Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Facing the biggest problem

July 10, 2017

Choosing between being Jew or gentile. I think this was what Paul had in mind when writing Romans 9 and thinking about his people. “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people.” (Rom.9:2-3) The question was (as it seems to me) whether to be with them under the curse of denying Jesus, or to be with those outlawed of Judaism and mostly gentiles believers. But Paul rejoiced however to be with the latter because he firmly believed Jesus was the Messiah. In Romans 9-11 he pointed out what the matter was of the Jewish people; they would go in exile for the sake of the gentiles. (Rom.11:11)

This was a great choice. Paul saw that he couldn’t be part of the Jewish people because of their denial of the Messiah, since he opposed to them, clearly saw the Messiah.

I can feel that today similar circumstances are in place when a Jewish believer clings to Messianic Judaism. He also has a choice. But that choice easily could culminate in accepting or rejecting Jesus.

In fact it should be that there was no choice at all. But we have yet the same Jewish people as in the time of Paul: you will not be accepted if you believe in Jesus, and hitherto you will not be a “real” orthodox jew.

It looks like the Jewish people must first recognize the Messiah as a nation, as a whole people.

Orthodox Jewry does not accept Messianic Jews. Even in politics. When they apply for citizenship during the immigration process, their application is denied simply because they believe in Jesus as their messiah. It looks like this is even against the Jewish Law of Return, but this is still how it goes.

Obviously, there will be other times ahead of us. For now we have to deal with this situation.

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Palestine

July 11, 2014

In my last post which was written in Dutch, I argued that we as Christians have a history of almost 2000 years dominated by antichristian powers according to the classic view of the puritans.

One of the worst and hardest thing to accept for us as Christians is the hate towards Jews years after the destruction of the temple in 70.

We became proud (against Paul’s warning, Ro.11:18) and we became an empire dominated by antichristian Roman powers. (As foresaid by John, 1Jo.2:18)

It was Rome who thought it was good to call the land of Israel after its old pagan enemy: Palestine.

Blogger Judah from Kineti L’Tziyon mentioned it here:

“Q. If they’re not related to the ancient Philistines, then why are they called “Palestinians”?
A. Because Rome once hated Jews almost as much as Hamas does.
Rome renamed Israel to Syria Palestina in an effort to suppress Jewish presence in Israel.  Having sacked Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD, and after a failed Jewish revolt against the Romans in 135 AD, the Roman Emperor Hadrian renamed Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina in honor of one of his Roman gods, to spite and dominate the disheartened Jewish rebels. Scholars believe it was around this time the Roman province of Judea was renamed to Syria Palestina, in honor of the Bronze Age enemy of ancient Israel.

OK, it was the pagan Roman empire who did not adopt Christianity yet. But after Constantine, Christians did not refuse antisemitism. Rather, they thought they were the chosen people of God, annihilating the Jewish people and their covenants. They did not even allow Jews to be Jews.

Is it not an idea for the Pope to revoke the renaming of Israel with Palestine? A good Christian doesn’t call Jerusalem Aelia Capitolina too, does he?

Don’t you feel here that we as Christians are also guilty? It are not only Muslims to look at when it comes to antisemitism. Historically Christians also have a great deal in it.

We have to reset the things in the right order. Conform the people of Israel “whose is the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service, and the promises.” (Ro.9:4)

Report of lecture of Rabbi Chaim at Nijkerk

April 4, 2014

A report of a lecture (4/2/2014) given by Rabbi Chaim Eisen, an orthodox Rabbi in Jerusalem, dean at Yeshivath Sharashim, lecturer at Orthodox Union. Organized by Christians for Israel at Nijkerk, the Netherlands.

Lecture can be downloaded here.

The topic was: Israel, the heart of the nations.

The topic doesn’t come from scripture. Heart isn’t used as a metaphor in the Bible. It comes from Kuzari, a book of Rabbi Jehudah haLevi. (Completed not long before his dead in 1141.)

Rabbi Chaim began with ps. 1:2. Blessed is the man whose delight is in de Torah of the Lord. He desires the word of God. I that sense, she stressed that the audience chose the topic.

The foundation of Israel lies in the verse Ex. 19:5, particular the word segulah, be mine. This word also appears in the verses Ecclesia 2:8 and 1 Chronicles 29:3. Where it means a (royal) property.

Then he goes on showing Israel as to be a light for the nations. This is written so in Deuteronomy 26:17-19. It is about being “for a praise and for renown and for glory” of God.

This is seen in different verses.

Isaiah 60:3 (nations will go by your light)
Exodus 19:6 (Holy nation)
Isaiah 61:6 (Holy nation / priests of God)
Priests are servants of God, teachers (Leviticus 10:11, Deu.34:10)
Ez.44 vision of the future priesthood
Mal.2:1, 6-7 (The Torah of truth was in the mouth of the priests)
Isaiah 42:6, 49:6 (de servant of Israel) Isaiah speaks about the suffering servant.

Priests are there to teach the people. In the time of the temple there were many priests. Priests served in the Temple at least (and usually only) two weeks a year, on a once in 24 week rotation. What did they do in the other time? Teaching.

And who is Israel? Israel is the firstborn son. But he is not the only son! Many are the sons of God. And God cares about all the people, He has compassion on everything, even animals. (Jonah 4:10-11)

Israel leads all humanity. Deu.27:2 When Israel entered the Jordan to go to the land, they wrote down the Torah in 70 languages, well explained. That means for all the people. And verse 9 says: This day, this very day, you’ll become Gods people. If you do this. So it is a priestly task to teach the world.

In the afternoon the part of the suffering servant came. Suffering also is a great deal of the people of Israel. Amos 3:2 states: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”

Now he first pointed us to the origin of the expression “Israel as the heart of the nations”.

First it is found in the Zohar, volume 3, page 221b: “The Holy One blessed be He made Israel into the heart of the world.” From that centre (the temple) they have to teach the Torah. But the heart also experience anguish and suffering.

Secondly it is found in the classic work of Rabban Jehudah ha Levi, his book Kuzari. Jehudah haLevi was a physician and he described Israel as the heart among the nations. The heart is the most central part of the body affected by all physical, mental and emotional circumstances. The heart can be most diseased and most healthy. That’s how Israel suffers in an unrighteous world. It’s a curse and a blessing too to be such a people.

I personally was thinking about Romans 9:1 where the apostle Paul was anguishly regisaiah-53-5retting the fact that Israel didn’t accept their Messiah, their suffering Messiah. Paul also rightly saw Israel as the heart of the world. And he knew too that Israel would be completely restored and he ended up in a blessing: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God … For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Rom.11:33-36)

The iniquity must reach its full measure as we can learn from Gen.15:16. In contrast to Israel, the Emorites were not punished constantly, which led to their destruction. Israel is punished continuously. Israel must bear his iniquity.

A principle of Jehudah haLevi is the suffering of the Servant in Is. 53.

Who is My Servant (avdi)?

Rabbi Chaim gave us an investigation. All places in Isaiah where my servant (avdi) is written, are given here:

reference – meaning

Not Israel:
Is. 20:3 – Isaiah
Is. 37:35 – David
Explicit Israel:
Is. 41:8 – Israel /Jacob
Is. 43:10 – Jacob / Israel (it refers to verse 1)
Is. 44:1 – Jacob / Israel (also verse 2)
Is. 45:4 – Jacob / Israel
Is. 48:20 – Jacob
Anonymous:
Is. 42:1-  18-19  (verse 22 is people)
Is. 49:  (perhaps Isaiah or Israel)
Is. 52/53 (could be Messiah, Israel or prophet Isaiah.)

The suffering servant who bears the pain of the nations is Israel. And how do we respond to the multiple possible explanations of prophecy? The answer is: humility. Just be humble, until dawn breaks through.

Conversations between Jews and Christians in the past almost 2000 years often were harsh and disputes were one against the other, said Rabbi Chaim. But now times are changed. It’s a blessing to be here together. To learn from scripture. We share the same word, the Tenach. This was also the base of Jesus and the apostles. They were Jews who taught according to the Jewish way of teaching. They often taught in a midrashic way. As an example of approaching midrash, Rabbi Chaim gave us a tradition which shows that the words of Psalm 22:1 were explained as meant for, and used by queen Esther. When she came before the great king Ahasuerus (which was a death sentence to do unsolicited) she was very afraid and said: Eli, Eli, lama asavtani! (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?)

In that manner of applying midrash, Jesus and the apostles also explained scripture, he said.

What a beautiful tradition! In the same way Jesus used these words when he came before the Kings of Kings, just before his dead, he cited these famous words! However, (what a blessing!) God didn’t forsaken Him and all those who are with Him.

The most intriguing answer on that day for me was definitely on my question on what does suffering means. His response: “What a blessing!”. Wow, such an answer! Here we are. Just my thoughts: How close did we come together although the differences are as high as the sky? Where’s the real Christian? Where’s the real Jew? Aren’t they both suffering a lot? And they both would answer with Asaph in psalm 73 the last verse: In all the punishment and suffering: It is good for me, to be close with God. Didn’t our Messiah show it? The suffering king is a great King. Didn’t Jesus say: pick up my cross and follow me? Wasn’t there an era of suffering following for almost 2000 years now? What a blessing to have a share among the righteous people, persecuted because of the sins also of another one. Because of the gracious God who wants you to get ready to be his child. He who heals the soul! What a great work does He do! Blessed be He Who build his kingdom already even without worldly countenance!

 

A Rabbi speaks at Church

November 5, 2013

2013-11-04 21.38.07Rabbi Chaim Eisen, an orthodox Rabbi from Jerusalem, spoke in our church last night. This a very rare event, an orthodox Rabbi in an orthodox church. I believe this is a step forward towards a mutual understanding of our common believes and for us as a church another step in the process of returning to our Jewish roots, what we lost.

He was speaking about Ruth: “Your People are My People, and Your God is My God” (Ruth 1:16) He stressed the fact that Ruth converted to the people of Israel and that this does not apply to the attendees, to the Christian people. He also was not looking for converts to Judaism. Remain in your calling he said. (Like Paul said in 1Cor.17-18) And just keep the seven Noachide laws. (Like the apostles said, Acts 15)

Personally I was affected by hearing him saying that they as Jews were highly offended by the fact that some Jews calling themselves “Messianic” Jews. In fact Jews who believe in Jesus. They implicitly are saying by such a statement that the common Jews are not Messianic. This while the concept of the Messiah is a deeply rooted Jewish idea. To say with such a statement that the Jews don’t believe in the Messiah is to spit in their face he said. With that said, he was very clear to leave Jews Jewish and Christians Christian. I thought the world is not ready to adopt a common Messiah. In between is in plain sense not possible. Messianic Judaism is not regarded as Judaism, if you want it or not. Judaism has to accept their own accepted Messiah, which is a future event.

We made one step. I know that the Christian passion is take a few steps more instantly. But we cannot go ahead of time. We made one step forwards, and I’m glad of it. We stood shoulder to shoulder and spoke to each other. And that’s good.

Update: you can listen here to the lecture or download it here.

(Scroll to 12.00 min. to begin with the English introduction and lecture.)

Sabbath to Sunday shift on purpose by the Jewish community of the apostle James?

April 11, 2013

I had an interesting conversation with a rabbi who said “that Rabbi Jacob Emden proposed that the founders of Christianity deliberately adopted Sunday as a day of sabbath, to stress that they were not creating a conversion-based Torah religion. His proposal is that the founders of Christianity wanted to create a new religion for Gentiles to institutionalize observance of the seven Noahide laws (which don’t include the Sabbath) and instituted Sunday as a remembrance of the Sabbath.”

emden

He furthermore said that Rabbi Jacob Emden had the opinion that baptism was the denominator to enter the new religion for the gentiles. Instead of circumcision which was meant for Jews.

This was quite new for me, and gave me a lot to think about. And indeed, it is in the letter of Rabbi Jacob Emden what is translated and published by Rabbi Harvey Falk. It is derived from the Hebrew book Seder Olam Rabbah Vezuta, 1757. His Hebrew name is: יעקב בן צבי (Yaacov ben Zvi, 1698-1767)

Rabbi Jacob Emden said:

But for the Gentiles he [Jesus] reserved the Seven Commandments which they have always been obligated to fulfill. It is for that reason that they were forbidden pollutions of idols, fornication, blood, and things strangled (Acts 15). They [the apostles] also forbade them circumcision and the Sabbath. … The Apostles of the Nazarene therefore chose for those Gentiles who do not enter the Jewish faith that instead of circumcision they should practice immersion (for truly immersion is also a condition of full conversion), and a commemoration of the Sabbath was made for them on Sunday.

In the New Testament we can find a difference between Jewish observance of the Torah and Gentile observance of the 7 Noachides. This is laid out in Acts.15. That means that if a new believer did not accept (the yoke of) the Torah, then he might enter the new Christian religion by baptism. In some sense you can call this new religion a part of Judaism, or something that fits into Judaism (7 Noachides), but it is not Judaism itself. That will teach us that there were two deliberate tracks for believers: The Jewish Torah observance and the Gentile 7-Noachides observance (without sabbath and circumcision).

If not the whole Jewish community of believers led by the apostle Jacob was scattered around since the destruction of the temple in 70, then, we probably would find the difference of Jewish and gentile believers also in the scriptures of our church fathers. Unfortunately the church went in its own and Judaism was not only singled out but also forbidden. And they deleted almost everything what remembers Judaism. E.g. highlighting (un-biblical) Christmas, change passover/easter date, etc.

The Unknown Sanctuary, Aime Palliere

March 25, 2013

Book review: The Unknown Sanctuary, Aimé Pallière (1868-1949)

(Translated from the French “Le sanctuaire inconnu” to English by Louise Waterman Wise, 1930)

Sometimes you read a book and you think everyone has to read it because of the truth it shares, a truth everyone has to know. Of course it are personal thoughts, but anyway, “The Unknown Sanctuary” is such a book. It has a timeless message for those who are occupied with the bothering of Christian faith together with the Jewish world. It is not a book to agree with everything. But it shares the truth for those who understand it.the-unknown-sanctuary

Aime Palliere made de such an impressive journey as a Catholic with a great religious spirit facing the truth of the Jews, that anyone with a sense of true feeling of the presence of God on mankind, must be moved on when reading his conversations with the respected rabbi Eliyahu Benamozegh. This rabbi guided him to embrace Noachism. Aime first tended to convert to Judaism but in the end remained non-Jewish.

I received a copy of his book from a friend of mine some years ago. I’ll put it here on this blog, but you can also download it at Archive.org.

Reading the book there were some interesting highlights for me which I would like to share.

Aime became acquainted with the salvation army. With respect to Catholicism he said:

“Protestantism on the contrary acknowledges no other rule than the gospel word itself, and is obliged to extract therefrom its constituent principles, and to subordinate to them the entire Christian life; also, to conclude from its premises what the final development of Christianity is to be. In fact, the majority of creeds which claim to derive from the Reformation of the XVIth Century, do not conform to this fundamental principle, and do not succeed in entirely eliminating the ecclesiastical element, because of the need of adaptation and the play of historic laws which are stronger than logic itself. It is quite evident on the whole that the personality of Jesus who is the centre, the soul of the Christian faith, cannot be rediscovered, except through tradition, that is to say through the Church. Thus it is that despite all things and by an inevitable inconsistency, Protestantism has not been able to separate Jesus wholly from his historic background, and thus it still keeps in step with the organized Church instead of relinquishing its followers to the direct and personal influence of the saving Messiah. It could only continue to exist as a religion, because it retained doctrinal teachings and common practices which form the necessary out- ward bond of an organization. It can then readily be conceived how great an interest the study of the Protestant principle presented to a Christian soul which tended toward the pure origins of its faith, and by a happy conjunction of circumstances I found myself in close relation with one of the most logical forms, and at the same time the most vital, of Protestantism, most liberated in any case from ecclesiastical organization, from theological teachings and from sacramental cults. Here the Christian soul found itself in the presence of the object of its faith, through suppression of all intermediaries. From this point of view the Salvation Army is certainly more Protestant than any Church of the Reformation.” (p.79-80) When years go by he saw the Salvation Army also was not the religion which would fill the gaps.

At some point he disconnected the person Jesus from his religious affection. “…but his [Jesus] personality itself, so imperfectly known to us, was no longer a vital and indispensable thing in my religious life.” (p.115). Why does he add: ‘so imperfectly known to us’? This I agree with, we don’t know Jesus as much as to get the true idea of him. And I can understand to question the Trinity doctrine, but to remove Jesus as the Messiah and the son of God? And yet he remained Catholic and took the eucharist? Here some question marks remained.

In his conversation with rabbi Benamozegh, dealing with the Noachide, Benamozegh replied: “Noachism is the true, the only eternal religion of the Gentiles, and that it has its foundation in common with Israel. It is nothing else than true Christianity, that is, what Christianity ought to be, what it some day will become. This, according to the Jews, is the true religion of the Messianic times.” (p.173-174)

Benamozegh discouraged Aime to convert and becoming part of “the Jewish priesthood” [of the world]. He encouraged him to be a Noachide. (p.175) For this he had “two important reasons, … The first is the desire to begin with you and in you this religious movement [Noachism] which will bring about the final evolution of Christianity. Following that, the profound conviction that I have that in the new attitude that you would take, you could be much more helpful to Judaism, than if you entered into its bosom, yes, much more helpful from without than from within. But when I say from without, it is a form of speech; in reality the layman, the Noachide is not outside of the Church, he is within the Church, he himself is the true Church.” (p.175-176)

Another correspondent in Germany, Rabbi Dr. Jacob of Dortmund gave following reply: “As to your friend who has been advised if he would serve the cause of Israel that he eventually become a rabbi, this is, of all ways, the least effective. We would have one Jew and one rabbi the more! A great thing! At the best, as a proselyte he could for the moment count on some curiosity. For him Christians would no longer exist, but would Jews exist to any greater extent? One more rabbi coming to join the little phalanx of those who, here and there, preach to a dozen Israelites on the superiority of Judaism and its Universal Mission, without ever having, note it well, converted a single soul to their doctrines!” (p.226)

So you see it will give thoughts to ponder. I will end with the following saying of Aime:

“Verily, Thou art a God that hidest Thyself, O God of Israel, the Savior; but behind the veil Thou wilt be found by the heart that loves Thee, by the soul that trusts in Thee.”

Our Place – my new book

December 17, 2012

Finally, my new book is ready!

Our Place

Our Place as Gentiles in the community of Israel

This book is about a key text of the song of Moses, that God went to a no-people (the gentiles, Deut.32:21) what marks the beginning of the time of the gentiles. Paul fixes his view on that since he saw a great gathering of gentiles to the community of Israel. This is described in Romans 9-11.

This book is written for people who are interested in the position of Christians or Messianics related to the Jews. Don’t think it’s a finished study. I hope it will give provoking thoughts and will draw to rethink certain prophecies.

You can purchase this book here on Lulu.com. There you can also download an eBook for free.

And here you can download a pdf-version for free. (I got it for free, you got it for free…)

Update – Now also available at:
Apple iBookstore (Free ebook)
Amazon.com ($9,00 for paperback, 78 pages)
Barnes&Noble (Free ebook)

Please give it a try and let me know what you find of it!

Jealousy – Our Place, part 10

June 16, 2012

Where does Paul points to with this text of the song of Moses (Deu.32:21)? That there would be a “no-people” that will get glory as much as to make the people of Israel made jealous, to cause them have a zeal for the truth. However, they won’t win yet. The Jews will be despised and rejected. That “no-people” are the gentiles. God choose the gentiles, as much as are called. (Don’t read here Christianity, it are just a few amongst them. It’s difficult to see, but Christianity leans on the shoulder of just a very few righteous ones who are sticked to Christ and the Word. Common Catholic Christianity is considered by them as an antichrist power ruled by a false head, in stead of Christ. The old Protestants pictured the pope very clear as the antichrist. But to protest in the church is a rare thing nowadays and even Protestants doesn’t differ that much with Catholics now.)

The text of De.32:21 could be compared to a relationship. When a woman walks after another to make sins with, she provokes her husband to anger and jealousy. So does Israel do with God. Now God is saying when you do this to Me, I’ll do the same and choose a people (as a husband) which are nothing, to provoke you, oh Israel. (Like the analogy of Hosea ch.1)

That this text is used by Paul as one of the fundamentals he used to build his case upon, is seen by the places he mentioned the word jealousy. We need to understand this word. It also means zealot.

Paul used this in: Ro.10:2, 19, 11:11.
For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. (Ro.10:2)
But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. (Ro.10:19)
I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. (Ro.11:11)

This are key points in his message. What we need to do is to take a look at this word. It is the Hebrew word קנא (kenah). It’s translated as jealous, zeal, anger.

It affects the body with an emotional power, it moves the blood to the head, and would result in anger or hard working for the sake of the reason what caused it. An expression with a direct connection with this text is given in Is.65:5. The transgression of the people of Israel caused God to say: “These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burns all day”. And our text gives: For a fire is kindled in My nostril, and burneth unto the depths of the nether-world. (Deu.32:22) All this sounds not so positive, but it can turn out in a positive way though. It creates power to act. And when Paul renders this to the gentiles who makes the Jews jealous, (Ro.11:11) because God is passing the promises to the chosen ones from the gentiles, he gives this a positive turn to make the Jews act and get the grace (back) from their God. Their everlasting God who doesn’t abolish the law/Torah, covenant and promises etc. There’s a Jewish tradition that says that in every negative thing lies something positive.

The Hebrew word kenah (קנא or קנאה) is used in the following verses.
It is one of the attributes and name of God: for thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. (Ex.34:14)
For I the LORD thy God am a jealous God. (Ex.20:5)
The zeal of the God of hosts will perform this. (Is.9:6)
The LORD will not pardon him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and all the curse that is written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven. (Deu.29:20)

Another verse, what would draw us to the right understanding, is from Zachariah. When the angel asks God: how long will you not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which you have had indignation these seventy years? (Za.1:12)  (Here the 70 years of exile are meant, which are thousands of years actually.) On what the Lord response: Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. And I am very sore displeased with the nations that are at ease; for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction. (Za.1:14-15)
This correlates with the last part of the song of Moses. I thought I would make an end of them [the Israelites], I would make their memory cease from among men; Were it not that I dreaded the enemy’s [common gentiles] provocation, lest their adversaries should misdeem, lest they should say: Our hand is exalted, and not the LORD hath wrought all this. (Deu.32:25-26)

But in fact God would choose (some) gentiles to make the Jews jealous. This is what Paul not only believed, but also experienced. And this, as seen in the song of Moses, is all a part of the story of the people of Israel. They were the chosen people. They were the commandments, they were the blessings and the curses. They were the promises. They fell into apostasy. They were brought up again. But if they are now drawn into the greatest exile ever and must go through the greatest punishment ever and must suffer more than any nation, are they abandoned now? Is it all over? NO says Paul. Of course not. Gentiles are part of the story, but they are not interchanged with Israel!

I say then, Have they [the Jews] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy (παραζηλόω parazēloō). (Ro.11:11)

Paul brings the meaning of Deu.32:21 here into reality. A no-people, chosen by God, who provoke the people of Israel to jealousy. Paul sees it happen. Based on the verse Deu.32:21 of the song of Moses, we can assume that the words jealousy and zeal have both a meaning in the word jealousy (kinah). The Greek and the English word have the same voice.

For I bear them record that they have a zeal (ζῆλος zēlos) of God, but not according to knowledge. (Ro.10:2)

What does it mean? If you ask me, I would say: The Jews would be more and more dedicated to the Torah. A more zeal for the Torah. And you can see it: After the destruction of the temple rabbi Jochanan ben Zakkai e.g. began with a great school in Javne to learn Torah. And it expanded greatly with works of describing the oral Torah (Talmud) and many chachamiem (sages) came after him, like Rambam and Rashi, expounding the Torah for the people of Israel. They have a great zeal. They are provoked with the loss of the temple, the loss of a king, the loss of the sanhedrin, the loss of the land, the loss of the prophets, and so on. But they are also provoked by a no-people, a people who utterly proudly claimed the promises as the Christians and the Moslims. They have to take stand against them. But more then that, there are people who claimed that Jesus is the Messiah and they have very strong premises. In fact they are one of them. If that comes close, then they are bothered whether what to believe. They are challenged.

The people of Israel have a zeal for God. And they are called to have a zeal for God They are even called to be an example before the all the people of the world. They are a light unto the nations. Thats why they have a great responsibility. And you might say are they an example when they fall? Certainly yes, especially in this part. An example for everybody! Who do not fall? Paul warned the gentiles for this: “Do not boast over those branches [the Jews]. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. (Ro.11:18)

Paul let us now that they have a zeal for God in his time. (Ro.10:2) And we can see throughout history that the Jews have a zeal for God. But what says Paul, how does he put that zeal for God of the Jews with respect to Jesus? He followed the statement with: but not according to knowledge. If we render the word knowledge back to Hebrew word Daat, we’ll get some insights in the deeper meaning of it.
For, as is known, the term Daat connotes a sensitivity of the soul, and this is comprised of Chesed and Gevurah. Chesed gives rise to love and Gevurah to fear. Only when one possesses the attribute of Daat and spiritual sensitivity, will one experience the kinds of love and fear of  God.# Without knowledge (da’at) there is no understanding (binah), without understanding there is no knowledge. (Avot 3:21)

The problem Paul faces is that the Jews didn’t have the understanding and the real wisdom which comes from the Holy Spirit who teaches us. They want to achieve it but they didn’t receive it. Because they didn’t receive it and it was given to the gentiles, to a no-people, Paul was arguing to the gentiles that this would give them a reason to show the beauty they have gotten to make the Jews jealous. Then, at least, it would give the gentile believers a reason to live a good life as an example for the Jews, to remove any (remaining) antisemitism.

The song of Moses (Our Place, part 9)

June 8, 2012

Paul was a well versed Torah scholar who extraordinary came to faith through a revelation of Jesus the Messiah. The spiritual sense was highly emphasized and promptly he used the Torah to teach his Jewish brothers against the common practice to just follow the instructions and be good and helpful to others and God will give the reward, sooner or later. His conviction of Jesus the Messiah turned him to a great challenge: How can it be that the Jews as a people didn’t see and accept Jesus as their Messiah? He certainly knows without any doubt that they must accept the Messiah as a fully recognized nation and complete restored as 12 tribes. And the Messiah must restore the nation and makes the world a place of devotion and reason for all people to glorify the only God. We saw at the beginning of Romans chapter 9 that Paul faces this challenge. He knew the strong tension between the spiritual part of the Messiah now revealed, and the physical part, the restoration of Israel, not revealed yet. He found himself anywhere in between, knew that both were true, but couldn’t quite comprehend it as he called it a mystery that Israel rejected Jesus now, but in the end would accept him as the ultimate Messiah.

In this situation he (at least we) must ask the question how does this all fit into Torah? Obviously, in chapter 9-11 he used a concept of the song of Moses: a no-people who caused the Jews to jealousy.

Since there were so many gentiles who came to faith after Jesus performance, Paul explained this must be the time spoken about in the song of Moses. (Deu.32) There it states that God turned His face from his beloved Israel to the gentiles who are called there: a no-people. (Because of the sins of Israel who turned away from God to other lovers.) This shift caused an election and calling of the gentiles to faith. They are called a no-people and many of them are enemies of Israel and God. We saw that in history. However, there is a true people what is called and adopted into the great nation and people of God, the righteous ones.

Paul puts following verse as the foundation of his message about the Jews’ relation to the gentiles in his letter to the Romans, chapter 9-11. I guess it is the key to understand Ro.9-11.

He build his case on Deu.32:21:

They have roused Me to jealousy with a no-god;
they have provoked Me with their vanities;
and I will rouse them to jealousy with a no-people;
I will provoke them with a vile nation.

I will put this important verse in Hebrew too.

הֵם קִנְאוּנִי בְלֹא-אֵל

כִּעֲסוּנִי בְּהַבְלֵיהֶם

וַאֲנִי אַקְנִיאֵם בְּלֹא-עָם

בְּגוֹי נָבָל אַכְעִיסֵם

We need to consider the broader context. The song of Moses is a most highly profound poet which speaks in a few sentences about the whole story of the people of Israel. It is a culmination of the whole Torah with respect to the world history and its God and the place of the people of Israel. One who sees the meaning of this song sees the past, the present and the future in one sense. Therefore much is hidden and there isn’t that much of a simple meaning of the text.

But now Paul provides us a key to understand this verse. And in some sense, we are blessed we live in a time were so much happened already, from shoah to the state of Israel, and from crusaders to Israel-lovers, that we can see more then ever seen before.

A no-people

The terms non-god and non-people are used as the same expression in verse 21. The first expression is used to describe the idolatry of Israel who “provoked God with a non-god”. In return, God went from Israel and chose a non-people, a nation void of counsel (v.28) who were not educated with Torah.
It is a retaliation for Israel who chose another God, which is not a God, therefore God chose another people which is not a people. A people without Torah and without God couldn’t exist. But God went to that people and brought them to existence and gave salvation and eternal life. At the same time God forces Israel and make them jealous.

Now the time of the gentiles emerged. And a light unto the nations (as the Jews and the Messiah are described by Isaiah, but here the Messiah Jesus is the first one and the Servant who put that light unto the nations, including the Tenach) came to teach them as many as are called. However, we have to note here that the greatest part of the nations remain enemies of Israel and unfortunately even the greatest part of the Christians. The same thing happened amongst the Christians as happened to the Jews: when Jeshurun waxed fat, they deviated from the truth and strayed from God. They became enemies of the true Christians too. However, Paul in his time experience and watched a revival amongst the gentiles. And structured a religion of the gentiles.

Paul certainly knows that the exile did not come to an end yet under the Roman empire. The curse was still upon the Jewish people. (De.28 and Lev.26) The Jews, certainly the 10 tribes, were scattered amongst the nations and under government of a strange power. The words were fulfilled: “I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you” “If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over. …. If in spite of these things you do not accept my correction but continue to be hostile toward me, I myself will be hostile toward you and will afflict you for your sins seven times over.” (Lev.26:14-45) And if you put here the prophecies of the 70 years of exile of Jeremiah and the 7×70 of Daniel and even the hidden times given by Daniel, then, by putting here about 2000 years of Christian gentiles, we see the period of the gentiles, along with the exile of the Jews. As the Lord says: “They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them. On that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed.” (Deu.31:17-17) It’s a hard way. But they, the Jews, will learn, they have the promise and they will repent too. And what about the gentiles? Can we see something in these text about the gentiles? “you [Jews] will sow your seed in vain, for your enemies [gentiles] will eat it. I will set my face against you, and you will be struck before your enemies. Those who hate you will rule over you.” (Lev.26:16) “I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies.” (Lev.26:36) “The foreigner [ger] who is in the midst of you shall mount up above you higher and higher; and you shall come down lower and lower.” (Deu.28:43)

If it says that the foreigner (ger) will raise up and the Jew will become lower, then a shift is taking place exactly as the song of Moses tells us, namely that a no-people will raise and provoke the Jews to jealousy, as written: and I will rouse them to jealousy with a no-people; I will provoke them with a vile nation. (Deu.32:2) So when the gentiles come into picture here, they are called a no-people who will raise up even with a blessing because of the fornication of Israel who chose other gods. Because God chose the gentiles, as much as they are called, in return. Why? To make the Jews jealous. To bring them even more to study Torah and doing repentence and to find eventually the Messiah Jesus. But it would take a long, very long time.

Paul saw a beautiful start of a no-people in his time what became a people “grafted in” the wonderful people called Israel. It was clear that the Holy Spirit came over them and made them as reborn ones to have a zeal for the Thora by gift. Because God invited them and called them to join Him. But that no-people had also another side. Very soon there was the development of anti-christ within the denominations of repented gentiles. The apostle John told us this in 1John2:18. That no-people created a power which was described by the prophet Daniel as the Roman power, also called Edom. But that power like the Roman Catholic church or the crusaders e.g., does not picture the true believers. What Paul saw was the beginning of a small, narrow line of believers who came to faith through the Messiah Jesus, and spread this gospel around the world. They took part in the oppression and rejection of Christ. They were not from this world, but expected the world to come. They did not live for today, but lived in faith looking out for what was to come. This always was a small part of that no-people what was designated to rule the world as long as “the time of the gentiles” there was. It turned out in history the same as what happened by the Jewish people: deviating from God and astray after other gods. Just a little remnant what remains faithful.

And, although Paul describes that blessed gentiles who are saved from eternal death and shared in the commonwealth of Israel and its salvation, the far greater part (almost entirely) of that no-people is not faithful.

But Paul also knows that the Jewish people will be all brought back to their land and live in peace. Hence, at the time he was facing, when he sees that the Jewish people did not accept the Messiah yet, he points to the song of Moses. There it states that at the time of repression and curse of the Jewish people there will be a no-people what will bring the Jewish people to jealousy and provoke them to anger. (Deu.32:21)

Paul’s grafted in strangers analogy (Our Place – part6)

May 4, 2012

If there’s a covenantal relationship with Israel, and a divine calling of Jew and Gentile, then Paul comes into picture who merged these two into one, with his “ingrafted branches” analogy in Rom.11.

This analogy has a scriptural base and we can find that in Is.56 among other places. Isaiah speaks about the foreigners who join Israel. It’s the word of God which states:

“Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. 4 For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; 5 Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. 6 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; 7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. 8 The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.” (Is.56:3-8)

Rashi comments on it that this strangers and eunuchs are converts. These (converted heathens) have surely a place in the house of God and in His covenant, according to this words of God. But this also implicitly states that gentiles are not the same as the people of Israel. Otherwise these converts would not be mentioned as strangers, but were fully regard as Israelites.

What we see here is that there are people who are faithful to the God and the Jews, but they are not regarded Jewish. Probably because they are not fully Torah observant. What they did do however, is keeping the Shabbat and are faithful to the covenant. And here is a very significant remark about them, they choose the things that please me. (v.4) About them is said: Blessed are they who do this. (v.2) To keep the judgement and do justice (v.1)

When the ingathering of the Israelites happens, these ones are also ingathered with them.

This must be the idea of the apostles (Acts15) that the gentiles have a place amongst the people of God. They may dwell in the tents of Jacob (Gen.9:27) and may come to Sion (Ps.87). And especially because the most profound thing ever happened since the giving of the Torah, that gentiles receive the Holy Spirit (before they convert to Judaism), the apostles believe firmly that the Messianic times were started and thought it is not good to obligate gentiles to keep the Torah to become part of the commonwealth of Israel.

In fact they created a new community within Judaism of Geriem we-Toshaviem (strangers and so-journers). This is a status of gentiles described in Leviticus 25:35. Now, since the Messianic age has began, they have spiritually the same share in Sion as the Jews, “as many as are called”. And this is what Paul called “grafted in”. Now they become part of Israel, spiritual. And in this Messianic age there’s no difference between Jew and Gentile, “no difference between Jew and Greek” (Ro.10:12) “They are one in Christ”. (Gal.3:28) It is not that the status of so-journer is of less importance. At a deeper spiritual level such a confession shows a higher devotion to God. David himself claimed this status too, in Psalm 39:13, “For I am a stranger with thee, A sojourner, as all my fathers were”. And compare what Jesus said: “But one who is the greater among you, let him become as the younger, and one who is governing, as one who serves.” (Luke22:26)
On the other side Paul warns the gentiles not to be proud of it and not to think they are now the replaced Israel, because that was certainly not the case. It even doesn’t abolish or change the existing covenant with the Jews.

Now if we see Jews and Gentiles, separate on one plane, together on another plane, we can understand the message Paul gives us much better.