a lesson or two that are vital..." (pg. 125).

What lessons does McKee draw out from the text?

The answer to that lies beyond the scope of this review; however, one interesting point will be noted.  For those few individuals who have given the book of Philemon more than a cursory examination, there might be a temptation to conclude that the lesson of the book pertains only to slavery.

But is the lesson of Philemon merely that slavery should be abolished?

McKee agrees with Moo that there are "revolutionary implications" in the letter.  Somewhat cryptically he quotes from Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics:

"Friendship between brothers is like that which unites the members of a social club, because the parties are equal in standing and age...but there can be no friendship or justice towards inanimate things, and not even towards a horse or an ox, nor yet towards a slave qua slave; because there is nothing common to both parties:  the slave is a living tool in the same way that a tool is an inanimate object."

This quote hints, at least to this reviewer, that the "evil" that Paul addresses might be a bit broader than slavery, perhaps including any social inequities which would inhibit "friendship between brothers."  Just what implications this might have for Messianic ecclesiology one is left to imagine.  However, McKee provides one more possible clue:

"Knowing the Torah, Paul realized that slaves could be released in the year of jubilee (Exodus 21:2-13), slaveowners who killed their slaves could be executed (Exodus 21:12), and harsh punishment of slaves would mean that the slaves could immediately go free (Exodus 21:26-27).  These were casuistic laws in the Pentateuch, originally designed to regulate Ancient Israel's economy in the Ancient Near East--not the Roman province of Judea, nor a widespread Diaspora Jewish community in the Mediterranean basin.  So Paul was informed from these Torah commandments on how Philemon needed to act toward Onesimus, but he also had to deal with the necessities of Roman law, and most importantly how the gospel of salvation is blind to one's status as either slave or free," (pg. 133).

CONCLUSION

Rather than attacking Christians and Christianity as being followers of a hopelessly confused religious system, McKee explains where Christians get it right!  The real problem is that Christian laypersons haven't studied with the same level of depth as the Christian scholars.  The Christian scholars, acquainted with first-century pagan influence at Colossae, have recognized that Paul is actually attacking a paganized version of Judaism (i.e. "hijacked" Judaism).

McKee has not only written a cutting-edge commentary on Colossians and Philemon but he has also subverted many of the anti-Christian feelings prevalent in the Messianic movement, effectively demonstrating that Messianics and Christians have much to learn---from each other!

Colossians and Philemon for the Practical Messianic is a MUST-HAVE for every Messianic home library.

Shalom,

Peter

Best Comment Thread Yet!

I'm really enjoying the dialogue with Messianic613 developing at a previous post.  Check it out at the following link:

CLICK HERE FOR LINK


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Shalom to the Polish Visitors!

There seems to be a massive amount of visitors to this blog from Poland.  So I have a special message for my Polish visitors:

Polska jest cudownym krajem!!  

(In case that's horribly incorrect, I'm hoping I just said "Poland is a wonderful country!")

Shalom,

Peter

: )

Messianic Wish-List for a Teacher at Church


Hearken (Shamar) Then Peform (Asah): The Implications for the "One-Law" Passage in Exodus 12


Free Transliterated Tanak

This is a good resource for people who don't read Hebrew script but understand a few words and want to read along to hear how the Hebrew for a certain passage sounds:

CLICK HERE FOR LINK


NOTE:  You'll need to scroll down to the "view by chapter" section.  Then click on the chapter you want to see transliterated.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Fate of Them That Sleep: Daniel and Jeremiah on the View That Individuals Who Die With Unforgiven Sin Will Face Eternal Damnation

It can be frustrating when you tell a non-Messianic Jew that he or she needs Yeshua.  There are a range of responses.  Some might quote from Scripture.  Most don't.

And the ones who quote from Scripture tend to use the passages that indicate a future, corporate salvation of Israel.  

Here's the problem with that:  Daniel and Jeremiah say that there will be some individuals within Israel who die in their sins and go to everlasting condemnation.

"29 In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge.30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah," Jeremiah 31:29-31)

"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt," (Daniel 12:1-2)

The L-rd Yeshua also quotes from Daniel and expounds the text:

"21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. 24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned," (John 5:21-29)
Now, of course, I can hear the response, "But in the Jeremiah passage, while it does say that every one shall die for his own iniquity, it immediately goes on to say that G-d will give a New Covenant in which He remembers sin no more!"  Yes, but this New Covenant is only for those who have accepted Yeshua:
"If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved," (Romans 10:9)
Keep in mind that Yeshua IS G-d:
"For in [Yeshua] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," (Colossians 2:9) 
Therefore to reject Yeshua is the same as rejecting G-d. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Modern Jewish View on Salvation

I came across an interesting article at BeingJewish.com, entitled "How Does a Jew Attain Salvation?" It presents a Jewish response to the Christian assertion that salvation comes only through Jesus.  I would encourage every Messianic to read this and consider how you might respond to the points raised in the article:


Monday, August 19, 2013

How Did Gentile Men (and Women) Join the Covenant of Ancient Israel? [One Law Theology in a Nutshell]

If we answer, "through circumcision" then the rebuttal is "well, what about the women?"

Here's what Paul says:


"9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised," (Romans 4:9-12)

In other words, G-d entered into covenant with Abraham even while Abraham was uncircumcised.  So it is faith that initiates one into the covenant.

But what about initiation into Israel?

Note that Genesis 17 (the covenant of circumcision passage) says that Abraham had to circumcise all the males of his household:

"10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”" (Genesis 17:15)

And it's the same for the "ger" in Exodus 12:

48 “A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it. 49 The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you," (Exodus 12:48-49)

This correlation tells us that just as Abraham had joined the covenant prior to circumcision, the ger also joined the covenant prior to circumcision.  And this covenantal membership obligated the male head of the house to circumcise the rest of his males.  The women didn't even need an outward sign!  

So if an uncircumcised ger can be a covenant member then that means he is part of the congregation ("edah") of Israel.  And all of the congregation of Israel was obligated to observe Passover:

"All the congregation of Israel shall keep [the Passover]" (Exodus 12:48)

This shows that G-d wanted all the uncircumcised Gentiles to keep the Passover so that they could be reckoned as a "native" of Israel:

"The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you," (Exodus 12:49)

But under the New Covenant, inclusionism becomes even more clear (e.g. Ephesians 2, etc).  

I guess that's One Law in a nutshell.  Does any have a different opinion they'd like to express?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

When G-d Spoke

So I've mentioned before how back in August of 2006, the pastor of the church we visit, Dr. Becton, was involved in a miracle.  While he was unconscious from anesthesia for a routine surgery, he starting talking and the doctors quickly realized that it was the Holy Spirit speaking through him.

Well, my wife and I watched the video of the service in which those doctors came and testified about what happened.  Powerful stuff.

The first woman to speak was the anesthesiologist Gail Heppner.  She said her first reaction when Becton started talking was "Oh, no, I didn't do my job!  I didn't give him enough sedative!" So she upped the dosage and still Becton kept right on speaking clearly and articulately.

The room became quiet.  There were no interruptions.  A phone that typically rang off the hook, didn't ring once.  The doctors, Heppner and Sundin, and the nurse, Miller, were unable to speak.

And then, as Heppner listened to what Becton was saying, she realized that it was the Holy Spirit addressing a prayer request she'd made the previous week.

The week prior, her coworker Miller had come to work upset.  She was usually upbeat and cheerful but she finally came clean about her grief over the loss of her husband and daughter.  Heppner listened as Miller confided that she felt "empty, used up...and I feel guilty that I don't have anything left to give G-d."

As Becton lay unconscious, he said, "I know there are people in the room in pain.  They feel empty, used up, and guilty because they feel they have nothing left to give G-d....Carol, let me have it, all your pain, just give it up."

Later in the service, Carol Miller got up and told her perspective of the event, how she was initially skeptical, thinking "How did he know about that?"  But the presence of the Holy Spirit filled the room and she did what the Spirit said--she gave up all the pain.

The last to speak was Dr. Sundin.  He explained how, before the surgery, he had been praying for relief for feeling burnt out.  It was the day before Becton's surgery, and Sundin was staring at the pile of papers on his desk.  He felt completely broken as a young surgeon trying to make a successful practice. He knew he needed to seek G-d.

And so in the operatory, Becton started speaking again, "Dr. Sundin, you were delivered to me specifically to be my surgeon. And God has great plans for you and your life. And he has given you many gifts. They are His gifts, and He wants to use them through you, for Him. He has chosen you specifically to be His servant. ... God hears your prayers. He is near."

Sundin, also talked about how Becton quoted a verse that was especially meaningful to Sundin in particular.  Then, when Sundin was convinced that the Holy Spirit was somehow speaking through Becton, Becton outlined several major points:

(1) G-d hears your prayers;

(2) G-d has a purpose for your life;

(3) Satan is a liar.  He will try to make you think that G-d doesn't listen and that you don't have a purpose.  Don't believe him.

So that was pretty much it.  Then later that day I was listening to a British man talk about the Gospel narrative.  He explained how immediately after Yeshua was baptized and the voice of His Father spoke from heaven, "This is my beloved Son.  With you I am very pleased!"--how right after that, Satan came to Yeshua and tried to plant seeds of doubt in Yeshua's mind:

"If you're really the Son of G-d..."

And, after Yeshua successfully resisted Satan, it said ominously that Satan left Him...for a while.

So then I thought that maybe G-d was confirming somehow the things that Becton had said in the operating room.  Up until then I had been extremely skeptical.  Plus I prayed something this morning, thinking all the while how G-d was listening to me (not that I believed He would grant what I was asking, just that I believed He was listening).  And the prayer request was granted in the most amusing way possible.  I can't give details about that, sorry.

No request is too small either.  My precious wife asks the most endearing things.  As a mother, she is often in a hurry and has trouble locating something.  She'll pray "Father please help me to find such and such" and then, usually in a matter of moments, I hear her say something like "Oh, thank you L-rd!"

I think G-d is especially compassionate toward mothers.  Yeshua had a mother after all!  : )

Well, I hope you'll all think about those three points:


(1) G-d hears your prayers;

(2) G-d has a purpose for your life;

(3) Satan is a liar.  He will try to make you think that G-d doesn't listen and that you don't have a purpose.  Don't believe him. 

Shalom,

Peter



Saturday, August 17, 2013

"The Torah Shall Go Forth": But Which Torah?


Micah 4:1-3"But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.
And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more," (Micah 4:1-3). 
Isaiah 2:2-4"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more," (Isaiah 2:2-4).


In McKee's "One Law for All", he notes that "[t]he dispensational Bible Knowledge Commentary...actually claims [regarding Micah 4:1-3 and Isaiah 2:2-4] 'Law (...not the Mosaic Law) will be given in Zion," (pg. 118 of One Law for All) [emphasis added].

And, as all of us Messianics know, there are certain organizations in the Messianic movement that say Gentiles are only bound to the so-called "Noahide Laws" and not the Sinaitic Torah.

So which Torah will "go forth" from Zion?  The Noahide Law?  The Fourfold Decree of Acts 15?  Or is it really the Torah of Moses that goes forth?

Let's look at another passage in Isaiah to find out more:


Isaiah 56:6-7
"6...every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;
Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer", (Isaiah 56:6-7)

This tells us that only those that take hold of the Covenant and keep the Sabbath will be brought to the Temple.  Thus, Isaiah 56 informs us that the Gentiles in Micah 4 and Isaiah 2 are those Gentiles who have taken hold of the Covenant (and who keep Shabbat).

But now we have another question:  which Covenant will these Goyim be taking hold of?

The Shabbat is a good clue.  The Shabbat is a law found in both the Sinaitic Covenant and New Covenant (since the New Covenant includes the Torah of Moses).

So the answer to the question "which Torah goes forth from Zion?" must be:  the Torah of Moses.




Listen to the Songs of Synagogue Liturgy

Just stumbled across this Messianic synagogue website that has a section that not only allows you to listen to the music of the liturgy but also shows the Hebrew, Hebrew-English transliteration, and English for each song:

CLICK HERE FOR LINK


Friday, August 16, 2013

Colossians and Philemon Commentary

Well, I almost finished it...but not quite--still needs an introduction.  But here's the majority of my review for McKee's Colossians and Philemon commentary:


TEXT:  COLOSSIANS 2:13-15

"13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him," (Colossians 2:13-15)

COMMON PRESUPPOSITION:  "...Colossians 2:14 ["certificate of debt...nailed to the cross"] is commonly used to assert that 'the Law of Moses has been nailed to the cross,'" (pg. 60).

CONTEXTUALIZED EXEGESIS:  But was it the Law of Moses that was nailed to the cross?  The following scholars disagree that the "certificate of debt...nailed to the cross" was in fact the Torah of Moses:

Dunn:  "...[W]e should note that it is not the law which is thought of as thus destroyed, but rather its particular condemnation...of transgressions, absorbed in the sacrificial death of the Christ (cf. Rom. 8:3)," [emphasis added] (pgs. 62-63). 

Ben Witherington III:  "Here [the term 'cheirograph'] seems to be a reference to the heavenly book of deeds in which a record of one's wrongdoings is kept.  In fact in Apocalypse of Zephaniah 3.6-9; 7.1-8 the same word is used for that book..." (pg. 63). 

McKee concludes:  "It is perfectly legitimate to recognize how the 'certificate of debt' that has been paid by Yeshua's sacrifice, is the condemnation and record of human sin.  The power of this condemnation was found in various 'decrees against us,' the stated death penalties for high crimes as specified in the Torah.  It is not at all incorrect to recognize that by His death and shed blood, our relationship to the Torah has certainly been changed, but that does not mean that the Torah is to be thrown by the wayside and never studied or meditated upon (Psalm 119:15, 27).  The Torah remains relevant instruction that is to be upheld and taught as a standard of God's righteousness and holiness (Romans 3:31)..." (pg. 66).  Lastly, McKee notes that the term nomos ("law") is noticeably absent from the passage.

TEXT:  COLOSSIANS 2:16-17

"16 Therefore no on is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day--17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Messiah," (Colossians 2:16-17).

COMMON PRESUPPOSITION 1:   The false teachers taught a pure, unadulterated form of Judaism.  They judged the Colossians Believers for refusing or neglecting to keep these standard Jewish observances. 

"Many Christian lay readers simply conclude that the false teachers in Colossae were judging Paul's readers for not observing these various rituals," (pg. 68).

CONTEXTUALIZED EXEGESIS 1:  "...is it at all possible that the Colossians were told not to accept judgment for not keeping these things in the manner that the false teachers did?" (pg. 68) [emphasis added].  In other words, McKee here suggests that the standard by which the false teachers were so presumptuously judging was in fact a paganized (and minority-held) version of Judaism.  He finds corroboration from the following scholars:

Moo:  "We should therefore at least keep open the possibility that the Colossian false teachers' abstinence from food and drink had its origins elsewhere, since many ancient Greco-Roman philosophical and religious traditions also featured prohibitions of meat and wine,' (pg. 69).  "Only Sabbath observance that is connected inappropriately to a wider religious viewpoint is here being condemned.  These interpreters [who agree] are quite right to emphasize the importance of interpreting contextually and historically.  And they are also right, we have suggested, to argue that Sabbath was taken up into a larger, syncretistic mix," (pg. 70).

Lincoln:   "...the false teaching at Colossae...was a fusion of Jewish and pagan elements..." (pg. 48) "[T]here is no indication here that the motivation for abstinence from food and drink was due to observance of Torah....Instead, it is probable that in the philosophy they were linked to a desire to please the cosmic powers," (pg. 69).

O'Brien:  "There are various reasons why abstinence from food and drink was practiced in the ancient world:  the belief in the transmigration of souls might prevent a person from eating meat.  Some practiced asceticism since it was bound up with their views of purity.  Others thought that by fasting one served the deity, came closer to him or prepared oneself for receiving a divine revelation, a point that is important in the light of verse 18....For Israel the keeping of these holy days was evidence of obedience to God's law and a sign of her election among the nations.  At Colossae, however, the sacred days were to be kept for the sake of the 'elemental spirits of the universe,' those astral powers who directed the course of the stars and regulated the order of the calendar.  So Paul is not condemning the use of sacred days or seasons as such; it is the wrong motive involved when the observance of these days is bound up with the recognition of the elemental spirits,"  (pgs. 69-70). 

F.F. Bruce:  "[The Colossian false teaching] appears to have been basically Jewish, but to have included features of pagan affinity...associated with an asceticism which was not characteristic of the mainstream of Jewish life," (pg. 52).


COMMON PRESUPPOSITION 2:  Some people read v. 17 as Paul denouncing Jewish observances as unhelpful "shadows."

"The NIV Study Bible is about as far as many Christian  laypeople go in examining the meaning of Colossians 2:17.  Its brief commentary describes, 'The ceremonial laws of the OT are here referred to as shadows...because they symbolically depicted the coming of Christ; so any insistence on the observance of such ceremonies is a failure to recognize that their fulfillment has already taken place,"  (pg. 71).

Even certain Messianic Jewish teachers have used the "shadows" reference to argue that the Biblical Appointed Times are unhelpful for non-Jews.  Stern writes "For Gentiles...[these] Jewish practices are in most cases nothing more than a shadow, insofar as they do not arise out of their own national experience....these shadows are irrelevant to Gentiles, since God did not give these commands to Gentiles..." (pgs. 75-76).

CONTEXTUALIZED EXEGESIS 2:  But is Paul really using the "shadow" language to undermine the legitimacy or helpfulness of Biblical Appointed Times?  Or might he simply be noting an incongruity--that false teachers were judging others when they themselves had not even grasped that Yeshua was the source reality behind the instructionary shadows?  McKee suggests that the false teachers were "only able to go after shadows with their philosophy of error," (pg. 74) because their philosophy rejected Yeshua's Divinity:

"8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Messiah.  9 For in Him all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority," (Colossians 2:8-10).

And given that the false teachers had used such observances (e.g. Shabbat) as a time for starvation-induced hallucinations and ecstatic angel-worship, it seems that the false teachers had undermined even the shadows themselves:

"Paul says that the false teachers were advocating tapeinophrosune [Col. 2:18]...most often related to fasting--or in this case, an extreme fasting..." which was "designed to give them ecstatic hallucinations" (pg. 77, 76).  In short, McKee writes that the false teachers had "perverted [the Appointed Times]," (pg. 76).

TEXT:  COLOSSIANS 2:20-23

"20 If you have died with Messiah to the elementary principles of the world, why, as it you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 'Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!' 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)--in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?  23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence."

COMMON PRESUPPOSITION:  Paul here argues that the Torah's food laws and purity laws ("Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch) are elementary principles of the world, destined to perish, containing only an appearance of wisdom, and offering no value when it comes to curbing fleshly appetites:

"Too frequently when encountering v. 20, lay readers will focus their attention upon 'submit yourself to decrees,' and then assume that God's commandments in the Torah are being spoken against," (pg. 80).

"It is very tempting for readers to conclude that various aspects of the Torah are specifically being targeted against here, especially regulations that regard touching an unclean person (Leviticus 15; Numbers 19:11-13) or unclean animals/meat (Leviticus 5:2-3; 11)," (pg. 81).

CONTEXTUALIZED EXEGESIS:  But are the worldly, ascetic, deceptive "decrees" spoken against in vs. 20-23 really the commandments contained in G-d's Word?

McKee argues that, "[t]hese principles or 'commandments' are not considered by Paul to be of Divine origin.  He finds corroboration with Vaughan and Moo:

Vaughan:  "Some may have been reenactments of the Mosaic law; others were doubtless prohibitions stemming from pagan asceticism.  There is a descending order in the terms, the climax being reaching in the last word--i.e., 'Don't even touch,'" (pg. 80).

Moo:  "...Paul's claim that the rules involved here are closely related to 'the elemental forces,' and that they are 'worldly' in orientation (v. 20), also suggests that these Jewish-oriented...rules have been taken up into a larger and syncretistic religious philosophy."

McKee concludes that since the false teacher's prohibitions "Do not handle, taste, or touch" are connected to "elementary forces", extreme self-debasement, worldliness, and angel-worship, "...it is inappropriate to assume an exclusive Jewish context..." pg. 81.  To put it another way, the false teachers were not teaching a pure, unadulterated version of Judaism but rather a paganized version of Judaism.  

COMMENTARY ON PHILEMON

"The letter to Philemon...is a Biblical text that often draws a blank stare from many people today...it is often thought to be too small to demand any serious attention....It has been my observation that too frequently, it is those small, rather obscure Biblical books that often contain a lesson or two that are vital..." (pg. 125).

What lessons does McKee draw out from the text?

The answer to that lies beyond the scope of this review; however, one interesting point will be noted.  For those few individuals who have given the book of Philemon more than a cursory examination, there might be a temptation to conclude that the lesson of the book pertains only to slavery.

But is the lesson of Philemon merely that slavery should be abolished?

McKee agrees with Moo that there are "revolutionary implications" in the letter.  Somewhat cryptically he quotes from Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics:

"Friendship between brothers is like that which unites the members of a social club, because the parties are equal in standing and age...but there can be no friendship or justice towards inanimate things, and not even towards a horse or an ox, nor yet towards a slave qua slave; because there is nothing common to both parties:  the slave is a living tool in the same way that a tool is an inanimate object."

This quote hints, at least to this reviewer, that the "evil" that Paul addresses might be a bit broader than slavery, perhaps including any social inequities which would inhibit "friendship between brothers."  Just what implications this might have for Messianic ecclesiology one is left to imagine.  However, McKee provides one more possible clue:

"Knowing the Torah, Paul realized that slaves could be released in the year of jubilee (Exodus 21:2-13), slaveowners who killed their slaves could be executed (Exodus 21:12), and harsh punishment of slaves would mean that the slaves could immediately go free (Exodus 21:26-27).  These were casuistic laws in the Pentateuch, originally designed to regulate Ancient Israel's economy in the Ancient Near East--not the Roman province of Judea, nor a widespread Diaspora Jewish community in the Mediterranean basin.  So Paul was informed from these Torah commandments on how Philemon needed to act toward Onesimus, but he also had to deal with the necessities of Roman law, and most importantly how the gospel of salvation is blind to one's status as either slave or free," (pg. 133) [emphasis added].

CONCLUSION

McKee has once again created an invaluable resource for Messianics in search of a Messianic perspective on the books of the Apostolic Writings (New Testament).  Conclusion:  Colossians and Philemon for the Practical Messianic is a must-read!

Shalom,

Peter


The Hall of Tyrannus of Acts 19: Bet Midrash, Greek school, or a Little of Both?

S.F. Hunter says that the Hall of Tyrannus was essentially one of two things:

(1) a Greek school of philosophy or

(2) a Jewish school.

Stern evaluates these options and reasons that Paul could not have been retreating from a Jewish environment (synagogue) to a Gentile environment (JNTC).  Why?  Because Stern says that the passage says that both Jews and Greeks heard the message.  He concludes, "I am satisfied that Tyrannus was a Jewish rabbi, and that what he had was a yeshivah..." (ibid).

Hold on a second, Stern!  What about Acts 18:1-8?


"1 After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. 4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. 6 But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles." 7 Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. 8 Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized." (Acts 18:1-8)
Says here that Paul went from a Jewish environment (synagogue in this case as well) and entered a Gentile environment (the house of Titius Justus).

It also says here, just as in the case of the Hall of Tyrannus, that both Jews and Greeks heard the message.  Notice verse 8.  Even though Paul was speaking at a Gentile's house, there was a synagogue ruler in attendance, by the name of Crispus, who believed the message he had heard at Justus' house!  Thus, the audience included both Jews and Greeks.

So, in fairness, we should be open to the possibility that the "Hall of Tyrannus" was a bet midrash run by a Greek---a Greek turned Messianic!

I'd like to offer another possibility about the subject matter in this mixed hall.

In a Greek school, they used Socratic Circles, speaking dialogically in order to understand a given text. Note that the term used in Acts 19:9 is dialegomenos ("dispute").  So what might've been the text they were using?  Acts records that Paul reasoned from the Scriptures.  So it seems likely during the course of two whole years in the hall of Tyrannus that, at some point, Paul would've used the Scriptures to reason with the Jewish and Greek students there.

So what do you call it when you have a school that studies the Torah and the Prophets?

A bet midrash! (i.e. yeshivah).

Now, was the Greek school of Tyrannus Paul's first choice?  No.  He only went there because the Jews in the synagogue were defaming the Way.  So he went to this Greek environment.  But did he leave it as a Greek environment?  No!  He elevated it!

Under Paul's influence, the Hall of Tyrannus, whatever it may have been when it began, had become a first-century Bet Midrash that welcomed Jews and Gentiles, encouraging both to study together, learning the Torah and the Prophets.

Shalom,

Peter

P.S.  Messianics around the world, keep in mind that we have a global Yeshiva.  Please visit torahresource.com

CLICK HERE FOR LINK


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Christian Atrocities and the Book of Philemon

"Possibly anti-Judaism is too deeply embedded in the foundations of Christianity to be rooted out entirely without destroying the whole structure," --Rosemary Ruether

Christians have committed or allowed some of the worst atrocities in recent history:


THE UNITED STATES:

The Christian Southern States authorized the institution of slavery, resulting in the degradation and deaths of countless African Americans.

SOUTH AFRICA:

Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (the Dutch Reformed Church) was the official religion of the National Party during the apartheid era.

RWANDA:

Christians in Rwanda committed genocide against the Tutsis.  I've listened to Tutsis talk about how the Hutu would be in church worshipping (Rwanda was the largest Christian nation in Africa at the time) and then they would come out of the church and resume mass killings in the name of Christ.

NAZI GERMANY:

Christians in church would "sing a little louder" (LINK) whenever the trains came by outside filled with cart-fulls of screaming Jews on their way to death camps.

QUESTION:

Christians point to the book of Philemon (v.12), where Paul sends the runaway slave Onesimus back to Onesimus' master (Philemon).  So Christians have historically argued that Paul thus advocated slavery (and, by extension, racial segregation, degradation, etc).

But did Paul really advocate slavery?

THE REALITY

It seems Christians have overlooked the following passage in Philemon:

"15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother."

Paul wanted Philemon to manumit Onesimus voluntarily--Paul didn't want to have to force him to do this:

14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord

Now, lest you think that I'm just picking on Christians, let me say that these are my brothers and, more than that, they are literally my ancestors.  On my Italian side, to my shame, an ancestor of mine ran slave ships.  On my English side, my ancestors not only owned slaves but fought for the political institution that maintained slavery.  I do feel a sense of guilt for this because I am the indirect beneficiary of this evil.

How can Christianity be reformed?  We must consider the possibility that Ruether's premise is correct:  it may not be possible to remove the anti-Judaism from the Christian system without destroying the entire structure.

So should we, as Messianics, demand then that Christians eliminate all Christian institutions and erect, in their place, Messianic institutions?

How would Paul have handled it?

Perhaps we Messianics should reread Philemon a few times and see how Paul interacted with someone that practiced things that Paul found to be most offensive.








Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"Feed My Sheep": Why We Must Help Messianic Jews Making Aliyah


15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”  (John 21:15-19)

Recently I was informed that the ultra-Orthodox community is doing a very good job taking care of Jews (including Messianic Jews) who are making aliyah to Israel.  They welcome them into their communities, seeing it as a mitzvah.

So I should be happy, right?

No, actually I feel ashamed.  

I couldn't help but think of John 21 where Yeshua asks Peter if Peter loves Him.  He had to ask Peter three times because Peter had recently rejected Yeshua three times.  And each time Yeshua says a version of "Feed my sheep."

Imagine if there was an Orthodox Messianic community in Israel that helped Messianic Jews make aliyah, feeding them, clothing them, sheltering them, providing a Torah-observant community for them...

Father, help us to make this happen!

If anyone out there knows of such a ministry then please let me know.  And if not, then join me in praying that G-d will guide us to make such communities in Israel a reality.





Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why There MUST be Different Levels of Gerim in Torah (the Nevelah Example)

The Torah cannot tell someone to sin.

Yet the Torah says it is a sin for a "ger" to eat nevelah:

"And every soul that eateth that which died [of itself,] or that which was torn [with beasts, whether it be] one of your own country, or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes, and bathe [himself] in water, and be unclean until the even: then shall he be clean. But if he wash [them] not, nor bathe his flesh; then he shall bear his iniquity," (Leviticus 17:15-16)

Yet the Torah also says it's okay for an Israelite to give nevelah to a "ger"!

"Ye shall not eat [of] any thing that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger that [is] in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou [art] an holy people unto the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk,"  (Deuteronomy 14:21)
Oh, dear!  How do we resolve this contradiction?

Well, the authoritative men who composed the Septuagint explained that there were different classes of ger.  These learned men used the term "paroikos" (one who sojourns but has no political rights) to translate ger in those passages where the ger could not logically have been a covenant member;  they used "proselutos" to translate ger where the ger must logically have been a covenant member.

So how did a ger transition to the proselutos status?

The only thing we know is that Exodus 12:48 says that a ger is just a regular old ger until he observes Passover.  Once he observes Passover then he is "like" an ezrach.  And, yes, he had to become circumcised to be able to observe the Passover and become like an ezrach.

Anyway, that's how it was apparently done in the old days (and hey I could be wrong!  feel free to challenge me if you have another opinion).

It's more important to understand how it works today:

Now that Yeshua has become our Passover Lamb--all who believe in Him are welcomed into the covenantal family.  His blood somehow (don't ask me how exactly) becomes your blood.  He becomes your father.  Now that's the "substance" behind the "shadow" of Passover.  We should still keep in mind that the earthly shadow is governed by Torah.  And Torah says you have to literally (not metaphorically) become circumcised in order to partake of the lamb sacrifice during an actual Passover. But this won't even be an issue until Yeshua comes back and restores the Temple.

NOTE:  I won't be able to respond to comments here until tomorrow around 2PM.  Shalom!

Good Article on FFOZ's Divine Invitation Theology

And check out the comment section too:

CLICK HERE FOR LINK


The Real Iron Dome (and the Real Threat)

So Israel had to deploy the "Iron Dome" system again:

CLICK HERE FOR LINK

But, of course, the real Iron Dome for Israel is HaShem.  That said, we need to remember the mitzvah to pray for Israel.  It doesn't take long!  "Father protect Israel!"  How long did that take?

I fear that there is a far greater threat to Israel right now besides rockets...

Our very own Secretary of State is condemning Netanyahu for the building of Israeli settlements (in Jerusalem!):

CLICK HERE FOR LINK

John Kerry would love nothing more than for Israel to forfeit Jerusalem for the sake of the so-called Two State Solution (which is the kind of "solution" that Hitler would've approved).

Shame on you John Kerry!   And shame on the entire Obama administration!

May G-d deploy an Iron Dome that protects Israel from ALL threats!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Need Help Learning About the Jewish Holy Days?

Check out the Messianic Helper series over at TNN Online (they also have ebook format):

CLICK HERE FOR LINK


(You have to scroll down a ways for the Messianic Fall Holiday Helper--that's the one you need for the upcoming Holy Days)



This Looks Like a Good Book on Mussar...

CLICK HERE FOR LINK



But it's out of print!  *sigh*

I think I'm going to try to contact the author...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Question from Orthodox Jewish Reader in Israel

So an Orthodox Jewish reader in Israel asked about Orthodox Messianic communities in Israel.

Does anyone have any recommendations for her?

I only know of Ariel and D'vorah Berkowitz of Torah Resource International.  They're very Torah-oriented.

I'll try researching this more this week but in the mean time if anyone knows any Orthodox Messianic Jews in Israel then you can either post here (if they wouldn't mind) or send me a private message.

Shalom,

Peter

Question from Reader in India (Dan, I'll let you answer this one)

So a reader in India, who was raised in a Christian family and taught that Yeshua abolished the Law, has the following question:

"Can I circumcise myself now?"

I'd really like it if Dan responded to this one.  Are you game, Dan?


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Review of McKee's Colossians Commentary (Partial Outline)


What follows is a partial outline for my review of McKee's Colossians commentary:


"13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him," (Colossians 2:13-15)

Common Presupposition:  "...Colossians 2:14 ["certificate of debt...nailed to the cross"] is commonly used to assert that 'the Law of Moses has been nailed to the cross,'" (pg. 60).

Contextualized Exegesis:  But was it the Law of Moses that was nailed to the cross?  The following scholars disagree that the "certificate of debt...nailed to the cross" was in fact the Torah of Moses:

Dunn:  "...[W]e should note that it is not the law which is thought of as thus destroyed, but rather its particular condemnation...of transgressions, absorbed in the sacrificial death of the Christ (cf. Rom. 8:3)," [emphasis added] (pgs. 62-63). 
Ben Witherington III:  "Here [the term 'cheirograph'] seems to be a reference to the heavenly book of deeds in which a record of one's wrongdoings is kept.  In fact in Apocalypse of Zephaniah 3.6-9; 7.1-8 the same word is used for that book..." (pg. 63). 
McKee concludes:  "It is perfectly legitimate to recognize how the 'certificate of debt' that has been paid by Yeshua's sacrifice, is the condemnation and record of human sin.  The power of this condemnation was found in various 'decrees against us,' the stated death penalties for high crimes as specified in the Torah.  It is not at all incorrect to recognize that by His death and shed blood, our relationship to the Torah has certainly been changed, but that does not mean that the Torah is to be thrown by the wayside and never studied or meditated upon (Psalm 119:15, 27).  The Torah remains relevant instruction that is to be upheld and taught as a standard of God's righteousness and holiness (Romans 3:31)..." (pg. 66).  Lastly, McKee notes that the term nomos ("law") is noticeably absent from the passage.

"16 Therefore no on is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day--17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Messiah," (Colossians 2:16-17).

Common Presupposition 1:   The false teachers taught a pure, unadulterated form of Judaism.  They judged the Colossians Believers for refusing or neglecting to keep these standard Jewish observances. 

"Many Christian lay readers simply conclude that the false teachers in Colossae were judging Paul's readers for not observing these various rituals," (pg. 68).

Contextualized Exegesis:  "...is it at all possible that the Colossians were told not to accept judgment for not keeping these things in the manner that the false teachers did?" (pg. 68) [emphasis added].  In other words, McKee here suggests that the standard by which the false teachers were so presumptuously judging was in fact a paganized (and minority-held) version of Judaism.  He finds corroboration from the following scholars:

Moo:  "We should therefore at least keep open the possibility that the Colossian false teachers' abstinence from food and drink had its origins elsewhere, since many ancient Greco-Roman philosophical and religious traditions also featured prohibitions of meat and wine,' (pg. 69).  "Only Sabbath observance that is connected inappropriately to a wider religious viewpoint is here being condemned.  These interpreters [who agree] are quite right to emphasize the importance of interpreting contextually and historically.  And they are also right, we have suggested, to argue that Sabbath was taken up into a larger, syncretistic mix," (pg. 70).
Lincoln:   "...the false teaching at Colossae...was a fusion of Jewish and pagan elements..." (pg. 48) "[T]here is no indication here that the motivation for abstinence from food and drink was due to observance of Torah....Instead, it is probable that in the philosophy they were linked to a desire to please the cosmic powers," (pg. 69).
O'Brien:  "There are various reasons why abstinence from food and drink was practiced in the ancient world:  the belief in the transmigration of souls might prevent a person from eating meat.  Some practiced asceticism since it was bound up with their views of purity.  Others thought that by fasting one served the deity, came closer to him or prepared oneself for receiving a divine revelation, a point that is important in the light of verse 18....For Israel the keeping of these holy days was evidence of obedience to God's law and a sign of her election among the nations.  At Colossae, however, the sacred days were to be kept for the sake of the 'elemental spirits of the universe,' those astral powers who directed the course of the stars and regulated the order of the calendar.  So Paul is not condemning the use of sacred days or seasons as such; it is the wrong motive involved when the observance of these days is bound up with the recognition of the elemental spirits,"  (pgs. 69-70). 
F.F. Bruce:  "[The Colossian false teaching] appears to have been basically Jewish, but to have included features of pagan affinity...associated with an asceticism which was not characteristic of the mainstream of Jewish life," (pg. 52).


Common Presupposition 2:  Some people read v. 17 as Paul denouncing Jewish observances as unhelpful "shadows."

"The NIV Study Bible is about as far as many Christian  laypeople go in examining the meaning of Colossians 2:17.  Its brief commentary describes, 'The ceremonial laws of the OT are here referred to as shadows...because they symbolically depicted the coming of Christ; so any insistence on the observance of such ceremonies is a failure to recognize that their fulfillment has already taken place,"  (pg. 71).

Even certain Messianic Jewish teachers have used the "shadows" reference to argue that the Biblical Appointed Times are unhelpful for non-Jews.  Stern writes "For Gentiles...[these] Jewish practices are in most cases nothing more than a shadow, insofar as they do not arise out of their own national experience....these shadows are irrelevant to Gentiles, since God did not give these commands to Gentiles..." (pgs. 75-76).

Contextualized Exegesis 2:  But is Paul really using the "shadow" language to undermine the legitimacy or helpfulness of Biblical Appointed Times?  Or might he simply be noting an incongruity--that false teachers were judging others when they themselves had not even grasped that Yeshua was the source reality behind the instructionary shadows?  McKee suggests that the false teachers were "only able to go after shadows with their philosophy of error," (pg. 74) because their philosophy rejected Yeshua's Divinity:

"8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Messiah.  9 For in Him all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority," (Colossians 2:8-10).

And given that the false teachers had used such observances (e.g. Shabbat) as a time for starvation-induced hallucinations and ecstatic angel-worship, it seems that the false teachers had undermined even the shadows themselves:

"Paul says that the false teachers were advocating tapeinophrosune [Col. 2:18]...most often related to fasting--or in this case, an extreme fasting..." which was "designed to give them ecstatic hallucinations" (pg. 77, 76).  In short, McKee writes that the false teachers had "perverted [the Appointed Times]," (pg. 76).