In this post we continue our journey from non-belief through polytheism. The family of Abraham was also polytheists. From this Abraham heard a lone voice and brought monotheism to the family of humankind. Today the physical descendents of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob practice, to different degrees, Rabbinical Judaism. This is the Judaism that developed during the early Christian era. Yeshua (Jesus) was raised into a traditional Jewish family. As the Roman era initiated after the conquest of Palestine in 63 B.C. the Romans, through their general Pompey, slaughtered all of the Jewish priestly class. From this point forward the Romans appointed the Chief priest to administer Temple ritual. These appointments were usually made through another Jewish sect called the Sadducees. The Sadducees differed from the descendents of the Hasideans, who were the Pius Ones and observed the traditions of the Fathers, by only recognizing the first five books of the Tenakh as scripture. The Sadducees also did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. The Pharisees believed in the totality of the Jewish Bible but interpreted it through the prism of Jewish oral tradition.
Yeshua was raised as an observant Jew in Nazareth of Galilee which was a very modest Jewish community. Groups like the Pharisees were usually found in more affluent communities in Judea. This movement was initiated during Hasmonean rule after the time of Judah Maccabee in the 2nd century B.C. At that time the Hasidean movement which was initially with the Hasmoneans eventually came to be in opposition to the Hasmoneans who combined Jewish rule with administration of Jewish religious rituals. It was the practice of Rabbis, in Yeshua’s time, to educate then select Jewish pupils who excelled in study and memorization of the Torah and Tenakh. Yeshua differed from the Rabbis in his day by going out and selecting disciples who would have been rejected by the Rabbis. They were fisherman, tax collectors, zealots and the like. Yeshua spent most of his time teaching his Apostles. The religious leaders of his day could not accept him forgiving sins and his claims of being the Son of Man/God. Yeshua was condemned by the Sadducees, Pharisees and Scribes. The Sadducee Roman appointed High Priest Caiaphas turned Yeshua over to the Roman Governor Pilate who put Yeshua to death by scourging and crucifixion. Claims of His resurrection were never accepted by the Jewish religious leadership of the day. Persecution followed for Yeshua’s followers. During this period a graduate of Beth Midrash and one who was exposed to the wisdom of Rabbi Gamaliel, Saul of Tarsus, participated in this persecution. Soon thereafter Saul claimed to have encountered the risen Yeshua and began to preach Yeshua as the Messiah.
Saul became Paul at the time of his baptism in Damascus. Paul always followed the same pattern: in every city and town he entered, he first sought to teach in the synagogue[s] until he was called by the Holy Spirit to move on, or until he was thrown out [the latter was more common]. If he was thrown out of a synagogue, he would then preach to the Gentiles in that city or town. Paul’s pattern, which should be a pattern for the church even today, is “first to the Jew, then to the Gentile,” which indeed was Yeshua’s own pattern and what He called the disciples to do when He sent them out in Matt 10 [“I came to seek and to save the lost sheep of Israel,” as He told the Syro-Phoenician woman in Matthew 15].
After establishing many Churches in the Roman world Paul was beheaded through decree by Emperor Nero. A few years after Paul’s death, The Jerusalem Jews rebelled against Rome. Once Roman General Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple, biblical Judaism came to an end. Rabbinical Judaism developed over the next 400 years with the codification of the Mishnah and Gamarra into the Talmud. Eventually hostility from the mostly Gentile Christian Church ushered in an ugly period for the Jews which led to persecution, purges and slaughter. In the last 2000 years rabbis have taught Jews that the enormity of Jewish suffering at the hands of professed believers in Yeshua is proof that he is not the Messiah. To ensure compliance the Rabbis tell the Jewish people that they cannot be considered Jews if they accept Yeshua.
Today Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews interpret the Jewish Bible through what they define as Oral Torah which is the Talmud. Conservative Jews are less strict. The Reform and Revisionist Jews are most liberal focusing more on being Jewish than the establishment of a relationship with God. Most are not versed in the messianic prophesies. Today opposition to Yeshua as the Messiah determines if a person is Jewish as does his or her Jewish lineage. A hunger for the Jewish scriptures in order to learn the messianic prophesies and the intercession of the Holy Spirit is the only hope for the removal of these spiritual scales. As for Christians, be kind to Jews, be their friends, share God’s love with them and be ready to provide answers should they inquire about the blessed hope. I’ll provide an example below. What happens when a Jewish person dies?
Daniel 12:2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
The Jewish Bible tells us there will be a resurrection. Those who will have everlasting life will be wise and lead many to righteousness. Others will awake to shame and everlasting contempt. The term Multitudes does not just apply to Jewish people but everyone.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.
1 Kings 8:46 “When they sin against you–for there is no one who does not sin–and you become angry with them and give them over to their enemies, who take them captive to their own lands, far away or near;
2 Chronicles 6:36 “When they sin against you–for there is no one who does not sin–and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to a land far away or near;
Job 15:14 “What are mortals, that they could be pure, or those born of woman, that they could be righteous?
Job 33:12 “But I tell you, in this you are not right, for God is greater than any mortal.
Psalm 143:2 Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.
Proverbs 20:9 “Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?
It is clear according to the Tenakh that ALL of us are sinners. How then can we be considered among the righteous? Who then are the wise who lead many to righteousness? Are the righteous those who do good deeds?
Isaiah 64:6 “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”
According to the prophet Isaiah all of our Righteous deeds do not impress God. Since we have sinned we are unclean. Can the answer be found in Leviticus 16:34? It states, “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.” After reading the Torah one must ask where is the bull sin offering and the ram burnt offering as prescribed in Leviticus 16:3-5? Where is the goat slaughtered for the sin offering in Leviticus16:15? The Torah states, “For the life of a creature is in the blood; and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the alter; it is the blood that makes atonement for one life.” These words are found in Leviticus 17:11. Since Rabbinical Judaism observes Yom Kippur WITHOUT the shedding of blood how then can the sins of the Jewish people be redeemed? The Tenakh gives the answer and remedy.
Isaiah 53:6 “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on HIM the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:8 …For HE was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people HE was punished
Isaiah 53:11…my righteous servant will justify many, and HE will bear their iniquities.
Isaiah 53:12…For HE bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Who then is the focus of Isaiah chapter 53? Rabbinical Judaism states that the Jewish people are the focus of this chapter. How can they be the focus when it’s clear that all of us (Jews and Gentiles) are sinners? How can sinners justify other sinners? The Rabbis have taken upon themselves to redefine what constitutes atonement for the Jewish people. They have assumed an authority that was not bestowed on them in the Hebrew Scriptures. They have ensured, by replacing Biblical Judaism with Rabbinical Judaism, that Jewish people remain ignorant of the messianic scriptures. They have elevated the Talmud i.e. oral Torah above the written word of God. By instilling fear in the Jewish people that somehow they lose their Jewishness if they conclude that Yeshua is the offering spoken of in Isaiah’s prophesy, they prevent untold numbers of Jewish people from embracing their messiah and finding salvation through the remission of their sins. For these reasons Rabbinical Judaism cannot lead anyone to reconciliation with God. Yeshua remains the ONLY way in which ALL Jewish people can find salvation. For the Prophet Isaiah also states in 12:2; 17:10; 19:20; 33:2, 22; 43:3,11; 45:15,21; 49:26; 59:20; 60:16; 62:11; 63:8 that the Jewish people have a Savior. The Jewish people do not and cannot save themselves but they can be saved by allowing their Savior Yeshua to save them from their sins and thus be considered Wise as declared by the Prophet Daniel.
Rabbinical Judaism has a beef with Christianity. The Jews cannot be blamed for not recognizing the difference between Biblical and Counterfeit Christians. From the 4th Century to WWII they suffered at the hands of Counterfeit Christians. Before they were persecuted they persecuted the Jewish believers in Jesus and finally expelled them from the synagogue. They embrace rabbinical explanations of the Jewish Bible over Biblical explanations of the Jewish Bible. They do not promote investigation of the messianic prophesies for fear of losing their acceptance of other Jews. Rejection of Jesus’ messianic claims and self-identification as the Son of God are necessary qualifications for remaining Jewish. Life after death is not a primary concern for them.