Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Torah Commands the "Church" to Eat Lamb During Passover (A Response to James Pyles)

First, some background...

Torah says:
"Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please.  Offer them only at the place the Lord will choose," (Deut. 12:13)
In other words, consecrated meat must be sacrificed only at the Temple.  Only then can you take it back to your house to eat (and only then if you happen to be circumcised).

Fun fact:  So why do Ashkenazic Jews have a roasted shank-bone (from lamb) on their Seder plate during Passover?  Aren't they violating the prohibition stated in Deuteronomy 12?  The Askenazic view is that the shank-bone is not a Passover sacrifice because it is specifically not cooked on Passover.  Furthermore, they don't eat it but rather just use it for symbolic purposes.  

Okay, so that's cool but what in the world does this have to do with the Church?  I'm glad you asked...

It turns out that in Exodus 12 there is a very unusual Hebrew phrase:
"...and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel [kol kahal adat Yisrael] shall kill it in the evening," Exodus 12:6 
The term "church" is used to translate the term "Ekklesia" in the Greek source text of the New Testament.  Greek-speaking Jews of the first-century would've instantly associated the term "ekklesia" with "kahal" (since the Septuagint translated "kahal" as "ekklesia").  More importantly, they understood "kahal" in its primary sense as referring to Israel (see Acts 7:38 for a perfect example of this).  That's why I say that the "Church" is required to eat the Paschal meal.

But only the circumcised may eat the Passover meal!  

Yes, that's true.  One day Yeshua will return, the Temple will be present in Jerusalem, and everyone who is not circumcised will have to be circumcised.  This might even occur on the tenth day of the first month as it happened at Gilgal (Book of Joshua):

{4:19} And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth [day] of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho. {5:2} At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time. {5:3} And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. {5:4} And this [is] the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, [that were] males, [even] all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt. {5:5} Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people [that were] born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, [them] they had not circumcised. {5:6} For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people [that were] men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: unto whom the LORD sware that he would not shew them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey. {5:7} And their children, [whom] he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way. {5:8} And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole. {5:9} And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.
{5:10} And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. 
Fun fact:  the tenth day of the first month is, incidentally, the day that Torah commands the head of the family to consecrate a lamb for the paschal sacrifice.  This appears to be a rich area for studying numerical significance...

Yes, I realize the idea of circumcising gentiles sounds controversial to Christianized ears but keep in mind that I'm making the following distinctions when it comes to conversion:

(1) covenantal initiation:  faith is initiatory
(2) covenantal ratification:  circumcision is ratificatory
(3) covenantal consummation:  Passover is consummatory (and required of the entire Church Kahal)

In other words, don't think that I'm saying that one must be circumcised in order to be saved.  On the contrary, I believe that faith in Yeshua is what saves us (and also initiates us into His "Kahal", or you might say "the Messianic Kingdom Realm of Israel).


Until Yeshua returns, avoid eating actual lamb on Passover.  But, when He returns and orders everyone to be circumcised, then everyone will be able to eat the lamb!  


(1) Roasted Lamb is a royal dish:  

"Hinnukh:  The Paschal lamb had to be eaten roasted because a roast lamb was a royal dish of which slaves were not permitted to partake.  Now that the Jews were free, they were, in fact, commanded to partake of this dish to mark their new freedom,"  pg. 15 of the Mitzvot by Abraham Chill 
So it is fitting that all of G-d's children, both Jew and non-Jew, should be able to eat this royal meal of Passover!

(2) The lamb meal represents G-d's arms stretched out in love for us (which also reminds us of the crucifixion):

"The shankbone (zeroa) and the egg (bea) are commemorative dishes that were introduced after the destruction of the Temple (Pesachim 114a).  The original source of these items mentions 'two dishes' without specifying their identity.  The information was provide by the Jerusalem Talmud (quoted by Kol Bo but missing in our texts).  According to this quotation, the choice of these dishes was motivated by the significance of their names.  Zeroa ('arm') commemorates God's 'outstretched arm.' Bea ('desires,' in Aramaic) commemorates God's desire to redeem his people," pg. 227, The Biblical and Historical Background of Jewish Customs and Ceremonies by Bloch
The gift of love symbolized by the lamb of the Passover seder is meant for all of humanity--because G-d loves the entire world!  He will find a way to allow all peoples to partake in this celebration!


"As ancient and modern writers have noted, a meal provides a context for close personal contact, creating and reinforcing the bonds of friendship.  The meal may have special uses as well.  Mary Douglas suggests a connection between a dining table and a cultic altar:  'the meal and sacrificial victim, the table and the altar...[may] stand for one another.'...Members of an intimate group often find the meal a natural setting in which to share religious activities.  While bonds of friendship are strengthened by common experiences at a central temple or local shrine, they will be more personal in small groups," pg. 10, The Origins of the Seder by Bokser.

"Nor was the custom [of a common meal] unknown in Biblical times; it is not infrequently mentioned in Scripture.  Thus, when Melchizedek, King of Salem, made a treaty with Abraham, he did so by proffering bread and wine (Genesis 14:18-24); and when Abimelech concluded an alliance with Isaac, he followed the same procedure (Genesis 26:30).  Similarly, we are told expressly in the Book of Joshua (9:14) that the princes of Israel entered into a covenant with the Gibeonites by partaking of their victuals; and the prophet Obadiah (verse 7) uses the words 'men of thy bread' and 'men of thy confederacy' as parallel expressions for the same thing.
     We may take it, then, that the original purpose of the paschal meal was to recement ties of kinship, infuse new life into the family, and renew the bonds of mutual protection at the beginning of each year," pgs. 17-18 of Passover: Its History and Traditions by Gaster

“The process is a preliminary form of the blood covenant which the people as such was to conclude with [Adonai] on Sinai. What is now being prepared in the form of diversity will be completed there in that of unity. ‘It is a passover for [Adonai]‘ which, though called an ‘offering’, does not resemble anything referred to in the Bible as sacrifice; it is a sacramental meal…The essential thing to realize is that here a natural and customary human activity, that of eating, is elevated by the participation of the whole community to the level of an act of communion; and as such is consecrated to the God. It is eaten ‘for him’.” pg. 71 Moses: the revelation and the covenant by Martin Buber

“The clans slaughter the preordained animals at the same time. Each family eats of its own, each in its own house, which nobody may leave; but they all eat at the same time, a single meal unites them into a community. Blood is smeared on the portals and lintels of the houses; …all the tribes jointly devote themselves in blood, and thereby simultaneously redeem the debt of the human first-born, which they owe him.” pg. 70-71.Moses: the revelation and the covenant by Martin Buber

"The covenant is ratified by a meal (Josh. 9:14; cf. Gen. 31:46, 54; 26:30) and has after-effects for centuries (2 Sam. 21:1ff.)," pg. 106 of The Faith of the Old Testament by Werner

"A covenant, called in Hebrew a berit (or brit), is a general obligation between two parties confirmed either by an oath, a solemn meal, a sacrifice, or by some other dramatic act such as dividing an animal and having the parties to the covenant pass between the portions.  In the bible covenants are established between individuals, between states or their representatives, between kings and their subjects, and also between husbands and wives.  We also have instances in which the term is used figuratively for a relation between men and animals and men and death.  The variety of obligations covered by the term indicate that a covenant can be entered into either by equal partners sharing mutual obligations and mutual benefits, or by unequal partners in which the power and authority of the covenantal partners is asymmetrical as are the responsibilities, obligations, and rewards..." pg. 156, Jewish Ideas and Concepts by Steven T. Katz

"This tractate is the most difficult in the Jerusalem Talmud, both from the viewpoint of its contents and from the viewpoint of the numerous errors which have affected it,' so states Saul Lieberman (p. 217) at the beginning of his great commentary to Yerushalmi Erubin.  I hardly need repeat that this translation is preliminary and provisional, even though it will probably serve for some time to come.  I can only claim to do my best, knowing that, in more than a few places, it is not good enough.
A review of the contents of the tractate stands at the beginning of the work.  Mishnah-tractate Erubin takes as its theme the scripture on the Sabbath requirement to refrain from leaving one's abode.  There are several stages of reasoning which have to have been passed long before the theme--let alone the problematic--of our tractate comes into view.  Not surprisingly, Scripture lays the foundations.  Exodus 16:29-30 requires each person to stay where he is on the seventh day (in what looks like a play on words of SBT and SB): "'See!  The Lord has given you the Sabbath, therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days; remain every man of you in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.'  So the people rested on the seventh day."  Now, in the dim past of Mishnah-tractate Erubin are the following settled notions:  (1) remaining in one's place does not mean that one may not leave his house, but (2) it does mean that one should remain in his own village, which (3) consists of the settled area of a village as well as its natural environs.  But (4) one may establish residence, for purposes of the Sabbath, in some place other than his normal abode, by (5) making provision for eating a meal at that other place.  Doing so allows the person to measure his allotted area for travel from that other place.  Said measure (6) is two thousand cubits.  In order to establish a symbolic place of residence, one must set out, prior to sundown at the beginning of the Sabbath (or festival) (7) a symbolic meal, or, (8) through a verbal declaration, accomplish that same end, making provision for a temporary Sabbath-abode.  These eight presuppositions which lie deep in the substructure of the tractate are not the only ones we have to contend with.
There is yet another set, predictable on the basis of Mishnah-tractate Shabbat.  These principles have to do with transportation of objects from one domain to another on the Sabbath.  We recall from tractate Shabbat that (1) one may not move something from private domain to public domain.  Now there are areas the status of which is ambiguous, being neither wholly private nor completely public domain.  Chief among these is (2) the courtyard, onto which a number of private dwellings open up, or (3) an alleyway, onto which a number of courtyards debouch.  Now the symbolic meal involved in establishing one's residence at a place other than his normal abode may serve yet (4) a second purpose, which is to join all of the dwellers of the several households of a courtyard, or of the several courtyards of an alleyway, into a single unit for treating said courtyard of alleyway as the common possession of the participants of the meal and hence as a single domain, in which carrying will be permissible.  To list the suppositions before us therefore requires attention to the notion (1) of public and private domain, (2) or a prohibition of transporting objects from one to another, (3) of a recognition of an area of ambiguous status, (4) of the possibility of commingling the individual rights to a given shared area into a single domain for the purpose of the Sabbath, (5) and of doing so, in particular, through the provision of a common symbolic meal.  An outline of the treatment of the subject, which follows, shows us that there are three units on the tractate's topic, and a fourth which draws to a close the entire enterprise constituted by Shabbat Erubin.
The first unit treats special problems of a limited domain other than an ordinary courtyard.  It asks about forming into a single domain for purposes of carrying on the Sabbath some anomalous properties, for example, an alleyway; an area temporarily occupied by a caravan; the area, in the public domain, around a well, which is private domain; and a large, enclosed field which, though fenced in, is not a human habitation.  This discussion serves as a prologue to the second topic, one of the two significant essays of the tractate, on the Sabbath limit of a town and how it is defined. 
Here, second, we begin with the effect of setting out an erub--a symbolic meal--upon the right of an individual to travel beyond the established Sabbath limit of a town, for example, for visiting someone in a neighboring village on that day.  We proceed to treat the effects of violating that Sabbath limit or of not properly setting out the erub to begin with.  The next major initiative turns to defining the Sabbath limit of a town--that is, the limit affecting all the residents, not the limit laid out by an individual for his own purpose.
The third unit of the tractate, which is the other central one, moves from the Sabbath limit affecting a town as a whole to that complementary matter, the commingling of ownership of courtyards and alleyways, once more starting with the clear conception that the erub-meal is how one establishes such a commingled ownership.  There are then areas--that is, gray areas--that may be treated either as distinct from one another or as commingled.  The next major initiative turns from the courtyard to the alleyway and goes on to repeat pretty much the same exercises as are performed for the courtyard.  There then follows three appendixes:  first, neglecting the erub for a courtyard and its consequences; second, preparing an erub for more than one courtyard; and, a genuine appendix, the status of the area of the roofs of the houses.
The fourth unit, like the first, is essentially indifferent to the tractate's paramount concerns, since it speaks of carrying in the public domain in general, and some rather special problems in that connection--that is to say, the tractate closes, as many do, by ignoring its critical points of interest.  What the final unit does do is to call to mind the opening unit of Mishnah-tractate Shabbat, on the one side, and those recurrent concerns about carrying from one domain to another which preoccupy the framers of the tractate at other critical point--Mishnah-tractate Shabbat chapters 7-12, on the other.  We proceed to review the topical program of the tractate, beginning to end.  Afterward I return to raise organizing and encompassing questions about the tractate as a whole," pg. 1, The Talmud of the Land of Israel, Vol 12: Eruvin

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

"Hinnukh:  The Paschal lamb had to be eaten roasted because a roast lamb was a royal dish of which slaves were not permitted to partake.  Now that the Jews were free, they were, in fact, commanded to partake of this dish to mark their new freedom,"  pg. 15 of the Mitzvot by Abraham Chill  NOTE:  reference:  Sefer ha-Hinnukh, Mitzvot 6, 7, 381.

"The shankbone (zeroa) and the egg (bea) are commemorative dishes that were introduced after the destruction of the Temple (Pesachim 114a).  The original source of these items mentions 'two dishes' without specifying their identity.  The information was provide by the Jerusalem Talmud (quoted by Kol Bo but missing in our texts).  According to this quotation, the choice of these dishes was motivated by the significance of their names.  Zeroa ('arm') commemorates God's 'outstretched arm.' Bea ('desires,' in Aramaic) commemorates God's desire to redeem his people," pg. 227, The Biblical and Historical Background of Jewish Customs and Ceremonies by Bloch

Haggadah Little Something For You

Came across this free Passover Haggadah at the Torah Resource Blog:


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Prayer Request

Yesterday, a doctor confirmed that my grandmother's cancer has returned.  She probably has three months to live.

She is a very sweet Italian lady and a Believer...

I would appreciate any prayers.  No one lives forever but my main concern is that she will be comfortable.



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Disunity in Scripture? Responding to Zetterholm's Claim That the Apostles Remained Conflicted About How to Deal with Gentile Believers

So it's little wonder that the UMJC's new "Messianic Gentiles" site promotes articles by Magnus Zetterholm--this heretic promotes the following two related ideas:

(1) Scripture conflicts with Scripture (e.g. James' decision in Acts 15 conflicts with Pauline teachings);

(2) the Apostles remained conflicted about how to deal with Gentiles.

First, he says that Paul, in contradistinction to James, believed that the Gentiles were included in the covenant (although he doesn't exactly say which covenant):

"Above we reached the conclusion that the idea that Gentiles could be included in the covenantal community of Israel was foreign to Jewish theological reflection.  If Gentiles were considered as embraced by eschatological salvation, this was not thought of in covenantal terms.  However, this seems to be exactly the case with Paul.  The inclusion of the Gentiles meant for Paul the inclusion in the covenant, since it was the covenant that provided the ultimate means of salvation," pg. 156, The Formation of Christianity in Antioch.
Second, he says that James, dissenting sharply with Paul, promoted the idea that Gentiles were merely godfearers and not covenantal members of Israel--in other words, that the coming of Yeshua did nothing to affect the status of Gentiles:

"It is likely that James, in accordance with prevalent ideas of how Jews and Gentiles should associate, considered the Jesus-believing Gentiles to be connected to the Jewish community as god-fearers.  It seems as if he did not consider the coming of the Messiah as a point in history when Gentiles, as Gentiles, should be fully incorporated in the covenant, while he still regarded them to be enclosed by the final salvation.  But, from James' point of view, there was no need for a new way of relating to Gentiles, since there was already an established and halakhic-defined way of social intercourse:  Gentiles could become god-fearers and as such be embraced by the final salvation," (pg. 161, ibid).
"James...while having agreed on the principle that Jesus had died also for the Gentiles, found no reason for any soteriological innovation [in the Jerusalem Council Decision], since there was already an established way of relating to Gentiles.  They could be god-fearers and associate with the Jesus-believing Jewish community and through Christ also be saved, since the common Jewish view on the destiny of the Gentile nation assumed the salvation of at least some righteous Gentiles....Paul's soteriological solution threatened basic Jewish identity markers and may have triggered fears of a development as in 1 Macc. 1:11-15, where epispasm and making covenant with Gentiles clearly implied apostasy.
     Using his authority as the brother of Jesus, James demanded a separation of the community into two commensality groups, one for Jews, the other for Gentiles, since too close social intercourse would have confused the boundaries between Jews and Gentiles...In this incident we find the embryo of what later became a virtual separation between Jews and Gentiles, between Judaism and Christianity," (pg. 166).
Interestingly, on the site, right on the HOME page is a video of Toby Janicki from FFOZ plugging his book "Godfearers", a book that promotes the idea that the Apostles saw the Gentile Believers as godfearers, the first-century term for a Gentile who practiced some Judaism but remained outside the covenant of Israel.  The term itself "godfearer" sounds good until you realize what it actually meant back in the first-century.

Panic-Mode: UMJC Increases Mobilization Against the One-Law Movement

In the past few weeks, the UMJC:

  • held an emergency conference in San Diego about One Law Theology
  • created an anti-One-Law site called (it basically encourages Gentiles to learn about the dangers of One-Law by reading the blogs of James Pyles and Drek Lemon and studying the teachings of FFOZ). 
  • leveraged their political clout to obtain some highly sought-after internet domain names in order to increase the UMJC's internet presence
The funny thing is...I don't have a UMJC behind me promoting my blog like those guys.  Yet if you Google "Messianic Judaism blog" this is the first blog that comes up on the search.  Not bad for a free Blogger account, eh?   : )

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Teleological Test: How to Establish the Illegitimacy of Noahide "Laws" and Other Forms of Quasi-Judaism

What is the purpose of Divine Law?  

Scripture teaches that the purpose of the Torah is twofold:  

(1) It is the means by which the Ruach transforms man into a perfect being:
"The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul..." (Psalm 19:7)
(2) It is the means by which man is drawn into contact with G-d:
"Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant; and teach me Thy statutes," (Psalm 119:35)
So there's the teleological (or "purpose-based") test: 

Is the law or set of laws in question useful as a means by which man can be drawn into contact with G-d and transformed into a perfect being?

Now let's consider the so-called Noahide laws:

 1. Do not murder.
 2. Do not steal.
 3. Do not worship false gods.
 4. Do not be sexually immoral.
 5. Do not eat a limb removed from a live animal.
 6. Do not curse God.
 7. Set up courts 

Not exactly the sort of law that would've inspired Psalm 119!  In fact, the rabbis characterize this law as "sit and do nothing":
"As the Gemara puts it'...concerning the seven commandments they are thought of as 'sit and do nothing' (sheb ve'al ta'aseh),'" pg. 26, Novak, "The Image of the Non-Jew in Judaism"
How can a sit-and-do-nothing approach transform man into a perfect being and bring him into contact with G-d?

Bottom line:

There is no intimacy in the so-called Noahide laws, no revelation of G-d's love for His People, no command of love whatsoever, and the most glaring omission of all:  no mention of the law of blood atonement (quite a faulty theological presupposition).

Now, this little test I've made is only useful for establishing the illegitimacy of false systems of law.  But to know what is the legitimate source of law, please read the following post:


And, if you don't have time to read it, let me summarize:  there is One-Law that G-d gave in Scripture for members of the covenant and that is the Sinaitic Torah.  Yeshua did not abolish this Law but commanded that it be observed and that His disciples teach it all over the world.



Saturday, March 29, 2014

URGENT: Ukrainian Messianic Rabbi Asks for Your Prayers

Here is Ukrainian Messianic Rabbi Boris Grisenko explaining a little about the Ukrainian crisis and asking for your prayers (video is at the bottom of the linked-page):


Thursday, March 27, 2014

A New Era of Church History?

Recently I reported that a local Baptist Church we visit, in addition to hosting Messianic events, is now allowing a Messianic congregation to meet in its main sanctuary on Saturdays.  Along the same lines, I just heard from the following from my Jewish friend Warren Marcus on facebook (Warren created that cartoon "Super Book" among other things):

There will be no "One New Creation (Man) Service" this Saturday night at Steele Creek Church of Charlotte. INSTEAD on SUNDAY, March 29 in BOTH services we will be celebrating ONE NEW MAN in the main sanctuary with the whole rest of the church.
I am so honored to join with Pastor Kelvin Smith to expound upon the Book of Ephesians Chapter 2 concerning the One New Man - Jew and Gentile one in Messiah. Our worship team and dancers will be inviting the congregation - the nations to come together to celebrate what the God of Israel has done through Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah. YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS THIS.It happens in BOTH SERVICES - at 9:15 am and then again at 11:15 am. If you have shofars bring them, banners bring them. When our worship team and dancers do the last song let's let everything explode with LAHAIM - LIFE and fullness of the Holy Spirit.
Steele Creek Church of Charlotte - Main Sanctuary!
1929 West Arrowood Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28272"

It's a very multi-cultural church as you can see from the following link:  CLICK HERE FOR LINK

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Star and the Sceptre: How Torah Prophesied That a Davidic Messiah Would Institute One-Law for all Mankind

"I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly." (Num. 24:17-18)
"And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord GOD. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind (Torat ha-Adam), O Lord GOD!" (2 Sam 7:19)
"I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples. Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor." (Isaiah 55)

"11 In that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David [Sukkat David] that is fallen, and will rebuild the ruins of it, and will set up the parts thereof that have been broken down, and will build it up as in the ancient days: 12 that the remnant of men, and all of mankind upon whom my name is called, may earnestly seek me, saith the Lord who does all these things," (Amos 9:11-12, LXX).

If we understand that the Hebrew term for Edom is the exact same word for "mankind" (Adam), these passages tell a very interesting story.

Let's take Amos 9 as an example.  The version quoted by James in Acts 15 is quite different than the version in the Masoretic Text (i.e. the primary Hebraic text used today).  Berding explains:

"Some will object further that Amos' words in 9:12 are not the same as those found in James's citation in Acts 15:17.  The differences between the two are obvious: 
Amos 9:12: 'so that they may possess the remnant of Edom'
Acts 15:17: 'that the rest of humanity may seek the Lord' 
However, the Hebrew word for 'possess' (yarash) could in the ancient Hebrew script be easily mistaken for 'seek' (darash) since the difference would only be in the length of the tail between the letters yod and daleth in that early script.  Moreover, 'Edom' ('edom) and 'man/humanity' ('adam) are almost identical in Hebrew except for the vowels (which were not part of the original text).
     It is true that the Qumran text Florilegium supports James's reading on this clause in Amos.  Therefore, there is a real possibility that the NT and Qumran readings may preserve the better text from Amos, which would make even stronger our argument for the suitability of James's appeal to this text to show that Gentiles had been in the promise-plan of God all along."
So, if Torah uses Edom as a representative for all mankind, the Numbers passage becomes quite a bit broader in scope.  The territory of the future Davidic King of Israel will encompass all of mankind.  This King (whose first coming is marked by a Star and whose second coming is marked by a Sceptre) will "possess" mankind, calling them by His Name (in ancient societies, to call someone by your name meant to possess them).  In effect, He will transform many peoples into One People:
"Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you," (Zechariah 2:11)
 This Davidic Messiah will bring all the peoples into His House which means they'll have to abide by His "rules of the house":
"And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord GOD. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind (Torat ha-Adam), O Lord GOD!" (2 Sam 7:19)
But why does Torah use Edom as a representative for mankind?  Because the Edomites, like mankind, were offered the Torah but rejected it.  As descendants of Abraham, they were supposed to remain circumcised and keep the Law.  But instead they separated themselves from Israel, refusing even to let the Israelites cross through their territory when the Israelites were marching toward the Promised Land. Later they showed themselves to be even greater enemies of Israel.  But King David, believing that these Edomites were family, installed garrisons throughout Edom so that Edom would be subject to David's kingship.  Later still, in 108 B.C., Hyrcanus re-conquered the Edomites and made them subject to Judaism.  He did this because he, like David, believed that the Edomites were family and that, as such, they should act like it.

The Edomites were called to be family but rejected this call time and time again.

But G-d had a plan.

He would change the hearts of all mankind:
"26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.  27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
And the evidence of this heart change would be that the Edomites (or "mankind") would seek after the L-rd:
"that the remnant of men (Edom/Adam), and all of mankind upon whom my name is called, may earnestly seek me, saith the Lord who does all these things" (Amos 9)
Folks, the only thing that could make a people as nasty as the Edomites suddenly "earnestly seek" G-d is the power of the New Covenant, the power of the Ruach working in man's heart.  

May He bring peace and unity speedily in our days!

Psalm 133:1 "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The L-rd's Prayer in Jewish Tradition

The following is excerpted from "Brother Jesus" by the Jewish author Schalom Ben-Chorin:

pg. 89 "In all of this, Jesus operates within the Jewish tradition of his day, as Bultmann rightly recognizes:  'The unique character of the Lord's prayer as contrasted with Jewish prayer does not consist in any special originality of formulation or content.  On the contrary, all petitions have parallels in Jewish prayers' (Jesus and the Word, 181).
     Not only do they have parallels in Jewish prayers, but the prayer that Jesus teaches his disciples is a Jewish prayer from the first word to the last.  On a personal note, whenever I am present when the Our Father is recited, I always pray along, without feeling that I am abandoning or violating my own Jewish faith in the slightest.
     The prayer that Jesus teaches his disciples (Matt. 6:9-13) begins with the invocation 'Our Father in heaven.'  ....'Avinu shebashamayim'...To be sure, Jesus recommends praying not (only) in the synagogue but at home, and yet for the individual the invocation 'Our Father' is still proper, for no individual in prayer is alone.  And the Jewish individual, as a member of a distinctive union of people, is particularly cognizant of his bond with God and therefore rightly utters the words 'Our Father.'....
     In both the prayer invocation and the parables, in the sermons and the conversations of Jesus, the name of God, the never spoken....The intimate father-child relationship that characterizes the faith of Jesus, who cries out 'Abba' (Mark 14:36) in childlike despair....
     Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
    The formula 'hallowed be your name' corresponds to the Kaddish prayer in the synagogue.  The Kaddish is an old prayer.  Although predominantly Aramaic, it also displays Hebrew components that may well derive from the time of Jesus.  The Kaddish begins with the formula 'Glorified and sanctified by his great name in the world which he has created according to his will.  And may he establish his kingdom in your lifetime and in your days, and in the lifetime of the entire house of Israel, speedily and soon, and say, Amen.
    ...In its original form the Kaddish was a hymn with a prospective view of the kingdom of God; the experts in scriptural law used it to conclude their exegesis (derashoth).  This form is still known today in the synagogue as Kaddish derabbanan and is recited after an instructional reading.  This helps to explain wh the Our Father is adjoined (in Matthew) to the Sermon on the Mount.
     Your kingdom come.  Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.     
    ...The Kaddish too begins with the request for the kingdom of God.  In the prayer of Rav (early third century)...'Therefore we wait on you Lord our God, to show us quickly the glory of your victory, to expel and exterminate the godless from the earth, to order the world for the kingdom of the Mighty One.'  Even today the holy service in the synagogue ends with this prayer, known as the 'Aleinu.
    Give us this day our daily bread.    
    It is right that people, even while expecting the kingdom of God, should pray for daily bread.  In Hebrew we would probably read this as lechem chukenu, 'the bread due to us.'  But to pray for more does not seem right to Jesus.  We must especially recall that Jesus rejected the accumulation of material goods, an attitude consistent with the pharisaical ideal of his time.
    And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.     
    We have adduced talmudic passages above, according to which only those people will be forgiven in heaven who themselves forgave on earth.  Jesus elaborates on this thought in the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt. 18:23-25).
    Jesus, who deeply understands human nature, knows that people are exposed to temptation daily.  He thus concludes his prayer with this request:
    And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from evil.    
    'And do not bring us to the time of trial' has an almost literal parallel in the daily morning prayer in the synagogue:  Velo liydei-nissayon, 'and not into the hands of trial.'  Deliverance from trial can also be conceived of as deliverance from evil, though not in the sense of the evil one, the Devil.  In Jesus' language use, the Devil is simply called Satan, whom he had seen fall from heaven in the form of lightning (Luke 10:18)."

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Understanding Islam

Came across this informative article earlier:  Understanding Islam.  Also, check out the additional resources link toward the bottom of the article.

Defining Messianic Judaism: A One-Law Approach

While there is no universally recognized definition, Messianic Judaism may be defined as a movement of individuals and communities who believe that, in addition to the physical realm of Israel composed of the physical descendants of Israel, there is a Messianic Kingdom Realm of Israel composed of all the faithful followers of Yeshua (a.k.a. Jesus) who have accepted His Sovereignty over their lives and that this faith-based inclusion bestows a covenantal responsibility for each Messianic, whether Jew or non-Jew, to follow a Way of Life in which the Holy Spirit guides one to keep all applicable Scriptural Instructions (e.g. Holy Days such as Shabbat, dietary instructions such as keeping kosher) and even certain rabbinic traditions whenever they are necessary and proper to carry out those Scriptural Instructions.  

While Messianics oppose the anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism which is notoriously prevalent in Christian teachings and Church history, Messianics love and accept Christians as family and try to serve as witnesses to the Truth that Yeshua and the Apostolic Writings promoted, not the abolishment of Judaism, but rather a New Covenant oriented version of Judaism--a Messianic Judaism.

Finally, Messianics believe that G-d loves all the peoples of the world and wants everyone to receive the gift of salvation offered through Yeshua, the Son of G-d, so that one day, when Yeshua returns to establish His Kingdom on earth, all peoples may flow up to Jersualem to worship in the Temple.  

Am Yisrael Chai!

There has been a recent wave of rocket attacks on Israel (link).  Nothing new.  We know that all of the enemies of Israel are destined to lose.  With each new attack, the dust will settle and Israel will always still be standing.

We thank you HaShem at this time (Purim) for loving your People Israel and for raising up brave men and women (such as the IDF) to protect your People.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Tree of Life: The Menorah as a Messianic Symbol

Hosea 14:5-6 "..he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow.  His splendor will be like an olive tree." 
Psalm 80 "Thou didst bring a vine out of Egypt, thou didst drive out the nations and plant it.  Thou didst clear the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land.  The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches; It sent out its branches to the sea, and its shoots to the River." 
Jeremiah 11:16 "The LORD called your name, "A green olive tree, beautiful in fruit and form"" 

The menorah was a seven-branched candelabra that once stood in the Temple in ancient Israel.  It looked something like a golden olive tree with seven branches holding up seven flaming olive-oil lamps.  It represented the light of G-d being offered to mankind.

As Messianics, we believe that this Light for the World is Yeshua, the promised Messiah of Israel.

Dear reader, do you know where you will be when you die?  Will you go to the place of light?  Or will you go to the place of darkness?

The place of darkness is reserved for those who have no desire to obey G-d:

2 Thessalonians 1:8,9 "He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Yeshua.  They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might"
Jude 1:13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. 
2 Peter 2:17These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 
Matthew 25:30 "And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'" 
Matthew 25:46 "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." 
But the place of light is reserved for those who love G-d:

John 3:14-21"14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Debunking the So-Called "Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church"

If you've visited enough Messianic congregations, you've more than likely seen the Menorah-Star-Fish symbol depicted on the right.  It's supposedly the ancient symbol used by the first Messianic communities two thousand years ago. 

But is this symbol legit?  Or is it based on pseudo-scholarship?

I've blogged previously about pseudo-scholarship (LINK).  Pseudo-scholarship usually has the following three hallmarks:

(1) emotional bias ("This must be a sign from G-d!");
(2) unscientific or sub-standard methodology ("This skull proves that man evolved from monkeys");
(3) conspiracy theories ("The establishment wants to suppress my research because they know my research could change the world")

So what's the evidence for the so-called Messianic Seal?  

It all comes from "The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church" by Schmalz and Fischer.  The story goes like this:

Shmalz and Fischer went to meet this guy named Schneider who claimed that an old monk gave him some ancient artifacts engraved with the Messianic Seal depicted above.  Schneider then presented these artifacts to the curator of the Israel Museum only to later learn that the curator decided to "suppress" them.  To make matters worse, the old monk died before he could bequeath any of the remaining artifacts to Schneider (talk about bad luck).  

So was there any pseudo-scholarship going on?  Let's check:

(1) Were there any emotional bias?

In the preface, Fischer describers how he and Shmalz looked “with awe” at these artifacts—before they were even told about the artifacts provenance!  

(2) Did the investigators use unscientific methodology?

Schneider's first impression of the artifacts was that they were obviously "a long-forgotten testimony informing the world about the true roots of the Church."  And this assessment was good enough for Shmalz (who incidentally was a "self-trained archeologist").  

(3) Did the investigators promote any conspiracy theories?

Only that Schneider claims the Israel Museum has suppressed the artifacts that he had entrusted to them and that Orthodox rabbis organized attack mobs to go after Fischer.  

In conclusion, this is a classic case of pseudo-scholarship.  

Further reading: