Sunday, October 19, 2014

SIMCHAT BEIT HASHOEVA REENACTED ON OCT. 12, 2014 IN JERUSALEM (VIDEO/COMMENTARY)

The last time this happened was in the first century, during the Second Temple period.  It occurred during the Festival of Sukkot.  On the seventh day of Sukkot, a priest would take a golden pitcher down to the pool of Siloam (which means salvation) ("We will gather waters from the wells of salvation," Isaiah 12:3).   He would dip the pitcher, allowing it to fill up to the brim.  Then he would go up to the altar in the Temple, circle the altar seven times, then pour both the "waters of salvation" upon the altar (which was actually a blend of wine and water).

What does it mean?

We read in John about Yeshua's death on the cross:
"34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: 'Not one of his bones will be broken,' 37 and, as another scripture says, 'They will look on the one they have pierced,'" (John 19:34-37)
This gush of water brought on by pericardial or pleural effusion (or both) represents the water of the Holy Spirit which makes us clean:
"There shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and uncleanliness," (Zech. 13:1) 
"I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols," (Ezekiel 36:25)
"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'  But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Yeshua was not yet glorified," (John 7:37-39)

But the water also mixed with blood and would've appeared like the mixture of wine and water used by the priest on Sukkot VII.  What does the blood signify?

This is the blood of the REAL Passover Lamb, the blood that takes away the sins of the world.  The Passover lamb could not have any of its bones broken:
"It must be eaten inside the house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones," (Exodus 12:46)
And the Messiah would thus not have any of his bones broken:
"He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken," (Psalm 34:20)
And one day Israel will mourn for this pierced yet unbroken Messiah:
"10 'And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit[a] of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son," (Zech. 12:10)
Something else illustrative used to happen in the first century during the Second Temple period.   For the seven days of Sukkot the priests erected seventy-five foot candlesticks in the Temple!
"The Lord is my light and my salvation," (Psalm 27:1)
And these lights were extinguished on the eighth day of Sukkot (which is really Shemini Atzeret).  Why were these lights extinguished?  Are we meant to live in the dark in the Olam Haba?
"No longer will you have the sun for light by day, nor for brightness will the moon give you light; but you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, and your God for your glory.  Your sun will no longer set, nor will your moon wane; for you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, and the days of your mourning will be over," (Isaiah 60:19-20)
This reminds of the Sukkot when the transfiguration occurred and Yeshua's face shined like the sun:
"Six days later Yeshua took with Him Peter and James and John His brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves.  And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.  And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking to Him.  Then answered Peter, and said unto Yeshua, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three booths here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah," (Matt. 17:1-4).
May the eyes of all Israel be opened in our day, that they may see the one whom we pierced, and mourn for him as one mourns for an only child!  May all Israel turn to the Torah, our Light, our Water, our Salvation!

See the following link for the video of the Simchat Beit Hashoeva ceremony:

CLICK HERE FOR LINK

Friday, October 17, 2014

Netanyahu's Speech at the U.N. (VIDEO AND TRANSCRIPT)

This speech was perfect...almost.  He says the threat is militant Islam.  However, Islam has been militant since its inception.  Islam will never be peaceful because Allah is not the Prince of Peace.  Rather, Allah is a demonic force who wants to destroy the People of Israel, all those who follow the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Still, Netanyahu's speech was very informative:


CLICK HERE FOR LINK




Sunday, October 12, 2014

Beyond the Bare Text: Understanding John Chapters 7 and 8 in Light of the Ancient Historical Context of Sukkot VII (Hoshana Rabba) and Shemini Atzeret

Recently I watched a little of a video lecture given by Shaye Cohen at Harvard in which he said something to the effect of:

"If you're just reading the bare text then I would respectfully submit to you that you aren't going to understand what you're reading."

He of course meant that the average lay person needs annotations in order to grasp the meaning of a passage in light of its ancient historical context. 

This is definitely true of John chapters 7 and 8.

How could anyone even begin to understand these chapters without knowing such things as (1) the timeline of the Jewish Festivals; (2) the rituals being performed in the 2nd Temple during Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret; (3) the rationales for said rituals, many of which come from the Book of Isaiah.

So, with that in mind, here's a nice little excerpt from a book by Jacob Keegstra entitled "God's Prophetic Feasts":

"We have seen that on the Feast of Tabernacles the Hallel is recited, specifically its final words from Psalm 118.  Now, on the eighth day, the circle around it is read, namely Psalm 117 and Psalm 119," (pg. 78).

[Peter's One-Law Note:  the Bible compares Torah to light and water.  Light because it says "Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet, a Light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105).  Water because it says "Let my teaching fall like rain"(etc).  In John 7:37-39, Yeshua, referencing Isaiah, said "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink."  The quoted passage (Isaiah 55) says that G-d will also summon foreign nations to these waters of Torah.  And Zechariah says that the nations who fail to observe Sukkot will have no rain!  The deeper meaning of course is that they can't have the rain (i.e. teachings of Torah) if they're not present at Jerusalem to hear the teachings of Torah being taught by the King]

"Jesus spent the Feast of Tabernacles in a special manner.  He did not openly go the feast, but secretly, incognito.  Only halfway through the feast did He go to the Temple to teach the people, arriving in the middle of the feast.  So He accentuated the fact that He is the centre and focal point of the feast.

As we have seen already, each day of the feast a priest would go to the Pool of Siloam, the sent one, to fill a golden jar with water; this water had to be poured out before the altar in the courtyard.  During the water ceremony, the people would pray, 'I will pour water on the thirsty land', and sing the Hallel.

On the last day, the Great Day of the Feast, Hosha'ana Raba, Jesus returned to the Temple and when the water was poured out He called out 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  Whoever believes in Me, streams of living water will flow from within him'.  Here, water symbolizes being refreshed by the Holy Spirit, who was to be poured out after Jesus' transfiguration.  It is significant that Jesus spoke these words about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the Feast of Tabernacles.  He came to the feast in secret, but He spoke these words in public, before the entire nation, as a prophecy that the Holy Spirit was to come.  The OT has always connected water with the Spirit of God.  Jesus confirmed the OT promises that the Holy Spirit was to come.

On Shemini Atzeret, the eighth day of the feast, Jesus said He is the light of the world.  The passage starts with, 'When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said', which ties in with His previous observation on the living water.  The context of this observation is clearly that the Feast of Tabernacles.  John 8:12 indicates what happened following the ceremony of the drawing of water.  Lamps were lit at the Temple Square, as a sign that God caused his face to shine upon his people for deliverance and hope for future redemption.

The Talmud too describes a sustained process of drawing water until the lamps are lit on the Temple Square.  The ceremonies of the water drawing and the lamp lighting are associated with the Exodus and the hope for a second Exodus.  Just as God's Shekinah illuminated the people on their way to the Promised Land, light is a sign of divine activity.

...

We find the symbolism of the Temple lights in Isaiah, Chapters 2 and 9.  It is remarkable that Jesus referred to them and declared, 'I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life'.

On Simchat Torah, Jesus healed a man blind from birth, as a visible sign that He really is the light of the world.  Jesus sent the blind man to the Pool of Siloam, meaning Sent.  In due time, Jesus himself would be revealed as the Siloam, the Sent One, the Anointed, the Messiah.

What Jesus did during this Feast is a foretaste of what, from a prophetic point of view, He will do in the last days, when the eyes of our hearts will be enlightened with the knowledge of God.  The feast is the sign of the Enlightenment that will enable our eyes to see the light of the world.

...

During the water-drawing ceremony the priest pours both water and wine before the altar of the Lord.  Compare this with what happened at Calvary, when at Jesus' death both water and blood (wine) appeared.

Can this be compared with living water?" (pgs 82-86).

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Judaism or Jewishism: Re-examining Stuart Dauermann's Criteria For Messianic "Judaism" in Light of His Recent Rant About Messianic "Jewishism"

As everyone in the Messianic world knows by now, Stuart Dauermann recently had a meltdown online ("the rant") and called out non-Jews for "taking Jewish treasures" [] "without so much as an 'excuse me'."  

What is precise nature of this accusation, that non-Jews in the Messianic movement are not involved in Messianic Judaism but rather Messianic Jewishism?

"The Rant" contains some clues:

(1) the "Jewish treasures" belong to Jews exclusively.  These are presumably articles such as the Tallit and Tefillin.  But given that he uses the phrase "covenant markers" then we can also include the Moedim and Kashrut.  Everything really.

(2) But once a non-Jew converts and becomes, in Dauermann's eyes, a Jew then suddenly (magically) it's completely permissible for a non-Jew to take on "Jewish treasures."

But what is the actual criteria for Messianic Judaism in Dauermann's view?

He says this in a post from 2011:

"According to Jacob Neusner, for a religion to call itself a “Judaism,” it must embody three components:
[1] The foundational place of Torah as revealed to Moses at Sinai, together with other religious documents in addition;
[2] the belief that its adherents throughout time and in all places are part of that “Israel” that God constituted as a royal priesthood and a holy nation at Sinai; and
[3] a commitment to live in accordance with Torah as the foundation of the distinctive lifestyle of the people claiming this “Judaism” as their own.
...
  • In common with other Jews, we claim as our own not only the Torah but also the rest of the Tanakh [commonly called the Old Testament].  But, uniquely, we also regard the B’rith Khadasha [also known as the New Covenant Scriptures] as our Scriptures.
  • In common with all other Jews, we see ourselves as part of that people who stood with Moses at Sinai, “a royal priesthood and a holy nation.”  But uniquely, we see non-Jews who embrace Yeshua as Messiah as our spiritual kindred, brothers and sisters to whom we owe honor and respect not as strangers, but as family.  We recognize that we all stand to benefit as we learn from each another, while continuing to honor our distinct callings in the purposes of God.
  • We live out our commitment to a Torah-based lifestyle, as do other forms of Judaism, within the context of being part of this people. Therefore, the Jewish tradition is ours to embrace and to interpret, but not ours to jettison. To do so is to separate from that people of whom we claim to be a part, and of whom we must be a part, rooted at Sinai, if we are to indeed be a Judaism.
  • Of course, informing all of these areas of uniqueness is our conviction that Yeshua of Nazareth is the Messiah of whom Moses, the Prophets and the Writings spoke.  Although this is certainly not the majority view of Jewish people, we remain committed both to what is uniquely ours as Messianic Jews and to the heritage we share in common with all who claim Torah, Judaism and the Jewish people as their own." FROM:  http://www.messianicjudaism.me/agenda/2011/07/20/messianic-judaism-rightly-so-called/

I think most Messianic non-Jews would agree with Neusner's three elements listed above and consider themselves as part of Messianic Judaism because they feel they (1) view Torah as foundational (2) believe that they are part of Israel and (3) are committed to the distinctive lifestyle that Torah entails (even if they don't fully understand it yet).

The real issue then is who belongs to the covenant of Israel?  And how does this initiation occur?  Dauermann says initiation occurs via ritual circumcision.  The Scriptures indicate it occurs via faith/grace.

What are your thoughts?  Do you agree/disagree with Dauermann?  Why? Why not?



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Monday, October 6, 2014

Virginia Has Fallen: Gay Marriages Commenced Today

For years, Virginia, like all other States, has set itself up as G-d, presuming to have the authority to regulate the institution of marriage.  So now Virginia, continuing this illegitimate authority, has distorted the institution of marriage once again and given its blessing to same sex unions.

So add this to the list of evils for which G-d will judge America.  Make no mistake:  these are the last days.  




Stewart Dauermann Loses It, Uses Choice Language In Anti-One-Law Facebook Post [WARNING: SOME LANGUAGE]

ATTENTION MESSIANIC NON-JEWS:  Your adherence to the way of life practiced by Yeshua is killing Stewart Dauermann.  Why can't you just go back to church and be good Christians who hate Torah?

I'd better hurry up and post Dauermann's rant before it gets deleted from "the internets."  Here you are:

"We pause for a rant about what I term “Messianic Jewishism.” 
If we ignore Paul’s teaching in Galatians and elsewhere we can get the Bible to say what we want. But no one seems to give a damn about how the privileges God gave to Israel are just being grabbed by others on their own terms, without so much as an “Excuse me.” Paul says this for example, “They are Israelites, and to them **belong** the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them **belong** the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 9:3-5 ESV) 
The religion we see developing in some corners of the MJ movement is NOT Messianic judaism because there is NO respect for the priority of the Jewish people in His covenantal purposes for Israel. What we have is a new religion which I call Messianic Jewishism. These are congregations that practice a kind of Judaism-lite, but by design, not really a Judaism, but a community with enough Jewish religious cultural flavoring for everyone in the fellowship to embrace it, enjoy it, practice it. It’s really Protestant Christianity with a tallis, and it is not Messianic JUDAISM but rather Messianic Jewishism. Messianic Judaism requires a deeper adherence to the communal boundaries and covenantal markers *given to* and *reserved for* the Jewish people. As I said, SOME people are grabbing whatever they can on their own terms using these things as they see fit, feeling absolutely entitled on the basis of their questionable interpretations of certain Bible verses, but with NO respect for the Jewish people who have given their blood for thousands of years to protect this patrimony given them by God. 
If people wanted to convert, that would be something else. There is a responsible process whereby people can take on the covenantal calling of the Jewish people irrevocably and hook line and sinker. But this does NOT involve the kind of pirating of Jewish treasures which we see all around us, and the strange distortions of Jewish life, all done with a sense of entitlement because the people in question have a BIble verse that “entitles” them. And if you say “What do you think you are doing?” you will be accused of being a bigot and anti-gentile, neither of which is true. One can be pro-Jewish without being anti-gentile. 
NO ONE IS SAYING that gentiles can’t touch, handle, taste Jewish things, But there is a conspicous failure to pay due respect to the fact that such are asking to handle Jewish treasures given to the JEWS by God. 
I am NOT anti-gentile, but does ANYONE understand what I am saying?"
FROM:  http://mymorningmeditations.com/2014/10/06/upon-reading-a-rant-about-messianic-jewishism/


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Messianic Praise!

Yom Kippur is difficult.  

And yet it's good to see that Yeshua loves us even though we are filthy and flawed.  He is our righteousness, the merit that we could never earn by ourselves.

On Erev Yom Kippur, I was feeling low and my wife opened her Bible and it "just happened" to open to the Yom Kippur portion of Isaiah.  She started reading it and I said "Hey, that's the portion for Yom Kippur!"  For me it felt like G-d was saying, "I still love you."

But the real consolation didn't happen until last night during a Paul Wilbur concert.  It was at Grove Ave Baptist Church (Richmond, VA).  There were hundreds of Believers there in the sanctuary, singing Messianic praise to Yeshua.  You could feel the presence of the Ruach and the ministering angels.  *sigh*  

Is there anything better than singing out Messianic praise to our beloved Messiah with other like-minded Believers?  

And afterward my Jewish friend there introduced me to several Messianic non-Jewish leaders.  One was an African-America man who runs a small congregation in Richmond.  Another was a man who runs a congregation in Roanoke, Virginia (LINK).  The latter informed me that there will be a conference in Richmond, VA later this year about how to start/plant Messianic congregations!

Truly our G-d is not a Bilateralist!  He is raising up places all over where Jews and Gentiles can fellowship together!  Praise His Name!

It's really astounding to see G-d working at Grove Ave Baptist, literally creating a Messianic congregation in the midst of it, and allowing events like the Paul Wilbur concert, where Christians can be exposed to the Judaic Truth of the Faith.  I particularly loved it when Paul Wilbur took a moment to explain that the moedim aren't just for Jews but they are G-d's appointed times.  I love the way he explained it.  

Gotta run, time to eat...


Bono? A Believer?

This was surprising...

CLICK HERE FOR LINK

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Weekly Analysis of David Rudolph's Sermon at Tikvat Israel ("Gentiles Who Love Torah", 9-21-14)

Below I've offered my analysis of Rudolph's sermon.  I've also painstakingly transcribed the majority of the sermon and highlighted in yellow the parts that my analysis addresses (see bottom of page).


ANALYSIS:

      In this sermon, Rudolph seeks to prove that Gentiles are not obligated to observe the Torah because they are excluded from Israel.  His textual evidence group is Galatians 5, 1 Corinthians 7, and Acts 15.  However, in this sermon, he focuses on Galatians 5.

     Rudolph says that Paul, in Galatians 5, is trying to "[discourage] Gentiles from seeking to become Jews."  The reality is that Paul is addressing the dangerous false doctrine (referred to in Acts 15:1) that said "unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses you cannot be saved."  Indeed, Paul's argument in Galatians 5 mirrors Peter's argument in Acts 15:

(1) The harmful teaching at issue is burdensome yoke:

  • Paul says:  "do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke" (Gal. 5:1)
  • Peter says:  "why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?" (Acts 15:10)


(2) The harmful teaching at issue is anti-Grace:

  • Paul says:  "You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace," (Gal. 5:4)
  • Peter says:  "No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are," (Acts 15:11)
     Rudolph interprets "circumcision" in Galatians 5 as "conversion" but that interpretation runs counter to the context of Galatians 5.  For Paul, conversion is accomplished by faith just as it was in the case of Abraham, the original convert (see Romans 4).  In Galatians 5, Paul is addressing something completely different.  He's saying that for a man to receive anti-Grace circumcision is to negate his original conversion by faith, thus rendering Messiah as no value.

    Lastly, when Rudolph states that Torah for Gentiles is simply being ethical--or, as he puts it, keeping "Torah ethics", Rudolph is asserting that Torah can be divided into "moral" and "non-moral" mitzvot.  This is ludicrous when one considers that morality is the pursuit of "good."  One cannot divide mitzvot into "good" and "non-good"!!!

Now, in fairness, here's a lengthy transcript.  


TRANSCRIPT:

"Today we are continuing our series on Paul's letter to the Romans.  Last Shabbat we focused on Romans chapter 2 verse 25 where Paul highlights the value of circumcision.  This Shabbat we're going to discuss the next two verses, 26 and 27, where Paul takes up the subject of Gentiles and Torah.  Paul writes in Romans 2, verses 26-27, "If those who are not circumcised" (the gentiles) "keep the Torah's requirements, will not their uncircumcision be regarding as circumcision?  The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the Torah will condemn you who even though you have the written code and circumcision break the Torah."
      Drawing from this text, which seems to reflect a positive view of Gentiles keeping Torah, I would like to talk with you this morning about Gentiles who love Torah.  And I have three questions.  Number one:  Should Gentiles love the Torah?  Second:  What about Galatians?  And third:  how do we maintain a solid Theology?
      Let's begin with number one.  Should Gentiles love Torah?  In the longest chapter of the Scriptures, David sings in Psalm 119, verse 18, he says, "Open my eyes that I may see wonder things in your Torah"  Let's all say this together...Is this a prayer that a Gentile can pray?  Or can only a Jew pray these words?  I would like to suggest that a Gentile can and should pray this prayer with all of their heart.  And this is because the Torah is relevant to Gentile Believers in Yeshua.
      It is true that many commandments of the Torah are not applicable to Gentile followers of Yeshua.  For example, the commandment to be circumcised on the eighth day.  Or commandments concerning priests or the Land.  But there are hundreds of other sections that are directly applicable to Gentiles.  As I shared in a sermon about a year and a half ago, there are at least twenty purposes of the Torah.  They include:
      
  • Number one:  to serve as the foundational revelation of G-d
  • Number two:  to remind us of G-d's love, grace, and power exhibited in acts of creation and redemption
  • Third:  to teach us how to love G-d and our neighbor
  • Fourth:  to teach us how to praise and worship G-d accordingly a heavenly pattern
  • Fifth:  to establish the oneness and the sovereignty of G-d
  • Sixth:  to teach us to be holy as G-d is holy
  • Seventh:  to minister a consciousness of sin so that we might make teshuvah and turn and repent before G-d
  • Eighth:  to train us to exercise faith in G-d
  • Ninth:  to train us to be obedient sons and daughters
  • Tenth:  to reveal the heart and the priorities of G-d
  • Eleven:  to reveal the wisdom and the knowledge of G-d
  • Twelfth:  to train us to meditate on the word of G-d day and night
  • Thirteenth:  to establish the order and design of G-d's creation
  • Fourteenth:  to uphold standards of justice and compassion for society that reflect G-d's character
  • Fifteenth:  to preserve Israel as a separate and distinct nation among the nations
  • Sixteenth:  to prepare Israel to fulfill its calling
  • Seventeenth:  to provoke the nations to envy Israel
  • Eighteenth:  to contribute to unity
  • Nineteenth:  to serve as a heritage of the L-rd to teach our children
  • Twentieth:  the climactic purpose, to point us to Yeshua the Messiah through whom the story of Israel finds its climactic fulfillment through His death, His resurrection, and His return.
     
      The Torah serves all of these purposes, all twenty of these purposes, and more.  And most of them are applicable to Gentile Believers in Yeshua.  And this brings us to my second point.
      What about Galatians?  In Paul's letter to the Galatians, when he discusses the issue of Gentiles keeping the Torah, he cuts to the chase (no pun intended) and makes it clear that Gentile followers of Yeshua are to remain Gentiles.  For example, Paul writes in Galatians chapter 5, verses 2 through 4, he says, "Mark my words, I Paul tell you, that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Messiah will be of no value to you at all.  Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole Torah.  You who are trying to be justified by Torah have been alienated from Messiah.  You have fallen away from grace."      Let's keep this Scripture up on the screen.  And I'd like to make several observations about what was bothering the Shaliach, Paul, when he wrote this passage.
      First, at the beginning, at the beginning of verse 2, Paul says in Greek "Ide" which is the equivalent of the Hebrew word "hine".  "Ide" means "look, pay attention" and is sometimes translated "mark my words" or "listen".  Paul's point is that he is about to say something very important that we need to hear.
      Second, Paul is speaking to Gentile Believers in Yeshua, not Messianic Jews.  He says in verse 2, "I Paul tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised" the words "if you let yourselves be circumcised" suggest that Paul's audience is not circumcised already.  In other words, they are Gentiles.
      Third, Paul is discouraging these Gentiles from seeking to become Jews.  He says that if you convert and become a Jew, Messiah will be of no value to you at all.  Why does he say this?  It is because the reason for conversion is off base.  The reason is not because they are marrying Jews and they want to clarify the Jewish identity of their children for the sake of l'dor v'dor.  Rather, these Gentile Believers are seriously considering conversion because some meshugganah Messianic Jews told them that if they do not convert and become members of the tribe they will not experience the fulness of G-d's forgiveness and eschatological blessing in their lives and this was simply not the case.
      Fourth, notably, Paul is discouraging the Gentile Believers from seeking to keep what he refers to as the whole Torah.  This is the point of his statement in verse 3 where he says "Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole Torah."  ...The implication is that the circumcised, that is, the Jewish people should live out the whole Torah because they're called to keep the covenant that G-d made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with its particular Land and Seed promises as we discussed last week.  And, by the way, that applies to Jews in churches as well.  Whether they realize it or not, they are called to live as Jews because they're part of Kol Yisrael, the People of Israel, through the covenant that G-d made with the Jewish Patriarchs.  By contrast, Gentile followers of Yeshua become part of G-d's Olive Tree through the New Covenant, through Yeshua the Messiah.  And from Paul's perspective the covenant responsibilities of the grafted-in branches differs from the covenantal responsibilities of the natural branches.  Therefore, Gentile followers of Yeshua should not seek to keep the whole Torah as Torah.  We will discuss this further in the last part of this sermon.
      The bottom line is that in Galatians, Paul is addressing a situation where Gentile Believers in Yeshua were being noodged and pressured.  They were having their arms twisted to become Jews by choice and to keep the whole Torah, including those commandments that only applied to Jews in order to be in right relationship with G-d.  And Paul was adamant that this is not what G-d wanted.
     
      ...
     
      Returning to Romans chapter 2, here we see that Paul is not so negative about the idea of Gentiles embracing Torah life on some level.  Let's take a look again at what Paul writes in Romans chapter 2 verses 25 through 27.  He says, "Circumcision has value if you observe the Torah.  But if break the Torah your circumcision" here he's referring to Messianic Jews or Jews "has become uncircumcision.  If those who are not circumcised keep the Torah's requirements" referring to Gentiles "will not their uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?  The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the Torah will condemn you who even though you have the written code and circumcision break the Torah."  Paul is not saying here that Jews who break the Torah really do become Gentiles and Gentiles who keep the Torah really do become Jews.  The whole testimony of the Scriptures is that when Jews sin by breaking the Torah, they remain Jews because G-d is faithful to Israel.  Rather, here Paul is making a rhetorical statement that Jews are by definition supposed to be Torah-observant Jews.  And Gentiles are supposed to keep the requirements of the Torah for Gentiles respectively.
      This is consistent with Paul's teaching in Galatians 5, 1 Corinthians 7, and Acts 15, that Jews are to remain practicing Jews and Gentiles, as a rule, are not supposed to become Jews or seek to live out the whole quote unquote the whole Torah.  But what exactly then is Paul referring to when he speaks in verse 26 of Gentiles keeping the Torah's requirements?
      The immediate context of this passage would seem to suggest that Paul has certain ethical aspects of the Torah in mind.  He writes in Romans chapter 2, verses 21 through 24, he says "You who preach against stealing, do you steal?  You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?  You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?  You who brag about the Torah, do you dishonor God by breaking the Torah?  As it is written, God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."  Here Paul appears to be reflecting on some of the aserot ha-dibrot, the Ten Commandments, including not stealing, not committing adultery, not committing idolatry, not dishonoring father, and not misusing the name of the L-rd our G-d.  His point would seem to be that it is good and right for Gentiles to keep these kinds of Torah commandments or, to put it another way, Gentiles should embrace Torah ethics.  And when they do this, HaShem regards these Gentiles as having circumcised hearts.  While they have not become Jews, HaShem considers them as circumcised in the sense that their circumcised hearts mark them as full members of the people of G-d."
     
      ...
     
      Gentiles do not have a covenantal responsibility to keep distinctively Jewish commandments that are boundary markers of Jewish identity.  While Scripture is not clear about exactly where this line is drawn, it is the common view of the wider Jewish community and the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations that Gentiles are not required to be circumcised, to keep the Sabbath and Festivals, to observe the kosher laws, or where Tzitzit.  This has been the majority view within Judaism for thousands of years.  In this sense, Gentiles are not supposed to keep the whole Torah, quote unquote, the whole Torah as Torah."  FROM:  http://www.tikvatisrael.com/library/sermon/romans_226-27_gentiles_who_love_torah/

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Where Does Paul Get the Idea That Abraham Will Inherit the World? (Rom. 4:13)

"For not through law is the promise to Abraham, or to his seed, of his being heir of the world [kleronomon auton einai kosmou], but through the righteousness of faith," (Romans 4:13)

Where does Paul get this idea that Abraham would inherit the world?  Doesn't Scripture merely say that Abraham's descendants will inherit simply the Land of Israel?  

Actually, Scripture says quite a bit more than that.

First, note that in Genesis 28:4 Abraham's blessing goes to Jacob/Israel.  And then in Gen. 28:14 we see a hint that the borders of Israel will encompass the four quarters of the world:

"...and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring."

This is also how Philo interpreted this passage:

"And this, in accordance with the Divine promises, is broadening out to the very bounds of the universe, and renders its possessor inheritor of the four quarters of the world, reaching to them all, to East, and West, and South, and North; for it is said, 'It shall spread abroad to the West and to the South and to the North and to the East."

Isaiah also speaks of Abraham's offspring inheriting the nations:

"(1) Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth, and shout, you who are not in labor!  Because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her that has a husband, for the Lord has spoken.  (2) Enlarge the site of your tent, and the coverings of your curtains; make it firm; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. (3) because you must spread out to the right and to the left, and your offspring will inherit the nations and will inhabit the cities that have become desolate," (Isaiah 54:1-3)

The imagery of the tent expanding to cover the world indicates that the household of Abraham will encompass the world.  This is why all the nations will go up to Jerusalem to learn Torah (Isaiah 2, Micah 4) because, as members of Abraham's household, they must live according to the rules of their father.  In fact, with all the nations going up to Jerusalem and the Temple being a House of Prayer for all peoples, Isaiah indicates that all the peoples obey the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision because it says:

"Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean," Isaiah 52:1

EXCURSUS:  Didn't Paul say that circumcision was "nothing"?  We see the following:

"Circumcision is nothing [ouden], and uncircumcision is nothing [ouden], but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God," 1 Cor. 7:19 
"Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing (ouden)," Gal. 5:2

In reality, Paul was saying that physical circumcision doesn't matter for salvation (see Gal. 6:15 as a parallel for 1 Cor. 7:19).  And in Gal. 5:2, Paul was again addressing a false, anti-grace variety of circumcision doctrine.  To be against circumcision Paul would've had to be against the Torah but we know that this was not the case (Acts 21).  

CONCLUSION:

So this idea of Abraham inheriting the world wasn't just something that Paul made up.  It's an idea buried deep in Torah, later expounded by the Prophets, and described all throughout the Intertestamental literature.  It's the idea that Israel will "enlarge" its tent to encompass the world.  This global Israel will be an Ekklesia/Kahal (a.k.a. "Church"):


"And God almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you that you may be a congregation [kahal] of peoples," (Genesis 28:3)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

This is a Bizarre Coincidence: Rabbi Rudolph's Sermon This Past Shabbat Touched on Everything That Happened to Me This Past Week

So this past week I discovered that one of my grandfathers was actually a Peruvian diplomat.

What a week...

This got me wondering, knowing the history of Peru, how Jews went there during the Inquisition--the Conversos--and how they all eventually assimilated....well, naturally, I began to wonder if I had distant Jewish ancestry.  In fact, several friends told me to get a DNA test.

And then today, for the first time, I listened to Rabbi Rudolph's (of Tikvat Israel, Richmond, VA) sermon from this past Shabbat.  In a bizarre coincidence, his sermon touched on the Inquisition and DNA testing for distant Jewish ancestry! 

But I actually wanted to share the transcription of part of that sermon to hear everyone's reactions to some of Rudolph's assertions about Jewish identity and covenantal affiliation.  Enjoy:

"My overall point here is that Abraham had seven sons through Hagar and Ketorah.  However, the covenant with the land and seed promises was not passed down through the sons but it was passed down from G-d to Abraham through the child of the promise, Isaac.  And from Isaac it was passed down to Jacob.  Isaac's other son Esau was not a recipient of the covenant promises.  He ended up becoming the father of the Edomites.  From Jacob, the covenant was passed down to his twelve sons, who passed it down to the twelve tribes of Israel who became known as the Jewish people.  What are some implications of tracing this early history of the origins of G-d's covenant with the Jewish people?   
     One implication is that being a member of the covenant people is not synonymous with being a physical descendant of Abraham.  There were many physical descendants of Abraham in the family tree including the twelve tribes of Ishmael and the descendants of Ketorah.  However, they were not part of the covenant people.  They were not recipients of the covenant or conveyors of the covenant with the land and seed promises.  This said I think it is reasonable to assume that all of these descendants of Abraham were blessed in other ways like Ishmael was by virtue of their relationship to Abraham.  According to Genesis, the recipients and conveyors of the covenant with its land and seed promises were the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--that is the twelve tribes of Israel later known as the Jewish people.  By the way, every Shabbat when we come together to worship the L-rd you may notice that in our prayers that we put on the screen and that are in our siddurs we often refer to the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and not just the G-d of Abraham.  And I want to--I want that to catch your attention next time because it's actually very significant.  When we refer to the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we're talking about the G-d of the covenant that was passed down through the specific lineage from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob to the twelve tribes.   
     A second implication of what we have learned from the Genesis account is that being a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not synonymous with being a member of the covenant people.  We learn that a Jew who does not circumcise his son cuts his son off from G-d's covenant.  As Adonai puts it, in Genesis chapter seventeen verse fourteen, any uncircumicsed male who has not been circumcised in the flesh will be cut off from his people, he has broken my covenant.  Is there a way to be cut off from the Jewish people?  Genesis seventeen makes it clear that not circumicsing one's son cuts him off from the covenant people.  This would explain why HaShem was on the verge of killing Moses on his way from Midian to Egypt.  It is because Moses did not circumicse his sons.  We're told in Exodus chapter four, verses twenty-four through twenty-six, at a lodging place on the way, Adonai met Moses and was about to kill him but Tzipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son's foreskin, and touched Moses' feet with it.  Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me, she said.  So the L-rd let him alone.  At that time she said bridegroom of blood referring to circumcision.  Here the L-rd was about to kill Moses because he was cutting off his children from the covenant by not circumcising them, perhaps because Moses was raised in Pharoah's household he didn't give it much priority.  He probably didn't think it was such a big deal.  But Moses' wife Tzipporah knew exactly what they had neglected.  And how did she know?  Remember!  She was a Midianite!  A descendant of Ketorah.  And so she was probably aware through the tradition of her own people who were descendants of Abraham that G-d commanded Abraham and his descendants to be circumcised and that those who were not circumicsed would be cut off from the covenant…and….their people.  In other words, according to Genesis chapter seventeen, Jewish identity is not simply a matter of physical descent.  It is also a matter of choice, a decision on the part of the Jewish parents, to enter their child into the covenant.  It is the committment to l'dor v'dor, from generation to generation.  In this sense, all Jews are Jews by choice.   
     This is why the Jewish community does not regard DNA testing as a means of determining Jewish identity.  DNA testing only indicates the existence of Jewish ancestry perhaps from centuries or even thousands of years before.  If the person tested was not raised as a Jew it is because their ancestors stopped passing on the covenant to their children.  Sometimes this was even against their own wishes such as in the case of the Inquisition where the Gentile Christian church forcibly converted Jews to Christianity and required baptized Jews to renounce all associations with Jews and Judaism.  The punishment for circumcising their sons was in many cases death.  As we approach the High Holy days and the Kol Nidre service in particular we need to feel the weight of the burden that our people during the Inquisition carried and sympathize with the decisions they were forced to make in order to survive.  Bearing this in mind, I would only say that based on Genesis chapter seventeen, in general when Jewish parents do not pass on the covenant sign, their children and their children's children become cut off from Kol Yisrael and the covenant G-d made with Abraham.   
     When people come to Tikvat Israel with this kind of background where there was a break in the covenant at some point in their family history,  I encourage them not to identify as Jews but to identify as Gentile followers of Yeshua who have Jewish ancestry and who feel a special connection to the Jewish people because of this.  Why do I encourage this particular identification?  It is because we need to be accurate and Biblical and the reality is that the covenant was broken long ago.  In cases of duress like the Inquisition, I see this as a little more of a gray area.  If the family continued to identify in some way secretly as Jews and this can be documented.  This said, in the traditional Jewish community, the only way for a person in this kind of situation to restore their Jewish identity would be to go through a formal process of conversion in order to rejoin the Jewish people." from: http://www.tikvatisrael.com/library/sermon/romans_225_the_value_of_circumcision/

Do you agree or disagree with Rabbi Rudolph?

Menasseh ben Israel on Two House (Sort of)

Came across this the other day:

According to Manasseh ben Israel, Antonio Montesinos deposed in 1644 before the bet din of Amsterdam that while traveling in Peru he had met with a number of the natives who recited the "Shema'" in Hebrew, and who informed him through an interpreter that they were Israelites descended from Reuben, and that the tribe of Joseph dwelt in the midst of the sea. He supported their statements by tracing Jewish customs among other inhabitants of Central and South America. The Indians of Yucatan and the Mexicans rent their garments in mourning and kept perpetual fires upon their altars, as did also the Peruvians. The Mexicans kept the jubilee, while the Indians of Peru and Guatemala observed the custom of levirate marriage. Manasseh ben Israel therefore concluded that the aboriginal inhabitants of America were the Lost Ten Tribes, and as he was of the opinion that the Messiah would come when the whole world was inhabited by the descendants of Israel, he directed his efforts to obtaining admission for the Jews to the British Islands, from which they were at that time excluded (see Manasseh ben Israel). The Mexican theory was later taken up by Viscount Kingsborough, who devoted his life and fortune to proving the thesis that the Mexicans were descended from the Lost Ten Tribes, and published a magnificent and expensive work on the subject ("Antiquities of Mexico," 9 vols., 1837-45). Kingsborough's chief arguments are that Mexicans and Israelites believe in both devils and angels, as well as in miracles, and use the blood of the sacrifice in the same way, namely, by pouring it on the ground; also that the high priest of Peru is the only one allowed to enter the inner, most holy part of the temple, and that the Peruvians anointed the Ark, as did the Israelites. He also finds many similarities in the myths and legends. Thus certain Mexican heroes are said to have wrestled with Quetzalcohuatl, like Jacob with the angel ("Antiquities of Mexico," vol. vii.). from http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14506-tribes-lost-ten