Sunday, October 27, 2013

Apostate Teachers and Spiritual Food Recalls

Is it "disloyal" to call out an apostate Messianic teacher by name?

Imagine you're a reporter and you find proof that a food producer has been producing tainted food.  Considering that tainted food will make people sick (or worse), do you have a duty to the public to let them know about the tainted food?

The answer to that question should be obvious.

And it's the same with apostate teachers, purveyors of tainted spiritual food.  Yes, I called out Gene because he has poisoned many people and these people have a right to know that they've been poisoned.

But the question we should all be asking right now is this:  how does Messianic apostasy happen?

We should ask this so we know how to prevent this from happening again.  But the usual suspects with whom Gene collaborated have no interest in doing a postmortem.  They don't want to study the epidemiology of Gene's apostasy because they're afraid that the underlying causes might implicate their own ministries and teachings.

I say it's time to discuss this publicly!  I have no problem discussing this because I have no multi-million dollar ministry at stake---just a free Blogger account.  I receive no money whatsoever from this.

So I want to know your opinion on Messianic apostasy:  What are the causes?  How can we prevent these causes or deal with them once they occur?








Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Social Identity Function of Israelite Feasts

"Festivals are powerful instruments for creating and maintaining social cohesion in the participants present.  One of the ways this happens is by linking them to their shared history.  Taking part in a feast fosters and maintains a sense of identity with all those understood to have performed the same rituals and eaten the same foods in the community's past.  Moreover, the images of the distant past, whether actual or constructed or some combination thereof, serve to legitimate the present order.  At some uncertain point in Israel's history, the historicization of the three main agricultural festivals contributed to this connection with the past.  Formative aspects of Israel's Heilsgeschichte--the story of departure from Egypt, wilderness journey, and Sinai covenant--were mapped onto these festivals, which thereby became the occasions for recounting the master narrative of escape to freedom and for affirming its associated values.  As a dramatic departure from the tedium of daily routines, Israelite feasts surely provided the occasion for storytellers...to regale the participants with the rousing songs and tales that conveyed their mnemo-history, the substance of their collective cultural memory.  In a world without television, newspapers, or the Internet, feasts were the setting in which collective memories were transmitted, maintaining and solidifying group identity and values in the process.
    Not only the recited festival narratives but also the foods themselves served as important vehicles in that process.  As is the case in many cultures, food and memory are powerfully interrelated.  Food is a material substance that both embodies and structures our relationship with the past in socially meaningful ways.  The special foods of a feast--and here the meat, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs associated with the exodus are the best examples--provided direct sensory engagement with the...Ur-experience said to have produced the first Passover.  Festival foodstuffs serve as material mnemonics, connecting people to their remembered past and to one another.  Food, memory, and religious ritual intersect, with 'ritual as a key site where food and memory come together.'  Cultural identity is thus powerfully reinforced in the sensory materiality, especially the food, of community feasts.  The recurrent sharing of a special meal commemorating a significant past event joins people together into what is called a communitas (people who share an intense sense of commonality and a heightened feeling of togetherness).  Commensality itself thus 'plays a central role in constructing and reinforcing social bonds,' with the culinary event serving as a medium for integrating people into social units, whether based on real or constructed kinship," (pgs. 157-159 of Social Theory and the Study of the Israelite Religion, Olyan).

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gene Shlomovich, UMJC-Trained, FFOZ-Collaborator, Turned APOSTATE

I started this blog for one reason:

Boaz Michael (of First Fruits of Zion) and Gene Shlomovich were conspiring to take down the One-Law movement.  Their plan:  get these One-Law Messianics alone in a room with Gene and Boaz and slowly brainwash them.

That made me mad.

I could see Satan working through these guys, see them trying to fight what the Spirit of G-d is doing around the world through the One-Law movement.

Now behold the REAL "fruit" of First "Fruits" of Zion!

Here's Gene Shlomovich's own words:

"I no longer believe that any of the Greek writings of the New Testament are an inspired "Word of G-d". No, I think these writings are a rebellion to the Word of G-d..." 
"As a Jew, I've never felt closer to HaShem than when Jesus the idol was no longer in-between me and my Maker."
Of course, Boaz Michael is not entirely to blame here.  The UMJC is the organization that trained Gene.  Gene even invited me to join him one time at a UMJC conference.  Glad I decided not to go!  Here's what the UMJC teaches:

(1) the Bible is not a supernatural book:   CLICK HERE FOR LINK

(2) you don't need Yeshua in order to be saved:  CLICK HERE FOR LINK

CONCLUSION

What do you have to say for yourself, Boaz Michael?

What do you have to say for yourself, Carl Kinbar and Mark Kinzer?


NOTE:  Gene, I decided to take this public after hearing what you did to Judah's brother.  I consider Judah to be family.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Is "Under Law" a Group Descriptor That Describes Only Jews? Or Does It Occasionally Refer to Gentiles?

"Under the law" is a group descriptor (e.g. 1 Cor. 9:20, "those under the law") that primarily describes Jews who remain subject to the penalties for law-breaking (implied from Rom. 6:14, "you are not under the law but under grace").  I say "primarily" because Paul, at times, seems to include Believing Gentiles in the group that was formerly "under the law".

For example, the "we" in "we were held captive under the law" (Gal. 3:23) appears to include Gentiles since in the preceding verse the state of being "under sin" is inclusive of both Jew and Gentile in Pauline writings (see especially Rom. 3:9).  Here's the passage:


"22 But the Scripture imprisoned everyone under sin [hupo hamartian], so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law [hupo nomon], imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed."

But how can Gentiles who are without law ("anomos", Rom. 2:12) be under the law?  The answer is that if sin is a transgression of the law then being "under sin" means that one is subject to a penalty for transgressing an applicable law.

We have to remember that things like Shabbat are written into creation and are universal to all mankind (see Isaiah 66:23).  There is one standard for man because, ab initio, G-d intended mankind to become one--even as He is One.  

Shabbat: Universal to All Mankind or Exclusive to Israel?

Everlasting Sign for Israel:

"It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever," (Ex. 31:17).

Universal to All Mankind:

"And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord," (Isa. 66:23).

Conclusion:

I think one must consider the possibility that Yeshua will rule a universalized Israel in the Messianic Era.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What is a "Paidagogos"? A Look at Gal. 3:21-25 and the Historical Meaning of a "Paidagogos" as a Preparatory Teacher Rather than a Finalizing Teacher

As I mentioned several posts ago, I recently awoke early one morning and began reading a wonderful article by J.K. McKee entitled "Galatians 3:24-25: 'To Messiah' or 'Until Messiah Came'?"

So I'd like to talk briefly about some things that this article covered.  First, here's the Scriptural passage we'll be examining:


"21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 
22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin [hupo hamartian], so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law [hupo nomon], imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.  
24 So then, the law was our guardian [paidagogos] until Christ came [eis Christon, "to Christ"], in order that we might be justified by faith.  
25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian," (Gal. 3:21-25)
 Here's the Christian vs. Messianic interpretation:

(1) the common Christian interpretation:  the Law was only useful before Christ came, functioning as a strict guardian/tutor.  But now that Jesus is here, we have no use for the Law anymore;

(2) a Messianic interpretation:  a paidagogos, historically, was a preparatory teacher responsible for delivering the child to the finalizing teacher:

"The paidagogos was 'Orig. 'boy-leader'...whose duty it was to conduct a boy or youth...to and from school and to superintend his conduct gener.; he was not a 'teacher'...When the young man became of age, the [paidagogos] was no longer needed' (BDAG).  In a classical sense, the paidagogos was a protector who was to guard young boys on their way to school until they reached a certain age," (from McKee's "'To Messiah' or 'Until Messiah Came'?").

And so the discipline/training instilled by the paidagogos was valuable!  We should never throw away this training.  And Paul even writes in 2 Timothy that the Law is useful for "training in righteousness" ("paideian ten en dikaiosune").  Thus, Gal. 3:24-25 does not question the value of the Torah

So that's a really quick overview.  My apologies to McKee if I butchered the message of the article.  But I recommend that readers purchase a copy of the book from which the article was adapted.  Here's a link to check out:

CLICK HERE FOR LINK


A Christian Teacher Has Questions About Messianic Judaism

So a teacher (whom I greatly admire) from church asked me the following question in an email just now.  Here's my response:


"I'd like to learn more about your view about keeping the Jewish law.  What aspects of the regulations do you feel still are applicable?"

I love this question!  But it is a deep question.  I'll try to give a concise answer and then you can ask follow-up questions.  Here goes:

I believe that the Prophets talked about a Messiah who would be a not only a Savior, not only the L-rd, but also a great Teacher, who will one day rule from Jerusalem and from whose lips the "Law shall go forth" from Zion.

I believe that Yeshua is that Messiah.  He instructed His disciples how to obey not just the letter but, more importantly, the spirit behind the letter.  And He also explained that while the Law instructs us in righteousness, it does not cause righteousness---in fact, we need Divine help if we are to become righteous.

And so Paul came along and tried to explain this further.  Paul says the Law is holy, just, and good--provided it is used for the right reasons.  He explains that grace does not nullify the Law but rather we uphold the Law.  Yes, the Law is difficult but it represents instructions in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).  We should try to keep the applicable provisions of the Law (e.g. eating only those clean animals designed for human consumption, keeping the appointed times--especially Shabbat which is a time of rest, healing, restoring familial and communal relationships, and orienting oneself and one's family to G-d, studying His word and worshipping Him in song and in communion).  We should avoid any Rabbinic regulations that, loosing sight of the spirit of the Law, only serve to "set aside" the commandments.  However, if any tradition helps with the spirit of a command (e.g. drinking wine at the start of an appointed time, reciting prepared blessings over food, etc), then that is usually fine to do.

History:

But after Paul left, the original faith of the early Messiah-followers came under attack.  As you know, the Faith of the Early Assembly of Messiah-Followers slowly incorporated some anti-Judaic teachings.  In fact, the Faith became, at times, downright anti-Semitic, which was a far cry from say the message of Romans 11, that the in-grafted wild branches should remain humble and loving towards the natural branches that were cut off.

Flash-forward several thousand years.  The Diaspora ends and the State of Israel is reborn.  Suddenly there's something called the "Messianic movement".  The Messianic idea is very simple:  The Apostolic Writings (New Testament) are not against the Law so much as the abuse of the Law.  

Yet questions remain about the following:

(1) are Messianic Jews and non-Jews subject to (non-Messianic) Rabbinic Authority?  (No!)

(2) are Messianic non-Jews included in the New Covenant made with Israel?  (Yes!)

(3) does circumcision initiate one into the covenant?  (No!)

(4) should Messianics view circumcision in the way that the non-Messianic Jewish community views it?  (No!)

(5) does circumcision make you Jewish?  (No!)

(6) should circumcision be an outward sign of inward faith?  (Yes! Provided one understands that one is included in the Israel of G-d by faith working through Yeshua's gift of grace, not by works of the law such as circumcision)

Finally, how does a Messianic view the end times?  I believe that there will be a Messianic Kingdom (Kingdom Israel) in which the capital is Jerusalem.  The Messiah Yeshua will rule a Kingdom composed of all the nations of the earth (those who survive from the nations who came against Israel in the last days).  As Isaiah says, no longer will uncircumcised men enter Zion.  But all those who join to the covenant (Isaiah 56) will desire to keep the Law (Isaiah 2; Micah 4, etc) and will come up to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage appointed times.  Everyone will have the Law written in their hearts and will feel compelled to be obedient, having a new nature unlike what we have now.

So is the Messianic movement perfect right now?  Absolutely not!  We're very immature.  I don't believe maturity will occur until Jew and Gentile can learn how to come together as one family in Yeshua.  It will happen...one day.  Until then, the duty of a Messianic is to help others explore the roots of the faith, to come to see the Law as wonderful instructions just as the Psalmist.

Here is but a small sample from Psalm 119:

I rejoice in following your statutes
    as one rejoices in great riches.
15 
I meditate on your precepts
    and consider your ways.
16 
I delight in your decrees;
    I will not neglect your word.

17 
Be good to your servant while I live,
    that I may obey your word.
18 
Open my eyes that I may see
    wonderful things in your law.
19 
I am a stranger on earth;
    do not hide your commands from me.
20 
My soul is consumed with longing
    for your laws at all times.
21 
You rebuke the arrogant, who are accursed,
    those who stray from your commands.
22 
Remove from me their scorn and contempt,
    for I keep your statutes.
23 
Though rulers sit together and slander me,
    your servant will meditate on your decrees.
24 
Your statutes are my delight;
    they are my counselors.

Monday, October 21, 2013

In Memoriam

Recently, a friend of mine who, up until recently was a Messianic Jewish blogger, told me that he has decided to reject Yeshua and the Apostolic Writings.  Considering that this man has been an outspoken opponent of One Law, you'd think I would be happy right now.  I assure you that I am not.

Now, this man never really accepted the Deity of Yeshua or the supernatural nature of the Apostolic Writings.  Yet, on some level, he accepted Yeshua and identified as a Messianic Jew and so, despite any hard feelings from time to time, I regarded him, on some level, as a brother.  [For those who don't have brothers, let me assure that you can love them and be angry with them at the same time]

You know those stages of grief you're supposed to go through?  I kind of feel a blend of those right now...

It actually feels like when a friend commits suicide.  That's exactly what it feels like.  But you know how they say you get to that "acceptance" stage?  I've not found that to be true.  Sometimes things just hurt and keep right on hurting.

This ones gonna hurt for a while...







Sunday, October 20, 2013

My Dream Last Night

So last night I had a weird dream...

I was in some room talking to one of the pastors of our local congregation.  And the pastor was saying, "We're not under the law!"  And I was trying to steer clear of arguments with him so I was trying to get him to calm down.  And then I started coughing and woke up.

I have some sort of allergy or cold, not sure which.  Anyway, I woke up coughing around 5:30 a.m.  and, not being able to go back to sleep, decided to open some mail.  I opened a piece of mail from Outreach Israel Ministries.  Inside was a pamphlet.  In this pamphlet was an article by J.K. McKee, dealing with Galatians 3:24-26, a passage in which Paul employs that expression "under the law."  And the article takes the form of an imaginary conversation with a pastor who says the types of things that the pastor in my dream was saying.

Coincidence?

Of course it's possible that the pattern-recognition processors in my brain were seeing patterns where none existed.  But I do think this was some sort of message.  Not entirely sure what it meant.  But I think it meant something...

If nothing else, the McKee article was fantastic!  I'll do a post on that later and I'm sure we'll have some good discussions.  Until then...

Shalom in the L-rd Yeshua,

Peter







Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pray for the Israeli Air Force

May HaShem grant them wisdom and strength...

CLICK HERE FOR LINK


In My Father's House are Many Mansions

In John 14:2, Yeshua says that His Father's House has many mansions.  To what is He referring?  

It's interesting that in the context of Ancient Israel the "father's house" did actually have multiple dwelling places:
"Each pillared house in a cluster may represent the living space of a nuclear family or parts thereof, but the shared courtyard space and common house walls of the linked buildings indicate a larger family grouping.  Early Israelite dwelling units were thus complex arrangements of several buildings and housed what we might call extended families," (Families in Ancient Israel) [emphasis added].
I know that there are a lot of Messianic Non-Jews out there right now who are hurting because you feel you have been excluded from G-d's People.  Please remember Paul's encouragement:
"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God," (Eph. 2:19)

Why Does Torah Alter Caleb's Genealogy?

In the book of Joshua we read that Caleb's father was Jephunneh.  Then, later, Caleb is given a portion of land in Judah.  After that, we read that Caleb's father is no longer Jephunneh.  He receives a new father, Hezron (1 Chronicles 2), and he's suddenly got two new brothers, Jerahmeel and Ram!  Caleb, though not descended from Judah, suddenly has Judah as his ancestor (1 Chronicles 2)!

Why does Torah engage in this legal fiction?  And why does the legal fiction specifically use Hezron (descendant of Judah) as Caleb's new father?

Why couldn't Caleb just continue to consider Jephunneh as his father?  What would've been the harm in that?

It's interesting that Paul (see Romans 4) says that Gentiles who believe in Yeshua suddenly have Abraham as an ancestor...

It's also interesting that in Ezekiel 47:22 we learn that in the future Messianic Era certain Gentiles will be given allotments of land in Israel...


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How the Ancient Israelites Understood the Concept of Family

Here are some excerpts from two good books I was reading today ("Families in Ancient Israel" and "Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions").  There are some wonderful insights about how the ancient Israelites understood family!  Enjoy!

FAMILIES IN ANCIENT ISRAEL


pg. 13 "Careful sociological studies of the early Israelite period have linked these villages to biblical terminology for population groups.  Although somewhat fluid in what it can denote, the term mispahah is generally understood to be coterminous with the inhabitants of a village.  It can also, however, represent--perhaps in later time periods--a somewhat larger regional group or a subdivision of a larger settlement.  Nonetheless, the idea that Israelites held land in clusters of kin groups, called mispahot, and not actually by tribes, is contained in the allotment texts of the second half of the book of Joshua. (Cf. Num. 33:54--'You shall apportion the land by lot according to your mispahot.')
Offering an English translation for mispahah is difficult.  Most English version render the term 'family' or sometimes 'clan.'  Neither is quite appropriate, for it is more than a family, although it may well be a grouping of related family units.  And mispahah does not quite fit the general anthropological understanding of a clan, which does not usually involve residential commonality.  The suggestion 'protective association of families' is unwieldy, although it does convey the dimension of local cooperation involved in the mispahah and in the elep, a related term that preserves the idea of military cooperation.  'Residential kinship group,' or 'kinship group' in shortened form, perhaps best conveys the nature of the village community:  related farm families sharing common settled space and earning their livelihoods in the fields, orchards, and vineyards surrounding the village site.  The farmlands themselves were held not by the kinship group as a whole but rather, it seems, by the constituent family groups."
pg. 16  "These dwelling clusters constitute evidence for a family unit in early Israel larger than that of the nuclear family (or conjugal couple with unmarried offspring).  EAch pillared house in a cluster may represent the living space of a nuclear family or parts thereof, but the shared courtyard space and common house walls of the linked buildings indicate a larger family grouping.  Early Israelite dwelling units were thus complex arrangements of several buildings and housed what we might call extended families."

pg. 17  "In addition to the genealogical materials indicating partrilineality, several texts in the book of Judges reflect a family arrangement that would inhabit the kind of dwelling cluster known from the archaeological record.  The story of Micah in Judges 17-18 provides a picture of a man living with his widowed mother, his sons (and probably their wives), and a young priest, hired to serve household cultic needs.  In Judges 18:22, the text describes several members of Micah's household who go off in pursuit of Danite raiders as the 'men who were in the houses comprising the household of Micah.'  This passage fits the material evidence remarkably well and also provides clues about family household functions (cultic, economic, social, military).  Similarly, in Judges 6-8, Gideon is presented as a married man--a parent of at least two children (Judg. 8:20)--working the land of the household identified as that of his father Joash (Judg. 6:11).  This is a multigenerational compound family.  Another indication of an extended family household is the multigenerational accountability of the Decalogue (Ex. 20:5), which is relevant only in a context of families extending across three or even four generations."

ANCIENT ISRAEL


pg. 5 "What unites all the tribesmen, then, is this blood-relationship, real or supposed; they all consider themselves 'brothers' in a wide sense.  Abimelek says to the entire clan of his mother, 'Remember that I am of your bones and of your flesh' (Jg 9:2).  All the members of David's clan are, in his eyes, his 'brothers' (I S 20:29), and he goes so far as to tell all the elders of Judah, 'You are my brothers, you are of my flesh and of my bones' (2 S 19:13)."

pg. 5 "In practice, other factors besides common descent may help to constitute a tribe.  The mere fact of living in the same region leads groups of families to join together.  Weak elements are absorbed by stronger neighbors;  alternatively, several weak groups combine to form a body capable of remaining autonomous, that is, of standing up to an attack.  Individuals, too, can be incorporated into a tribe either by adoption into a family (as often happens with freed slaves), or through acceptance by the sheikh or the elders.  
But even here the principle is safeguarded, for the newcomer is attached 'in name and in blood' to the tribe; this means that he acknowledges the tribe's ancestor as his own, that he will marry within the tribe and raise up his family inside it.  ...With a whole clan the fusion takes longer, but the result is the same, and the newcomers are finally considered as being of the same blood."
pg. 6 "The tribes of Israel were not exempt from such changes, and they absorbed groups of different origin.  Thus the tribe of Judah eventually welcomed to its own ranks the remnants of the tribe of Simeon, and incorporated foreign groups like the Calebites and Yerahmeelites.  The Bible gives a clear picture of the process in its references to the Calebites.  They were originally outside the Israelite confederation, for Caleb was the son of Yephunneh the Qenizite (Nb 32:12; Jos 14:6,14; comp. Gn 15:19; 36:11), but hey had contact with Israel from the time of the sojourn at Qadesh, where Caleb was named as Judah's representative for the exploration of Canaan (Nb 13:6).  Their integration into this tribe is recorded in Jos 15:13; cf. Jos 14:6-15, and in the end Caleb is genealogically attached to Judah.  The son of Yephunneh becomes the son of Hesron, son of Peres, son of Judah (1 Ch 2:9, 18, 24) and brother of Yerahmeel (1 Ch 2:9).  There can be no doubt that similar fusions took place frequently, especially in the early days, and that the very concept of the 'Twelve Tribes' contains some elements of systematic arrangement..."

pg. 7 "The organization and government of a tribe....The beth ab, the 'house of one's father', was the family, which comprised not only the father, his wife or wives and their unmarried children but also their married sons with their wives and children, and the servants.  Several families composed a clan, the mishpahah.  The latter usually lived in the same place, and its members always met for common religious feasts and sacrificial meals (1 S 20:6,29).  In particular, the clan assumed the responsibility for blood-vengeance.  Each clan was ruled by the heads of its families, the zeqenim or 'elders', and in time of war it furnished a contingent, theoretically a thousand strong, commanded by a chief, sar.  In Jg 8:14 the 'chiefs' of Sukkoth are distinguished from the 'elders'....A group of clans, of mishpahoth, formed a tribe, shebet or matteh, two words with the same meaning, which also denote the commander's staff and the royal sceptre.  The tribe therefore embraced all those who obeyed the same chief.  
The hierarchy of the three terms, beth ab, misphahah and shebet, is clearly expressed in Jos. 7:14-18, but one term may sometimes be used for another, as in Nb 4:18 and Jg 20:12 (Hebrew text)."
pg. 13 "...everyone remembered to which tribe he belonged, but the unit of society which survived, and which to some extent retained the ancient customs, was the clan.  In practice, after the settlement, the village stood for the clan, and in many of the genealogies of Chronicles, names of villages replace names of ancestors."



Monday, October 14, 2013

Shouts of Particularism, Whispers of Universalism: Understanding the Timing of G-d's Message of Love to the World

"This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus," (Eph 3:6)
"Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ," (Eph 2:11-13)

Until the arrival of Paul the Apostle, most Messianic Jews thought of Yeshua's parting words "Go and make disciples of all nations" as some sort of miscommunication.

Why did they (and especially Peter) have such a hard time with this mystery of Gentile inclusion in Israel?

Because it seemed to contradict Torah!  Just look at the following examples:


“You are a people (LXX, laos) holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the people (LXX, ethne) on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be His treasured possession.”(Deut. 14:2).  
“We are yours from of old; but you have not ruled over them, they have not been called by your name.” (Isaiah 63:19) 
"When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. The words of the prophets are in agreement with this..." (Acts 15:13-15)

Let's take a moment and review some of those Prophetic words to which James refers:

Here are the major prophecies to which James refers in Acts 15:16-17:
"11 In that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and will rebuild the ruins of it, and will set up the parts thereof that have been broken down, and will build it up as in the ancient days: 12 that the remnant of men, and all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called, may earnestly seek me, saith the Lord who does all these things," (Amos 9:11-12 LXX)
"And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto thee," (Zechariah 2:11)
"Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people..." (Isaiah 56:3)
"Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, 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: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices [shall be] accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people," (Isaiah 56:6-7)
"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. Andmany 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," (Isaiah 2:2-3) 
"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," (Micah 4:1-2) 
"31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Juda: 32 not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day when I took hold of their hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; for they abode not in my covenant, and I disregarded them, saith the Lord. 33 For this is my covenant which I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will surely put my laws into their mind, and write them on their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people," (Jeremiah 31:31-33 LXX) 
"Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do [them. ]" (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

Here is the prophecy to which James refers in Acts 15:18-19

"If they will declare, let them draw nigh, that they may know together, who has caused these things to be heard from the beginning: then was it told you. I am God, and there is not another beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none but me. 22 Turn ye to me, and ye shall be saved, ye that come from the end of the earth: I am God, and there is none other," (Isaiah 45:21-22 LXX)


TO BE CONTINUED...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mixed Signals: Why Did Yeshua Change His Instructions About Gentiles?

Here are some passages where Yeshua seems to have a change of heart about Gentiles:


"These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel," (Matthew 10:5-6)
 "He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.  He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.  “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” (Matthew 15:24-27)

And now the change:

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth," (Acts 1:8) 
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you..." (Matthew 28:19)

QUESTION:

Why did Yeshua change His instructions about Gentiles?



Friday, October 11, 2013

Zelophehad's Daughters: Understanding the Legal and Social Context of Numbers 27 and 36

Later today I'm going to do some research on this.  And if anyone has anything to share then feel free.  I want to learn more about the following:


  • How did nahala (inheritance/patrimony) work?  Was it controlled by the Bet Av?  By the Mishpochah?
  • What was the composition of the Bet Av and the Mishpochah?


It looks like an ancient Israelite from one tribe could've married a woman from another tribe provided that she did not stand to inherit tribal property--which might mean that the whole tribal identity really came down to a connection to the tribal allotment.  And that might, in turn, explain how those identities persisted and, on occasion, were lost.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

How Did the Ancient Tribes of Israel Remain Distinct?

We know that it was possible, for a long period of time, for the twelve tribes of ancient Israel to remain distinct.  But how in the world did they accomplish this?  I have so many questions:


  • Did they have any checks on marital assimilation?  That is, were couples from different tribes discouraged or prohibited from intermarrying?
  • Did they have any checks on cultural assimilation?  In other words, was the tribal culture distinct enough to ensure that members only identified with their own tribe?
  • Did they have any checks on structural assimilation?  That is, did they regulate the permeability of the tribes?
  • Did they have any checks on civic assimilation?  That is, did tribes restrict participation in tribal governance to tribal members?


If anyone knows the answers to any of these sub-questions or can recommend a book on this subject then please let me know.  I want to learn more about this.  I currently have no idea how sub-distinctiveness in the ancient Israelite tribes worked.



Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Jehovah's Witnesses

Within the last month, I've been targeted three times by Jehovah's Witnesses---while sitting in my car.  With the first lady, I said nothing.  Just politely accepted the Watchtower journal she gave me.  I did make note of her eyes, that there was something off about them.

But today I had had enough.  The lady--a different lady, African American this time--approached and noted, just like the other, that I had a Bible.  The first lady had smiled and said"Oh, you're reading your Bible--a man after my own heart".  This lady said something like "Oh, you've got the Holy Bible."  

Then I blitzed her.

I opened the Bible and turned to Colossians.  Now, for those who don't know the context of Colossians, Paul wrote it because some false teachers there were saying that Yeshua was not G-d.  This forced Paul to write passages such as the following:

"The Son is the image of the invisible God..." (Col. 1:15)

"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form..." (Col. 2:9)

Not to mention the fact that Paul (and others) refer to Yeshua as "L-rd".

Now this lady didn't want to hear that.  She didn't want to hear that Yeshua was G-d.  So I looked directly (and I mean directly) in her eyes and said:

"You have a spirit of deception. I'm going to pray for you now."

She said, "That's okay, my friend has to be somewhere and---"

"Father, I ask that you take away this spirit of deception in Yeshua's name!"

As the lady took off, I continued praying for her and felt tears streaming down my face.  This weeping in the Spirit happens to me from time to time. It used to embarrass me but now that I know what it is I just let it happen and allow myself to look foolish.  

Dear reader, we are at war.  I hope you know that.  I hope you study so that you will know what to say when the enemy comes after you and your family.  He'll come at you in every form.  He is adaptable.  He doesn't get discouraged...

...and he never sleeps.

How Would You Feel About This?

So before I ask for your opinion on something, I'll give you some background:

The other night I attended a Paul Wilbur concert.  Everything with the concert itself was fantastic.  Hope for Israel (a supposedly independent Israel charity), orchestrated a beautiful, multi-national, prayer for Jerusalem.  An Arab woman stood next to a Jewish holocaust survivor and prayed for the peace of Jerusalem, getting choked up in parts, a man who was Kenyan I think prayed in Swahili, a Korean man prayed in Korean, a German woman in German, etc, etc.  Needless to say, the beauty of it made me cry.

During another part of the evening, the Holy Spirit seemed to have intervened.  Paul Wilbur said, "I'd like to go off script for a moment and play -----" (I don't remember the name of the song).  Then, after he was finished, Paul Klassen of Hope for Israel asked him, "Do you know who wrote that?"  And Paul Wilbur made some sort of joke (I couldn't hear what he said).  But he didn't know who had written it.  Well, it turned out that the guy who wrote that song was sitting in the choir behind Paul Wilbur!

So the evening was perfect...almost.

I noticed that at one of the Hope for Israel tables they offered a selection of UMJC reading materials.

Why would that upset me, you ask?  Because the UMJC teaches that non-Jews are second-class citizens (good ol' fashioned bilateral ecclesiology at work).  They make non-Jewish women feel like they have to marry Jews in order to become a first-class citizen.  There are a host of other evils produced by this teaching but I mention the one with which I am most painfully familiar.

So, my question, for those who think there is no war or who think that I'm just "quarrelsome"...I ask you now...

How would you feel if the UMJC was coming into YOUR congregation and disseminating doctrinal views that you personally know to be harmful?


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mystery Religions in the Ancient World

Just read a fascinating book by the British author Joscelyn Godwin entitled "Mystery Religions in the Ancient World."  I was especially interested in how she was able to identify five archetypal paths through which the ancients believed they could fathom the divine mysteries.  I believe the book is useful in that it provides some religious context to the Greco-Roman environment which is helpful when trying to understand the socio-religious background of the New Testament--specifically the book of Colossians.

Here are some of my notes from the book if you're interested:


Pilgrimage and Household in the Ancient Near East

Just read an enlightening book that showed how ancient Semitic cultures understood the significance of the pilgrimage rite and also the household--especially the idea of a supra-household known as the "House of the Father."  In a nutshell, the author, McCorriston, says that the pilgrimage rite worked in tandem with the society-as-household idea and thus functioned to enhance socio-political ties.

I think that this Ancient Near East context of pilgrimages is also helpful in appreciating the socio-political significance of the three pilgrimage festivals in the Israelite faith---all of which are incumbent upon Jews and non-Jews in the Messianic Era.  They symbolically merge all the world into one single family (Household of the Father)!

Here are a few excerpts if you're interested in ancient ethnography:

pg. 19  "Pilgrimage is a journey to a sacred place to participate in a system of sacred beliefs."

pgs 21,22  "If ritual practices 'function to strengthen the bonds attaching a believer to his god, i.e., to his society, since god is only a figurative representation of society'...then pilgrimage reflects and strengthens social bonds.  In Arabian societies organized and maintained through the metaphor of segmentary kin-based lineages (as 'tribes'), ritual practices, including pilgrimage, would therefore serve to reify and express community of tribe and clan...such allegiances are contextual and, like pilgrimages, can coalesce a large social group into a common identity....
....Pilgrimage can manifest and strengthen close association between the political order (kings) and divine order, thereby shoring up political authority....Pilgrimage can serve as an integrating force for national identity...the enactment of national ideology."

pg. 23 "Turner argued that pilgrimage was a social process in which the actors leave their secular social contexts and conjoin in a new 'communitas,' an antisociety that breaks with society and that is at once simple, egalitarian, and transitional..."

pg. 50  "Why pilgrimage?  Why does this particular practice, attendant with sanctuary, sacrifice, and feast, out of so many other Arabian cultural traits serve to distinguish and differentiate Arabian society?  Pilgrimage constitutes society, and it does so both during the actual season and action of pilgrimage and throughout individuals' lives, whether or not one actually ever makes a pilgrimage.  By belonging to this pilgrimage-making society--as a Muslim, as a bedouin tribes person, as the devotees of a particular saint--an individual is invested with the potential experience of a wider social body within which he or she experiences all the rights and obligations of participation."

pg. 51  [One of the essential attributes of pilgrimage is that it affirms] social identity.  Social identity is of course highly contingent and contextual, and pilgrimage can play an important role in the constitution and dissolution of identity in a wider context, embracing social groups not otherwise linked through social relations.  For example, segmentary tribal groups may affirm kinship at the supraclan level through common acknowledgement of supreme deity and practicing common tribal rites..."

pg. 54 [Schloen argued that] a native perception of father-son relationship structured all society from small households to the authority of the king.  The universal metaphor for Bronze Age social and economic interactions was the 'House of the Father' symbolically and dramatically reproduced...throughout...the ancient world."

pg. "[Super-households] became the house of the god, a transformation that confederated individual households into an urban matrix..."

Messianic Outreach Ideas: Invite Messianic Musicians to Church!

So tonight I'll be going to see Paul Wilbur at Grove Ave. Baptist Church.  I don't really know much about him except that I gather he is a Messianic non-Jew (?).  In any event, I think it's a wonderful bridge-building opportunity to have Messianic singers give concerts at churches.

Here's the promo-video for tonight's event at Grove:

CLICK HERE FOR LINK

If you'd like Paul Wilbur to visit your local congregation then use the following contact info:

info@wilburministries.com

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Church Update

So the past few weeks have been amazing.  I'm currently focusing on helping a local pro-Israel congregation build it's men's fellowship ministry.  My role is helping out with prayer rotations--they have a prayer room where prayer teams meet during the Wednesday men's fellowship group time-slot.  By the way, if you're thinking of building up a community of Believers where you are then don't forget that essential ingredient:  prayer.  Prayer is like a sacrifice that must be offered before you can invite G-d to join you.

Imagine what would happen if all the fellowship groups across the country starting implementing prayer-rotations...  

I was in a Colossians class at church recently and there was a dialogue between two brothers that went like this (this was a pleasant dialogue by the way):

B1:  It seems more and more like there's a darkness spreading over the country and the light is getting weaker and weaker...

B2:  I don't think the light is getting weaker... I think it's becoming more focused, like a laser.  All the people that used to look like Believers are being shown to be something else.  The true Believers are becoming more apparent.  And the final test will be support for Israel...

So true!

I want to be in that laser beam!  May G-d strengthen our movement to be worthy of His Light!




Friday, October 4, 2013

"Under the Law": A Look at Paul's Ambiguous Referential Language

Read this today and would like to know what you all think about it:


"[Paul uses] one group identifier ['the Jews'] in [1 Corinthians 9:20a], and another Jewish group identifier ['those under the law'], in [1 Corinthians 9:20b].  In this social categorization, 'the Jews'...describes the vast majority of Jews living around the Mediterranean basin, while 'those under the law'...represents a subgroup identity within this broader classification of Jews....
Paul uses the phrase ['under the law'] four times in 9:20b, which raises the following questions:  To whom does Paul refer by the group descriptor, 'those under the law'?  How does Paul become 'as one under the law'?  What does he mean when he claims that he is 'not under the law'?  Finally, what does it mean to 'win those under the law'?
Schrage claims that ['under the law'] refers to 'Jews living under the authority of Mosaic law.'  However, the use of this phrase to simply refer to Jews is redundant and would not explain why Paul would use it right after writing ['the Jews'] in the first part of verse 20.  This suggests that Paul has a different referent in view here.  Ciampa and Rosner contend that it refers more specifically to 'proselytes.'  While this is possible, the phrase ['under the law'] is quite ambiguous in Paul's letters.  For example, in Gal 3:10, 13 ['under the law'] can mean 'under the curse of the law'], while in Rom 6:14-15, it can be understood as 'under the sin-strengthening regime of the old age.'...
Lightfoot and Bockmuehl have suggested another reading for ['under the law'], one that refers either to those holding to a more 'strict interpretation of the law' or more specifically to the 'Pharisees.'  This view is preferred for the following reasons:  First, in Phil 3:5, Paul says of himself ['as to the law, a Pharisee'.  This makes for a good conceptual parallel to the language of 1 Cor 9:20.  Second, Pharisees were known for a more strict observance of the law compared to the halakhah of Jesus.  Third, this understanding distinguishes the small group from the previously mentioned larger group, i.e., 'the Jews.'  This distinction between the Pharisees and the rest of the Jews is furthermore evident in Mark 7:3 ('the Pharisees and all the Jews') and Luke 7:29-30, as well as Josephus JW 1.110.  So this proposed understanding of ['under the law'] as 'those following a [strict interpretation] of the law' would suggest that Paul no longer follows the Pharisee sect....
So, in answer to the questions raised by the presence of ['under the law'] in 9:20, Paul uses the group descriptor, 'those under the law,' to designate those living under a strict halakhic interpretation of the Pharisees.  How does Paul become 'as one under the law'?  He does this by sharing table-fellowship with those who hold to these strict standards, and he, himself, follows them on those occasions.  What does he mean when he claims that he is 'not under the law'?  Paul is no longer following the strict halakhot of the Pharisees.  Finally, what does it mean to 'win those under the law'?  It could mean to convince those in this group that gentiles in Christ are not required to follow similar halakhic standards; rather, they are to keep the commands appropriate to them (1 Cor 7:19)," (pg. 102 of Remain in Your Calling:  Paul and the Continuation of Social Identities in 1 Corinthians by J. Brian Tucker)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sharing One-Law: Three Important Things to Know

Would you like to be more effective as a One-Law Messianic Jew or Non-Jew in sharing your beliefs with others?

Here's three skills that you must develop if you want to be more effective:

(1) Profiling Your Audience:  Are they anti-Judaic?  Pro-Judaic?  Pro-Israel?  Anti-Israel?  Torah-positive?  Torah-negative?  Are they One-Law Inclusionists?  That is, do they believe that non-Jews are members of Israel, compelled by the Ruach to learn and keep applicable commandments? Are they Two-Law Exclusionists?  That is, do they believe that non-Jews are excluded from the People of Israel and only instructed to keep a second-class version of the Commandments?

Above all, understand that, by and large, the system of Christianities is anti-Judaic and thus will always reject the message of One Law--as a system.  That said, there will be exceptions on the individual and congregational level.

(2) Calibrating to Your Audience:   Don't explain One-Law to someone who is not ready.  If it's a Christian, you might want to stay under the radar as much as possible unless they are very pro-Israel and acquainted with Jewish observances.

Example 1:  I met up with a Christian friend recently who is very pro-Israel.  He's a genius, legal background, oversaw Airforce J.A.G. core as a GS-15.  So this was an individual with whom I felt comfortable sharing the One-Law message.

Example 2:  I spoke recently with a Christian who runs a Messianic-styled fellowship at a church.  I profiled him, found that he used to work with Jews for Jesus, that his mission is to host Messianic-styled services with the ultimate purpose of attracting Jews to Christianity.  He was not anti-Judaic (in some ways) yet he was very Torah-negative.  As a Dispensationalist he believed very strongly that the Law has been abolished.  Against my better judgment I did engage him a little bit regarding the Torah-positive prophecies.  But I kept things brief and very respectful, knowing that his background would ultimately prohibit him from accepting the One-Law message.

(3) Presenting to Your Audience:  Here's a few things that can be included (depending on your audience):


  • Establish credibility
  • Talk about your experiences with Messianic Judaism
  • Explain, if necessary, the history of the modern Messianic movement and how there are currently two camps within Messianic Judaism, One-Law and Two-Law, that One-Law teaches that the Covenant and Commandments are inclusive of non-Jews, that Two-Law teaches that non-Jews are excluded from the Covenant and relegated to a second-class version of the Commandments.
  • Explain the history of Christianity, how it is historically supersessionist and inherently (perhaps inextricably) anti-Judaic.  Explain why this is harmful.  Explain why One-Law is beneficial.
  • Explain key terms (e.g. Israel, Israel of G-d, Jew, Initiatory Circumcision, Ratificatory Circumcision, etc)
  • State the positions of Christians and Messianics with regard to the Covenant and Commandments, briefly summarizing your opponents case.
  • Make the case for One-Law:  (1) make the claim that non-Jews are included in Israel and be able to state Scriptural evidence; (2) make the claim that the Ruach compels non-Jewish (and Jewish) Believers to learn about and eventually keep the applicable Commandments, citing to Scriptural evidence.
  • Refute the opponent's position.
  • Summarize your best points.
  • Restate the benefits of your position, appeal to your audience's emotions (pathos), and make a call to action.