• Fran

    When Jesus was on earth, his major focus of preaching was the good news of God’s kingdom (Daniel 2:44) or heavenly government (Matthew 4:17).

    He also taught that his kingdom is no part of this world (John 18:36), confirming that his rule would be from the heavens and not from a literal earthly site, such as Jerusalem.

    Jesus’ heavenly rule will be righteous, loving and just; and it will also put an end to all wicked ones on the planet (Isaiah 11:1-9; Psalm 37:10,11).

    As God promised Abraham, meek persons of all nations of the world will be blessed by the seed of Abraham, Jesus, the Messiah, son of God, and King of God’s kingdom (Matthew 1:1-16).

    There will also be no more sickness, disease, old age and death as a result of the upcoming millenial rule (Revelation 21:1-4) of that government and the ransom sacrifice of Jesus putting an end to inherited sin and imperfection.

  • Susan

    “many Christian Zionists really don’t understand Jews, or Judaism. They tend to think that Judaism ended with the last page of the “Old Testament.” They have no concept of rabbinic literature – Talmud, Midrash, etc.”

    You could really say the same thing for most Christians of any kind. The ignorance is staggering and at least in the past it was deliberate.

    I have to admit that I thought that most Christian Zionists did want to convert Jews. I need to do some more reading on this. I assumed that most Christian Zionists were conservative Evangelicals.

  • Susan

    “many Christian Zionists really don’t understand Jews, or Judaism. They tend to think that Judaism ended with the last page of the “Old Testament.” They have no concept of rabbinic literature – Talmud, Midrash, etc.”

    You could say that about 99% of Christians whether Zionist or not.

    I did think that Christian Zionists want to convert Jews. I have to admit, I may be wrong.

  • For American blacks, segregation was hell on earth.

    Please see the remarks of Ann Wortham (offered a generation ago) on the distinction between the Upper South and the Deep South. See also Ralph David Abernathy’s remarks on Southern living: the most galling aspect was not segregation per se, but the refusal of whites to use ordinary courtesy titles in addressing blacks.

    Stop and think about it. The worst aspect of life in the South was the corruption of law enforcement and the courts. The second was the condition of the schools generally, not merely parallel school systems (which would be really problematic only in areas without a critical mass of blacks). The third was state-enforced commercial law which imposed compliance costs on everyone and insulted blacks in particular. The fourth was negro disfranchisement. Segregated societies per se are not hell on Earth (and, no, the old South was not Hell on Earth, just all too far from God).

  • I love how I’ve been put on moderation by a claque of people who tolerate without trouble the head case who dumps a kitchen sink worth of out of context Bible quotes in every thread and the belligerent adolescent who also populates every thread insulting his elders.

  • Stephen Lewis

    Zionist Jews are happy with Evangelical Christians because they never question Israel’s illegitimacy and because of voting numbers they keep America’s pro-Israel lawmakers in office who then give Israelis what they want–money and more arms. All to protect the Zionist racist Crime Against Humanity that is the establishment of a European Yiddish Colony in the heart of Gentile Muslim Middle East. And on top of this moral outrage, Israeli Jews are inflicting Judaism’s racist core anti-Gentile ideology upon Palestinian Gentile Arabs. And I read in your blurb biography that you teach ethics! Ethics of what, mr. rabbi? When you don’t know what Torah means or where even the word comes from. all of you moral frauds leading Jews consistently into trouble with Gentiles because of the racist anti-Gentile core inherent in Judaism.

    I teach Celestial Torah Christianity which follows the true heavenly Torah while rabbis no nothing of this origin of their belief system. Stop promoting religious racism, rabbi, and learn the Job of the Jew, please!

  • Susan

    “many Christian Zionists really don’t understand Jews, or Judaism. They tend to think that Judaism ended with the last page of the “Old Testament.” They have no concept of rabbinic literature – Talmud, Midrash, etc.”

    That is true for most Christians not just Christian Zionists, including some religion reporters I have read on other sites.

  • DianN

    If this – “…Actually, no – conversion is not on their agenda….” – is true, then I seriously doubt that “Christian Zionists” are Christian at all. How can any Christian not want to see God’s Jewish brothers and sisters saved?

    “They believe that God has an eternal covenant with the Jewish people.”
    This is true; but this Covenant is currently open to both Jew and Gentile as the New Testament (Covenant) of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. I would encourage every non-Christian, Jewish or not (He loves Muslims, atheists, Hindus and Buddhists as much as the Jewish people), to read the Gospel of John and discover Jesus’ love for you. Please don’t let politics, land, or religion keep you from God’s love for us in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    “…As a Christian Zionist leader said…: “We’re not planting seeds [of conversion]; we’re just trying to break up the pavement.” What’s the “pavement?” It is the hardened relationship that has existed between Jews and Christians for two thousand years. Christian Zionists are ashamed of that terrible history. They want to do everything they can to heal it. Pushing for conversion would not be helpful, and they know it….”

    Actually, the “pavement” is the hard, rocky soil of people’s hearts (again, all unbelieving hearts, not just Jewish hearts). The soil must be plowed up, and it is plowed up for one reason (if we Christians are honest): So that the Seed of the Word of God, the Gopsel message of salvation through the blood of the Lamb, can be sown and take root in the hearers’ hearts.

    If any other Gospel is being being preached; or worse, if NO Gospel is being preached (on the assumption that Jewish men and women do not need to be saved because of God’s earlier Covenants with them), then those who are calling themselves Christians need to reread the entire book of Hebrews.

    The New Testament of the Lord Jesus Christ is better than the Old Testament, because Jesus is the fulfillment of these promises. Don’t surround yourself with mere PICTURES of the Messiah – EXPERIENCE the love God has for you through the risen JESUS, Who loves you, and gave Himself for you.

  • Susan

    “many Christian Zionists really don’t understand Jews, or Judaism. They tend to think that Judaism ended with the last page of the “Old Testament.” They have no concept of rabbinic literature – Talmud, Midrash”

    You could say the same thing about 99% of Christians whether Christian Zionists or not.

  • Sam

    Well said, Rabbi. It’s long past time to show appreciation and reciprocate with the friendship. In Denver a church called Faith Bible Chapel has done an Israel Awareness Day for over 30 years. We take our children to it. It’s unreservedly pro-Israel and more so than most events in the Jewish community.

  • Garson Abuita

    “When you don’t know what Torah means or where even the word comes from. all of you moral frauds leading Jews consistently into trouble”
    Stephen, as I’ve explained to you countless times by now and as Rabbi Salkin surely knows, Torah comes from Hebrew for teaching. Your claim that it comes from “Taurowet,” the Egyptian hippo river goddess, fails on many grounds, the most prominent of which is that there’s no such deity as “Taurowet.” Her name was Taweret. You switched the consonants and the phonic following the T to make it sound more like Torah. This means you’re either dyslexic, prone to typos, are unfamiliar with the English language, or are yourself the “moral fraud.” I think we know which one it is.

  • TJ

    I am shocked that anyone is shocked by evangelicals being evangelistic. Evangelical Christians want to convert everyone. . . and this includes Jews. Some Jews want Christians to discriminate against them by not sharing the Gospel. Hint: If evangelical Christians do not share the Gospel with you, then they are a peace with hell being your future. What kind of devilish hate does one have to have to wish another into hell? Please put yourself in their shoes. People who do not hear the Gospel cannot be saved. Unsaved people go to hell. Even a tiny amount of concern for ones neighbor pushes evangelicals to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The theology is not complicated and the results are predictable.

    I would also note that evangelical/Bible based Christianity has done much good for the world. People of this faith led the abolitionist movement to end slavery, manned the underground railroad, fought to reform the prison system, led the civil rights movement, etc. Today evangelicals fight for the lives of babies in their mother’s wombs, strive to end sex trafficking, and seek to protect the old from euthanasia. Crazy theology has produced a lot of good. Perhaps evangelicals are not crazy at all.

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  • DianN

    Susan, there is a Christian Dominionist movement that involves patriarchy and the proponents of this movement seem to be interested in political power. The shared bond of the Word of God (i.e., being a born-again believer) is not the preeminent factor of fellowship for Dominionists/Patriarchialists – people of any religious persuasion who vote Republican politically (the more “right wing” the better) are “in” and those who vote any other way are “out.” Grace, meekness, kindness, mercy, forgiveness – these are sissified crap. The divisions of male and female, slave and master, Jew and Greek, that the Gopsel of the Lord Jesus Christ ripped to shreds when He opened the Way of salvation to all people, are reinstated by Dominionists – the women are less than the men (and are, in some patriocentric households, not given an education, and married off even when they do not want to be or are very young), today’s slave is a servant of his employer (I have heard this preached ) and, in spite of the witness of John, Peter, Nathanael, Philip, James, Paul, etc, the Jews don’t really need the Gospel after all…
    This is why it was so appropriate for Boehner to “stick it” to President Obama by having Prime Minister Netanyahu come over to speak to Congress. It panders to the (especially ultra-right-wing) people who consider themselves Christians not necessarily because they have voted for Christ at some point in their lives, but because they have been born in America and are Republican.
    The sad part of it is that we believers miss out on that which we are expressly on this earth to do: live joyfully as ambassadors of a Kingdom not of this world, for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus cares about every single Israeli, and every Iranian. We as Christians may empower Israeli right-wingers, but God will take into account every precious life in Gaza that has been mowed down (and if you are Muslim and reading this, be very aware that He sees your oppressions and bigotries, too). The Israelis won’t get a free pass into heaven because they are Jewish by birth, no sir. Every person must choose Christ, and this is why it is so heinous that so many of us Christians have decided not to go into all the world with our wonderful Word of Truth. Because when all is said and done, the first birth does not matter nearly so much as the second birth, where God Himself becomes our Heavenly Father.

  • DianN

    First of all, Stephen, I do not think of Israel as an “illegitimate” state. According to the Holy Bible, the land was ceded to the Jewish people, for time and eternity. Of course, if you disregard the text of the Bible (as you do), the state of Israel STILL is legitimate – the governing authority at the time of its founding gave it that legitimacy. You may disagree with Great Britain’s political grant – but that doesn’t negate the fact that Britain had the authority over that particular parcel of land, and did with it what they pleased.
    As to your derogatory “European Yiddish colony” remark – please spare me. Those European Jews would gladly have gone to European universities (like, say, EINSTEIN) but the fact is, their travel to Israel not transpire out of nothing – a genocide had been going on in Europe, after all. Or perhaps you have a revisionist history you would like to share? But even prior to the influx of European Jewry, generations of Jews had lived in Palestine.
    As to the rest of your race-baiting, anti-Jewish doggerel, all I can say is, if your post above is the fruit of your “celestial Torah,” then you are surely part of, or running, a kooky cult.

  • DianN

    “Unreservedly” pro-Israel? Like, it doesn’t matter to you if the right wingers of Israel helped thousands get massacred in Sabra and Shatilla? It makes no difference to you if families are obliterated by bombs (over 2,000 civilians in Gaza)? You are okay with land that has been in the hands of a Palestinian family for decades to get summarily pulled out from under them, with the homes of the Palestinians bulldozed down?
    Sam – I love Israel and the Israelis, too. But how would you feel if a government deeming itself Christian came and bulldozed YOUR home and family? Would you feel better about it if I told you a Bible-believing church was going to be built upon your land, and that it’s all justified because, after all, God owns the cattle on a thousand hills…He created the world and so it’s perfectly right for His people to remove your family.
    You would feel nothing but gratitude, I am sure.

  • Like, it doesn’t matter to you if the right wingers of Israel helped thousands get massacred in Sabra and Shatilla?

    1. They did not, and David Halevy and Time magazine received adverse judgment in a libel suit claiming they did.

    2. There were no ‘thousands’ massacred. Several hundred.

    3. The Lebanese civil war was horrendously violent and it is doubtful that there were any participants who had to many scruples about massacring their enemies, including and especially the P.L.O.

    And, of course, nearly all advocates of the Arab cause are deeply conflused about what the actual aims of Arab parties in the West Bank and Gaza are or are in favor of mass murder of Jews.

  • But how would you feel if a government deeming itself Christian came and bulldozed YOUR home and family?

    Keep your sons out of organized crime, and you too can go unmolested.

  • It panders to the (especially ultra-right-wing) people who consider themselves Christians not necessarily because they have voted for Christ at some point in their lives, but because they have been born in America and are Republican.

    You’re welcome to your imagination ma’am. It’s silly to assume anyone is motivated by its issue.

  • DianN

    1. “Following a four-month investigation, on 8 February 1983, the [Israeli] Kahan Commission submitted its report, which was released to the public by spokesman Bezalel Gordon simultaneously in Hebrew and English. It concluded that direct responsibility rested with the Gemayel Phalangists led by Fadi Frem, and that no Israelis were deemed directly responsible, although Israel was held to be indirectly responsible.”

    2. This is the conclusion of an independent Israeli commission specifically formed to investigate how a MINIMUM of 750 CIVILIANS were massacred while under the protection of the IDF. As many as 3,500 COULD HAVE been massacred. 750 human beings is the bare minimum number that were massacred DEFINITELY.

    3. Let me follow your math: PLO x 0 scruples + Phalangists x 0 scruples + dozens of other militias – scruples = justification of Israel’s lack of scruples. Sorry. Two (or twenty) wrongs don’t make a right.

    I do not know if by your last remark you are insinuating that I am advocating for the “Arab cause.” Rest assured I am not. I am not “conflused” (whatever THAT means) and I have no illusions about SOME Arabs’ intentions toward Israel. My “conflusion” seems to be that I also have no illusions about SOME Israelis’ intentions towards Arabs.

  • DianN

    Stand up for the oppressed, Art. Don’t justify oppression. Don’t do it for the Arabs, don’t do it for the Israelis, don’t do it for any one and/or any country. Consider Martin Niemoller’s poem:

    “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

  • DianN

    Art, if you have “Christian Zionists,” you automatically have people motivated by this issue. What I am saying is that some sects that deem themselves “Christian” support Israel wholeheartedly. But they are not – in theology, or in practice – actually Christian. These are people who may be cultural Christians – and American culture (correctly) supports Israel’s right to exist. They may be born into a belief structure that – like Islam – assumes that because they were born into that particular religious system, they are automatically a Christian. I have actually heard a preacher say that church members who vote Democrat, may not be “real” Christians after all. (Another variation: “How can anyone who believes in Jesus vote for Obama?”). (Another variation: “Obama isn’t a real Christian.”). Well, I could go on and on, Art, but you get my point. Voting Republican – not placing one’s faith in Christ – is the litmus test used by many.

  • Steve

    Excellent comment, TJ. I am curious about DianN’s proposal about the relationship between republicans, Christian Zionists, evangelicals, and unconditional supporters of Israel. I probably misunderstood, but it seemed to me that some of these statements reflect unhelpful stereotyping and little more. Perhaps you could help me understand, if I am mistaken. Finally, there have been several statements that few evangelicals understand anything about Judaism. As an evangelical who has taught Bible study classes for almost 40 years, I have to disagree. Everyone who was ever in any of my classes learned at least some of the basics of Judaism. Of course, it would be very difficult to teach the Old Testament so that modern Christians could make any sense of it without providing some information about the political, social, and religious (Jewish) context. It might surprise you that many of us do not take dogmatic positions on specific biblical prophecies regarding Israel and some of us are not even sure that the modern secular state of Israel is the entity to which some prophecies refer. The scripture is simply not specific enough or detailed enough to be sure. However, I think most of us would agree with Ralph Reed that the Bible is quite clear that it is better to be a supporter of Israel than not. This does not mean that the evangelicals I know condone brutality by the Israelis. In fact, if the Palestinians took a cue from Martin Luther King and used only peaceful means to gain the world’s attention to their grievances, I suspect most evangelical Christians would be interested in putting pressure on Israel to address them.

  • DianN

    But, Steve – wouldn’t have been even better if the people of the U.S. had done what was right by the Black community, so that they didn’t have to resort to “only peaceful means”? Should not the Israelis, especially with their suffering history under oppressors in many, many countries, and their Tanakh to guide them, do what is right, simply because they know better, and it honors God?

    Many of the Evangelicals I know (I am a born- again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ) not only condone Israeli cruelty, they condone American cruelty (justification of nuclear bombs, torture of POWs, glorification of American Sniper, etc).

  • Steve

    DianN, you said “wouldn’t have been even better if the people of the U.S. had done what was right by the Black community, so that they didn’t have to resort to only peaceful means” -Of course, we should have done what was right with regard to African Americans without them having to resort to demonstrations and other peaceful protests. However, the situation in Israel is complicated by the fact that the Palestinians (or groups supported by them) pose an existential threat to Israel. The interviews I have seen and read with Israelis indicate that they believe they are doing as much “right” as they can that is consistent with the survival of their state. I do not necessarily agree with that position and have never really understood Israel’s insistence on continuing to build new settlements. However, my understanding (which admittedly is probably incomplete) is that most of the “oppressive” policies adopted by Israel have legitimate security concerns as a basis. I think the contrast between Israel and their enemies with regard to initiating military action and with regard to avoiding targeting civilians (as opposed to purposely targeting civilians, as their enemies do) is sharp and justifies support for Israel. Living in close proximity with people who support groups who openly seek eradication of your state would have a profound impact on most people’s attitude regarding their neighbors. I would prefer to see Israel take a more compassionate approach, but I have to admit that my first thought toward Al Qaeda after 9/11 was not compassion. In fact, there is a danger that excusing terrorism because terrorists have some legitimate grievances serves to prolong and support terrorism. Thus, I think it would be right and useful for Israel to be more compassionate, but I understand Israel’s reluctance to make concessions while violence against them continues.

  • Fran


    Jesus was very expressive of the Jewish nation’s rejection of him as the Messiah when he was on earth (Matthew 23:37-39), and it still continues in our day.

    Jesus is the King of God’s kingdom or heavenly government (Daniel 2:44; Matthew 4:17), which will soon put an end to all human governments and Jesus will exercise his millennial rule over all meek mankind on earth (Isaiah 11:1-9). Will the Jewish nation graciously accept his rule then?

  • Susan

    DianN, Jews don’t believe that being born Jewish is enough to get you into heaven. Being a good person is enough to get you into heaven whether you are Jewish or not.

    Judaism is not an “Old Testament” religion. I put that in quotes, because Jews never use that term. It is a Rabbinic religion. Judaism continued to be a growing and vital religion after Jesus’s birth and death. If you know nothing of Talmud or Midrash you know nothing about Judaism.

    TJ, Christians have oppressed and persecuted Jews for centuries. They have forcibly converted Jews to Christianity and then killed them when they practiced Judaism is secrecy. Christians should stop trying to convert Jews. It is wrong and offensive. You can at least leave us alone.

    If I can admit that Jesus is a valid way to God for even though I don’t believe, why can’t you admit that there there are other ways to God without Jesus?

    I am aware of God’s love, but I don’t think that I need Jesus’s love as well.

  • Susan

    Every attempt to convert a Jew is an attempt to reduce the number of Jews. if those calling to convert Jews had their way, there wouldn’t be a single Jew on the planet. I call that at least an attempt at spiritual genocide. They think they can “love” us out of existence.

  • Jack

    Very good article as usual, Rabbi. And we are agreed on your last point as well. I make the same point when the subject arises.

  • Jack

    DianN, you’re correct about the problem of Dominionism, but like the Red-baiters of the past century, you tend to see a Dominionist under every bed and attribute every political outcome you find disagreeable to their influence.

    The vast majority of evangelicals, including Christian Zionists, are not dominionists.

  • Jack

    Susan, to be fair (rule #1 in discussions is to be fair), you don’t exactly sound like a font of knowledge about Christianity, either, especially evangelical Christianity.

    But that’s because of the wall between both religions that has existed for the better part of 20 centuries. Neither side really knows enough about what the other side actually believes.

    But with the ubiquity of the Internet, that’s a problem that can be easily remedied on both sides.

  • Jack

    Both Jews and Christians have the Hebrew Bible in common, so both know something about the Five Books, the Prophets, and the Writings.

    What each side knows next to nothing about are the books that distinguish one from the other. Thus Christians are largely ignorant of the rabbinic writings and Jews are largely ignorant of the New Testament writings.

  • Jack

    DianN, you’re doing exactly the same thing you’re accusing other Christians of doing — establishing a political test for who is a Christian. You’re saying that if a Christian sect’s theology is pro-Zionist, it cannot be Christian. That is a political test if ever there was one.

  • Jack

    Stephen, I suspect none of us have met Rabbi Salkin, but I also suspect that most of us, if we met him, would conclude that he was a decent, humane, and ethical man. You really have to be blinded by ideology not to see what’s pretty obvious from his tone, tenor, and general fair-mindedness. When I see that in anyone, it really makes disagreements on issues matter less. How we treat other people is the ultimate litmus test for who’s who and what’s what.

  • Jack

    DianN, you are confusing covenants — the individual covenant that God offers to every person in the world, Jew and Gentile alike, versus the corporate covenant that God made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants.

    These are two separate covenants…and no Christian Zionist will deny that.

    Obviously it’s true that simply being born Jewish doesn’t make one automatically right with God. Ask any Jewish person and they will affirm that. No Jew will tell you that if you go out and rob or cheat or kill someone, God is fine with that if you happen to be Jewish. Both Christianity and Judaism teach that it’s our response to God and our fellow human beings in this life that evidences who we, Jews and Gentiles alike, are truly about.

    Both observant Jews and Christian Zionists affirm two covenants. They agree that one of them is the eternal covenant between God and the Jews as a people. They disagree, as Christians and Jews do, on what the second covenant is about. Jews say it’s Sinai; Christians say it’s Calvary. Some Christian Zionists may say that responding to Sinai could be enough….but again, both Christian Zionists and Jews believe that each individual is ultimately accountable to God as an individual…..that’s where they definitively agree. Neither is saying that simply being born Jewish gives one an automatic ticket to Paradise.

    I hope that clears things up.

  • Jack

    DianN, you are caricaturing both Christian Zionism and the actions of Israel. Before regurgitating every bit of propaganda or out-of-context assertion you hear, read both sides. Since you’ve obviously read the Palestinian side, isn’t it time you heard the Israel side?

    I would recommend you read Myths and Facts on the Middle East. Yes, it’s pro-Israel, clearly so, but for someone whose mind is filled with pro-Palestinian propaganda, you could benefit from reading actual facts that favor Israel’s side.

    Apart from that book, the big picture is that most Palestinians want Israel dead. I wish that weren’t so, but the events of the past and the rhetoric of the present are proof-positive. For the better part of a century, Israel’s neighbors have opposed an Israel of any size. Check out any map and compare the land mass of Israel versus her neighbors and you will see just how uncompromising they have been.

    You are trying to separate the Israel/Palestinian conflict from the continued refusal to recognize the existence of a Jewish state of any size, no matter how small.

    The trouble is, you can’t….and it is dishonest to try.

  • Jack

    DianN, Art Deco answered you and you blew right past his answer.

  • Jack

    Generally a good post, Steve, but you’re assuming that the dominant Palestinian narrative of what is happening has sufficient grounding in reality. You need to hear from other voices among Palestinians, especially those who have left the area and are free to tell the world what’s really going on without fear of retaliation from Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, or other hostile forces.

    What you’re missing is the fact that the day Palestinian leadership took on the thinking and actions of Martin Luther King — and the day that the Palestinian populace would embrace such thoughts and actions — is the day that the end of the Israel/Palestinian conflict would be at hand. That kind of leadership would not want Israel dead. It would desire to live side by side in peace with Israel. And the moment that happened would be the moment that Israel would give them their state.

    So you’re unwittingly making Israel’s point. Once a Martin Luther King and like-minded followers would emerge, you wouldn’t have to pressure Israel. That very emergence would end the conflict and bring peace.

    In short, Israel isn’t the problem in the final analysis. The problem is the Palestinians who refuse to take a King-like position toward Israel’s very existence.

  • Jack

    DianN, you’re assuming that Steve’s “King” analogy puts the Israelis in the position of the pro-segregation Jim Crow South. That’s utter nonsense. In Israel’s case, the context is nearly a century of Arab rejection of a Jewish state of any size, no matter how miniscule. In the case of Jim Crow, it was what it was….the horrible sequel to the horrible story of chattel slavery.

    The context of Jim Crow was slavery. The context for the Israel/Palestine conflict was the desire to wipe tiny Israel off the map and to drive every Jew in Israel into the Mediterranean.

  • Jack

    That sounds reasonable, Steve, but in the end, if we can’t come up with anything tangible regarding how Israel can behave differently without endangering her security, then what sounds reasonable at first glance comes close to pointless moral preening in the end — at Israel’s expense, ultimately. That may not be what you intend, but in the end, I don’t see what Israel is supposed to do that it hasn’t already done in terms of acting as humanely as possible given very real security and even existential concerns.

  • Jack

    No, TJ, evangelicals are not “crazy,” but are taking the Bible as is. Praise God for that.

    The problem, though, is that while evangelicals have rightly recovered original Biblical doctrines which had been buried for millennia in Europe under layers of human tradition, there remains the historical problem of the dejudaizing of Christianity and ultimately of Jesus for the better part of 20 centuries, making the faith and ultimately Jesus unrecognizable to the Jews.

    The result is that when the Gospel is shared with individuals who happen to be Jews, it comes across as utterly foreign. So when Jews say no to something whose externals have been stripped of anything familiar, you really have to ask yourself what is being rejected….and you also have to ask what God is thinking as He watches it happening.

    To put it is bluntly, God is not an idiot. He knows not only who in reality is accepting and who is rejecting His revelation, but why they are doing so and under what conditions they might not do so.

    I am not saying that simply by being born Jewish, one is automatically right with God. Nobody is saying that. What I am saying is that the opposite is probably false as well. Someone who appears to be rejecting Jesus may in fact be rejecting mere words and what those words mean to them as opposed to the actual meaning or person or revelation behind the words. Only God knows what’s really happening in the person’s heart. Only God knows when a yes is really a yes or a no truly a no. And that’s true of every human being, Gentile or Jew.

    One more point. Correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that until modern times, Christianity and Judaism were not just separate religions — but connoted two entirely separate, mutually exclusive physical communities. If you were a Jew and one day became convinced that Jesus was your Messiah, both communities expected you to pack your bags, physically leave the Jewish community, and physically join the Christian community. Society left no other option.

    Moreover, the Christian community for many centuries required Jews doing so to renounce every Jewish custom, tradition, and law, including dietary laws. If you refused to eat pork, for example, your “conversion” was suspect.

    So even though the original Christians were all observant Jews and in fact lived as Jews until well into the 2nd century, once church and synagogue became two separate entities in the centuries that followed, that door was shut tightly until modern times.

    The point is that this whole issue is more complicated than you realize.

  • DianN

    Actually, my belief is that if one has trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, then that person is saved. This of necessity includes evry political persuasion.
    Faith in Christ is what matters.

    I hope the Doninionists, with their pro-confederate, antebellum mores and their desire to fashion the U.S. into a Old Testament theocracy (stonings and all), are as few as you like to think. May their numbers dwindle into total insignificance – and stay small evermore.

  • DianN

    Jack – there are not two Covenants. There is one covenant – that of the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son. In the Old Testament, there are pictures of Him everywhere – He is the promised Seed of the Woman; He is the Lamb Whose blood MUST be applied by faith on the doorposts of our hearts (“Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” Jesus says) if we are to be saved from death; He is our faithful High Priest, Who makes intercession for us; He is the One Who was numbered among the sinners, taking the sins of the world upon Himself; He Fullfilled the Law, and His righteousness is given to us when we trust in Him…I could go on, but will stop here by saying that not only in the Torah, but in the histories, the writings, and the prophecies, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh. And just like it would be foolish of me to kiss a picture of my husband instead of him if he were puckered up and standing before me, so it is pointless, and in fact, an insult, to insist on staying with the mere portrait of Christ when one can know Him experientially, personally, in relationship.
    Affirming two covenants is exactly where Christian Zionists tend to err and in their error they do not share the Gospel message with God’s Jewish family.

  • DianN

    The context doesn’t matter. If it is oppression, it is oppression. If the Jewish right-wing leadership vaporizes hundreds of Gazan women and children out of existence, it is wrong, just like the U.S. torture of POWs was wrong, even though supposedly done for to save the U.S.
    You cannot scream that others are evil and justify perpetrating evil upon them. The Law says, “An eye for an eye,” but Jesus says, “Pull that log out of your eye before you go after the splinter in someone else’s eye.”

    As for Christian Zionism, all I can tell you is that Ronald Reagan, against the advice of close cabinet members, sold AWACS to Saudi Arabia. Later we are surprised that Saudi Arabian men know American planes so well that they are able to plow them into buildings, killing thousands. George Bush’s VP, Cheney, also happens to have a profitable stake in Haliburton, one of the hugest businesses used for supplied in our Iraq wars. We won’t let diplomacy have a chance with Iran – why? Because we are truly pro-Israel, or because we like our gas cheap, and the only way to keep OPEC from really gouging us is to make darn sure we have a militarily friendly nation available.

    As for your Jim Crow analogy, Israelis themselves will tell you that it exists in Israel, with the Arab population being second class in every conceivable way. Some Israelis, like Rafael Eitan, a military hero and founder, made no bones about how this was good. Many Palestinians will also tell you that Jim Crow is real. Some of them justify it, too. But we Americans have no excuse. If we know that people are being oppressed, we need to stand up for them, Israeli or Palestinian.

  • DianN

    Thank you for this very thoughtful response, Steve. I would like to hone in one one comment in particular: “I do not necessarily agree with that position and have never really understood Israel’s insistence on continuing to build new settlements.” I would like to focus in on it, because it crystallizes the Israeli-Palestinian-Christain Zionist dilemma.

    One of the main platforms of Prime Minister Netanyahu has been to build more settlements. President Obama has been firm about how settlement building has not been helpful in the creation of a diplomatic solution with Palestinians. He didn’t conclude this himself; many have seen the settlements as a stumbling block in negotiations. But Netanyahu persists in permitting them, and Christian Zionists are almost completely agreed that it doesn’t matter if Palestinians are forcibly removed and their homes are bulldozed, because God has given the land to the Jewish people eternally. Needless to say, the settlements not only upset the entire Palestinian populace, they actually goad a world that is usually on the underdog’s side, into sympathizing with the Palestinians. Meanwhile, a population (Arabs) who could and should be reached with the Gospel of Christ, see Christian Zionists unreservedly support Israel, and become further entrenched in their (often, but not always) Muslim faith. Then Prime Minister Netanyahu comes over here at the invitation of right-wing Republicans (who, believe me, have their eyes on 2016, oil (Bush was an oilman, remember?), and the military-industrial complex, NOT whether oppression should cease (this is the political group that tortured POWs, some of them to death, right?).

    Now, having said that, I agree with you. I am pro-Israel, not only because I see Israel as valid Biblically, but because I see Israel as valid politically.

    My faith rests in Christ, and He said, “Love Me, and love others.” This includes both Israeli and Arab. If that makes me simply a Christian, instead of a Christian Zionist, then as long as Christ is glorified, that is all that matters.

  • DianN

    Hi, Susan; thank you for your honesty. I hope that what I have to say will bless you.
    I do know a bit about Judaism. Without going into too much detail, I will relate that my Mom told me we were Jewish, and this impacted my life and studies in a deep way. My family was poor, and I was in foster homes for a time. It was in one of these homes that I heard the Message of Jesus and recieved Him as my Lord and Savior. My youthful conversion was not exactly accepted by my family (I am happy, however, to report that my mother later accepted Christ. I am still praying for the rest of my family).

    Before I continue, I would like to define what I mean when I use the term “heaven.” Heaven is not simply a real, eternal place, it is a Person. Heaven is being at peace with God, experiencing His love in such a way that you could never, not if you lived a million years, think that there is another way to heaven.
    So let me clarify that.

    You wrote, “[Judaism] is a Rabbinic religion.” I am in absolute agreement with you on that one. The greatest Rabbi Who ever lived was a Jew named Jesus. He puts every other Rabbi to shame. You ask (I’m paraphrasing) ‘If I can see that Jesus is a valid way to heaven, why can’t you see there are other ways to heaven?’ The reason Christians cannot do this, can’t intellectually defend that Jesus is a valid way to heaven and accept other ways at the same time, is because Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: No one comes to the Father, except through Me.”
    That’s a concise statement that deserves to be unpacked. In it, Jesus is saying that He is the way. To what? To heaven. He says also that He is the truth. You can take Him at His Word, because He will never lie to you. You’ve lied; I’ve lied. I bet every human being over the age of five has lied. But Jesus never did. He is truth itself. He also says He is the life. When you -perhaps as a child, maybe as an adult – told a lie, you sinned against God. And it is just this sin that Jesus came to cleanse us from. You know from the Torah that there were sin offerings – lambs, goats, pigeons, bulls – all kinds of blood had to be spilled on the altar for God to be able to accept His people. If one refused to bring the required sacrifice, that person was cut off – good as dead – from God. If a person could keep the Law, surely a person would be saved by the Law. But all the Law really does, is show us that we are as good as dead before God. Right? The Law says, “Don’t covet.” Well, have you ever wanted something that wasn’t yours? What about when the Law says not to take God’s Name in vain? Or what about stealing? All of us like sheep have gone our own ways. We have no way to save ourselves – But our Heavenly Father has provided the way in Jesus.

    In Isaiah 53 (Nevi’im) puts it this way: “The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him— our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And GOD has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him.

    He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off— and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he’d never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn’t true.

    Still, it’s what GOD had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life. And GOD ’s plan will deeply prosper through him. Out of that terrible travail of soul, he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it. Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many “righteous ones,” as he himself carries the burden of their sins. Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly— the best of everything, the highest honors— Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest. He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep.”

    You wrote in an earlier post that to cause a Jew to convert was a kind of spiritual genocide. It is actually the opposite: when a Jew trusts in the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, s/he finds Spiritual life – an abundant, eternal life.

  • Garson Abuita

    DianN, I don’t mean to impugn you but we’re not interested. We weren’t interested in the 30s CE, we haven’t been interested in the 1,980+ years since then, and we’re not interested today. Do you really think saying Jesus put all other rabbis to shame is helping your cause?
    The Christian religious concepts in your post are fine, but that’s what they are: Christian. There is no Torah precept that only blood sacrifice can achieve atonement. There is no Torah concept that adherence to the mitzvot cannot lead a person to the World to Come. There is no Torah precept that sin creates a gap between man and God so wide that only a human-God intercessor can bridge it. And the very, very short Jewish response to Isaiah 53 is that it refers to the people of Israel as a whole and not Jesus.

  • DianN

    You are mistaken, Garson. The Tanakh is clear from the first man and woman that to disobey God is to die. And so they do, and so all of us will.
    The Tanakh is also clear that the father-son paradigm is,of primary importance to God. It is a concept that God totally wants us to catch. But then, what does “Seed of the woman” mean? It means that a woman will give birth to the Messiah, and He will be God the Son. By His sacrifice, we will be able to come before God as our Heavenly Father. Can you think of a picture in the Scriptures, of a father sacrificing His Son? What about a Scriptural picture of a brother sold into slavery who becomes ruler over the Gentiles? Or how about pictures relating how the firstborn in each family (Gentile or Jewish) are not nearly so important as the second born?
    We must be born again. Our first, physical birth, is important to God, but we enter this world with selfish, sinful, natures, and we, like Adam and Eve, choose to reject God and do that which He specifically tells us not to do. All have fallen short of God’s glory. God sent His Son to take our sins upon Him (“They shall look upon him whom they have peirced” is how Zechariah puts it) and by the power of God Jesus the Messiah of Jew and Gentile rose from the dead on the third day (sort of like Jonah was in the fish for three days).
    David writes, “The Lord said to my Lord, sit on My right hand, until I make your foes Your footstool.” Every Jewish person understands the Messiah is the Son of David. The question that must be answered is, “If David calls him Lord, how is he then his son?”
    Only Jesus Christ, Seed of the woman, with God as His Father, fits the bill for being both son of David, and Lord.
    Except the God-man, Jesus. We need the Savior.

  • Garson Abuita

    Your Christological interpretations of the creation story are completely foreign to Judaism. Yes, sin leads to death, but that doesn’t mean there is no recourse. The recourse is following the mitzvot, not a God-man. Just what God tells Cain before the murder of Abel: “if you do well, there is uplift.” And I have never understood how “seed of a woman” is supposed to equal Jesus or even the messiah in general.
    I understand the practice of using the OT to “prefigure” Jesus into the stories. It’s perfectly acceptable for you to do this — we call it aggadah or midrash and it’s very common — but it’s not a valid Jewish interpretation. By the way, why is it that when Christians interpret the OT for deeper meanings, it’s called “typology,” but when Jews do it we get called “Pharisees” or adhering to “traditions of men”? And once again, if you’re trying to say that “rav yaavod tzair” “the older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23) is supposed to mean that the Jewish people are destined to serve or be subordinate to Christians, do you think it’s helping your case? For Zechariah 12:10, see Isaiah 53, our understanding is the same.
    Speaking of Pharisees, you’ve restated Jesus’s supposed zinger to them in Matthew 22. Psalm 110:1, which you and Matthew quoted, in Hebrew is “N’oum YHWH ladoni” — “YHWH said to my lord” or “my master.” They’re not equivalent. Both Matthew and the Septuagint translated both as kyrios (if you ever had a reason to question the accuracy of the post-Pentateuch LXX…). Somehow, Christian Bibles didn’t have the same confusion about the meaning of adoni when it came to Eliezer talking about his lord Abraham (Gen. 24) or Jacob about his lord Esau (Gen. 32). That’s the question that must be answered.

  • Jack

    DianN, from every indicator, the dominionists are quite small in numbers, thankfully.

  • Jack

    Obviously, DianN, you read my saying there are two covenants and then failed to read the rest, because you misinterpreted my view on what that means and doesn’t mean. There is one covenant for individual salvation, and another covenant for the Jewish people as a people. Again, nobody, neither Jew nor Christian, believes that the “people” covenant means every Jew is right with God by virtue of that covenant, ie by virtue of simply being born Jewish.

  • Jack

    So you are calling Israel an apartheid state, which is part of the demonization process that people use to delegitimize Israel. And you are singling out Israel for delegitimizing in a way that you don’t do for other country.

    You have fulfilled Sharansky’s three-D litmus test for when anti-Zionism really is anti-Semitism.

    Either you are anti-Semitic and were probably raised that way or you have naively and unknowingly bought into ideas by others who are anti-Semitic. The fact that you’re coming at it from the left rather than the traditional anti-Semitic right doesn’t make it any less anti-Semitic in nature.

    You are going far beyond mere criticism of Israel’s policies and are embracing a view which denies the moral underpinnings for Israel’s very existence.

  • Jack

    DianN, you can call yourself pro-Israel all you like, but I see not a shred of evidence that you agree with Israel on much of anything, as you unreservedly buy into the Palestinian narrative of the conflict.

    There is nothing in your view that steps back and looks at the big picture — the fact that if the Palestinian leadership and their followers would accept Israel as a permanent neighbor, not a temporary aberration they will one day destroy, peace would come and they would have their state.

    In other words, missing from your anti-Israel view is nearly a century of Arab rejection of a Jewish state of any size. Turn that stubborn rejection into acceptance and the conflict is over. The Israeli people have proven time and again their willingness to do nearly anything for peace….but the one thing they will not do is commit national suicide by rolling over for those who seek their extinction.

    As for Christian Zionists, you’re trotting out crude, sweeping stereotypes and you know it. Most Christian Zionists believe it’s Israel’s business how it handles land-for-peace issues…..but unlike you, they are very sympathetic to Israel’s security needs…and her determination to continue her existence even when a bigoted world refuses to understand.

  • Jack

    Garson, I would have to disagree with you on Isaiah 53, as previously. As I mentioned in another post, the idea that it refers to the people of Israel was far from the majority view, either among Jews or among Christians, for most of the past 20 centuries. Until a few hundred years ago, the overwhelming consensus among Jews and Christians alike was that it referred specifically to an individual….because that’s the plain and straightforward rendering. Obviously, Jews and Christians differed on who that individual could be. But they were largely on the same page that it refers to a person and not to the people….otherwise, the gist of it would be the people dying for the sins of the people, which is incoherent. And the view that the writer of Isaiah somehow is speaking suddenly in the voice of non-Jews is quite a stretch. There’s just no evidence to suggest that it may be the case.

    Again, this by itself doesn’t prove or disprove anything about Jesus. It simply makes the point that words have meaning and we should interpret them in accordance with the most plausible intent of the writer, not the perceived needs of the day.

  • Garson Abuita

    Jack, I’d like to know where you’re getting your numbers for a majority view, or timing as to the last few centuries. The “Israel” view can be found in the Babylonian Talmud as well as medieval Midrash, to name a few. Perhaps with the trend of missionary and counter-missionary groups, the claims have just gotten louder.

  • Jack

    Yes, Garson, my impression has been that both sides have a tendency to exaggerate in order to buttress their claims about what the chapter says and doesn’t say….and that even includes the way they characterize the history of rabbinical thought on the matter.

    The claim, for example, that nobody before Rashi ever said that 53 refers to Israel is demonstrably false, but so is the opposing claim that the idea that 53 refers to a person is concocted out of whole cloth from Christians with fertile imaginations. The latter can be refuted readily by the fact that when the Lubachiver Rebbe, Menachem Schneerson, died, some of his followers took out ads in newspapers quoting Isaiah 53 and applying it to him, since some of them believed he was the Messiah. For anyone who believes the Lubavichers got that idea from the Christians and not from Jewish sources, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell to that person.

    Maybe we could get more integrity all around if the stakes were lowered and both sides would realize that saying that 53 refers to a person or even a messianic person in no way proves by itself that Jesus is the Messiah. To argue otherwise is to argue in a circle.

  • Jack

    Susan, you’re speaking, quite naturally, like someone 20 centuries removed from first-century Israel. Today, 20 centuries later, what we call Christianity and Judaism are two separate and distinct religions, as they have been for at least 18 of those centuries.

    From that perspective, to become one necessarily precludes becoming the other.

    But from a first-century Jewish perspective, it wasn’t so.

    The generation that lived during the time of Jesus and his first followers saw the dispute between him and his foes as an “all-in-the-family” argument…..a nasty one, yes, but a familial one nonetheless. It was an argument among Jews over whether a particular Jewish man was or was not the promised Messiah. His followers said yes, while the Jewish leadership of the time said no.

    At worst, members of the sect that arose from his life and teachings were considered heretics believing who bet on the wrong horse….choosing to believe in a fellow Jewish person who was not the messiah…..but at no point in that century was it considered a separate religion they or he had founded. At no point during that century was it considered contradictory to be a Jewish person while being a believer in this particular man as the messiah of the Jews.

    So…..from a post-church/synagogue split, yes, being one would preclude being the other….but from a first-century pre-split perspective, that is not the case.

    The best way to understand this today is to put it in the form of a hypothetical…a thought experiment.

    Let’s say you’re attending a synagogue today in 2015 and one day, everybody in the synagogue, from the rabbi and his wife and the president on down, gets a vision that you-know-who is the Messiah. Far fetched, obviously, but hang on….again, this is just a thought experiment.

    What do you think they will do? Shut down the synagogue and march over to First Baptist up the road and ask to become members? Somehow I can’t picture that.

    The more likely thing they would do was to sit down and figure out, apart from any church, what this all means. They would not magically stop being Jews. Their services likely would be the same as before, as would their observance of holidays and all the rest. They wouldn’t suddenly develop a strange craving for Spam or Velveeta cheese and name their kids Muffy and Buffy and Jock and sing Christmas carols and watch old Lawrence Welk reruns and divorce each other to marry Germans and Swedes.

    And years hence, I somehow doubt that their Sabbath services would look much different from what they were a week before they all had that vision.

    If they worked it all out among themselves, what they’d come up with would be the 21st century equivalent of the first-century Jewish apostles of Jesus. The only thing that would change would be the inside, not the outside. They would presumably believe in a messiah that didn’t abolish or annihilate anything they were doing previously as Jews, but, rather, would illuminate those things and give them even greater meaning than previously.

    Again, this is just one person’s thoughts, a thought experiment, really, but to argue that such people would magically become something they never were is a hard sell indeed.

  • DianN

    Hi, again, Garson –
    No one can be saved by their good works. I cannot emphasize this enough. No one will be saved by their good deeds. Everyone has fallen short of the glory of God. We all have sinned against God and we need His forgiveness. God can’t simply overlook that Cain killed Abel, Aaron fashioned a golden calf, David committed adultery, Ahab stole a vineyard, Isaiah was sawed in two. Sin must be atoned for, and we cannot do the atoning, for we have done the sinning! We are lost, unless God makes a way for us to be made right with Him. And this He did by sending His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    You wrote how you never understood about the Seed of the Woman, and how it relates to the Messiah. Here is how: women don’t have “seed”, men do. But the Messiah was not going to be born by a human father, but God Himself would be the Father of the Messiah. This miraculous birth happened when a young virgin named Miriam, gave birth to the Son of God.

    As for the Jewish people destined to be subservient to the Christians – not only have I never hinted at such a thought, I have never even heard of it before! The Scriptural repetition of the second born getting the blessings of the first born represents the born-again experience. If it is a wonderful thing to be born into our amazing human family, it is still greater to be born into God’s family as His child, loved forever and ever. In such a way we see that Eliezer was a faithful steward for Abarahm, beloved to be sure – but the heir was the son of the promise – Isaac. And we see that Jacob, in the flesh would defer to his elder brother, but as Israel, the friend of God, this secondborn son would prevail and inherit the greatest blessing possible – a physical forefather of the promised Son.

  • DianN

    Jack – thank you for your responses.

    If criticizing Israel’s unfair policies makes me “anti-Israel” in your eyes, then I know for sure I need to stay steady on my path.

    You see, Israel, much as I love her and her people, is not my guiding light. Fairness for Palestinians is not my aim. Praising the U.S. is not my purpose. Being praised in other’s eyes is not my ultimate goal.

    Jesus says, “Love your enemies. Do good to them. Bless those that curse you and treat you despicably.” I do understand His Message will fall on deaf ears (mine included) for the most part. But Jesus Himself said those words, so the two options I do not have, are 1. To ignore them, or 2. To act in direct opposition to them.

    I do understand that even most Christians recoil at the admonitions above. But I can’t help but wonder how much kinder would our world be if we only followed this humble Jewish Rabbi’s words…

    Perhaps you will be surprised to discover that many Israelis, living right in the midst of that country, most of them Jewish, are way more passionate than I am about the pursuit of peace with their neighbors.

    I am so grateful for their oasis of hope amidst the sands of political and spiritual insanity.

  • Garson Abuita

    DianN, sorry I misunderstood your reference to OT accounts of the second-born being more important than the first-born. Nevertheless, if you’re talking about a born-again experience, it’s just not in Judaism. Similarly, Judaism agrees that sin must be atoned for. We just believe that there are many ways to do so and we certainly believe that sinners can atone for their sins. The provision of an intercessor son of God is not one of those methods.

    Thanks for your explanation of the “seed of a woman” in Christian thought. I would point out that while the word used for seed, zarah (zayin-reish-ayin), does literally mean sperm, it is also used when a woman conceives. See, e.g., Leviticus 12:2 — “If a woman conceives (ki tazriah, same root as zarah) and gives birth to a male,” uncleanliness ensues. Once the sperm is inside the woman (sorry to be graphic), she “has seed.”

  • Garson Abuita

    Jack, I agree with you that just saying 53 refers to an individual doesn’t mean it refers to Jesus of Nazareth. Otherwise it wouldn’t be seen in Jewish sources post 1st century CE. I haven’t seen anything other than hearsay about Lubavitch saying that 53 referred to the Rebbe, though. But t wouldn’t surprise me if they did.

    My answer to your thought experiment with Susan kind of proves your overall point: I don’t think it would look like 1st century Christianity practiced by Jewish Christians who still kept all of the mitzvot. It would look more like 21st century Christianity, because of all that has transpired since. At the very least, you’d have the same split within Messianic Judaism you see right now, with some holding the mainstream Christian view that Jesus “fulfilled” the commandments, and others practicing an otherwise observant form of Judaism.

  • DianN

    Thank you for this follow up, Garson.

    Couple of points: the seed in the woman when she conceives is in the context of a sexual relationship with a man. But the “Seed of the woman” in the first book of the Torah is understood as being part from the man.

    I’m aware that Judaism teaches atonement, and the fact that in rabbinic tradition it was finally concluded that blood no longer needed to be placed upon the Mercy Seat in order for God to fellowship (be “at one”) with His people.

    However, the blood of the atonement was never deemed unnecessary by God Himself. This is why it’s of paramount importance to trust in the Lamb of God slain upon the cross to make atonement for all mankind.

    I disagree with you that born- again experiences are not pictured in the Tanach.
    From the ritual bathing to the second born inheriting what should have been the firstborn’s blessings to night being swallowed up by the dawn of each new day, it’s pictured.

    I appreciate the gentleness of spirit I see in your replies.

  • Garson Abuita

    Thank you and it is a pleasure to speak with you as well. About born-again experiences: ritual immersion has had many functions in Judaism. John the Baptist used it as a means of repentance — incidentally, exactly what I’m talking about. My understanding is that the Christian concept of being born again came post-John.

    In terms of atonement, the Torah itself, prophetic teachings on the subject, and rabbinic interpretation of the scriptures, all indicate that blood sacrifice is not necessary for atonement. It’s not for us a matter of God specifically stating it to be unnecessary. We know it’s unnecessary by looking at the entirety of the scriptures, and the oral law and tradition that followed, which for the Pharisees and for us is just as important as the Torah itself.

  • Jack

    Garson, thanks for your reply. I too wouldn’t have known about (some of) the Lubavitchers saying that 53 referred to Schneerson had I not seen the ads myself. I believe one of them was in the New York Times but I could be wrong on that. It was in at least one major newspaper that I saw it.

    Obviously, his followers were disappointed that he had died without fulfilling the rule-and-reign prophecies and expectations, so they needed to go back and come up with an answer as to why he hadn’t. My point was that it was far more likely that in interpreting 53 as referring to an individual, they were drawing that interpretation from Jewish sources than from Christian ones. I can’t imagine the Lubavitchers consciously borrowing from anything but Jewish sources, especially on something as big as interpreting their rebbe’s life and meaning. And if the belief that Isaiah 53 referred to an individual was an obscure aberration not just in modern times but historically, I don’t think they’d have gone with it.

    Regarding my thought experiment, I guess what I was saying in that hypothetical was that if the whole synagogue or a critical mass came to that common understanding as a group about Jesus as a group, there is no compelling reason to believe they’d be conducting their services or observances any differently than before. Nobody knows for sure, because it’s a hypothetical, but based on the way first-century Jews who came to a similar understanding apparently behaved, it’s a pretty good bet.

    As for today’s messianics, I think you’re correct about the split you’ve alluded to. From what I know about history, I’d say the ones who seem to tilt toward observance are closer to their first-century spiritual forebears, including even Paul, at least if we are to believe the findings of the “new thought” on Paul.

  • Jack

    DianN, you’re assuming that if a person has Jesus as their guiding light, they will have to believe the Palestinians are largely the victims, and Israelis the victimizers, in their conflict. You’re also assuming that if He is the guiding light, those who follow Him will all be liberal Democrats on American domestic issues.

    Those are quite remarkable assumptions to make. Regarding the Palestinians and Israelis, even a cursory look at history reveals major problems with what you are saying. Even Dennis Ross, an American negotiator at the 200 Camp David discussions about a Palestinian state, and himself a supporter of a Palestinian state long before 2000, said that at those discussions, the Palestinians absolutely blew an opportunity for a state that was being handed to them by the Israelis.

    The Jesus whom I call Lord says He is the way, the truth, and the life. To call Him Lord is to believe truth matters and that we need to follow truth wherever it leads. That is what I try to do on the Mideast conflict. I see undeniable truths such as what Dennis Ross reported about the 2000 talks and I conclude that the Palestinians just aren’t serious about accepting a Jewish state as a permanent fact on the ground.

    How believing in Jesus requires me to close my eyes and pretend none of this is real is frankly beyond me. For me at least, that is almost cultish thinking, if you can even call it thinking. And that is precisely the opposite of what the Gospel is about. Among other things, it’s about hard, adult truths that must be faced and dealt with. Yes, it is Good News, literally, wondrously good news, but first, in order to get there, you have to deal with the realities of human frailty and sin and other things that are not very pleasant. It is ultimately about a King and a Kingdom, but it is not the Magic Kingdom.

    In other words, for me at least, the Gospel starts with our facing hard truths about our world, beyond politics, and beyond our own politics. Thus I don’t see God as a Democrat or Republican….and so I don’t think Obama on the one hand or Reagan on the other are icons who can do no wrong. I don’t think that either side is absolutely good and the other absolutely evil…..it’s far more complex than that.

  • DianN

    Hi, Jack – I agree with this:
    “I don’t think that either side is absolutely good and the other absolutely evil…..it’s far more complex than that.”

    With respect to the rest of your post, I made zero assumptions about the Palestinians, Israelis, Democrats, Republicans, etc. Please do not assume that I have not voted Independent and/ Republican, or that my standing against Israeli oppression of necessity plants me in the Palestinian camp. Because actually, I am only 100% FOR Jesus. Strange as it may seem, to be for Jesus puts me both at odds and at peace (all at the same time) with both sides. God, in the Messiah, broke down the wall that separated Jew and Gentile. He wants me to love everyone, in His strength.

    I think Fran very much has the right idea when she reminds us that God’s Kingdom is not of this world. As a Christian, my mind should be set on those things which are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. This is not “Magic Kingdom” thinking; to the contrary – every other way of thinking is goofy. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist a Disney pun 😉 ).

  • DianN

    If the New Covenant (the 27 books of the New Testament) are left out, then the “entirety” of Scriptures is not being looked at.

    Jesus’ greatest “sin” in the eyes of the religious leaders of His time, was that He stayed true to the Tanakh. He didn’t go to other rabbis’ interpretations – as God the Son, He knew what He was talking about, without their input. In point of fact, the leaders of Jesus’ day had so much room for their own stuff, that when God the Son healed a woman in the synagogue on the sabbath, they missed the healing – she was healed! – and accused Him of “breaking the sabbath.” When God the Son forgave a paralytic man of sin and told the man to get up and walk, which the man then did, the religious leaders asked, “Hey, who do you think you are, forgiving sins? That’s God’s job!” When the religious leaders brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus, their one question to Him was, “Moses says such should be stoned to death. What do YOU say?”

    Always trying to trip Him up, always straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel, seeing the minutiae but missing God’s love, rejecting His forgiveness and freedom, and sticking with their man-made legalisms and traditions.

    Jesus is the Light of the world. He will only get brighter as the day of His return to earth nears. My hope is that this world of Jew and Gentile, who the Lord loves so much that He laid down His life for, will turn to Him in repentance. He’s willing and ready to be every person’s Lord and Savior. All we need do, is ask Him to come into our hearts. He’s that good.

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  • Garson Abuita

    Of course I was referring by “scripture” to the Tanakh, the Jewish Scriptures. The New Testament does not have any effect on how we view anything.

    However the Gospels and the Church later chose to portray it, Jesus engaged with the Pharisees. You say that he stayed true to the Tanakh as though he rejected any oral law. In fact, he had his own view of the oral law. Just as an example, there’s no prohibition in the Torah on divorce other than for adultery. Jesus was in agreement with the interpretation of Shammai, another “Pharisee,” on this. The Pharisees were staying just as true to the Tanakh as Jesus did, they just had a different view of what it means. Disputations of the kind you quote have been the lifeblood of the Jewish people for 2,000 years.

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  • Glenn Klotz

    “What each side knows next to nothing about are the books that distinguish one from the other. Thus Christians are largely ignorant of the rabbinic writings and Jews are largely ignorant of the New Testament writings.” So true.

  • Glenn Klotz

    Thank You. Spare us their “love.” We see what it’s wrought these last 2 thousand yrs. for us.

  • DP

    I would really appreciate more discussion and insight, by Jews and non-Jews, on the relevance, or otherwise, of Genesis 12:3 to geopolitics.

    I can agree that “those who curse” refer to the perpetrators of the anti-Semitism recurrent throughout history, one that peaked in the form of the Holocaust. I can agree that “those who curse” refer to those who have uprooted the Jewish people into the exiles throughout history. G-d allotted the land to the Jewish people for their living and prosperity there.

    Yet I am unsure about the evangelical Xian claim that “those who curse” also refers to the sovereignty question. The right to simply live and prosper there is distinct from the sovereignty question. On a purely theological level, the sovereignty wasn’t an inalienable right in Enlightenment-to-modern terms, as G-d was quite fine with the Achaemenid / “Persian” occupation, the Caliphate occupation, the classical Ottoman occupation, etc.