Friday, May 30, 2014

Have a WORSHIPFUL Shabbat: Remembering the Universal Purpose of Shabbat

"And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another and from one sabbath to another shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord," (Isaiah 66:23) 
"Sanctify my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you that you may know that I am the Lord your God," (Ezekiel 20:20)

Last night, I went to a harp ensemble concert (spectacular!) and my mother-in-law introduced me to her Messianic friend (non-Jewish).  I couldn't help asking this delightful sister how she got involved in Messianic Judaism.  Her response was that she felt called to reach out to Messianic Jews and learn about Messianic Judaism.

To me, this is the real Tent of David (contrary to what some ministries teach), this dynamic of non-Jews leaving their Christian spheres of influence so that they can be nourished by Judaic spheres of influence.

Case in point:

Christians teach that the Jewish Shabbat has been abolished.  But a Messianic understands that this is a lie, that Shabbat is meant for "all flesh" and is the time that you can "know" G-d.  And, as a communal day, the only way we communal beings can really "delight" in Shabbat is by breaking off from the Christian sphere of influence and joining a community that worships on Shabbat.

As we prepare for Shavuot, I hope all the dear readers out there will not just have a restful Shabbat but a worshipful Shabbat!

McKee's Exquisite Analysis of the "Virgin Birth" Prophecy in Isaiah 7:14


This Book Looks Very Promising...

The Messianic Hope by Rydelnik

Here is the review:

Here is the book:

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Shabbos Teaching from My Daughter

We were recently informed that my grandmother has only a few days to live.  So this past Shabbat my daughter, who is five, went to visit her.  

When they were about to leave, a relative started to cry.

"Why are you crying?" asked my daughter innocently.

"Because we're going to miss her so much."

"You don't have to be sad," my daughter explained.  "You'll see her again in heaven!"

To my little angel:

Daddy is very proud of you.  You brightened everyone's spirits with that reminder.  Truly you are a daughter of the King:

"The King's daughter is all glorious within; Her clothing is interwoven with gold,"  Psalm 45:13

Can G-d Become a Man? (Response to Gene Shlomovich) [UPDATED]

So I've never paid any attention to Gene's anti-Messianic site.  Just haven't had any interest.  But I still receive email updates about his new posts.  And this newest one caught my eye...

In it he feebly tries to make the case that the idea of a Trinity is a Christian invention.  Here's my response which, given our history, he will most likely delete:
First, the concept of a tri-unified G-d did not originate with Christianity. Boyarin notes that “…the beginning of the idea of the Trinity occurred precisely in pre-Christian Jewish accounts of the second and visible God.” 
Second, the mystics of the Zohar had no issue with the concept of a Trinity, rooting this concept in Torah itself: 
Third, even modern Chasidic masters such as Noson Gurary admit that G-d taking on the form of a man is at least possible (even though he rejects that this did in fact occur): 
“13. It may be pointed out that in terms of God’s omnipotence, He could have chosen to have a body of some sort too (not necessarily in the purely physical sense). However, the Torah testifies to the fact that He did not choose to do this (cf. Exodus 20:4; Deuteronomy 4:16-19),” The Thirteen Principles of Faith: A Chasidic Viewpoint. 

Here's another response:

In the year that you’ve studied this with a Hasidic rabbi, did he show you this:
“Come and see the mystery of the word [Adonai]: there are three steps, each existing by itself: nevertheless they are One, and so united that one cannot be separated from the other. The Ancient Holy One is revealed with three heads, which are united into one, and that head is three exalted. The Ancient One is described as being three: because the other lights emanating from him are included in the three. But how can three names be one? Are they really one because we call them one? How three can be one can only be known through the revelation of the Holy Spirit .” (Zohar, Vol III, 288; Vol II, 43,) 
Hear, O Israel, Adonai Eloheinu Adonai is one. These three are one. How can the three Names be one? Only through the perception of faith: in the vision of the Holy Spirit, in the beholding of the hidden eye alone! The mystery of the audible voice is similar to this, for though it is one yet it consists of three elements-fire, air and water, which have, however, become one in the mystery of the voice. Even so it is with the mystery of the threefold Divine manifestations designated by Adonai Eloheinu Adonai – three modes which yet form one unity. This is the significance of the voice which man produces in the act of unification, when his intent is to unify all, from the Infinite (Ein Sof) to the end of creation. This is the daily unification, the secret of which has been revealed in the holy spirit,” (Quoted from Zohar II, 53b, as excerpted from Studies in Zohar by Yehuda Liebes) 

But forget about the Zohar. The idea of a multiplex godhead is an ancient Jewish concept: 
{8:22} The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. {8:23} I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. {8:24} When [there were] no depths, I was brought forth; when [there were] no fountains abounding with water. {8:25} Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: {8:26} While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. {8:27} When he prepared the heavens, I [was] there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: {8:28} When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: {8:29} When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: {8:30} Then I was by him, [as] one brought up [with him:] and I was daily [his] delight, rejoicing always before him; {8:31} Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights [were] with the sons of men. 
5 I came out of the mouth of the most High, the firstborn before all creatures:
6 I made that in the heavens there should rise light that never faileth, and as a cloud I covered all the earth:
7 I dwelt in the highest places, and my throne is in a pillar of a cloud.
8 I alone have compassed the circuit of heaven, and have penetrated into the bottom of the deep, and have walked in the waves of the sea,
9 And have stood in all the earth: and in every people,
10 And in every nation I have had the chief rule:
11 And by my power I have trodden under my feet the hearts of all the high and low: and in all these I sought rest, and I shall abide in the inheritance of the Lord.
12 Then the creator of all things commanded, and said to me: and he that made me, rested in my tabernacle,
13 And he said to me: Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thy inheritance in Israel, and take root in my elect.
14 From the beginning, and before the world, was I created, and unto the world to come I shall not cease to be, and in the holy dwelling place I have ministered before him.
15 And so was I established in Sion, and in the holy city likewise I rested, and my power was in Jerusalem.
16 And I took root in an honourable people, and in the portion of my God his inheritance, and my abode is in the full assembly of saints.
17 I was exalted like a cedar in Libanus, and as a cypress tree on mount Sion.
18 I was exalted like a palm tree in Cades, and as a rose plant in Jericho:
19 As a fair olive tree in the plains, and as a plane tree by the water in the streets, was I exalted.
20 I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon. and aromatical balm: I yielded a sweet odour like the best myrrh:
21 And I perfumed my dwelling as storax, and galbanum, and onyx, and aloes, and as the frankincense not cut, and my odour is as the purest balm.
22 I have stretched out my branches as the turpentine tree, and my branches are of honour and grace.
23 As the vine I have brought forth a pleasant odour: and my flowers are the fruit of honour and riches.
24 I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope.
25 In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue.
26 Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits.
27 For my spirit is sweet above honey, and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb.
28 My memory is unto everlasting generations.
29 They that eat me, shall yet hunger: and they that drink me, shall yet thirst.
30 He that hearkeneth to me, shall not be confounded: and they that work by me, shall not sin.
31 They that explain me shall have life everlasting.
32 All these things are the book of life, and the covenant of the most High, and the knowledge of truth.
33 Moses commanded a law in the precepts of justices, and an inheritance to the house of Jacob, and the promises to Israel.
34 He appointed to David his servant to raise up of him a most mighty king, and sitting on the throne of glory for ever,” (Sirach 24:1-34) 
“‘[W]hereas the voice of mortals is judged by hearing, the sacred oracles intimate that the words of God are seen as light is seen, for we are told that all of the people saw the Voice, not that they heard it; for what was happening was not an impact of air made by the organs of mouth and tongue, but the radiating splendor of virtue indistinguishable from a fountain of reason….But the voice of God which is not that of verbs and names yet seen by the eye of the soul, he [Moses] rightly introduces as ‘visible.’” (Migr. 47-48)
‘To His Word, His chief messenger, highest in age and honor, the Father of all has given the special prerogative, to stand on the border and separate the creature from the Creator. This same [i.e. the Word] both pleads with the immortal as suppliant for afflicted mortality and acts as ambassador of the ruler to the subject. He glories in this prerogative and proudly proclaims, ‘and I stood between the Lord and you’ [Deut 5.5], that is neither uncreated by God, nor created as you, but midway between the two extremes, a surety to both sides’. (Heir 205-6) 
Targum of Jonathan Ben Uzziel: 
‘Four nights are written in the Book of Memories: The first night: when the Lord was revealed above the world to create it. The world was unformed and void and darkness was spread over the surface of the deep; and through his Memra there was light and illumination, and he called it the first night.’ 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Out of the Body Experience: Why Exclusion from Israel Must Also Mean Exclusion From the Body of Messiah (Response to Jacob Fronczak)

"The Hebrew Roots “spin” on this idea is that OT “Israel” was not a nation descended from the man Israel, but was an incorporated political entity of some kind that people automatically join when they attach themselves to Messiah. Again, you can only believe this if you ignore or reinterpret large sections of the Torah, the prophetic literature, the NT, etc.
     I think at its root this idea is just a manifestation of the desire to be special, to be as chosen as someone can be, to be unique. The “scandal of particularity” is that God chose an ethnic group to be His unique people and if you want to be part of that group, you have to join them on their terms and keep their laws as they have interpreted them (whether we are talking about structured Messianic Judaism or Rabbinic Judaism)," Jacob Fronczak, First Fruits of Zion.

Jacob here succinctly juxtaposes the Inclusionist belief, that Gentile Believers are Included in Israel through the blood of Yeshua, with the Exclusionist belief, that Gentiles Believers are Excluded from Israel by Rabbinic Law (although he, naturally, distorts the case for the One Law position).  But this is a very useful statement, believe it or not.  FFOZ's assertion that Gentile Believers are excluded from Israel and the corollary assertion that Yeshua is NOT Israel are helpful in clarifying our doctrinal beliefs:

"The reasons that generate doctrinal controversy may be ugly and painful, but God not infrequently uses such controversies to bring renewed theological strength and clarity of vision and understanding to his people," (An Introduction to the New Testament by Carson and Moo)
So, because of FFOZ, we now have occasion to explore the mystical connection between Yeshua and Israel and what this connection means for the status of Gentile Believers in Yeshua.

So without further ado...


Yeshua was always the Head of the Household in Israel.  He was the progenitor of Israel.  As the true Son of G-d, He was able to covenantally extend this sonship to Israel by becoming one blood with the Israelites (via the Passover Feast).  And this is why it is written:
""Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD, "Israel is My son, My firstborn," Exodus 4:22
Yeshua is firstborn Israel; the Israelites were adopted Israel:
"...who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises," Romans 9:4
In the realest sense possible, Yeshua IS Israel!

See also the following verses:

"When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son," Hosea 11:1
"So Joseph got up and took the Child [Yeshua] and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. 15He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my Son." Matthew 2:14-15


Ephesians 2 says that the blood of Yeshua bestows citizenship in Israel (the realm of Israel over which Yeshua is King):

"12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ....19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,"


It is no light thing then for Fronczak to say that Gentile Believers have no place in Israel.  Because, as Scripture shows, Yeshua is Israel.

Thus, to be out of Israel is to be out of the Body.

Monday, May 19, 2014

My Encounter with Spiritual Forces at a Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia

So this was weird...

I've tried three or four times to visit a local seminary library--at the Union Presbyterian Seminary.  The first time, the gatekeeper of the library told me that it would cost me $3000 a year to be able to visit the library.

Later, thinking that must've been wrong, I contacted the seminary's library and was told I could visit for the day.  Yay!  So I went over there...walking across the courtyard I felt something in my spirit, I had this crazy feeling that I was in enemy territory, I sensed a hatred of Israel...  But that was crazy, I thought to myself.  Besides, I just had to see what was inside this library!  So, pushing the negative feelings aside, I went inside and was told that I had been misinformed, that I wasn't allowed to visit the library.

So then (I don't give up easily) I emailed the director of the library, asking if I could visit.  He sent an email saying that was not the policy and asking why I wanted to visit.  I explained that my interest was in Jewish studies.

No reply.

Now it has been brought to my attention that the Presbyterians have declared war on the Jews.  Sounds ridiculous?  Read on:


May HaShem be true to His word concerning those that hate Israel!

May HaShem bless His Eternal City and His People!

Is a Second Holocaust Possible?


Followers of "the" Way vs. Followers of "2" Ways: Discussion Question Regarding 1 Cor. 7:17

The Apostolic Writings describe the Jewish and Gentile Messiah-Followers as adherents of "the Way" (see Acts 19 where even Gentile members seem to be included in "the Way").  The "way" terminology can only be understood by examining the Judaic context.  In context, the idea of a Messianic "Way" refers to the fact that (A) Messianic Judaism observed Jewish Law (see Acts 21:21 "walk after the customs" ) but that, at the same time, (B) the Messianic community had halacha that was, at least partially, of its own making (enough so that it was considered a distinct "Way").


1 Corinthians 7:17 says "as the Lord has assigned to let him walk".  Does this mean that there are actually 2 ways within Messianic Judaism?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Philo Would've Made a Great One-Law Messianic Jew...

"Why was the Pentateuch translated into Greek?  According to the Letter of Aristeas, probably the source for all ancient accounts, Ptolemy II accepted the suggestion of Demetrius of Phalerum that the king should acquire a translation of the Hebrew Pentateuch, in order to increase his collection of worthy books....[another view holds that the translation occurred] because a large majority of Egyptian Jews could not understand Hebrew, and therefore requested a written translation of the Bible....[Philo, demonstrating yet another view] claims that the translation was made to show how 'the greater part, or even the whole of the human race might be profited and led to a better life by continuing to observe such wise and truly admirable ordinances' [as found in the Torah of Moses](Mos. II.32, 36).'" Excerpted from Who Wanted a Translation of the Pentateuch into Greek? by Nina L. Collins from the Journal of Semitic Studies Supplement 11:  Jewish Ways of Reading the Bible Edited by Brooke

Trinity in Kabbalistic Writings (Continued)

A long while back I blogged about the Trinity in Kabbalistic writings (CLICK HERE FOR LINK).  More interesting though is how those mystics arrived at this understanding--they got it from the first three verses of Genesis:

"The mystics of the Cabala discovered a trace of the triad already on the first page of the Bible.  'In the beginning God created heaven and earth, and the spirit of God hovered over the waters; then God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light.'  Here stand the three (say the mystics, not normative Judaism):  God's Self, God's Spirit, and God's Word, which in Hebrew is Davar, which later in Aramaic was called Memra--the two ancestors of the still later Greek Logos, as the first revelation of the One God.
     Johannes Reuchlin, the student of two rabbis and a citizen of the city of Pforzheim, who was the first Christian Cabala researcher, went one step further in that already in the second word of the Bible, bara '[and God] created,' he wished to see a stenogram of the Trinity:  beth as an abbreviation for ben ('the son'), resh for ruach ('the spirit'), and aleph for the Godhead itself (elohim).
     Here also belongs the so-called Kedusha...from Isa. 6:3 where the choir of angels sings, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the entire earth is full of God's glory!...'" pg. 35 of Jewish Monotheism and Christian Trinitarian Doctrine by Lapide and Moltman

Don't know if Reuchlin was correct about finding the Trinity in "bara" but here's something else interesting to note about that term:

" 'create'  The Hebrew stem b-r-' is used in the Bible exclusively of divine creativity..."Pg. 5 of the JPS Torah Commentary to Genesis

Saturday, May 17, 2014

"Otherwise Your Children Would be Unclean": A Question Concerning the Apparently Contradictory Uses of "Unclean" in 1 Cor. 7:14 and Acts 10:28

"And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean (akatharton)," (Acts 10:28) 
"For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean (akatharta), but as it is, they are holy," (1 Cor. 7:14)

Notice how Peter seems to say that no person can be considered unclean but Paul seems to say that the child of a union of two non-Believers would be unclean?


How do we resolve these two passages?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Readership Spike: This is a Little Intimidating...

Close to a thousand people a day reading this blog now... Yikes!

"Walking" in the Spirit: Examining the "Two Ways" Motif in Jewish Literature as it Relates to the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5

"[This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh," Galatians 5:16

In Jewish thought, there are only 2 paths to follow.  We see this not only in Yeshua's sermons:

"13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."  (Matthew 7:13-14)
But we also see this in the Tanak itself:

"Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess," (Deut. 5:33)


"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night," Psalm 1:1-2

So it should come as no surprise that Paul, a Hebrew of Hebrews, uses this same motif when contrasting the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5.  It's a diametrical concept, either you've got the fruit or you've got the flesh, you've got love or you've got hate, you've got light or you've got darkness.

Here's some miscellaneous notes you might find interesting:

Sacra Pagina: Galatians by Frank J. Matera

pg. 206  "Paul's initial advice is that the Galatians should 'walk' by the Spirit, that is, conduct themselves in a manner that accords with the Spirit.  The expression 'to walk' in the Spirit is related to the OT idea of walking (Hebrew: halak) in the commandments of the Lord.  It implies conducting one's life in a particular manner.  Thus in Deut 5:33 Moses says, 'You shall walk in all the way which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you.'  And the Psalmist writes, 'Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but delights in the Law of the Lord' (Ps 1:1-2)...To walk in the Spirit, then, means to conduct one's life in a particular way, a way which excludes opposing conduct."

pg. 208 "A more helpful model for understanding [the fruit of the Spirit] is found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Manual of Discipline (1QS 3:13-4:26).  1 QS is an example of the genre of the Two Ways, a genre also found in early Christian literature of the second century (Didache 1-5...).  According to 1QS, God provided two spirits by which humanity 'walks' until the day of God's...visitation:  the spirit of truth which springs from a fountain of light, and a spirit of falsehood which springs from a source of darkness.  While the spirit of truth leads to 'a spirit of humility, patience, abundant charity, unending goodness, understanding, and intelligence' (1QS4:3), the ways of the spirit of falsehood are 'greed, and slackness in the search for righteousness, wickedness and lies, haughtiness and pride, falseness and deceit, cruelty and abundant evil' (1QS 4:9, 11...)."  

pg. 210  "One might expect that Paul would entitle his second list, 'the works of the Spirit.'  Instead the Apostle speaks of the singular fruit of the Spirit (ho karpos tou pneumatos) which manifests itself in different ways....
     Unlike the first list which purposely gives a sense of disorder and confusion, this list consists of three triads which give a sense of order and harmony:
     love, joy, peace
     patience, kindness, goodness
     faith, gentleness, self-control"

The Didache:  Its Jewish Sources and its Place in Early Judaism and Christianity

pg. 202 "The Matthean Two Ways saying at the beginning of the final section of the Sermon on the Mount stands out because of the antithetical parallelism describing two roads.  The easy way, 'leading to destruction,' and the hard way, 'leading to life,' confront the readers with an ultimatum.  The choice is between these alternatives and there is no middle way...Entering the narrow means of bearing good fruit (7:17)....The right way is responding to the words of Jesus which, effectively, is his exposition of the Law (5:17 and 7:12), as it is delivered in the Sermon on the Mount."

How Do We Evaluate the Fruit of the Spirit Without Unfairly Judging Someone? (Response to Judah--in love!!)

It's so easy to misjudge someone and I'll give a few examples:

Example 1:

There's a guy who is always fighting--he is physically violent and this constant violence has caused his personal relationships to suffer.  Our immediate reaction is probably, "Hey, pal, you did this to yourself!  You don't have the fruit of the Spirit!"

But what if this guy is a United States Marine?

Example 2:

There's a guy preaching on street corners, saying churches need to get involved politically to help save our country from the Homosexual lobby and the abortion lobby.  Our immediate reaction, "Hey, buddy, nobody's gonna listen to you!  Your message is too angry!"

But what if such lobbies are actively and successfully eroding our cultural values and even our rights?


Okay, so what's my point?  My point is that the Body of Messiah has many parts.  Some of us are white blood cells and we cause a lot of itching and annoyance.  But what if this annoyance serves a greater purpose?  All I'm really saying is let's not be too quick to judge the message or the reaction.  Let's look at the cause, the context.  If someone feels angry, it very well could mean that person lacks the fruit of the Spirit. might just mean that this person feels grieved in the L-rd and desperately wants to fight the enemy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Torah Resource Institute: Advanced Level Messianic Instruction

I've not attended this Messianic Yeshiva but, having read the works of the instructors, I highly recommend that anyone interested in advanced level instruction consider...


4 Stages of Islamic Conquest


Islam: A Religion of Peace?


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Under What Authority Does a Rabbi Make a Person a Jew? (Response to Ken)

So a commenter just asked a great question.  I'll give my two cents and then others can chime in with their perspectives.

Here's the simplest answer I can come up with (but it's not very simple):

A covenant is a legalized game of pretend in which two unrelated parties pretend that they are family and agree to love each other as family.

The questions with regard to the covenant of conversion are as folllows:

(1) Which Judaism are we talking about?  Each Judaism is its own family in a sense and therefore has its own set of laws on this matter;

(2) Which laws apply to Messianic Judaism?

In MJ, Yeshua is the ultimate source of law.  Therefore, in Messianic Judaism we cannot attribute deontic authority (final authority) to Rabbinic halacha (i.e. the Rabbinic interpretation of the mitzvot).  It can however attribute epistemic (presumptive but non-final) authority to the Rabbis in certain areas of halacha.

But here's the thing:

There's no way MJ can use the rabbinic halacha on conversion.  Here's why:

In MJ, there's no way for a Gentile to become a Jew.  There's simply no precedent for it.

The covenant of conversion in MJ allows Gentiles to join Yeshua's Kingdom, the Kingdom Realm of Israel.  But this only provides rights/responsibilities with regard to the Torah of this New Covenant. It confers no privileges to the earthly realm of Israel (e.g. Jewry, Modern State of Israel).

Sorry but that's the best I've got.  Would anyone else like to add something?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Derek has Defined Messianic Judaism (and now my head hurts)

[Here is the post:  CLICK HERE FOR LINK]

Derek has offered a definition of Messianic Judaism...or has he?  I can't really tell what he's saying.  Messianic Judaism is for the family of Jews...oh, wait, no, it also includes Gentiles who support the vision of Messianic Judaism.  Huh?  

I think everyone should discuss this in an uncensored environment (Derek censors all opposing viewpoints on his blog;  here, on the other hand, we welcome all points of view). 

Before the discussion begins...

Here's something to consider:  isn't the whole purpose of covenant to extend kinship (i.e. family-ness) to those who are not kin? (see Frank Cross below for further explanation).  

"Kinship [in Semitic tribal groups] was conceived in terms of one blood flowing through the veins of the kinship group...Kindred were of one flesh, one bone.  'The whole kindred conceives of itself as having a single life.'  On meeting Jacob, Laban says, 'Surely thou art my bone and flesh [basar].'  Tribesmen of Israel meeting David at Hebron introduce their negotiations with him by saying, 'Behold we are thy bone and thy flesh.'...Rooted in the concept of kinship was the obligation to protect one's kindred...The obligation of the kinsman is also to uphold the welfare of his fellow kinsman....
     We have noted that the language of love (ahabah) is kinship language, the bond that holds together those in intimate relationships, the relationships of family and kindred.  Hesed ('loyalty') too, I should argue, originally was a term designating that loyal and loving behavior appropriate to a kinship relationship...Kinsfolk are expected to be loving, just and generous to one another and not to demand strictly equivalent returns of one another.'....
     The kinship bonds that give unity and cohesion to the lineage and family in tribal societies become attenuated as tribal societies become more complex....
     In tribal societies there were legal mechanisms or devices--we might even say legal fictions--by which outsiders, non-kin, might be incorporated into the kinship group.  Those incorporated, an individual or a group, gained fictive kinship and shared the mutual obligations and privileges of real kinsmen....
     In Israel, contrary to many primitive band or tribal societies, the legal compact of marriage introduced the bride into the kinship group or family.  This is the proper understanding of Genesis 2:24:  'Therefore a man will abandon his father and his mother and cleave to his wife, and [the two of them] will become one flesh.'  Flesh refers not to carnal union but to identity of 'flesh,' kinship, 'bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.' ...
     Adoption of sons or daughters is another means of ingrafting non-kin or distant kin into the lineage.  The practice was widespread in the Near East and in Israel.  Its formulae survive (often in secondary settings):  'I will be to him a father and he will become my son,' or 'my son are thou, today I have begotten thee,' or 'a child is born to us, a son is given to us.'
     Oath and covenant, in which the deity is witness, guarantor, or participant, is also a widespread legal means by which the duties and privileges of kinship may be extended to another individual or group, including aliens.  In describing early Arab tribalism, Robertson Smith writes:
'The commingling of blood [in the oath and covenant ritual] by which two men became brothers or two kins allies, and the [legal] fiction of adoption by which a new tribesman was feigned to be the veritable son of a member of the tribe, are both evidences of the highest value, that the Arabs were incapable of conceiving any absolute social obligations of social unity which was not based on kinship; for a legal fiction is always adopted to reconcile an act with a principle too firmly established to be simply ignored.'
     Kinship and Tribal Federation
     Early Israel must be designated a tribal league or federation....
     ...We may describe the social organization of the league from three standpoints.
     The league was a military organization....
     The league was also a kinship organization, a covenant of families and tribes organized by the creation or identification of a common ancestor and related by segmented genealogies.  Such genealogies are in substantial part constructs, based as much on 'kinship-in-law' as real kinship...The league in ideal form was conceived as twelve tribes, related at once by covenant and kinship.
     The...league was also a religious organization or society..."

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Introduction to Things Messianic by J.K. McKee

Just learning about Messianic Judaism?  Or are you trying to share your newfound faith with others?

Check out this book (also available as an instant download for $9.99):

Introduction to Things Messianic

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Converting the Converted: 2 Questions for the Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Counsel (MJRC)

[Background:  For those who don't know, the MJRC offers conversions:  CLICK HERE FOR LINK]

Dear MJRC:

I just have a couple of quick questions for anyone sitting on the MJRC (maybe Derek Leman would like to chime in since he has some direct experience with this):

(1) As you all know, the Hebrew word for conversion is teshuvah (turning).  But if one is already facing the right direction (Yeshua), why does he need to turn and face in a different direction?

(2) How can the Covenant, Way of Life, and People offered by Yeshua be so deficient and unsatisfying that one would need to seek better options?

Yours Very Sincerely,