Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How Do You Know If You're Saved?

So I was having a conversation with someone close to me today and they expressed a measure of disdain with my assertion that it was possible to know with great confidence whether one was saved from eternal punishment.

But I must confess that I believe salvation is, in essence, a straight-forward proposition.  We believe that Yeshua has the power to forgive our sins and that if we ask Him for forgiveness and we genuinely repent and try to follow Him that He will forgive us of our sins and spare us from eternal punishment.

I believe I'm a sinner---present tense.  I sin every day.  But I TRY to not to sin.  I ask Yeshua's forgiveness for my transgressions and I make every effort to better myself.  Thus, I'm confident that I will be saved from eternal punishment and that I will dwell in the Messianic Kingdom in the world to come.

Pyles Makes a Good Point

Here's something from James Pyles blog (link).  He takes me to task for something I said about rescuing Christians from anti-Judaic doctrines.  And he actually makes a good point.  Here's the relevant portion from his blog:

"I see church as a less than ideal environment for anyone who wishes to follow Torah…I see the need for rescue missions but for everyone in churches…I think they all need to be rescued — rescued from anti-Judaic doctrines…I see those anti-Judaic Christian doctrines as negatively affecting both Jews and gentiles. There is only one faith and it’s a Jewish faith — it’s the Judaism proposed by Yeshua and the authors of the New Testament.

-a comment from Peter
on Gene Shlomovich’s blog post
One Law Gentile Has a Change of Heart

Peter suggests that Christians need to be rescued out of the church and returned to…what?

Well, let’s go back a step. Rescued from what?
rescued from anti-Judaic doctrines…

So you get a small army together, raid a local church during Sunday services, scoop everyone up in a big net, and fly them via helicopter to…where? A late Second Temple era “ekklesia?”

But they don’t exist and frankly, we don’t know how to replicate one. Even if we did, is that our goal? To transport all 21st century Christians back in time twenty centuries to the first “churches” established by Paul in the diaspora? To what end?"

The idea of a rescue mission is to send in a team to evacuate or protect people and transport them back to a safe, home base.  Pyles is saying that the One Law movement either does not constitute such a "home base" or that it is futile to try to recreate the congregations that Paul planted in the first-century because our information about them is limited.  

So do you think Pyles has a point?  

Or how about a situation where there's a town that has no One Law congregations.  Why bother sending out search and rescue missions to the churches if it's not possible to transport the people to a One Law congregation?  

James Pyles Paints a Picture of a Segregationist Apostle Paul

Here's an amusing dialogue I had with James Pyles over at Gene's blog:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Is the New Covenant a National Covenant?

Would anyone care to share his opinion?  Is the New Covenant a national covenant?  If not, what is it?

"Sealed with an Oath" by Paul R. Williamson

I read a book by Williamson today in which he makes the following points:

(1) The Sinaitic Covenant was a national covenant;

(2) The Abrahamic covenant promised a future national covenant;

(3) The Sinaitic Covenant "spells out the type of nation that [Adonai] intended Israel to be";

(4) The reference to "nation" in Exodus 19:5-6 is a fulfillment of the promise to Abraham that his descendants would eventually become a great nation.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Free eBook About Adat YIsrael: The Polity of Israel

So it became apparent to me recently on Gene's blog that even people in my own camp (One Law) did not see the Edah as it is typically seen in Jewish books of political science or history of ancient Israel.  I came across a free ebook today that discusses the Edah from a Jewish perspective and describes it as a federal political institution.  Sulzberger explains that the Edah functions as a "general assembly of Israel" (kola ha'edah), a "national court", a "federal tribunal", "national council."  While this is an older work and much has been learned since this book was written, I think it serves as a good explanation of the political nature of the term Edah.

You can find this ebook here or here.

The Leaders of UMJC Say You Don't Need Yeshua to be Saved

Dan was good enough to provide us with the source for statements made by Mark Kinzer (see his c.v. here) that articulate the false doctrine known as Unrecognized Mediation, the idea that Jews who don't know Yeshua are still saved via an unrecognized mediation offered by Yeshua--in other words, you don't have to know Him in order to be saved.  You can read Kinzer's statement for yourself at the Jews for Jesus Havurah archive (see here).  Here's a quote from the newsletter:

I do believe that the Abrahamic covenant offers Jewish people access to God in and through Yeshua. That does not mean that all Jews, by virtue of being Jews, have a right relationship with God. It does mean that God's favor still rests upon Israel, and He makes a way for humble and faithful members of His people to enter His presence through the unrecognized mediation of Israel's Messiah.
Once again, I thank Jews for Jesus for facilitating this public discussion, and for helping to highlight and clarify the important differences that exist between us.
M. Kinzer

So how do you refute this false doctrine?  I think our friend Zion said it best:

"Too bad Kinzer was not there to inform Paul, that the gospel did not actually need to go the Jew first, or better yet, to the Jew at all. It would have saved him a lot of trouble, especially the lashes and stoning's that he encountered."

Zion highlights the absurdity of Unrecognized Mediation.  If Jews don't need to know Yeshua in order to be saved, then why did Yeshua say to preach the gospel in Judea?  Why did Paul and the other Apostles take such pains (oftentimes quite literally) to spread the gospel to Jews in synagogue?  If Unrecognized Mediation--salvation apart from recognizing Yeshua--is true then Believers don't need to share the gospel with Jews.
So it's just Mark Kinzer, right?  It's not like he's the leader of the UMJC, right?  Check out the link I provided for Kinzer's c.v.  It shows that he really is the man behind the curtain over at the UMJC.  But if you don't think this false doctrine has permeated the UMJC then I invite you to visit a UMJC synagogue.  See if they EVER say anything about how to share the gospel with Jews.  I for one never heard them speak of sharing the gospel.  Which is kind of bad when you consider that it's a gospel to the Jew first.  
Anyway, thanks to Zion for showing us the absurdity of Unrecognized Mediation.  I knew it was a false doctrine but I didn't know how to articulate it until he wrote that comment.  


How About a FFOZ Type of Ministry But for One Law?

Sometimes when I'm driving I'll ask my wife to write down an idea for me.  The other day we were driving to church and I had an idea for a teaching ministry that would be similar to FFOZ except that it would return to the original mission of FFOZ:  One Law.

This is just something I'm thinking about.  If it seems viable to me then I'll probably write up a business plan for it and go from there.  If anyone is interested then let me know.



The Covenant That Transformed a People into a Nation

I noticed that in a recent post people thought I was saying (1) that circumcision was an initiation into the covenant or (2) that the tribes ceased to function as tribes after the national covenant of Israel was ratified.  So it seems I haven't been communicating my thoughts very well.  Let's have a do-over.

Today, I wrote something to another commenter which I feel might clarify my position:

"Consider: Was the Abrahamic covenant a national covenant? Or did it foretell/promise a national covenant?
Consider: Israel was an “Am” (kinship group) in Egypt but the tribes did not operate as a collective (nation/goy) until the events of Passover and Sinai. Consider that a nation is what occurs when the constituent institutions (e.g. tribes) operate as a collective. So Israel did not function as an Edah (covenantal republic) until the events of Passover-Sinai (i.e. the national covenant of Israel).
What is the proof for my assertion that Passover-Sinai were part of a single, national covenant? First, the Torah of the national covenant transformed a people into a nation by establishing federal institutions (e.g. representatives from the tribes meeting at the federal level, governing institutions exercising federal authority, etc). Torat Moshe, like no other Torah previously, established the nation of Israel as a political body. Second, the covenantal formulary, the procedure of covenanting, involved not an individual (as in the case of Abraham) but it involved an entire nation, all the people consenting, all the representatives from the tribes consenting. The covenantal formulary shows that this was a covenant being made with an entire people, something that had never occurred previously in the covenantal tradition."


Here's something I wrote to a commenter on a different blog that also describes this covenantal transformation from People to Nation using Jeremiah 31:

When does Jeremiah 31 say the national covenant with Israel was made? Here’s what it says:

“It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
WHEN I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,”

What was that event when G-d took the People of Israel by the hand to lead them out of Egypt? Was it not Passover? Was that not the betrothal? Was Sinai not the marriage? Jeremiah says:

“I was a husband to them”

And notice that the effect of this covenant was a perpetual Nationhood:

““Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,”
declares the Lord,
“will Israel ever cease
being a nation before me.”

Only if the Chukim vanish will Israel cease to be a nation. Notice that the Chukim which defined the national institutions was given on Sinai (not before).

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Christianity is an "Unrecognized Judaism"

We were on the way to church this morning and I had the thought that Christianity is an"Unrecognized Judaism."  They use a New Testament that's written by Jews promoting what they believed to be the truest form of Judaism yet they don't recognize it as Judaism.  They love (and I believe they truly do love) Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah.  But they don't recognize Him as being very Jewish.  In fact, they think of Him as doing away with the Torah (which is not a very Jewish thing to do).

So Christianity is an Unrecognized Judaism (but obviously not Judaism in its truest form).  And really they're not all that far off.  The heart is the most difficult thing to change.  And their loving ministries show that they have had an inner change of heart.  I believe the rest will happen in time.  As they slowly begin to recognize the Jewishness of the New Testament and the Messiah Yeshua, their identity will transform.  And as their identity transforms, their practices will begin to conform to their newfound identity.

I've used the term "Orthodox Messianic Judaism" as a way of referring to an idea.  An idea that there is a true form of Judaism.  But the term isn't really important.  What is important is the idea--- to realize that there is a true form of Judaism and it will be a community in which Jews and gentiles treat each other as if they had been born from the same household.  Let's face it, you don't really love someone if you don't think of them as family.  When everyone realizes that we are born from the same Household (Yeshua's Undivided House of Israel) through our Passover Lamb Yeshua then we can all sit down together without feeling any separation.  On that great day we'll all experience true Shalom.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Three-Year-Old's Prayer to Yeshua

My daughter prayed this prayer today on her own:

"Thank you for this day heavenly father. We love this day. And we love you so much. And thank you for giving us all the rain. And you give us beds. And thank you for forgiving us. In Yeshua's name, amen."

I love this girl!

So You're an Israelite: But Do You Belong to the Am, the Edah, or a Kahal?

Friends, I'm in the process of learning here so take it easy on me.  I'm going to lay out all (most) of my thoughts on the political structure of Israel.  Think of it as a conversation, not as preaching, okay?


What makes an "am"?  (As in "Am Yisrael").  My thoughts:  (1) descent from a common ancestor or (2) participation in a common religion.


What makes an "am" into an "edah"?  (As in Adat Yisrael).  My thoughts:

The edah is a political structure (a republic in fact) because it says that there were "nesi-ai ha-edah" (representatives of the edah) [Joshua 9:15] and it also says that the nesi'im conducted their political business in the Ohel Mo'ed.

This "republic" is composed of "eday" (witnesses to the covenant) because it says "you are my witnesses [eday]" [Isaiah 43:10-12] and we know that they are witnesses to the covenant because it says "let it serve as a covenant between me and you" [Gen. 31:44].

Further, we know that the witnesses are witnesses of the Israeli Covenant (i.e. the one inaugurated in Egypt and ratified at Sinai) because the first mention of the Edah is in Exodus 12:3 and it's in regard to the Passover Feast.  So we see that the Edah is established by the Passover specifically.

We also know that the witnesses are witnesses to the Torah of Moshe because it says that the ark was an "aron ha-edut" [Joshua 4:16].  And we know that the ark contained the Decalogue.

Thus, it appears that one enters the Edah (the Israeli Republic) by participating in Passover.


HOw does Israel operate as a kahal?  My thoughts:  It seems that within the Edah there are constituent entities which are each formed by either covenant and/or by descent from a common ancestor:  family, batei av, tribes, tribal councils, tribal federation (as in "the day of the kahal" at Sinai).


How does one join an "am", "edah", and "kahal"?

Am:  descent from common ancestor or adoption into the family and by observance of the common faith.

Edah:  participation in Passover.

Kahal:  it depends on which type of kahal.  Each kahal is a subsidiary of the Edah, formed through covenant.  A marriage is a covenant that forms a familial kahal.  A communal covenant formed by a quorum of ten adult males forms a communal kahal (kehillah).  Yeshua has His own Kahal and He invites everyone to join who has faith in His ability to forgive sins and who genuinely desires His forgiveness.  Membership in a kahal seems to presuppose membership in the Am.


So could I be wrong?  Absolutely!  Let's have a conversation.  I want you to argue with me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

When Lashon Hara is Not Only Justified But Obligatory

"The Torah command us [Do not stand aside while your fellow's blood is being shed] (Vayikra 19:16). We are obligated to spare no effort in preventing our fellow Jew from suffering physical, emotional, or monetary damage.

In a situation where a potential victim is unaware that he is being threatened, one is required to warn him even though this will reflect negatively on the person or persons responsible.  Speech of this sort is not merely permissible, it is obligatory.  Nevertheless, one must be certain that conditions which render speech constructive have been appropriately met..."  pg. 188 of Chofetz Chaim:  A Lesson a Day.

Formula for Biblical Exegesis

So I was reading a book today that is unrelated to Biblical exegesis and a formula for Biblical exegesis popped into my head.  Here it is:


I don't know if I made this up or if perhaps I read it somewhere and forgot about it.  But allow me to explain it.

Step 1 in exegesis:  Establish the text.  Review the earliest manuscripts.  Make sure you've got a decent translation if you're using a translation.  Make sure you understand the ancient grammar.

Step 2 in exegesis:  Examine the context.  Now, I'm sure if you read academic books about exegesis that they'll explain this differently.  But here's my approach:  examine the context of the pericope, examine the intratextual context (e.g. if you're studying Acts 15 then study the context of the entire book of Acts), intertextual context (i.e. the entire Bible), and then study the historical context.

Step 3 in exegesis:  Using the data collected from steps 1 and 2, hypothesize as to the author's intent.

I hope this will help someone who was looking a simplified exegetical strategy.



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Unrecognized Mediation

So does anyone know some sources for organizations or individuals who promote Unrecognized Mediation?  Schiffman and Kinzer spring to mind...  But I'm looking for actual quotes.

I did an update to the FAQs section, by the way.  I attempted to answer the question:  What is Messianic Judaism?

Let me know if there's any errors in it and I will update it accordingly.



J. S. Bach - Prelude and (double) fugue n.18 G sharp minor BWV 887 (WTC II)

Battle Royale Over at Gene's Blog

It's pretty funny.  It's gotta be one of the longest comment threads in the history of the Messianic blogosphere.  I've actually found it useful in clarifying a bunch of covenantal concepts.  Feel free to check out the epic battle here:  LINK.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What's the Harm? Two Different Messianic Approaches to Galatians 5

Everyone agrees that Paul is issuing a warning against something harmful in Galatians 5.  But the two camps of Messianic Judaism (the segregationists and the desegregationists--or Bilateralists and One Law proponents) each propose a different harm.  So what's the harm?  It depends on whether you're asking a One Law proponent or a bilateralist.

The Bilateralist says that, in Galatians 5:1-4, Paul thinks that uninformed decision-making is the real harm.  Paul doesn't want gentiles becoming circumcised lest they unwittingly burden themselves with the Mosaic Torah.  The founders and leaders of the UMJC hold to this view:

"Galatians 5 warns Gentiles not to receive circumcision or they will be required to keep the whole Torah. The clear implication here is that without circumcision, Gentiles are not required to keep the whole Torah."  (One Law Movements:  A Challenge to the Messianic Jewish Community by Daniel Juster and Russ Resnik)

The One Law proponents say that, in Galatians 5:1-4, Paul thinks that anti-grace circumcision is the real harm. The evidence that Paul is addressing an anti-grace doctrine is found in the following verse:

"You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace."

This verse indicates that there were individuals in Galatia who believed that they could be justified by the law.  Such a belief that is opposed to grace can be called "anti-grace."  Specifically, since this belief relates to circumcision we may call it "anti-grace circumcision."  

It all comes down to how one reads the following verse:  

"Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law."  

If Paul thinks that the harm is uninformed decision-making then this verse reads as a warning for gentiles to consider well the obligation of Torah before becoming circumcised.  On the other hand, if Paul thinks that the harm is anti-grace circumcision then this reads as a warning that one who attempts to operate outside of grace will have to obey the law perfectly.

So those are the two different views.  That's the best breakdown I can offer.  I hope it helps someone out there.



Saturday, October 20, 2012

Neusner Says that Christianity is a Judaism

You all should check out Neusner's "Judaism in the New Testament" because he lays out an extraordinary premise:  Christianity is a Judaism.  Note that he didn't say it was THE Judaism.  In fact, there are many Judaisms and many Christianities.  Neusner explains that they are more like systems.  And Christianity is part of the Judaic system (based on the fact that it was created by Jews who felt they were teaching the truest form of Judaism).

This is great because it answers a question I had in regard to Carl Kinbar's definition of Judaism.  I felt that there was something wrong with it but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.  Now I know what was bothering me.

You can't define Judaism per se since there are different and contradictory forms of Judaism--it's not uniform but rather pluriform.  You have to say that there are Judaisms, a system of Judaism.   You can't say that there's simply Judaism as if it's this big monolith understood universally the same way (same deal with Christianity).

So that got me thinking.  We shouldn't ask "What is Judaism?" or "What is Christianity?"  But rather we should ask "What SHOULD be the form of Judaism?"

When I named this blog "Orthodox Messianic Judaism" I had a simple idea:  there SHOULD be a true form of Judaism.  Does it exist yet?  Not in its final form.  But I believe it's in progress right now and that we're all contributing to its evolution.

UPDATE:  here's the link for the google preview of Neusner's book:  LINK.

Evidence From Mishnah that Immersion (Baptism) Was an Initiatory Rite of Judaism

Here's something interesting I read today:

"[Mishnah Pesachim] 8:8 has been cited as evidence that immersion of proselytes was already practiced in the late first century B.C.E., even before the destruction [of the Temple]:  'If a proselyte converted on the day before Passover, the House of Shammai says:  He immerses and eats his paschal offering in the evening.  But the House of Hillel says:  One who departs from (his) foreskin is (as impure) as one who departs from a grave." (Lawrence Schiffman)

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Three Foundational Principles of One Law Theology

One Law Theology (i.e. racially egalitarian ecclesiology in contradistinction to bilateral ecclesiology) is a type of Messianic Jewish Theology [MJT] that promotes unity between Jews and gentiles on the basis of three principles.  Here are, what I believe to be, the three foundational principles of this Theology:

Did Paul Care if You Went to Non-Messianic Shul?

Why did Paul spend so much time and energy in establishing elder-led Messianic synagogues in the first-century?  When we look at Acts 14:23 and Titus 1:5 we see Paul's strategy was extremely ambitious:  planting elder-led assemblies in EVERY town.

But why establish Messianic synagogues?  Couldn't the gentiles have just attended a non-Messianic shul?  But if a non-Messianic shul was sufficient then why even bother with the ambitious congregation-planting mission?

"Beliefs" section has now been updated with references

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Interesting Messianic Site to Check Out

Here's an interesting Messianic organization:  LINK.

[DISCLAIMER:  I'm just saying check it out.  I'm not saying I endorse them]

"Yeshua" or "Yeshu"? (I'm hoping that Dan, as a native speaker, will chime in)

Here's an interesting article about using Yeshua vs. Yeshu:  LINK.

Why Did G-d Respond to Solomon at the "High Place"?

Billy Graham Organization Removes Mormonism from List of Cults

See article here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What Do You Say When They Ask What Religion You Practice?

Judah has a new and interesting post which you can find here.

I asked him a question which I'd now like to ask you:  how do you identify your religion to others?  Do you say "Hebrew Roots"?  Or "Messianic Judaism"?  I'm just curious what you all say.

At church, people will ask if I'm a Messianic Jew.  I tell them that I practice Messianic Judaism.  Now, the church where I go happens to be closely networked with a local Messianic synagogue so when I say this people understand what I'm talking about.   They even understand the difference between someone who is Messianic Jewish by religion and someone who is Messianic Jewish by ethnicity.  However, in other churches they'd probably just look at me with a puzzled expression.

When I'm out in public, I also tell people that I believe in Messianic Judaism.  And I'll ask if they've heard of it before.  Just today a man said that he hadn't heard of it.  So I explained it to him and we spoke for a very long time.

So what do you all say?  What are your experiences?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Church Update

Quick Update:

Trying to set up a meeting with the guy from Grove Ave who runs the Israel ministries.  Looking forward to that and feel it's going to be a blessed encounter.

Met the pastor at Grove and was impressed to be in the presence of true man of G-d.  He's got the ingredients of a great leader:  humility and boldness.

Met a One Law lady that my wife already knew.  She goes to a Messianic shul in addition to attending Grove.  We talked about how it's unfortunate the route that some in the Messianic organizations are taking.  When gentiles and Jews are worshipping in different bodies then it really hurts cohesiveness.  She mentioned that there was a ministry a couple of hours away that might be the new form of our movement:

Supposedly there's a Messianic ministry that is meeting on Shabbat AT A CHURCH (believe it or not) and they're integrating and fellowshipping with the gentiles.  So both spheres are in the process of coalescing.  I'll tell you the name of the ministry after I check it out.

It certainly sounds interesting though.  Perhaps an antidote to bilateral ecclesiology?  A first step in moving toward a more unified body?

But G-d is going to unify the Body whether anyone likes it or not.  May His will be done!



Thursday, October 11, 2012

Citizenship vs. Nationality

I keep hearing people say the references in the Prophets to the "nations" means that these goyim are distinct from Israel.  People who make this assertion fail to understand that citizenship defines nationality.  Here's a comment I wrote earlier today to someone in an attempt to explain this concept:

"Nationality is a political concept referring to citizenry. You would say a man carrying Irish citizenship is of the Irish nation, yes? Likewise, you’d agree that a man carrying American citizenship is of the American nation, yes? So if you agree that citizenship determines nationality then you’d have to agree that there’s no such thing as plural “nations” in the eschatological sense. There is but one citizenship (Eph 2)—and only one level of citizenship–and therefore only one nation."

Did the Apostle Paul Cause Messianic Jewish Assimilation? [UPDATED]

Wyschogrod vs. Acquinas: The Battle Royale for the Unity of Mosaic Torah and Jewish Distinctiveness

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Why You'll Never Be Accepted by Orthodox Judaism or an Orthodox Shul

I've taken the trouble of typing up some excerpts from a wonderful book by Attridge entitled "Eusebius, Christianity, and Judaism" that explains the history behind the fact that if you're an Orthodox Messianic Jew, you will ALWAYS be excluded from modern Orthodox shuls (if you're open about your beliefs).

A Better Definition of Judaism to Contrast with Carl Kinbar's Definition

Carl offered a definition of Judaism here.  He essentially devised a specialized definition that, in his view, would exclude One Law as a valid expression of Judaism.  I happened to come across a better definition today in a book by Shaye Cohen.  If you're in a hurry, skip to the last paragraph.  And, if you are in such a hurry, shame on you!  (I kid).

If the UnCovenanted G-d-Fearers Kept Torah, How Much More Should Covenanted Gentiles Keep Torah?

So Gene posted today about some One Law individuals who rejected One Law after having an intense tete-a-tete with Gene and Boaz Michael (you remember him, right?).  It's an interesting post and I encourage you to check it out.  As per usual, I couldn't read something like that and not comment.  Anyway here's the link to Gene's post:


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

When is Discrimination Wrong? When is it Right?

All laws discriminate.  So there are good types of discrimination and bad types of discrimination.  But how do we tell the difference between the good types and the bad types?  Deborah Hellman has written a book that attempts to answer this oft-neglected question.  See the following link for a discussion of Hellman's groundbreaking new book:


Here's How to Respond to People Who Say That Their View of Acts 15 is "Clear"

On Gene's blog, a commenter said that Acts 15 "clearly" proves that Jews and gentiles have different obligations under the Mosaic Torah.  Here's my response:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Links Section Has Been Updated

[Added a few more to the "Reference" section]

Simchat Torah Begins Tonight, Monday, Oct. 8th, at Sundown (Diaspora)

Many years ago I was born on Simchat Torah, a festival which begins tonight.  You can learn about it here.  Also, here's a video:

Visit Jewish.TV for more Jewish videos.

What Did Yeshua Mean "Go and Make Disciples of the Goyim"?

Yeshua said:

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

But what was a disciple in first-century Judaism?  Perhaps we see a clue in Paul's relationship to his teacher:

"I am verily a man [which am] a Jew, born in Tarsus, [a city] in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, [and] taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day."

But to really know for sure we need to explore some historical sources.  So here's a link to a blog post by Jacob Fronzcak that explores this question in more depth:

Yoni Netanyahu: A Hero's Journey

In late June of 1976, Uganda's President Idi Amin orchestrated a terrorist attack on Airbus A300, a airplane carrying 248 passengers, more than 100 of whom were Israeli or Jewish.  Israel responded by sending in an elite assault group, "the unit", led by Lt. Col. Netanyahu (Yoni Netanyahu, brother of Benjamin Netanyahu).

Yoni had a typical Israeli upbringing.  He'd have pillow fights with his brothers, play bows and arrows, and spend entire days roaming the countryside of Israel.

When he grew older, it was evident that he was a natural-born leader.  Just as he had protected his younger brothers as a child, he protected his brothers in arms.  He was injured in the Six Day War as he rescued a fallen comrade--shot in the shoulder.  Later, in the Yom Kippur War, he led a force that defended the Golan Heights.  He was the one who charged into battle, leading by example.  And his troops followed him, heartened by Yoni's fearlessness and determination.

But it was tough for Yoni to kill.  He wrote to his wife about how difficult it was to kill at close range.  Something that never goes away, just sinks in, deeper and deeper.  Writing on the battlefield, he sent her the closest flower he could find, a thistle, a prickly little plant that grows in Israel.  He sent it knowing it'd probably crumble long before reaching her.

The Unit, Sayeret Matkal, went to Uganda under the cover of night and arrived quietly just outside the Entebbe airport where the remaining hostages were being held.  Fearless, Yoni led the charge.  Automatic gunfire erupted as the terrorists realized the Israelis were approaching.  Yoni never hesitated.  His courage emboldened the members of the Unit as the ran into the line of fire.

In the midst of the flashes of gunfire, someone noticed that Yoni had fallen.

The next day, all of the hostages were returned to Israel.  There were no casualties, save one.  The Israeli news reported that a single Israeli officer had died in the rescue operation.

Somewhere, Benjamin Netanyahu was listening to the news and wondered, "Why did they say one officer was killed?"  Later, he'd learn that it was his brother.  And so the duty fell to him to inform his parents.  He says hearing his mother's scream was far worse than when he heard the news of his brother's death.

Thanks to Yoni, Uganda rejected its evil President Idi Amin.  Uganda might now be a radical Islamist state if it wasn't for Yoni.  And the people of Uganda have tried to atone for what happened by sending topsoil to Israel.

As Iran moves now to destroy Israel, just like so many others in the past, perhaps Yoni's brother will be the one to free Iran from its evil leadership.  Perhaps HaShem will use a small group of warriors to bring about immense good for the world.

Here's some clippings from Yoni's personal correspondence (Wikipedia):

Letter to his parents, March 6, 1969:
"In another week I'll be 23. On me, on us, the young men of Israel, rests the duty of keeping our country safe. This is a heavy responsibility, which matures us early... I do not regret what I have done and what I'm about to do. I'm convinced that what I am doing is right. I believe in myself, in my country and in my future"[3]:121
Letter to his brother Benjamin, Dec. 2, 1973:
"We're preparing for war, and it's hard to know what to expect. What I'm positive of is that there will be a next round, and others after that. But I would rather opt for living here in continual battle than for becoming part of the wandering Jewish people. Any compromise will simply hasten the end. As I don't intend to tell my grandchildren about the Jewish State in the twentieth century as a mere brief and transient episode in thousands of years of wandering, I intend to hold on here with all my might."[3]:230
Letter to his parents, April 13, 1974:
"I have no real girl friend at the moment. My last romance is over, and as I don't have time to run around anyway, it looks as if I'll remain on my own for the time being. . . On the whole, I've nothing to complain of. I'm up to my neck in my army work, and during leaves I move about a lot in our lovely land.
The whole world marvels at the Inca and Aztec civilizations and such—and they do indeed deserve admiration. Nevertheless almost all of these came into being after the start of the Christian Era (not that this detracts from their value), whereas here it seems that the cradle of world civilization is all around us, everything dating back thousands and thousands of years. A few Saturdays ago I visited the Biblical Gibeon, and saw the remarkable ancient pool there (I'll take you to see it when you come). It's this pool that's mentioned in II Samuelin connection with Abner ben Ner and Joab ben Zeruiah, who 'met together by the pool of Gibeon' and let 'the young men arise and play before them.' And the country is all like that!"[3]:238
Letter to his girlfriend Bruria, Dec., 1974:
"I told you that I had lost my innocence and my blind faith in the eternity of love. And that's a pity—truly a pity, because I want to believe in it with my whole being. If I'm skeptical, it's not about now, but about the distant future. We are separated for too long at a time for us to be bound together forever. There's something hopeless and very sad about this feeling. You asked me about a child, and I said what I did because I'm not thinking that far ahead—because a child is the most wonderful creation and the final bond between a man and a woman (at least, that's how I see it, or let's say, that's how it should be and how I'd want it to be). And I'm not thinking that far ahead because I'm not convinced it's eternal. I only wish I could free myself of this doubt."[3]:252

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The MJRC is Essentially Reform Judaism (but with a New Testament)

You can tell a lot about a branch of Judaism based on how it settles the question of whether women may be ordained as rabbis.  Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein said:

A Chart Showing How All Major Branches of Judaism Approach Torah and Halacha

Here's a little chart I cooked up after Shabbat:

Here's a Link to a Better Organized Shulchan Aruch


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Question 41: Sacrifices and Atonement

In the last post, I talked about how there was a covenantal tradition going back to Adam (Hosea 6:7) and how it had terms (i.e. Torah), instructions for how to live (i.e. mitzvot) and how these terms and instructions commanded a set protocol of sacrifice which we see illustrated in the story of Cain and Abel.

Yet this covenantal protocol for sacrifice evolved over time.  With the creation of the Temple, the protocol became very detailed.

Question 41:  Why can't we just do what Abel did?  Why can't we offer sacrifices right now in order to fulfill the obligation of the covenantal tradition?

Why Did Abel Make Animal Sacrifices?

Christian Congregations Are Going One-Law! You're Not Gonna Believe This Story!

Several things clicked for me just now.  I now understand that the Christian congregations are going to go One Law.  But let me back up...

(Click #1) G-d is working through the Christians.  The people we sat with last night at Grove Avenue Baptist relayed to us the following story that confirmed this to us:

"When Pastor mark Becton of Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond went in for routine surgery in August 2006, he had no idea how the Lord would use him that day or how a man of faith had been praying for the hospital’s staff. he didn’t know the surgical team or their personal struggles. he wasn’t aware of the encouragement they needed, but the Lord knew. the surgeon, Dr. Burton Sundin, had recently been questioning God’s plan for his life, and the surgical nurse, Carol miller, had just told her team the week before that she felt used up and worthless to God. they deeply needed personal encouragement, and neither expected it to come from a fully anesthetized patient.
Dr. Gail heppner, the anesthesiologist on duty that day, recalls the moment she realized something spectacular was taking place. Given her expertise, she knew Pastor Becton was under anesthesia, yet he began to speak. Dr. heppner describes, “[Dr. Becton] was talking, articulate—clear as a bell. Dr. Becton spoke with intensity and a furrowed brow, though his eyes never opened. It was then [that]
I realized it was not a man— rather, this was the holy Spirit [speaking]. the room became very, very quiet, and we listened like sponges, so intently.”
While under anesthesia, Pastor Becton quoted Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans that I have for you...” and Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask...” Dr.
Sundin shares, “the holy Spirit was speaking directly to me. he comforted me, [essentially] saying, ‘God has such great plans for you, Dr. Sundin.’ the Spirit moved through that operating room, and no one could speak. When the operation was over, I went to the bathroom and wept. [They] were tears of joy!” The Lord had given Dr. Sundin the encouragement and confirmation that he so desperately needed.
Just a few moments later, Pastor Becton uttered, “someone here feels used up and is not true.” With those words, the Lord spoke straight to the heart of Carol miller, the surgical nurse. he summed up the feelings she had just expressed to her team the week before, and he refuted the lies that Satan had been feeding her. Carol recalls, “Dr. Becton’s lips were moving, but God was telling me he had a purpose for me—[essentially] telling me, ‘Carol, let me have it—all your hurt and pain—just give it up,’ and that’s what I did.” Carol explains that when the Devil knows he can’t have a person’s soul, he goes after his/her mind. that is exactly what he had done to her, convincing her she was no longer of value. the Lord, however, wanted Carol to know that her life had value."

You can actually see the testimony of this surgical team because they were all so moved that they visited the church and spoke during the broadcast service.  You can purchase that video here (it's entitled "G-d Spoke":

Notice anything else on that link?  Grove Avenue's media store sells video series on Passover, Sukkot, etc.  

Anyway, that story shows you that G-d is working with the Christians.

(Click #2) G-d is calling the Christians to follow Torah.  Judah Himango is addressing this in an upcoming series at his blog:

We're seeing it wherever we go.  I'm seeing it at Grove Avenue Baptist.  As I mentioned, they're now teaching about the moedim and integrating Messianic-run Shabbat seders on Friday nights.  They're taking their congregants on pilgrimages to Israel:

They're integrating prayer services with the local Messianic community:

And so I'd say that it's been revealed to me that Christians are going One Law but you'd have to be blind to not see what G-d is doing.

This is extraordinary!

Next week I'm going to start taking my family to non-Messianic synagogue in addition to church.  Pray that that goes as well as the other.  



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

References for Statement of Beliefs

So Cajun suggested that I include Scripture references in my statement of beliefs.  I'm just starting to do this.  This is my current list but I'll be adding to it after I review an expanded statement that Cajun sent me.  Maybe you'll look this over and let me know if there's some other good verses to go under the topics:


Deuteronomy 6:4


Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14

Divinity of Yeshua:

John 1:1-3; 20:28; Romans 9:5; Phillippians 2:5-7; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1; Titus 2:13

All of Humanity Needs Atonement:

Psalm 14:3; Romans 3:23

Yeshua Provided Complete Atonement:

1 John 4:10; 1 Peter 2:24

Yeshua Rose From the Dead:

Matthew 28:6-7; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:34; 2 Timothy 2:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3-5

Yeshua Will Rule A Messianic Kingdom From Jerusalem:

Zechariah 14:9; Luke 1:32; Acts 2:30; 15:13-16

Inspiration of Scripture:

2 Timothy 3:16

Salvation by Unearned Grace:

Ephesians 2:8; Romans 10:9

Faith Produces Tzedakah (Works of Righteousness):

James 2:14-26

The Ruach is a Torah-Teacher:

John 14:26; Acts 2:1-9; 

Eternal Punishment vs. Eternal Reward:

Matthew 25:31-46

Yeshua Taught the Torah and Tradition:

Matthew 5:17-20

Matthew 23:1-4

Kahal/Ekklesia of Believers:

Colossians 1:18

Gentiles become part of Israel:

Ephesians 2

Great Article About "Politeia" of Ephesians 2 by J.K. McKee

This article is fantastic and a must-read:  link to article.

The Worst Book Ever Written: How the Anti-One Law Bullies Have Now Set a New Record

So I just read this free ebook at because it was linked on Rosh Pina Project.  Big mistake.  It's a bunch of garbage.  Here's my notes on this work of pure garbage:

Neither Fish nor Fowl?  by Kai Kjoer-Hansen

This author literally cites zero exegetical support for the conclusion that the Apostolic Decree discourages non-Jews from following Judaism:

"The apostolic decree about the gentile believers becomes totally meaningless unless the Jewish believers believed that while they retained close links with their Jewish heritage, non-Jewish believers were not bound by these."

This is without a doubt the sloppiest article I've ever read in my life.  Why is it the first article in the entire book?

A New Sect Within Judaism by Reidar Hvalvik

This is another non-academic article (e.g. it talks about "Easter morning" as the morning of the resurrection).

From Jewish Sect to Christian Church by Ray Pritz

This author also gives a sloppy exegesis of Acts 15, referring to the Decree as "ethical requirements":

"In the church, however, the picture was changed forever with the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15, less than 20 years after the resurrection of Jesus. From that point on, non-Jews were welcomed into the new sect – just as gentile converts to Judaism were considered to be fully Jewish – with only a minimum set of ethical requirements. This was a departure from established pharisaic method, and it indicates a clear decision to ignore the authority of the Jewish leadership."

Now, it should be obvious to non-baised, reasonable minds that the Decree, which references only four things and all related to idolatry and the pollutions thereof, is not any way to instruct someone to be ethical.  If its ethics you want to teach then you have to reiterate most of the Ten Commandments.  This is why the newest modern scholarship on Acts 15 rejects the idea that the decree is intended as a compendium of ethical instruction.  Plus, the language used in the decree directly connotes pollutions associated with pagan practices in a specifically ritual context.  

Who Was a Jew? by Richard Robinson

This author uses non-sequiturs such as the following:

"How do we know that Jewishness could not be “lost”? This conclusion 
is made clear in certain rabbinic writings. Thus, for example, we find 
the statement in the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 44a: “R. Abba b. 
Zabda said: Even though (the people) have sinned,  they are still (called) ‘Israel.’ R. Abba said: Thus people say, A myrtle, though it 
stands among reeds, is still a myrtle, and it is so called.”"

First, suspect anyone who says "clear" in regard to the Talmud.  Second, there's nothing in that statement that defends the full scope of what the author proposed.  It's as though the author takes his the truthfulness of his speculations for granted and needs only to find the loosest support for them to prove that he's correct.  However, to demonstrate that Jewishness could not be lost he would need to cite (1) something authoritative in its own right; (2) something clear; (3) something on point.  He does none of these things.  So that just tells me he's promoting his agenda in disregard of truth.

From Research Object to Living Reality by Kai Kjoer-Hansen

In this article, the author proclaims that gentiles are free from the Law:

"Gentile Christians were hereby challenged to examine why they would not grant Jewish believers in Jesus a liberty corresponding to that which the apostles had won for the gentiles regarding observance of the law (Acts 15)."

Oy.  Vey.  I've never seen such reckless writing before.  Who are these people?  They think that licentiousness is mandated by Acts 15!  

And with that, I'm done reading this book.  Okay, I'll read Dan Juster's (UMJC) article and then that's it.  It's a complete waste of time this book.

Towards a Messianic Jewish Theology by Daniel Juster

Apparently this book is all about taking an unfounded interpretation of Acts 15 for granted as the gospel truth.  Juster cites to Acts 15 as a rule that prohibits gentiles from practicing the Torah of Judaism:

"One of Luke’s purposes in Acts was to put forth a picture of 
the united body of the Messiah  composed of Jews and gentiles 
reconciled together. In this body, Jews continue to live a Jewish life 
and gentiles are not required to live a Jewish life."

He doesn't cite any evidence for this view.  No exegesis.  Just "Here's my view.  My view is like the word of Moses for you."  This is without a doubt the sloppiest book of pseudo-scholarship ever assembled by humans.  And Juster founded the UMJC!  Good grief.

Church or Pagan Temple?

The other day I was reading some random Messianic site that referred to the church as a pagan temple.  I cringed, reminded of the fact that I attend a church (as a visitor).  I sort of took it as a charge against me...I don't want to be guilty of attending a pagan temple by any means.  So I was interested what thoughts you all might have as to the validity of such an accusation, how I might assess my culpability or lack thereof.

I will say in the church's defense, that they've got some great events lined up later this week:  link to events.  The pastor said something about a prayer service where there's supposed to be members of the  local orthodox community.  I must admit to being a little skeptical that they would show.  But I'm now very curious to see whether it will be so.  And there's supposed to be a...this might sound a little strange and it's possible I misheard him...but there's supposed to be a part of the service where a rabbi--I'm guessing Messianic?--who stands in the middle and then ten people gather around to pray, representing the ten nations or something like that.  

They're also screening a movie that same day about Operation Entebbe.  And this Friday they're having a Shabbat dinner.  Didn't get to attend last time because I wasn't signed up.  But this week we're good to go.  I'm guessing it'll be hosted by someone from the local UMJC synagogue.  So I hope it all goes without incident.  For those who don't know, a Rabbi from the UMJC stopped my marriage some years back.  He found out where we were in a separate town and who would be officiating the marriage and somehow found the guy's phone number and spoke lashon hara about me so that the guy wouldn't want to marry us.  

Anyway, I'm wondering about this whole pagan temple accusation.  What constitutes a pagan temple. I don't know...  There was this prayer chapel that I used to visit infrequently back in a different town.  I know about the history of architecture and I wasn't crazy about the churchy look of the place.  Steeples I'm told are ancient pagan symbols.  But I'd go in anyway.  And inside it felt quite if all the constant prayers had washed the place.  Kind of reminded me of a t.v. show called "The Lost Room" where this guy finds a motel key that when you insert it into any doorknob it creates a portal to this Lost Room, which is a pristine motel room where there's no time, it just sort of exists like the nexus of the universe.  This prayer chapel was like that.  About ten rows of pews, stained glass windows along the sides, a bima at the front with a rough-hewn wooden cross in the middle.  And it's always got the air conditioners running, a soft, white noise sound.  And the vibe in there felt...holy.  

So is holiness something that exists apart from architecture?  But surely there's limits to that.  Perhaps there are grey areas?  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Objection! I Didn't Sign Up For This!

I'm a big fan of the scholar Daniel Elazar (z''l).  Yet I was always puzzled by his protestations that covenant is about kinship and consent (in fact, of the hundred or so books he wrote, one was entitled "Kinship and Consent").  "What consent?"  I wondered.  There's no consent to being born a Jew.  

And the proof that all Jews are now bound to the Torah of the Covenant regardless of consent is found here:

It is not with you alone that I am making this sworn covenant, but with whoever is standing here with us today before the LORD our God, and with whoever is not here with us today. (Deut. 29:13-14)

So it seems like this is saying that Jewish lineage is non-negotiable.  You can voice your "objection!" but it won't matter.  It's NOT by consent...

...or is it more complicated than that?

One thing that I don't understand is why the non-consent clause would be included in the New Covenant:

"For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself" (Acts 2:39)

NB:  Both of these statements were made on Shavuot.

How can Yeshua be a birthright which belongs to "your children"?  Initiation into the New Covenant is not automatic but rather a personal choice...right?  If the children reject Yeshua then they're out of the club, right?  So why did Peter make this statement?  Was he confusing the New Covenant with the Old Covenant?  Hmm...

So these questions just occurred to me.  Hopefully you won't think me a heretic for asking.  I don't claim to know the answers (just a lot of the questions).



One of the Most Sobering Passages in the Entire Bible

Apologetics (Defense of the Faith) is Our Duty

Detailed Summary of David Flusser's "The Sage from Galilee"


NOTE:  it requires you to scroll down a ways before the text comes into view.  Enjoy.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Covenantal Formulary

So I was reading James' blog today and I think I finally figured out why he can't see in Ephesians 2 that Paul says the gentiles belong to the plural covenants.  James has had to invent a brand new covenantal context/hermeneutic in order to hold to his view that gentiles are not obligated to follow the Mosaic Torah.  So I introduced him to the covenantal context.  Here's my comment from just a few minutes ago:

My Personal Doctrinal Statement