Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Vanhoff Responds to My Question

CLICK HERE FOR LINK


If you click the above link and scroll to the bottom, you will see my follow up question for Rob.

Mystical One-Law Thought of the Day (Courtesy of Mordecai of Chernobyl)

"Commenting on the phrase 've-zot torat ha-Adam' [literally:  'and this is the Torah of man'] (2 Sam. 7:19), the Hasidic master Mordecai of Chernobyl explained it to mean that 'the man himself becomes the Torah.'  The Torah becomes incarnated in him," Sherwin, Faith Finding Meaning, pg. 51.

The incarnation of the Torah sounds a lot like what happens in the New Covenant.  Something to ponder.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Question for Rob Vanhoff

I just would like to know where Torah Resource stands on this issue and so my question for Rob is simple:

Do you agree with the following quote from David Stern?

"The common Christian idea that Judaism became 'degenerate' because human tradition was added to God's Law is mistaken.  The five books of Moses have rightly been called the constitution of the Jewish nation, but a nation needs more than a constitution.  There could never have been a time when tradition of some sort was not a necessary adjunct to the written Torah -- for the written Torah simply does not contain all the laws and customs needed to run a nation.
      For this there is evidence even in the Pentateuch.  Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 12:21 that the people of Israel could slaughter animals 'as I have commanded you,' but no commands concerning how to slaughter are found anywhere in the written Torah.  Something external is implied--legislation, tradition, an oral Torah.  God could announce his will from heaven whenever uncertainty arises, but this not his normal means of guidance either in the Old Testament or in the New.  Nothing in the Bible suggests that God opposes accumulating knowledge and experience or creating guidelines and rules,
"  pg. 148 of Messianic Jewish Manifesto by David Stern

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

The One-Law Definition of Messianic Judaism


Messianic Judaism is the belief that Yeshua is the promised Messiah of Israel who taught His followers to inform their World View and Way of Life through both Scripture and Judaic Tradition and to identify as members of the Israel of G-d.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Two-House Exegesis of Romans 11 by a Non-Two-Houser

Earlier I was looking on Jstor for academic articles on Romans 11 and came across an article by a man named Jason Staples.  This guy doesn't appear to be Messianic or even Hebrew Roots.  Just some regular Ph.D. candidate.  I wonder, does he realize that his article sounds exactly like Two House Theology?  And now I'm wondering just how many academic articles have been written by non-Two-Housers that promote a Theology that's identical to Two House Theology.  Just how widespread is Two House Theology nowadays?

Anyway, here's the article:

CLICK HERE FOR LINK

Saturday, December 20, 2014

50,000 VISITORS A MONTH!!!

Many thanks to the readers from around the world for visiting my little corner of the interwebs!

Why Did Yeshua Endorse Those Who Bind Heavy Burdens? [For Dan Benzvi]

"All therefore whatsoever they tell you, that do and observe; but do not ye after their works:  for they say, and do not.  For they bind heavy burdens..." (Matt. 23)
Wait a second!  Why should anyone have to obey burdensome legislation?

First some legal context.  What does Yeshua mean by "bind" here?  Unless one is familiar with rabbinic law, one may not realize that "binding" refers to one aspect of rabbinic legislation. "Binding" refers to legislation that prohibits something; whereas "loosing", a corollary concept, refers to legislation that permits something.  

Did Yeshua accept any other forms of rabbinic legislation?  Actually, yes.  

A little more legal context... 

There are (roughly) three forms of Jewish law:

(1) Deoraita: (A) written Torah; (B) halacha l'Moshe miSinai (i.e. laws to which written Torah makes reference--such as tzitzit, mezuzot, etc--but does not provide written explanation of how to perform);

(2) Logical extrapolations that must arise from the written Torah;

(3) Derabban (rabbinic legislation such as takkanah and gezerah)

We have indications that, in addition to endorsing gezerot in Matt. 23, Yeshua at various times approved of takkanot such as Hannukah.

So we have strong indication that Yeshua accepted various forms rabbinic legislation (provided they did not supplant written Torah).  But why did He accept it---especially when He indicates that their gezerot (prohibitions) amounted to "heavy burdens" that were "grievous to be borne"?

Edersheim, commenting on Matthew 23, puts it this way:

"...so long as [the Scribes and Pharisees] held the place of authority they were to be regarded, in the language of the Mishnah [a Rosh haSh. ii. 9], as if instituted by Moses himself, as sitting in Moses' seat, and were to be obeyed, so far as merely outward observances were concerned," (pg. 754 of The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim)
It should also be noted that Edersheim interprets Yeshua in Matthew 23 as specifically observing the third tier of Jewish law mentioned above--that of rabbinic legislation:

"Not so for the third class of ordinances, which were 'the hedge' drawn by the Rabbis around the Law, to prevent any breach of the Law or customs, to ensure their exact observance, or to meet peculiar circumstances and dangers.  These ordinances constituted 'the sayings of the Scribes' or 'of the Rabbis'--and were either positive in their character [takkanot] or else negative [gezerot]...it was probably this third class especially, confessedly unsupported by Scripture, that these words of Christ referred (Matt. 23:3,4): 'All therefore whatsoever they tell you, that do and observe; but do not ye after their works:  for they say, and do not.  For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but with their finger they will not move them away...'  pg. 70 of The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim.
Now I know that this view that there is an oral Torah is controversial in the current anti-rabbinic climate of Messianic Judaism.  We are coming out of Christianity and we still haven't fully shed our old biases.  We still love our "Christian liberty."  We hate man-made rules (Traditions of men? Booo!).  And you know what?  We have every indication that Yeshua hated some man-made rules too!  He called them grievous burdens.  And yet we see time and again the unavoidable fact:  He respected tripartite hierarchy of Jewish law that I've outlined above.  Provided that tier 3 did not overturn tier 1, He accepted tier 3 legislation as though it was commanded by Moses himself.

And now Dan Benzvi will have some choice insults prepared for me.  So let's sit back and enjoy the onslaught.  I can't wait to hear how arrogant I must be for questioning Tim Hegg.  : )


Menachem Elon on the Difference Between Takannot and Gezerot

"It may therefore be said that, in the main, the term gezerah denotes legislation prohibiting the performance of a particular act that the Torah does not prohibit; the objective of a gezerah is to extend a prohibition established in the Torah, in order to decrease the likelihood that the Torah's prohibition will be violated.  Takkanah, on the other hand, generally denotes an enactment that imposes a duty to perform a particular act for the benefit and welfare of the community or any of its members.  These general rules, however, do not always apply,"  pg. 492 of Menachem Elon's "The Legal Sources:  Legislation, Custom, Precedent, Legal Reasoning.

Samuel Levine on the Process and Categorization of Legislation in Jewish Law

CLICK HERE FOR LINK


Friday, December 19, 2014

An Encouraging Message From Yeshua on Hanukah

Yesterday, I was feeling sorry for my daughter as I thought about the fight she has ahead of her, the social pressures that will try to entice her conform to the evil culture in America.

But then Yeshua gave me hope.  Here is what He said:

"And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants [hanikav yelidey--literally "trained/dedicated children"], born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan," (Gen 14:14)


"Train [hanok] up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old , he will not depart from it," (Prov. 22:6).

I must train/dedicate (hanok--which is related to the term Hanukah) my little yeldah (girl) so that when she is old she will not depart from His Way.  And like Abraham's "fighting men", and like the Maccabees, she will will know how to fight darkness, letting her light (Yeshua) shine before everyone she encounters.  The Light will separate her from the darkness.

You know, recently, we learned that our daughter accepted Yeshua into her heart (her words).  She did this without anyone prompting her.  And several days later she was singing in the living room, saying "We sing up to you oh G-d forever", a little, innocent melody she made up.  And then she turned to me and exclaimed "Ever since I invited Yeshua into my heart I just can't stop praising G-d!"  

What a wonderful girl.  May G-d protect and bless my little angel.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Messianic Stigma During the Christmas Season

Just a brief thought from today...

I feel sorry for my daughter.  She's been in several classes where the teachers ask something to the effect of "How many of you have your Christmas trees up?"  To me, this sounds like a terrible question to ask a large group of mixed-background students.  They ask if she celebrates Hannukah.  She says yes.  But I'm sure that people will find it odd that a non-Jewish girl is celebrating Hannukah.  I saw the other day that she had one of those pictures for coloring and the theme of the picture was Hannukah.  So I guess they gave that to her instead of the Christmas tree.

For those of you who don't have children, allow me to explain the perspective of a Messianic non-Jewish parent.  You have all the normal worries (which are quite enough) and then you have to worry about the Messianic stigma.

I dealt with the stigma when I was in college.  Which wasn't so bad.  But I think it must be very difficult for a little one.  Her social identity is in the very early stages of development.  What will this do to her?



 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Getting a Read on the Oral Torah: An Ongoing Dialogue with Tim Hegg (Part 1)

"One does not read oral Torah," --Tim Hegg, from Oral Torah and The Seat of Moses: A Response

Your interpretation of Matthew 23 affects your entire way of life.  

If you read Yeshua's "do and observe" as an endorsement of oral Torah then you might find yourself seeking out rabbinic halacha--either as an advisory opinion (as to the nature and substance of oral Torah) or as a mandatory authority to be followed in its own right.   If, on the other hand, you read Yeshua's statement as merely an endorsement of written Torah then you will have little interest in searching out rabbinic halacha for normative value.

Hegg seems to take the latter position.

His exegesis of Matthew 23 depends upon a single keystone argument that could be articulated as follows:

Premise 1:  Yeshua commanded His disciples to obey the Scribes
Premise 2:  However, the Scribes were merely transmitters of the written Torah and not the oral Torah
Conclusion:  Therefore, Yeshua's command was for His disciples to obey the written Torah (not the oral Torah as some claim)

[Let's skip the rather glaring exegetical omission that Yeshua also said to obey the Pharisees--a group that was indisputably known for its adherence to an oral type of Law in addition to the written Law]

And so I challenged this argument, citing to Nehemiah 8 in which the Levites (Scribes) went around giving the sense of the Torah so that people understood what it meant ("sechel vayabinu").  Now, I didn't go into a deep exegesis because the logical and textual proofs for the oral Torah are widely known.  However, sechel (wisdom) and understanding (binah) are associated with the process of turning mitzvot into halacha (i.e. the process of oral Torah):

"Only the LORD give thee wisdom and understanding [sechel ubinah], and give thee charge concerning Israel, that thou mayest keep the law of the LORD thy God," 1 Ch. 22:12.

Hegg, however, in exegeting Neh. 8:7-8 focuses on three things (1) the connection between Scribes and "writing"; (2) the term mephorash which "may well mean to 'divide the text into sections,' that is, reading a section, then making sure the people understood the meaning of what was said"--meaning that the Scribes were purely concerned with presenting the text itself to their audience; (3) the fact that "One does not read oral Torah."  In short, he argues that the Scribes were strictly concerned with presenting the written Torah and not any sort of oral explication of the Torah.

REBUTTAL:  2 BRIEF POINTS

First, how can one understand (binah) the written Torah without an oral Tradition?  If the written Torah is perfect then it must either contain no ambiguity or come with a tradition to resolve that ambiguity.  However, it does contain ambiguities as to how one should put into practice--how one operationalizes--various commandments (e.g. tzitzit, totafot, ritual slaughter, Shabbat, etc).  David Stern writes:
"The common Christian idea that Judaism became 'degenerate' because human tradition was added to God's Law is mistaken.  The five books of Moses have rightly been called the constitution of the Jewish nation, but a nation needs more than a constitution.  There could never have been a time when tradition of some sort was not a necessary adjunct to the written Torah -- for the written Torah simply does not contain all the laws and customs needed to run a nation.
      For this there is evidence even in the Pentateuch.  Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 12:21 that the people of Israel could slaughter animals 'as I have commanded you,' but no commands concerning how to slaughter are found anywhere in the written Torah.  Something external is implied--legislation, tradition, an oral Torah.  God could announce his will from heaven whenever uncertainty arises, but this not his normal means of guidance either in the Old Testament or in the New.  Nothing in the Bible suggests that God opposes accumulating knowledge and experience or creating guidelines and rules,
"  pg. 148 of Messianic Jewish Manifesto by David Stern
Therefore, the Scribes must've known some sort of proto-oral Torah in order to "give the sense so the people could understand" (sechel vayabinu).  

Second, we have examples where the Tanak refers to serious consequences for violating prohibitions that do not exist anywhere in the written Torah!  Consider that in the book of Jeremiah (17:21-27) the L-rd says that He will destroy Jerusalem if the People of Israel violate the prohibition against carrying burdens on Shabbat.  But where is this command to be found in the written Torah prior to the writing of the book of Jeremiah?  

The inescapable conclusion is that G-d entrusted His Scribes with something beyond the written Torah.  There must have been an oral Torah.  

Many thanks to Mr. Hegg for engaging in this dialogue.  I look forward to your response.

Shalom and Blessings to the Torah Resource Staff,

Peter










Tim Hegg Responds to My Recent Post on Oral Torah and Matthew 23

Moments ago I just received notification that Hegg responded to my recent post entitled "[Respectfully] Challenging Tim Hegg's View That Yeshua Did Not Endorse Oral Torah in Matthew 23".  I'm going to start reading it now.  

To read his response, click the following link:  Oral Torah and the Seat of Moses: A Response.


Messianic Adventures in Church (Deconstructing Christian Rule Aversion)

The teacher in the Sunday school class at church touched on the issue I've been addressing in my on-going "The Difference Between How Christians and Jews Approach the Bible" series.  He was discussing the book of Revelation--specifically chapter 2, heading "To the Church in Pergamum."

It's an interesting passage.  The teacher talked about the reference to Balaam and how it implied that the sin of the Pergamum church was licentiousness.  They were permitting idolatry mixed with sexual perversion.  And so the Son of Man is telling them that if they repent then everything will be fine.  But if they don't, He will destroy them with the sword of His mouth which is the Word.

So the teacher attempted to synthesize this into a practical teaching.  And he kind of struggled.  On the one hand, he wanted to say that licentiousness is wrong (gotta have rules).  On the other hand, he said we don't want to be legalistic (don't wanna have rules).

I found this somewhat amusing.  The age-old struggle of Christianity:  a love-hate relationship with rules!

What's in a rule anyway?

Here's some food for thought:

if there's no rule governing conduct in a given situation then the logical implication is that you can do whatever you want!  

No rules=arbitrary.

Think about it.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

"Exodus: Gods and Kings" Movie Review [SPOILER WARNING--they escape]



I recently watched Ridley Scott's movie "Exodus: Gods and Kings" starring Christian Bale as Moses.  My initial impression was perhaps a little naive.  There are so many things to love about the movie, the story about the brothers who become enemies (and yet somehow remain brothers), the role reversal of the Prince of Egypt turned Hebrew slave, etc.

But, like any Bible-Believer, I was curious how they would treat the text.  How would they make Moshe's character?  How would they treat the miracles?  Would there be any anti-supernatural bias?

The first thing out of the ordinary was the burning bush scene.

In the movie, Moshe goes up to Mount Horeb chasing after some misbehaving lambs when suddenly he's overtaken by a rock slide and knocked unconscious.  When he awakens, he's buried in mud up to his face.  We then expect to see a burning bush that talks.  But instead we see a burning bush and a talking nine-year-old boy which we quickly realize is a petulant, child-god.

Yet I was willing to give the movie the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps this was meant to be a "poetic" reinterpretation of the Exodus story, a kind of midrash if you will.

The next thing out of the ordinary was that movie-version Moshe leaves his family behind in Horeb even though the Biblical text indicates that he took them with him.

Well, that does alter his character a bit...

And then the plagues.  We don't see the cause of the plagues as being the hand of G-d but rather whimsical mother nature.  Alligators eat fishermen, turning the sea blood red, this causes frogs to escape to land which then leads to massive decomposition with lots of flies, etc, etc.

Even the crossing of the Red Sea in the movie could be the result of natural processes.  Something caused the waters to recede temporarily.  The Egyptian pursuers were simply unlucky enough to be crossing in the middle of the Red Sea when the water levels returned to normal.

They say hindsight is 20-20.  Well, after the movie I realized, "Hey, there was no staff that turned into a serpent!"  And wasn't that the sign in the Biblical text which was supposed to convince everyone that something supernatural was happening?

I guess there's two ways you can read the Exodus story.  Either it's a supernatural story of how the G-d of Israel delivers the Israelites from Egypt or it's the story of a deluded yet fearless leader fighting oppression.  In the case of Exodus: Gods and Kings, Ridley Scott takes the latter reading.

This isn't the Biblical story of Exodus but rather a humanist reinvention of it.


Friday, December 12, 2014

The Difference Between How Christians and Jews Read the Bible (Part 2)

Pete Rambo raised a point in the first post, "Where is the Ruach in the whole discussion?"

And so we're going to delve into this a bit.  First, let's lay out some approaches to "halacha":

Christian approach:  we don't need rules; we've got the Spirit to guide us.

Anti-Rabbinic Messianic:  we don't need rules; we've got the Spirit to guide us.  Here's the example of David Stern (which feebly tries to differentiate itself from the Christian approach but ultimately ends up expressing disdain for rules):

"All of this is by way of background to considering what the role of halakhah might be in the light of the New Covenant.  According to the New Testament, every believer has in him the Spirit of God....It is clear that people need guidance...But Christian [worldview] tends to float above specific rules...to a [world] of general principles...[which is] inspiring but far from the brass tacks.  Messianic halakhah can provide specific guidance for those who seek it.  It can provide a basis for discussion, for probing the direction of finding godly solutions to ethical questions, as well as for ceremonial situations, helping to establish communal norms--norms, not hard-and-fast rules!" pgs 153-154 of Messianic Jewish Manifesto by David Stern.

Pro-Rabbinic Messianic:  we need rules; otherwise, our communities will disintegrate into lawlessness.  We should be "righteous before God, walking [i.e. practicing halachah] in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless," (Luke 1:6).  We must be followers of the Way (Acts 22:4) not followers of the Ways--there must be logical consistency because our G-d is logically consistent.  We must "walk" as Paul walked ("Brothers, join in imitating me, and keey your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us" Phil. 3:17).

Now let's return to Chaim Saiman and his story about the rabbi who walked into a church.  He was trying to find out how the Christians operationalize the command to be fruitful and multiply:

"I then paused, saying, 'Let's leave the rabbinic answers to these questions for now, but let me hear how in your tradition, you reason towards the answers.  Surely you want to fulfill the word of God, so how do you know when you have done it?'

....

     The answers clustered into a few categories.  Some thought that it was not a command to individuals as much as a charge to society as a whole, such that the verse did not direct individuals to undertake specific acts.  The majority, however, responded with something like, 'as many as you can handle,' 'read the Bible and let the holy spirit guide/inspire you to the correct answer' or 'discuss it with a pastor and other members of the faith community in order to reach the conclusion that is right for you.'....Repeatedly, the churchgoers told me that by focusing on the law rather than the heart, by not allowing faith to guide the answers and by legalizing what should be an intensely spiritual experience, the Talmud completely misses the point.
   
....

Stepping back, it became clear that I was watching radically different methods of Biblical and textual interpretation at work.  The Mishna and Talmud, and in their wake rabbinic Judaism, conceptualize each of these questions as inherently legal.  The reasoning process involves (to use the modern lawyer's terminology), reading statutory language, examining relevant case law, identifying the latent ambiguities and employing conventional forms of legal analysis to arrive at a conclusion...there is little in the rabbinic process that surprises the classically-trained legal mind.
     The perspective I heard at the church that morning was very different.  Very little of it resembled 'law' in the way lawyers would use the term.  In fact, many in the group felt that supplanting the letter with the spirit was the central goal of Jesus' ministry.  Jesus spoke to the heart.  [Christians believe] that Jesus resisted the Pharisees' impulse to refract the religious experience through the prism of law.  [Christian aversion to Talmudism] expresses a theological commitment embedded deep within the Christian worldview.
     The divisions between the approaches can be usefully, if somewhat crudely, articulated in the terms of contemporary legal thought.  The rabbinic view tends towards solving these problems via the application and analysis of rules, while the church group approach tended to resist rules and favored the application of broader, less fact-specific standards.  Moreover, on its own account, halakhic reasoning is understood to be objective.  It involves the application of texts and precedents to facts, and at least in theory is unrelated to the faith or spiritual temperament of either the questioner or the rabbi charged with answering him.  Finally, and most broadly, the Talmudic mode assumes that any issue relevant to religious, social or economic life is both justiciable and answerable within the normative bounds of the halakhic-legal framework.
     The Christian (particularly the contemporary Protestant) mode inhabits a very different discursive realm.  Law is not the relevant platform through which to analyze and decide important religious and social issues.  It is thought to be overly restrictive, and unjustifiably replaces faith and love with rules and precedents.  Instead, the reasoning process is directed inward, and exhibits more overtly religious, spiritual and subjective modes of reasoning.  While a discourse, premised on seeking inspiration from prayer, Bible reading, and conversations within the fellowship, may produce fewer specific conversations guidelines, the believer readily trades rabbinic legalism for a method that actively engages the hearts and souls of the faithful,"  from "Jesus' Legal Theory--A Rabbinic Reading" by Chaim Saiman, Journal of Law and Religion Vol. 23, No. 1, 2007/2008.

DISCUSSION

Does having the Spirit mean we must abandon the reasoning process associated with Law?  Does having rules mean that we have rejected the Spirit?

Or could it be that rejecting rules leads to self-deception, self-legislation (i.e. lawlessness), and ultimately self-destruction?

Does G-d command us to put our heart before our head?  Or our head before our heart?  Remember that the heart is desperately wicked and will tell you "Well, Messianic halacha is vague anyway so I don't need to keep Shabbat" and "Well, I don't feel led by the Spirit to do anything at the moment so I'm not gonna keep any of those Pharisaical rules."



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

[Respectfully] Challenging Tim Hegg's View That Yeshua Did Not Endorse Oral Torah in Matthew 23

In Hegg's "What version of the Mishnah Did Paul Read?", Hegg says many things that we can agree on.  He says the Mishnah did not exist as a written document in the pre-destruction era.  He says that 1st Century Judaism was pluriform.  He says that the Mishnah does not necessarily reflect an accurate historical record of the beliefs and practices of 1st Century Judaism.

However, he does make some extremely bizarre assertions that run counter to the Tanak.  He slowly builds the case that there was always a fairly strict separation between written and oral Torah:

"The distinction between oral and written Torah is also marked by the locations in which each was taught and learned....In contrast to the beit sefer, the means of instruction in the beit midrash was that of oral repetition...We see, then, that though there was a mixture of written and oral learning in both the beit sefer as well as the beit midrash, the beit sefer was predominately concerned with the written text of the Tanach...and thus with reading and writing.  The beit midrash, on the other hand, was almost entirely dominated by listening and repeating the traditions...Here, then, in the methodology for learning and transmitting the oral and written Torah, we see that a clear distinction between the two was carefully guarded and maintained even into the post-destruction era."

And the big finale:

"But the second point is even more important:  while the exact identification and function of the 'seat of Moses' in 1st Century Judaisms eludes us, most scholars agree that 'the seat/chair of Moses' was connected with the synagogue, not the beit midrash.  Moreover, that Yeshua speaks of the 'scribes and the Pharisees' sitting in the 'seat of Moses' would very likely make a connection to the written Torah, not the oral Torah.  First, as noted earlier, the scribes (soferim; grammateis) were the preservers and transmitters of the written, biblical text, not the orally repeated traditions.  Second, the fact that Yeshua states the scribes and Pharisees 'sit in the seat of Moses' favors a linkage to the written Torah given at Sinai by the hand of Moses.  Some might argue that the oral Torah was also linked to Moses, for the rabbis taught that all of the oral Torah was also revealed at Sinai.  However, the rabbinic teaching that God gave the oral Torah to Moses at Sinai was not extant in the 1st Century..."
REBUTTAL

First, we should all note that Hegg says the scribes were NOT the transmitters of orally repeated traditions.  However, this directly contradicts Scripture:

"...the fourth meaning of the term [sopher].  The scribes who were scholars of scripture belonged to the group of the Levites (2 Chronicles 34:13).  According to Nehemiah 8, several Levites assisted Ezra during his Torah reading in the temple: 
'The Levites explained the Torah to the people, while the people remained in their places.  And they read from the scroll, from the Torah of God, interpreting it and clarifying its meaning; so they understood the reading. [Neh. 8:7-8] 
The fact that the Levitical scribes operated as a group is significant.  This does not mean that they took turns in reading and explaining.  It is far more plausible that they gave instruction simultaneously but at different points and to different audiences.  The Levitical scribes were teachers of Torah. 
'They offered instruction throughout Judah, and they had with them the Scroll of theTorah of [HaShem].  They made the rounds of all the cities of Judah and taught among the people.' [2 Chron. 17:9] 
Having the written Torah 'with them'...the Levites were 'teaching' [2 Chron 17:9], 'interpreting [Neh. 8:7], 'explaining' [Neh. 8:8], and 'clarifying the meaning' [Neh. 8:8] of the Torah.  As scholars of scripture, the Levites acted as the successors of Moses who had been the first to 'explicate'...the Torah (Deut 1:5; compare Deut 30:1-13)," pgs. 79-80, Scribal Culture by Van Der Toorn
These Scriptural passages also tell us that in addition to the reading of Torah being joined with "interpretation" (i.e. tradition), there is no indication that locations for learning were strictly, separated as Hegg maintains, into Bet Midrash and Bet Sefer.  He even admits that there is limited evidence to support his conclusion:

"While historic documentation describing the educational methods in the Judaisms of the pre-destruction era is sparse..."

In fact, we can only speculate about whether there was a separate "Bet Midrash" in the 1st Century because our evidence only goes back to the 2nd Century:

"In rabbinic literature, the bet midrash figures prominently, although the rabbis never define precisely the nature of the institution.  Sometimes the bet midrash appears to be a place where a master and his disciples gather for study; sometimes it appears to be an actual building.  An inscribed door lintel found in the Golan states, 'This is the bet midrash of R. Eliezer HaQappar,' a rabbi of the second century...One rabbinic text of the second century refers to 'the bet midrash at Ardaskus,' another to 'the bet midrash at Lod.'  These texts imply that by the second century the bet midrash was becoming a permanent institution in some localities.  As a rule, however, the rabbis of the second century did not need a special place for the instruction of their disciples..." pg 116 From the Maccabees to the Mishnah, Shaye Cohen.

Next, we should consider that Scripture also teaches that the oral Torah was, in addition to being a hallmark of the scribes, a hallmark of the Pharisees (whom Yeshua said sit in Moses' Seat):

"The New Testament is in full accord with Josephus' view that the hallmark of the Pharisees was the twofold Law, the 'tradition of the elders' (Matt. 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13; Phil. 3:5-6; Gal. 1:13-14)," pg. 20 Judaism in the Time of Jesus by Irving Zeitlin

One last thing, "Moses' Seat" being singular and "Scribes and Pharisees" being plural, indicates that this was not a literal seat but rather a symbol of authority.  But let's say that Hegg is right that this only refers to a literal seat.  Hegg says it couldn't be associated with bet midrash.  Other scholars disagree:

"Of course, 'Seat of Moses' need not necessarily refer to a chair and could, by metaphor, refer directly to the teaching authority of Moses, which his successors took up.  (This was the usual interpretation before archaeology offered and alternative.)  Such a derivation of authority from Moses is the burden of m. 'Aboth 1.  The term 'Seat of Moses' suggests that a teach could be viewed as a 'vicar' of Moses.
     The chair, if there was one, need not necessarily have been located in a synagogue;  Davies and Allison suggest that Jesus means that the scribes and Pharisees run Moses' 'school.'  As seen above, 'teacher of Torah' was one of the Rabbis' favorite conceptions of Moses, and he was thought of in some respects simply as their most senior colleague.  The 'seat of Moses,' then, might refer to the authority of those who taught the Law and its interpretation, perhaps in the beth midrash," The New Testament Moses, by John Lierman

Now, I respect and love Tim Hegg.  I'm writing this to show that Hegg's ideas about Yeshua not endorsing oral Torah need to be examined.

Also, if Hegg reads this, I would invite him to respond.

Shalom,

Peter




Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Difference Between How Jews and Christians Read the Bible

This little anecdote from Chaim Saiman's article "Jesus' Legal Theory" shows a glimpse of the difference between how a Christian approaches Biblical commands and how a Talmudist approaches Biblical commands:

"A RABBI WALKS INTO A CHURCH ... I was recently invited to speak to an adult education class at a mainstream Presbyterian church.  The topic of the lecture was how the rabbis read the Bible.  I began by asking the group, 'What is the first commandment in the Bible?'  After a short pause, I received two responses:  'love the Lord your God' and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'  Both fine answers, but neither was what I was looking for.  The group apparently interpreted me as asking either:  what is the first of the Ten Commandments (Decalogue), or, what is the first, i.e., primary, commandment?  The question I intended to ask [was 'what is the first commandment one encounters in the Biblical test?]
     After a short discussion, I told the group that the Talmudic rabbis maintain that the first 'commandment for generations' (applicable beyond Adam and Eve) was to '[b]e fruitful and multiply.'  The group nodded in approval, and I sensed we were on the same page.  Next, I asked a simple, almost inevitable, question from a Talmudic perspective, but one deeply foreign to my audience.
     
     C.S.:  "How many?"
     
     Group:  "How many what?"
     
     C.S.: "How many children?"
     
     Group:  "What do you mean, how many children?"
     
     At this point I realized that we reached a bit of a brick wall, so I backed up.
     
     C.S.:  "Do you believe the Bible is the word of God that expresses His Will?"
     
     Group: "Yes."
     
     C.S.  "Do you believe you have to follow it?"
     
     Group:  "Yes."
     
     C.S. "Well, then how do you know when you have done it?  How do you know when you have been sufficiently fruitful?"
     
     Again, blank stares from the audience.  It was clear that the last question produced some discomfort.  I proceeded to explain that when the rabbis read the Bible, they look to put it into practice, to operationalize it.  Thus, most of their questions, and the rabbinic discourse as a whole, look to define the nature and scope of various provisions in the Bible and Talmud....When the rabbis read the verse 'be fruitful and multiply,' they immediately attempt to define the properties and scope of this commandment...Here the issue boils down to how many children are required to fulfill the Biblical command.
     ... I explained that the rabbis assume that producing two children would satisfy the Biblical duty of fruitfulness...[But in] the Talmud's way of thinking, this is only the beginning.  The tradition continues to wonder:  If one remarries, must he or she have children again?  Is the obligation binding upon the man, the woman or the marriage?  What about children from an adulterous or illicit relationship?  If the children are incapable of reproducing, do they county? ....
     Not surprisingly, at this point I was beginning to lose the group.  I got the bug-eyed, 'you've got to be kidding,' expression from nearly everyone, as if to say, 'If this is what the Talmud is about, then the criticism of the Pharisees is dead on.'
     I then paused, saying, 'Let's leave the rabbinic answers to these questions for now, but let me hear how in your tradition, you reason toward the answers.  Surely you want to fulfill the word of God, so how do you know when you have done it?'
     The most obvious and telling response was the ensuing silence.  The uneasy quiet indicated that the group had never thought to break down this question into the level of detail found in the Talmud.  The command was not conceptualized as binding or operational in quite the direct way the rabbis assumed.  While all agreed that the Biblical directives are binding, in the churchgoers' minds the Biblical commandments took on a less concrete form.  The assembled group did not interpret the verses as having the same degree of presentness and immediacy as assumed by the rabbis,"  from "Jesus' Legal Theory--A Rabbinic Reading" by Chaim Saiman, Journal of Law and Religion Vol. 23, No. 1, 2007/2008.

However, both the Talmudist and the Christian read certain "New Testament" passages the same way.  For example, the story of the disciples plucking grain on Shabbat.  Citing to such incidents, Saiman concludes:


"Jesus and his followers sought to decrease the overall importance and density of the Torah's legal regime..."

But is this accusation really true?  Did Yeshua really advocate normative uncertainty?

Most people don't grasp that Law is actually a composite concept, consisting of two very different types of rules.  There are the rules themselves, those laws promulgated by the legal system.  But a legal system cannot itself exist without three meta-rules.  H.L.A. Hart calls them "secondary" rules but let's call them "systemic rules" or "systemic law"--the rules that necessarily must exist in order for a legal system to exist.  They are:

(1) the rule of recognition:  this rules establishes the criteria for legal validity.  Put another way, this rule establishes the sources of law.  Otherwise, there would be uncertainty as what "laws" in a given society were actually valid;

(2) the rule of change:  this rule confers power on the lawmaker to update the law to changing circumstances;

(3) the rule of adjudication:  this rule confers power on a person or institution to determine authoritatively whether on a particular occasion a primary rule has been broken.

It is self-evident then that each legal system necessarily contains systemic law:  rules of legal validity, rules of change, and rules of adjudication.  So if one accepts a law then one testifies that he accepts the underlying systemic law--one acknowledges that he accepts the entire legal system as valid.

THE ILLUSTRATION OF THE STORY OF GRAIN PLUCKING ON THE SABBATH

But isn't the story of the grain plucking evidence that Yeshua rejected Rabbinic halacha?  

In actuality, this story is not dispositive.  There are many ambiguities that have been the subject of scholarly debate:  (1) what was the full factual context at the time? (2) what was the legal context in first-century Judaism?  Were the Pharisees correct that Yeshua had violated a rabbinic law? Were the laws at that time in a state of flux?  (3) how to we reconcile Yeshua's stated justifications?  He says some things that are very difficult to understand and open to different interpretations.

The upshot:  we lack sufficient information to draw conclusions from this story about Yeshua's personal theory of law.  

But that's fine because we have Matthew 23.  

WHAT MATTHEW 23 TELLS US ABOUT YESHUA'S THEORY OF LAW

It's wrong to cite Yeshua's tension with the Pharisees or even particular Pharisaic commands as evidence that Yeshua was against the Rabbinic legal system.  As long as Yeshua endorsed the "rule of recognition" (i.e. the criteria for legal validity in the Rabbinic system) then Yeshua can still be said to have accepted the Rabbinic system of halacha.  In those instances where Yeshua rejects a particular teaching, He can be read as arguing from within the halachic system, citing to rules of recognition for His assertion that a particular proposed law is actually an invalid law according to the Rabbinic system itself. 

From Matthew 23, we see that Yeshua endorses both (1) the Pharisaic teaching (i.e. laws) and (2) the rules of recognition (i.e. that the Pharisees had expert authority with which to determine what the halacha should be).  Hagner says it best:

"MATTHEW 23...Another favorite passage among Jewish scholars in their reclamation of Jesus is Matthew 23:1-3, 23 (cf. Luke 11:42).  Here Jesus says to the crowds and his disciples that the scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses' seat and that therefore it is right to 'practice and observe whatever they tell you.'  Moreover, when Jesus faults the Pharisees for neglecting the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and faith (Luke 11:42, 'justice and the love of God'), he says, 'These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others' (i.e., the tithing of dill, mint, and cumin--matters involving the Pharisaic extension of the Mosaic commandment concerning tithing).
How are we to reconcile these statements with the fact that, as we have seen, both Jesus and his disciples transgressed the teaching of the Pharisees (cf. Matt. 9:11, 14; 12:2)?  How can Jesus say, 'Practice and observe whatever they tell you' (23:3), when in the following sentence he indicates that the teachings of the Pharisees (especially in contrast of his, cf. 11:29-30) constituted heavy burdens and seems to rebuke the Pharisees for not making their demands lighter (23:4).  Furthermore, in the criticism of the Pharisees that follows, it must be noted that Jesus criticizes not only their conduct but also their teaching (e.g., 23:16, 18).  Indeed, earlier in the Gospel he has warned the disciples about 'the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees,' which is explicitly identified as their teachings (16:11-12).  How are these apparently contradictory utterances to be reconciled?
The answer can only be that the Pharisees are to be honored simply because they concern themselves with the interpretation of the Law (they 'sit in Moses' seat').  They are to be obeyed, but only to the extent that what they teach is not inconsistent with the true meaning of righteousness, which the disciples learned from Jesus, or--put positively--to the extent that their teaching is in accord with the true intention of the Mosaic Law.  In principle, the Pharisees are correct;  in actuality, they are often wrong (cf. Luke 11:52:  'You have taken away the key of knowledge').  The issue is again the real meaning of the Law and the nature of true righteousness....There is, then, first and foremost a strong continuity between the Law and the teaching of Jesus:  Jesus brings the Law to its definitive interpretation.  His fulfillment of the Law by bringing it to its intended meaning depends directly on his messianic office and mission," pgs. 126-127 of The Jewish Reclamation of Jesus by Hagner

The key point I'm trying to establish is that Yeshua could not have been for rabbinic halacha and yet against the rabbinic halachic system.  Accepting one, you must accept both.

THAT SAID....

Does anyone have a different opinion?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Open Letter to David Rudolph

Below is a copy of the email I just sent to David Rudolph (see previous blog post for context):

David,

Just in case you care at all about how a Gentile feels when he reads Tikvat's slogan, here's a comment I just posted at my blog:

"I'm a non-Jew reading this slogan and my mental flowchart goes something like this: 
"Where Jewish People..." 
That's not me. So let's see if there's some sort of exception that would allow me to fellowship at Tikvat... 
"and Their Family and Friends..." 
Obviously the family of Jewish people are ALSO Jewish and so they are welcome.....I don't have any Jewish friends...thus, this congregation of so-called Believers in Yeshua has deliberately UNinvited me."
THAT'S how a Gentile interprets the main page of Tikvat's new website.  You will have to answer to Yeshua for that.
Shalom,
Peter

Thursday, December 4, 2014

UNINVITED: Our Former Congregation Has a New Slogan



Tikvat Israel, as of today, has a new website (HERE)...and a new slogan (see below):



Upcoming Post

So I'll be adding a "Messianic Commentary" to the Mishneh Torah section dealing with Shabbat.  But to do so I need to re-read a couple books:

Jewish Law From Jesus to the Mishnah by E. P. Sanders and also Traditions of the Rabbis from the Era of the New Testament by David Instone-Brewer

The goal will be to lay out a Messianic legal hermeneutic specifically for Shabbat.

Stay tuned...

Halacha Update: The Book of Women

...is now available.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Exposing the Recent Influx of Pseudo-Scholarship on John 8:58 (Great Article by Rob Vanhoff)

CLICK HERE FOR LINK


Halacha Update

Book of Seasons now available in the Halacha tab.  NOTE:  the file is so large that Google doesn't allow a "preview"; rather you have to download the whole thing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Halacha Update: The Book of Love

The Book of Love is now available.  I included a brief commentary about the "shelo asani goi" prayer.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Halacha Update

Book of Knowledge is now uploaded.  Please read through and comment as you feel led.  The goal here is to provide a place on the internet where Messianics can see what other Messianics think about each halacha.

Halacha Tab Update

So I created the "Halacha" tab which is up at the top of the screen.  I put a brief introduction and index in there and will be uploading the 14 books of the Mishnah Torah over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Goal for This "Blog": Every Halacha and Every Prayer (Interlinear and Transliterated)

There will be some updates to this blog in the not-so-distant future.  I'm compiling ALL the halachah translated in English and am partially done.  Should be able to keep it posted under a fair use exception to the copyright laws.  And after that I will compile all the (interlinear and transliterated) prayers found in the full siddur (weekdays and Shabbat).

Then I'll simply add 2 tabs on the main page, one that says "Halacha", one that says "Siddur."  




To be continued...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blowing the Shofar Atop the Blue Ridge Mountains

This past Sunday I finally spent some quality time with a Messianic man who really loves the shofar.  We met up early in the morning at a mall parking lot.  And then together we started the long drive to the mountains.

He likes to go up to the Blue Ridge once a year, to blow the shofar and pray.  He had invited me this year after a mutual friend had introduced us.  On the way there, he told me about why likes the Shofar.  It was apparently the sound of the shofar that jarred him out of his spiritual slumber and set him on a path to learning about the Messianic faith.  Long story short, up until a few months ago he was a pastor at a Christian church but now he wants to start a Messianic ministry, the symbol for which is going to be the shofar.

He's a very interesting man.  About 60 years old, African American, and extremely charismatic (in every sense of the word).  He meets all kinds of people because he's always visiting churches and asking for permission to the blow the shofar.  And then that naturally opens up all kinds of conversations.  In fact, we were on our way to meet up with some of those people.

As we approached the foothills of the Blue Ridge, we met up with a group of Latinos who spoke very little English.  They followed us the rest of way.  When we finally stopped at the first overlook, I noticed that they had their own shofars.

At one point, my Messianic friend spoke about the importance of sounding the shofar.  And he said one thing that I've been thinking about ever since.  He mentioned the shofar blowing in the story of Jericho and said something about how the walls of Jericho were a metaphor for dark spiritual forces.

So what exactly does the shofar do?  

Here's an interesting article I came across today that provides a wealth of information and Scripture references on the subject.  The answer to the above question might surprise you...

CLICK HERE FOR LINK


Monday, November 24, 2014

What About Animal Sacrifices? A Review of Chapter 3 of Tim Hegg's "Ten Persistent Questions" (Part 3)

In the previous, I was talking about how it was confusing for Hegg to say that even though the Old Covenant people used animal sacrifices, they were still saved in the same manner as the New Covenant people.

However, Hegg explains that the animal sacrifices removed sin on the basis of a promise to send the Messiah.  And so we can add to the growing list of functions of animal sacrifices:  promisory.

To recap, animal sacrifices were:

(1) Purificatory (in the temporal, not eternal sense);

(2) Revelatory in that they showed the need for an innocent version of Israel to take the punishment for all of Israel's sins;

(3) Promisory in that they remind both G-d and man of the New Covenant promises.

Beyond the Review:  Some Closing Thoughts About Atonement


Now Hegg's chapter on animal sacrifices was great for what it was--an attempt to address a common Christian attack on the relevance of G-d's law.  Hegg did not intend to write a systematic Messianic theory of atonement.  

But I've got three minutes before work so here's my nutshell view on the Messianic theory of atonement.  

Are you ready for this?  It's the same atonement theory as Christianity (for the most part).

Messianics and Christians agree that atonement is breaking down all the barriers that separate us from G-d so that we can have "at-one-ment" with G-d.  The barriers look like this:

  • belonging to a different master
  • possessing an evil inclination
  • bearing guilt as a transgressor of the Law
  • being a recipient of G-d's wrath

Full atonement then does something like this:

  • purchase
  • purify
  • pardon
  • please

So then the animal sacrifices don't really compete with Yeshua.  They offered (temporal) purification, revelation, and a promise.  They complement Yeshua's work!

Shalom,

Peter

Saturday, November 22, 2014

What About Animal Sacrifices? A Review of Chapter 3 of Tim Hegg's "Ten Persistent Questions" (Part 2)

The Heart of the Matter:  Animal Sacrifices Brought You Close...But Not Close Enough


In the last post, we had just begun to look at the apparent contradiction between the book of Hebrews and the Tanak, the former saying animal sacrifices do not take away sin, the latter indicating that they do take away sin.

How does Hegg resolve this?

He makes a distinction between temporal and eternal atonement.  For the idea of temporal atonement, he cites to Hebrews:
"For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?," (Heb 9:13-14).
Animal sacrifices never really changed the heart of a person and so they could never take away sins.  In order for sins to be taken away, something would have to be done about the heart.  Yet, even though animal sacrifices didn't change the heart, they did sanctify "for the cleansing of the flesh..." and provided the temporal atonement necessary for people to participate in the Temple service.  Additionally, the sacrifices served to foreshadow that G-d would need to send an innocent representative for Israel who could bear the full punishment for all of Israel's sins.  Hegg summarizes:
"We have seen that animal sacrifices in the Tabernacle and Temple did have a valid function, namely, effecting ritual purity and thus allowing the person or object that had become ritually impure to return to an acceptable status for participation in worship at the Tabernacle or Temple.  In this sense, the animal sacrifices made atonement for the ritual impurities that separated a person from participation in the Tabernacle or Temple services.  We have also noted that the sacrifices offered divine revelation about how God would forgive sins eternally (the innocent One paying the penalty for the guilty sinner), and how a person's heart or conscience could be cleansed from the guilt of sin.  We have seen the distinction between temporal and eternal atonement, the former dealing with the earthly Tabernacle or Temple, and the latter having to do with God's declaration of a sinner as eternally and completely forgiven on the basis of Yeshua's sacrifice for sins," (pgs. 32-33 of "Ten Persistent Questions").
So really the book of Hebrews parallels Jeremiah 31:31-34 in showing the insufficiency of the animal sacrifice system.  Jeremiah, by saying there will be a new covenant in which G-d remembers sins no more, implies that under the old covenant G-d does in fact remember sins.  Thus, animal sacrifices were always insufficient to take away sins.

But then how can Hegg say the following:
"...the manner of salvation...was the same for David as it was for the [audience of the book of Romans]"
Well, actually I was confused by that statement.  But then I noticed, buried within the previous paragraph, Hegg stated:
"...[David] understood that God had actually removed his sin on the basis of His promise to send the Messiah as the sin bearer..."
So perhaps Hegg is suggesting that the animal sacrifices served yet another purpose (in addition to the purificatory and revelatory)....

Stay tuned for Part 3...


Friday, November 21, 2014

What About Animal Sacrifices? A Review of Chapter 3 of Tim Hegg's "Ten Persistent Questions" (Part 1)

"Let's face it.  For nearly two thousand years, the Law has been given a bad reputation by the Christian Church.  Not entirely, of course, but most modern day Christians, when asked about 'the Law,' will tend to respond in negative or semi-negative terms.  It is no wonder, then, that when believers in Yeshua begin to observe and appreciate Torah commandments such as keeping the Sabbath or eating kosher foods, many of their Christian friends are shocked and concerned, 'Why would anyone want to put themselves under the restrictions and regulations of a Law from which Jesus freed us?!'  It isn't long until the shock and concern fuels confrontation.  Sometimes this confrontation is sincere and meaningful.  After all, if a brother or sister really thinks that someone who is keeping the Sabbath and eating kosher foods has been deceived by the 'doctrines of demons,' they have a great motivation to rescue that poor soul from the slippery slope of legalism.
     Sometimes such confrontation, when it is sincere, comes with proof texts to show the person how deceived they really are, with the genuine hope that they will 'see the light.'  Occasionally, however, the confrontation begins by pointing out just how ridiculous observing the 'old Law' really is:  'So, where do you plan to sacrifice your first lamb?  In your backyard?'  (often accompanied by a couple of nervous chuckles).  They are quite sure that this question is the coup de gras that will halt this 'Torah nonsense' and get the person back on track.
     What throws the whole conversation into a tizzy is when the Torah-loving believer calmly says:  'Well, we obviously can't offer sacrifices when there is no Temple and no established priesthood.  But if there were a TEmple and priesthood, I'd be ready and willing to bring my sacrifice as God commands.'
     After the initial shock wears off, the stunned Christian usually retorts with something like this:  'Jesus made the final sacrifice.  We no longer need sacrifices, and anyone who would think we do just doesn't appreciate the finished work of Christ!'  This response is based upon a number of faulty assumptions:  1) that animal sacrifices were actually received by God as full payment for one's transgressions; 2) that forgiveness of sins before Yeshua came was through offering sacrifices, but that after He came, forgiveness of sins was by faith in Yeshua and sins were forgiven on the basis of His death; and 3) that to even consider offering an animal sacrifice after Yeshua died on the cross would be an affront to His finished work of paying for sins through His own death," pg. 25 of Ten Persistent Questions by Tim Hegg

Because I'm a Messianic who visits church fairly regularly (it's a testament to my self-control and maturity that they haven't kicked me out yet!), I can attest that Hegg's opening "confrontation" portrays the typical Christian attitude toward Messianic beliefs.

But we love Christians because, as Messianics, most of us used to be Christian.  So the question for us Messianics is:  how do we address the Christians concerns and explain our interpretation of the purpose/meaning of the "Old Testament" sacrificial system?

Did Animal Sacrifice Save People Before Yeshua's Atonement?


Tim Hegg points out an apparent contradiction between the book of Hebrews and various passages in the Tanak that deal with animal sacrifice.  On the one hand, the Hebrews author states:

"1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins," (Hebrew 10:1-4)

Yet the Tanak seems to same that such sacrifice did in fact take away sins.  It is written:

"Thus the priest shall make atonement for him in regard to his sin and he will be forgiven" (Etc)

Now, this seems like an insurmountable contradiction.  But the reality is that everything in the earthly realm is merely a poor reflection of things occurring in the spiritual realm.  The Tabernacle and Temple were not the centers of reality but rather gateways to a much deeper reality.  Likewise, the sacrifices were merely an earthly representation of the spiritual mechanism by which sins were truly forgiven.

So what was the spiritual mechanism of forgiveness?  It was always G-d's grace that offers forgiveness for sins and was never truly the blood of sacrificial animals.  Blood represents the kinship, the closeness, required for there to be true forgiveness.  However, the true blood by which we are united in kinship with our Heavenly Father is the blood offered by Yeshua.  (Yet even "blood" is but another illustration of a much deeper spiritual reality).

TO BE CONTINUED...





Thursday, November 20, 2014

Free Audio Teachings on Tim Hegg's "Ten Persistent Questions"

Disclaimer:  I haven't listened to these yet.  Just noticed them online.

CLICK HERE FOR LINK


"Ten Persistent Questions" Book Just Arrived...

So it just came in the mail--Ten Persistent Questions by Tim Hegg.  There's a lot in this book.  I'll try to do a complete review of each section...  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Islamists Slaughter 5 Praying Jews, Obama Says "Too Many Palestinians Have Died"

Three of the victims killed on Tuesday were American citizens.  And yet our President will do nothing but talk about how many Palestinians have died and says that Palestinians and Israelis should work together to "lower tensions."

THE PALESTINIANS ARE CELEBRATING IN THE STREETS!  HOW CAN YOU WORK WITH PEOPLE WHO CELEBRATE THE MURDER OF JEWS WHO WERE PRAYING IN SYNAGOGUE?!

Well, I'm going to stop for now because I can't even see through my tears.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Dear Sam Nadler: Please Stop Calling Yourself Messianic

Dear Sam Nadler,

I was in a bookstore recently and noticed your book entitled "Messiah in the Feasts of Israel."  The book identifies you as Messianic.  And so I purchased the book thinking I was purchasing Messianic teaching on the Feasts of Israel.  Let me emphasize this point:  I wasn't looking for Christian teaching on the Feasts of Israel; I was specifically looking for Messianic teaching.

But now I realize I wasted $6.50 because you are not Messianic at all but rather Christian in both belief and affiliation.

Belief:

Your teaching matches Christian teaching exactly in that you teach Yeshua abolished the Law.  I noticed an example of this in the very first chapter of your book in which you claim that Yeshua “fulfilled” the commandment of Shabbat which you go on to explain is why this commandment is not reiterated in the New Covenant (in your opinion). You even praise the “flexibility” of Bishop Ambrose who famously rejected the commandment of Shabbat “when in Rome.” 

Affiliation:

So then I discovered from online research that, as a member of AMC, you believe the following:

"The Believer and the Law of Moses...We believe the Law of Moses as a rule of life has been fulfilled in the Messiah and therefore believers are no longer under its' obligation or condemnation. While the Law of Moses is no longer obligatory for believers, the Law has much to teach us regarding a joyfully Jewish way of life. Both Jewish and non-Jewish believers have the freedom in Messiah to maintain any aspects of the Law of Moses which do not violate the entirety of the rest of scripture.(Acts 21:24-26; Romans 6:14;8:2;10:4;14:1-23; 1 Corinthians 9:20; 2 Corinthians 3:1- 11; Galatians 3:3,3:10-13;6:2; Ephesians 2:14 )," from http://www.messianicassociation.org/believe.htm

Now, I’m sure you’re a nice guy and not trying to be intentionally deceptive.  But ask yourself this:  “Is my teaching any different than Christian teaching?”  If you want to be truthful, acknowledge the fact that “Christian” is the correct and precise term to describe your teaching.  You don’t need any other term. 

So please stop calling yourself Messianic.

P.S.

For the record, a Messianic is a Yeshua-follower who believes the Mosaic Law is still in force.

Sincerely,

Peter