Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Surprisingly Pleasant Confrontation with Anti-Messianic Missionary
I don't believe in censorship. In fact, I'm going to share with you an email I received from an anti-Messianic missionary in Israel. He makes some great points and asks good questions at the end. Naturally, he doesn't believe that Yeshua is the Messiah. But we shouldn't let that stop us from dialoguing with him. Oh, I should say that I do censor a little bit here to preserve anonymity for certain parties. But I've not censored anything substantive. Here's the email:
"[EDIT], you were saying that being Jewish has to do with being descended from the tribe of Judah. What about the fact that the "House of Judah" contained Lewiim/Kohanim, Binyaminim, Yehudim, and Shim`onim by default, and some descendants of all tribes decided not to rebel from the Kingship of Judah which was ordained authoritative kingship of Israel (and thus were under the "House of Judah")? That is still called "Jewish", and the term "Jewish" started being used to define those of Israel who returned/remained faithful. Because they remained more faithful, they didn't suffer permanent Assyrian exile like many (but not all!) of the northern 10 tribes, instead they came back to Israel after 70 years from Babylonian exile. That's who Israel is, and Israel still contains all 12 tribes.
And also, in Devarim 17 throughout the chapter, and in other places in the Torah, the command regarding the Sanhedrin is given. As I've explained before, aspects of Torah which are completely necessary for Torah observance, like shehhitta/slaughtering animals, milah (circumcision), melakha on Shabat (i.e. what qualifies as "work"/"action resulting in creation"), and many more issues which are [purposely] not explained in the written Torah all were understood by Moshe and his Court (the first Sanhedrin). And over the generations, a whole vast understanding of Torah (not just on halakhic issues, but much more) were handed over, and more rulings were instituted over time. This is the aspect of "living Torah", since the Torah is able to be expounded upon and adapted to the needs/new circumstances of every generation. Without the oral Torah, the Torah is a dead system, and that is what Karaites have.
That is the brief background and the Torah-source for what is called "Judaism" today, answering your question to [EDIT]. HaShem purposely made it so that a goy would not be able to just pick up a Bible, read the first 5 books and know exactly how to be an Israelite. The Torah, as it says in Psalms 147 in the last two verses: "He declares His word to Jacob, his statutes and ordinances to Israel. He has not done so for any other nation (literally "for any goy"), and his ordinances they haven't known. Hallelu-Yah"
When you have a whole people who have had the same tradition of Torah for thousands of years, and not only that, but when you have that tradition of Torah totally engrained and interwoven inside of the culture and language, other people can't come along later, totally disconnected from that, and start saying otherwise.
Getting back to the main point I made, there are 3 things that classify God's only chosen people:
1. Hebrew is our language, and our ethnic identity. The Moavim and `Amonim also were Hebrews. The Arabs of southern Saudi Arabia and Yemen are descendants of Yoktan and Edom, both Hebrews, thus they are Hebrews.
2. Israel is our land and adds specification to our identity. A person can be a Jew but not an Israeli, if he is not from Israel. He is thus incomplete in his identity, in that he does not belong anywhere else than Israel.
3. Judah is our kingdom/religion. Every King of Israel has halakhic authority. HaShem made a covenant with David, giving him the kingship forever. There are known descendants of David today. Yeshua wasn't even one, if he had existed, because this promise is for the paternal descendants of David, clearly. All sorts of people can claim to be "Israel", but even if they are physically, they need to return spiritually and not go create their own religion and say that the only people who have maintained the identity of Israel and Torah throughout history are wrong."
So I guess the main question is, what has changed in your eyes about these principles of Torah. How have these core ideals become changed through Jesus? I've heard this idea of "covenental" changes, but I think that whole thing is misunderstood and is adapted too much from normative Christian replacement theology."
END OF EMAIL.
So what do you think of his points and questions?
Posted by Peter at 10:59 AM