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Have you kissed the Son?

November 26th, 2013

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalms 2:12; English Standard Version)

Do homage in purity, lest He be angry, and ye perish in the way, when suddenly His wrath is kindled. Happy are all they that take refuge in Him. (Psalms 2:12; Jewish Publication Society)

A quick perusal of this verse in the two versions will show that there is some disagreement here.  But, why?

The phrase under debate is the Hebrew words that can be transliterated in English as neeshku-var.  The Hebrew word nshk, can mean “kiss” or “paying homage.”  Var is the Aramaic word for “son.”  So why has the JPS translated it, “do homage in purity?”

Although this is the tradition of some Medieval Jewish sages, there are notable exceptions, such as Ibn Ezra, and the Radak.  The Zohar also speaks of this verse, understanding the word as son.  More importantly, the Talmud recognizes this psalm as Messianic, and speaking in relationship to both Messiah son of Joseph (i.e. Yeshua or Jesus), and Messiah son of David (b. Sukkah 52a).

Already in Psalm 2 we are asked why the world rebels against the Lord and His Anointed (v.1). Later in the psalm God calls this anointed his Son whom He has begotten (v. 7).  So in the words of Michael Brown, to whom I am indebted for the information in this article*, “Why then should it be considered odd that the psalm would close with a twofold admonition, namely, to ‘serve the Lord with fear’ and ‘kiss the son?’”

Where traditional Jewish interpreters vary, they are required to say that the word as written is not quite correct, and that it represents a different word (like the Hebrew word for “purity” which is very similar).  As demonstrated above, however, that is not necessary.

Who is right?  Those who take the words as they are written and translate them within the context of the Psalm; or those who –  disregarding what is written both in the Scriptural text and even, at times, in rabbinic tradition – translate according to their own idea of what they want Scripture to say.

Sadly, many (happily not all) passages in Scripture that point to Yeshua as Messiah are treated this way. Still, more Jewish people are coming to “kiss the Son” today than since the time of Yeshua.  Why not listen to God and do the same?

Please contact us for more information, or you can click here.

* For a more detailed discussion on this passage, read “Answering Jewish Objections of Jesus: Volume Three – Messianic Prophecy Objections,” by Michael Brown.  2003.  Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI

Contributed by Daniel Muller, a Jewish believer and the General Director of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Biblical Interpretation, Daniel Muller, Following God, Jewish Objections to Jesus, Jewish Tradition, Messiah, Messiah in the Tanach, Talmud vs. Tanakh, The Bible, Things Doctrinal and Theological | No Comments »

The Right Kind of Judaism?

November 18th, 2013

But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. (Deuteronomy 30:14)

God was telling the people of Israel that they did not need a lot of rules in order to relate to Him.  They only needed the Law that he gave them.  Yet centuries later, the religious leaders of Israel began heaping all kinds of rules and regulations and calling them Laws.  God sought a circumcised heart (Deuteronomy 10:16) – a people after His own heart like King David was (1 Samuel 13:14), but instead we had rules piled upon us to become a burden (Luke 11:46).

If the Judaism of the rabbis (i.e. Talmudic Judaism) is the correct form of Judaism, then why didn’t the Lord return the nation to the Land of Israel in the 10th or 11th Century C.E., when rabbinic Judaism was in its golden age and supposedly every Jew knew the Talmud-Torah? Why did he wait till the time when most Jews were secular; yet more Jews were believing in Yeshua (Jesus) than ever before? Makes you think, doesn’t it?

God told us through the prophet Zechariah:

They [will] look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10)

Jewish people are coming to know Yeshua as their Messiah and Lord, just as God promised.  Why shouldn’t you?  Contact us to learn more.

We would love to send you the book, “Twelve Sons of Israel,” about 12 rabbis who came to faith in Yeshua.  Just ask for it when you contact us.

Posted in Anonymous, Following God, Jesus and Jews, Jewish Tradition, Jews and Jesus, Messiah, Some Words and Thoughts, Talmud vs. Tanakh | No Comments »

A Tale of Two Messiahs

August 30th, 2013

IN THE DAYS OF YESHUA (JESUS), THE RABBIS RECOGNIZED TWO MESSIAHS

We know this from Talmud (traditions of the rabbis codified between the 2nd & 6th Centuries).

Victorious King Messiah – Moshiach ben Daveed ( Messiah son of David)

1.     Isaiah 27:13 –come at the blast of the shofar (the rams horn), when God promises that all of Israel will be redeemed and returned to the land.
2.     Psalm 2 – This is the conquering king Messiah
3.     Isaiah 9 – the one who would have the government upon his shoulders, and who would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

But the rabbis recognized another picture of messiah –

Suffering Servant Messiah – Moshiach ben Yosef (Messiah son of Joseph) – also called the Leprous Messiah (Sanhedrin 98b; quoting Isaiah 53:4)

1.     Isaiah 53 – This is the suffering servant passage: would suffer for our transgression (v. 5); upon whom our iniquities would be placed (vs. 5,6); would become an asham (guilt offering) for the atonement of the people’s sins (v. 10); he would be cut off from the land of the living (v.8), Isaiah tells us, but will then see the light of life (i.e. be resurrected; v. 10).
2.     Zechariah 9:9 – lowly and riding on a donkey.
3.     Psalm 22 – cry out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” (v. 1), and suffer the anguish the psalmist writes of.

So if the rabbis had an understanding of these two pictures of Messiah:

  • Why were they unable to see Jesus for who he was?
  • Why did they miss him?
  • Why, in fact, did they do the very thing that God, through Isaiah, foretold in chapter 53 –despise him, reject him, and esteem him not?

You see the rabbis at that time reasoned in this way:

  • If Israel were righteous, then would come the Moshiach ben Daveed – the Conquering King Messiah – at the blast of the ram’s horn, on a white horse coming down from the clouds.  And he would bring Israel once again to prominence and bring peace to the whole world.
  • However, if Israel were unrighteous, then would come the Mochiach ben Yosef – the Suffering Servant Messiah – who would come humbly – lowly and riding on a donkey  A Messiah who would suffer for us and bear our sins. 

MISTAKEN IDENTITY: JESUS OUT OF CONTEXT

So if the Jewish scholars and sages knew both pictures of Messiah, why did they miss him?

Well, remember that since the return of the exiles, the religious Jew of his day considered himself doing all he could to be right with God.

  • He had all the Pharisaical traditions to follow.
  • He went to the temple regularly with his sacrifice.
  • He gave to the poor.
  • He fasted.
  • He did all the right things!

So did he think Israel was righteous, or unrighteous?  Righteous, of course.

So what Messiah was he expecting?  The Victorious King of course!

And that is the point!

  • For centuries, the people saw in their mind the Conquering King Messiah coming.
    • Another Judah Maccabee.
  • This was the expectation of the people because they believed themselves to be righteous.
  • So they refused to recognize the Suffering Servant Messiah when he came.

This is why Jesus says in John 5:45-47:

“Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope.  For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.  But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

Jesus and the Jewish leaders were reading the same Scriptures!  But Yeshua could see what the leaders would not.  Many leaders did come to faith, like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (see John 19:38-39).  Most did not.  Those that didn’t led the rest of Israel on the wrong path.

  • When the temple (the center of the sacrificial system by which Israel and Israelites could have atonement) is destroyed, then the question came:  how now can the Jewish people atone for their sins?
  • Then the Jewish leaders made new rules:
    • rules that took the temple out of the equation
    • rules that determined other means of atonement.

And so, by the 5th Century, when the Talmud was finally codified:

  • there was a whole system of law that included atonement for sin
  • but not by the standard of God (i.e. not through the sacrifice of the Suffering Servant Messiah, Yeshua)

My friend, Yeshua is not the Messiah of the Gentiles but the Messiah of Israel.  If you want to enter into the Olam Habah (to have eternal life with God our Father), you must believe in Him!

Contact us, and let us tell you how.  We would be happy to give you, free of charge, a book that tells you how twelve rabbis did just that.

Contributed by Daniel Muller, a Jewish believer and the General Director of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Biblical Interpretation, Daniel Muller, Following God, Jesus and Israel, Jesus and Jews, Jewish Identity, Jewish Tradition, Jews and Jesus, Messiah in the Tanach, Redemption, Resurrection, Salvation, Talmud vs. Tanakh | No Comments »

Some Words and Thoughts

January 4th, 2013

Then the LORD caused to rain upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;
(Genesis 19:24, Jewish Publication Society)

In Genesis 18, God appears to Abraham in physical form along with two other individuals.  Although the rabbis try to explain this away, the plain meaning of the text is clear – God took on physical form, ate with Abraham (even ate dairy and meat together – imagine that!) and walked around with him – read it for yourself.

In Genesis 19, the two individual with God turn out to be angels who go down to Sodom, speak with Abraham’s nephew Lot and then take him away from Sodom before God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah and the other sinful towns in the area.

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah begins with the verse quoted above.  God on earth reigns down fire and brimstone from God in Heaven.  Could it be that the biblical understanding of the nature of God is at odds with rabbinic understanding?  Could it be that the homogeneous oneness of God that traditional Judaism proclaims is merely the result of a polemic against a pluralistic view of God’s unity as understood by both Jewish and Gentile Christians.  Could it me that the idea of the tri-une nature of God is actually the biblical one and true?

John Wesley, an 18th Century commentator, reflects upon Genesis 19:24 in this way:

Then the Lord rained – from the Lord – God the Son, from God the Father, for the Father has committed all judgment to the Son. He that is the Saviour will be the destroyer of those that reject the salvation.

Let’s get scriptural shall we?!  Food for thought.  Contact us if you wish to know more or if you need a bible.

 

Posted in Anonymous, Biblical Interpretation, Jewish Tradition, Knowing God, Some Words and Thoughts, Talmud vs. Tanakh, Things Doctrinal and Theological | No Comments »

The Word, the Whole Word, and Nothing But the Word

June 12th, 2012

As a follow-up to my last blog entry, I want to expand on this issue of Talmud and what God says in Joshua 1:8.  If you haven’t read the first blog article, click here.

Again, here is Joshua 1:8:

 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

Note what Joshua is supposed to meditate on: the Book of the Law.  He is supposed to be careful to do all that is written in it. 

May I suggest how significant it is that there is no mention here of an oral law.  It is the written law that Joshua was to meditate on, the obedience to which would bring him, by God’s grace, prosperity and success.

I do not contend that there were no traditions passed down from generation to generation, but that the Truth was wrapped up in what was written by Moses, and later the prophets.

This is why Yeshua (Jesus) would say to the Jewish leaders of His day, “if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:46).

The Judaism of the rabbis  is wrapped up in the Talmud and not in the Living Word of God.  We have to ask ourselves, in light of what God said to Joshua: is rabbinic Judaism, then, the rightful heir to biblical tradition?

Why not read and consider the testimony of the Word of God on its own merit?  Read the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures) and, if you are willing, the B’rit Hadashah (New Testament).  Contact us if you need a copy and we will be happy to send it free of charge.

Contributed by Daniel Muller, a Jewish believer and the General Director of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Biblical Interpretation, Daniel Muller, Following God, Jesus and Jews, Jewish Tradition, Jews and Jesus, Talmud vs. Tanakh, The Bible | 1 Comment »

A Means To An End

June 11th, 2012

This evening I had the pleasure of hearing a message from Rev. David Epstein, Senior Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in New York City.  As his name would suggest, he is by no means a stranger to things Jewish.

During his message, which was given to a group of pastors, he quoted Joshua 1:8:

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

The point Pastor Epstein was making was that the way to being able to obey the Word of God, is not just to read the Word of God but to meditate upon it.  To swallow the message so that it not only permeates our understanding, but it permeates us.

As Pastor Epstein put it, “studying  the word is good, but it’s not sufficient.  Studying the word is not an end to itself, but a means of letting us come to the One who gave us the Word.”

As he said those words, I was struck by my Jewish people, especially those of Orthodoxy, who spend so much time studying Rashi and Talmud, but not enough time studying the Word.  In studying the traditions of the sages, they are being led by these sages, many of whom, in the Talmuds own words, seemed to make studying the Tanakh (The Hebrew Scriptures) an end to itself.

In this way, I believe, many Jewish people are steeped in study, but not steeped in Him whom the Word was meant to reveal – our Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus).  Sadly, many Christians do the same.

If you are one of those people, might I ask you to consider taking the time, not just to read and to study the Word of God (and not what was written about the Word of God), but to also think hard about what those words say – where they truly lead?

We are always available to help you in your search; feel free to contact us.  You don’t have to agree with us, but at least consider these things honestly.

Contributed by Daniel Muller, a Jewish believer and the General Director of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Daniel Muller, Following God, Jewish Tradition, Talmud vs. Tanakh, The Bible | No Comments »

A Challenge Regarding Authority

December 23rd, 2011

It’s been over a year-and-a- half since the blog article “The question of Talmud and its authority” was published.  To date I still have not had one Jewish rabbi, sage or scholar satisfactorily demonstrate the divine authority of Talmud, such that it is to be followed even when in contadiction to the plain meaning of the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures).

I have had many rabbis assert the authority of Talmud, of course.  But how can they expect anyone who is not indoctrinated in it, to accept that authority without some evidence that the Lord has authorized it to be the arbitrator of how men should live their lives and determine their eternal destinies.

For that matter, I see no evidence that indicates that God has given authority to the rabbis, such that they can interpret Scriptures to suit their ideas of what they ought to say (for one example, see the article “Rashi and a lying God”).  If such evidence clearly exists, why not inform me of it?  Then you might have one less person for the anti-missionaries to deal with.

So I would like to offer a challenge to whatever rabbi, yeshiva bocher or talmudic scholar is out there.  Reveal to me what I am not seeing.  Show me the evidence for God’s seal of approval that the Talmud and the traditions of our sages and rabbis should govern the lives of the Jewish people.

Otherwise, I will continue to take Scripture at its word and believe in the Messiah it plainly points to and reveals – Yeshua (Jesus).  Contact me so we can contend about these things as one Jew caring for another and trying to ascertain God’s truth.

Any takers?

As iron sharpens iron, so a person sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17

Contributed by Daniel Muller, General Director of New Covenant Forum.



 

Posted in Daniel Muller, Following God, Jewish Tradition, Talmud vs. Tanakh | No Comments »

Forgiveness is also a Jewish Concept

November 30th, 2011

My colleague, Alan Friesner, told me of an encounter he had with an observant Jewish man we’ll call Hal.  Alan told Hal about his recent blog contribution called Forgiveness.  The article dealt with the unending bitterness that Jewish people have over the Holocaust, and the healing power that forgiveness has.

Hal remarked that forgiveness was a Christian concept, not a Jewish one.  According to Hal, Jews don’t have to forgive.

I’ve been ruminating over this.  I decided to look at what the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures) said about forgiveness.  It is true that human forgiveness is seldom mentioned.  An exception would be in Genesis 50, where Joseph’s brothers beg forgiveness for selling him into slavery, and Joseph does forgive.

Most of the time, however, forgiveness is expressed as God’s forgiveness, usually as a bequest from the Israelites.  It is easy to look at this and suppose that, therefore, forgiveness is not part of Jewish thought.

I then began to wonder what the Talmud had to say about forgiveness.  There we see a different story.  Forgiveness – human forgiveness – is mentioned in many places.

Yeshua (Jesus), the Jewish rabbi from Nazareth, said:

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
(Matthew 6:14-15)

The principle that Yeshua espouses is based on God’s forgiveness.  If God can forgive us our sins, then we are obligated to forgive the sins of others.  Even if you could not find this in any of the rabbinic writings (and you can), it is still a sound deduction.

Forgiveness is a very Jewish concept.  God has forgiven us.  We must be willing to forgive others.  If we, who are created in God’s image cannot forgive, then He will not forgive us.  This is because our hearts are not right with Him.  If it were, we would forgive.

God forgives sins.  But he does so based on His standards.  That standard used to be based on repentance and our obedience in making sacrifices at the Temple.  It is now based on repentance and our obedience in accepting God’s sacrifice for sin – Yeshua (Jesus) on the cross.

Accept God’s forgiveness and you will find that forgiveness comes much more easily.

No one can deny the hateful things man does to man.  But God forgives, so shouldn’t we?

“Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.’ ”
(Matthew 18:21-22)

Contributed by Daniel Muller, General Director of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Biblical Interpretation, Daniel Muller, Jewish Tradition, Jews and Christianity, Knowing God, Personal Stories, Salvation, Talmud vs. Tanakh, The Bible, Things Doctrinal and Theological | 2 Comments »

Judaism, Jews and Idolatry

October 24th, 2011

“Son of man, these men have erected their idols in their hearts and placed the obstacle leading to their iniquity right before their faces. Should I really allow them to seek me?”
Ezekiel 14:3

When sharing the Gospel message that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah of Israel with a Jewish person, I sometimes ask this question: “If God could show you beyond a shadow of a doubt that Yeshua was the Messiah, would you accept and believe?”

You would be surprised to discover how many times the answer to that question is,”no.”  Why would that be?

In the verse above, God is speaking to Ezekiel because some of the elders of Israel have come to him.  God tells Ezekiel that, though these men do not worship graven images, they still have idols that they have set up in their hearts.

To God, anything that comes between us and God – anything that takes priority in our lives instead of God – is an idol.  This can take many forms – money, power, fame; even our family and our work can become idols in our lives.

Those who put Judaism before God, have made Judaism an idol.  That is what those people who answered “no” to my question have done.

Those who put tradition, before God, build those traditions into an idol.

Even Torah scrolls can be made into idols, if the scrolls take on greater importance than the expression of God that is contained within them.

God has clearly expressed himself in the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures) and in the B’rit Hadashah (New Testament) as One God, expressing Himself in three persons.  He has clearly proclaimed Himself to be Messiah and has clearly shown his ability to walk among us in the flesh, both in the Tanakh and the B’rit Hadashah.

If you don’t believe it, then let us help you.  Contact us and we can show you how this is so.

If you don’t want to believe it – whether because you feel you must defend the tradition of 2,000 years, or because you don’t want to leave the comfort of a good relationship with Jewish family and friends – then, perhaps, you have erected idols in your heart.

The great thing about our God is that he is always willing to forgive when we repent and come to Him in accordance with His Word.

Believing in Yeshua as Messiah is a Jewish thing to do.  It is Biblical.  It is following the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Don’t take my word for it, of course.  Check out the Tanakh and the B’rit Hadashah and find out for yourself if this is true.  Contact us, and we would be happy to send you a copy of both.

Yeshua said:

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

Contributed by Daniel Muller, General Director of New Covenant Forum.

 

Posted in Biblical Interpretation, Daniel Muller, Evangelism, Following God, Jesus and Jews, Jewish Identity, Jewish Objections to Jesus, Jewish Tradition, Jews and Jesus, Knowing God, Messiah, Messiah in the Tanach, New Covenant, Talmud vs. Tanakh, The Bible, This, That, The Other Thing | 2 Comments »

Yom Teruah is over!

September 30th, 2011

The Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) is over.  As Jewish people continue to celebrate Rosh Hoshannah (the “Jewish New Year”), the biblically mandated feast day of Yom Teruah, decreed by God in Leviticus 23:23-25, ended yesterday.  Which begs the question: where does the celebration of Rosh Hashannah come from?

In the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures), God makes it clear that the first of the year for the Jewish people was to be the first day of Nissan, the month during which Passover is celebrated.  “This month [meaning Nissan] shall be the beginning of months.  It shall be the first month of the year for you. (Exodus 12:2)”  Nowhere else in the Scriptures is there reference to a different New Year.

Only in the sophistry of the Talmudic sages do we find that the 1st of Tishre is one of four New Years:

There are four new years: the first day of Nisan is the new year for kings and festivals; the first day of Elul is the new year for tithing cattle.  R. Eleazar and R. Simeon say, “It is on the first day of Tishré.”  The first day of Tishré is the new year for the reckoning of years, for Sabbatical years, and for Jubilees, for planting [trees] and for vegetables; the first day of Shevat is the new year for trees, in accord with the opinion of the House of Shammai.  The House of Hillel say, “On the fifteenth day of that month [is the new year for trees]. (Rosh Hashannah 1a)”
(exerpted from Neusner, Jacob: The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary. Peabody, MA : Hendrickson Publishers, 2011, S. 6b:1)

The Bible says one thing – the rabbis say another.

The Bible has the authority of God, proclaimed by His deeds, witnessed by many and bourn out in the lives of countless others.  The authority of the rabbis is self-proclaimed, full of contention and surmises, very often contradicting the very Word of God they purport to expound.

The Tanakh proclaims the coming of one who would suffer for our sins, as Yeshua (Jesus) did (Isaiah 53), which was proclaimed by His deeds, witnessed by many and bourn out in the lives of countless others.  The rabbis deny this.

If you believe the word of the rabbis, you will continue to celebrate Rosh Hashannah and seek for atonement on Yom Kippur.  But will you receive it?  Will you have eternal life?  Can the rabbis promise you that?

If you believe the Word of God, you will believe in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ).  If you go on to celebrate Yom Kippur, you will do so knowing that atonement was made for you already and once and for all.  You will have the assurance of eternal life, as God has promised.

Who are you going to believe?

If you want to truly have Hag Sameach (a Joyful Festival),  then come know the simcha (joy) that is yours when you know the One who died to be your atonement.  Contact us so we can tell you more about how Yeshua (Jesus) fulfills the promises of the Tanakh.

Contributed by Daniel Muller, General Director of New Covenant Forum.

Posted in Atonement, Biblical Interpretation, Daniel Muller, Following God, Jesus and Jews, Jewish festivals, Jewish holidays, Jewish Tradition, Jews and Jesus, Knowing God, Messiah in the Tanach, Salvation, Talmud vs. Tanakh | No Comments »

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