Joe Butta and Steven Daskal
Christian Messianic Analysis and Apologetics
For the past 2000 years Rabbinic Jews and the followers of Jesus of Nazareth have failed to come to a common understanding concerning how to interpret the Tanakh or Jewish Bible. Rabbinic understanding is grounded in the following verse found in the Book of Deuteronomy:
6:4 “ Shema Yisrael, Adonai Elohaynu Adonai Echud” This can be translated as ‘Hear O Israel the Lord our God The Lord alone or The Lord our God is one Lord or Listen Israel YHVH is our God, YHVH is One’. It is understood that YHVH is God. Echud can be understood in the sense that Only YHVH is God. No other god is God. Also there is one God and it is YHVH Alone.
After Israel was punished for persistent idolatry in the Book of Judges and through the downfall of the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom between 722 and 586 B.C, the surviving remnant became strict monotheists. They understood YHVH as one God alone who created the angels, the universe and all life on earth. This belief was well established among the Jews, whether Sadducee, Pharisee, Essene, or even “Herodian” [collaborators with Rome who were effectively agnostic] by the time of Jesus’ birth. This helps to account for rabbinic revulsion when Jesus [Yeshua] began to challenge that understanding.
The first instance is recorded in Matthew 9:1-17, Mark 2:1-22 and Luke 5:17-39. Here Yeshua has compassion on a paralytic. When he noticed their faith he declared, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you’. The Scribes [Sadducees from the tribe of Levi who were the administrative support to the Sanhedrin and the Temple priesthood] and Pharisees immediately accused him of blasphemy. These Jewish leaders were on solid ground until Yeshua told the man to rise. The man got up immediately and walked home. As Yeshua said, “but to show that God has the power to heal…” This was the first challenge to rabbinic understanding of the nature of God. Then in Matthew 12:1-14, Mark 2:23-3:6, Luke 6:1-11 Yeshua challenged the Oral tradition by healing a withered hand in a synagogue during the Sabbath. The Pharisees and Herodians reacted angrily.
Then in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-17 Yeshua was approached by a Roman centurion who believed Yeshua could heal his sick servant. When Yeshua perceived his faith He offered to go with the centurion and heal his servant. The Centurion responded “Say the word and my servant will be healed.” Yeshua responded, 10 “Hearing this, Jesus was amazed and said to those following Him, ‘I assure you: I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith! 11 I tell you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 13 Then Jesus told the centurion, ‘Go. As you have believed, let it be done for you.’ And his servant was cured that very moment.”
With this encounter Yeshua made clear that God’s saving message was not just for Israel but for the nations [Gentiles]. He commends the faith of the Roman, stating he had not found this degree of faith in Israel. Then he tells the Jews that non-Jews who believe will be welcome with Abraham in the Kingdom of God while many sons of Abraham by descent will be on the outside looking in. Many of the Jews treated this as something new and radical, but notice what the Prophet Isaiah said repeatedly nearly 700 years earlier.
Isaiah 11:10 On that day the root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples. The nations will seek Him, and His resting place will be glorious.
Isaiah 42:1 “This is My Servant; I strengthen Him, this is My Chosen One; I delight in Him. I have put My Spirit on Him; He will bring justice to the nations.”
Isaiah 42:6 “I, Yahweh, have called You for a righteous purpose, and I will hold You by Your hand. I will keep You and appoint You to be a covenant for the people and a light to the nations….”
Isaiah 49:6 He says, “It is not enough for you to be My Servant raising up the tribes of Jacob and restoring the protected ones of Israel. I will also make you a light for the nations, to be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”
Isaiah 49:22 This is what the Lord God says: “Look, I will lift up My hand to the nations, and raise My banner to the peoples. They will bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters will be carried on their shoulders.”
Isaiah 51:4-5 “Pay attention to Me, My people, and listen to Me, My nation; for instruction will come from Me, and My justice for a light to the nations. I will bring it about quickly. My righteousness is near, My salvation appears, and My arms will bring justice to the nations. The coastlands will put their hope in Me, and they will look to My strength.”
Isaiah 52:10 The Lord has displayed His holy arm in the sight of all the nations; all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.
Isaiah 52:15 so He will sprinkle many nations. Kings will shut their mouths because of Him, For they will see what had not been told them, and they will understand what they had not heard.
Isaiah 56:7 “I will bring them to My holy mountain and let them rejoice in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar, for My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
Isaiah 60:3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your radiance.
Isaiah 61:11 For as the earth produces its growth, and as a garden enables what is sown to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
Isaiah 62:2 Nations will see your righteousness and all kings, your glory. You will be called by a new name that the Lord’s mouth will announce.
Here we learn that Gentile salvation was always part of God’s plan. Yet sadly even today the rabbis and the Orthodox Jewish community continue to have very little to do with Gentile Christians. These verses also disclose another important truth that points to the heart of biblical interpretation. In summarizing these citations from Isaiah we learn more about the nature of Israel’s God.
The Gentiles will seek a descendant of Jesse. The Gentiles will follow one who is in human form. This descendant of Jesse will be the Servant of God. This servant is the chosen Messiah in whom God delights. God, who is spirit will place His Spirit on God’s Servant. He will bring justice to the Gentiles. The Servant will do God’s will and establish a covenant with the Gentiles.
In Isaiah 49:6 God’s Servant is not just for the Gentiles but also for the people of Israel. Righteousness comes with the Servant who is salvation [Yeshua] to His people. His purpose is salvation– to save the people on the earth. This includes the gentiles who can accept the salvation of God’s Servant. The Servant considers Israel His people; He will lift up the people of Israel. He will instruct them and also be a Light to the Gentiles. Lands far away will be illuminated by him. In Isaiah 52:10 The Servant is the human likeness of the LORD God — YHVH. And His message of salvation will spread globally. He will cause the powerful to be convicted. His followers [Apostles] will see what they were never told and will understand what the rabbis never taught them. Through them the Gentiles will be drawn to God’s Servant.
From the rabbinical perspective God is one who did not, does not and will not become an incarnation. However, the fullness of the Scriptures alone discloses the full truth about the God of the Patriarchs and of David.
In Gen.3:8 the human attribute of “the Lord God walking in the garden” is applied to the Lord God. Later in Genesis Chapter 18 verse 1“the Lord appeared to him [Abraham]…verse 2 “three men were standing by him [Abraham]”. Who then are the three men? Verse 16 “Then the men arose…Verse 22 ‘Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord…Verse 33 “So the Lord went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham…Complete clarity arrives in Genesis 19:1 “ The two angels entered Sodom in the evening… So the three beings in human form were the LORD and two angels. Neither God our heavenly Father nor the Holy Spirit ever appear to humans in human form. It is always the Word of God, The Lord who manifested Himself to Israel before His human birth as a theophany.
Ex.33:22…I will cover you with my hand…Verse 23 Then I will take away my hand and you shall see My back…
Isa. 7:14 “The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold a young women [virgin] will conceive and bear a Son and shall call his name God with us. [The virgin conceiving is the unique miraculous sign — the Child’s name, Emmanuel, was not unique either before or after; nor was His better known name, Yeshua —the same name as that of the great Judge and Prophet Joshua.]
Isa.9:6-7 “For unto us a Child is born Unto us a Son is given…And His name will be called…Mighty God…His government… upon the throne of David
Mic. 5:1-2 “…Bethlehem Ephrathah… out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be ruler in Israel, Whose going forth are from old from everlasting.”
Zech.14:3-4 “Then the Lord will go forth…And in that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives…Verse 9 “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth.”
Dan. 7:13-14”…One like the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven came to the ancient of days…His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.
From the rabbinical perspective it makes no sense for the one and only Eternal God to lower Himself to flesh and blood and in doing so leave Heaven without God. Yet it is unavoidable that the Tanakh describes a God-Man who spoke with Adam, appeared to Abraham, allowed Moses to see His back, would be born of woman and actually be God with us, be born and called Mighty God, come from the City of David, have an origin that reaches back to the beginning of time and return in human form to be the future King of the earth. How can this be?
Gospel of John Chapter 8: 12-59
12 Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”
13 So the Pharisees said to Him, “You are testifying about Yourself. Your testimony is not valid.”
14 “Even if I testify about Myself,” Jesus replied, “My testimony is valid, because I know where I came from and where I’m going. But you don’t know where I come from or where I’m going. 15 You judge by human standards. I judge no one. 16 And if I do judge, My judgment is true, because I am not alone, but I and the Father who sent Me judge together. 17 Even in your law it is written that the witness of two men is valid. 18 I am the One who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me.”
19 Then they asked Him, “Where is Your Father?”
“You know neither Me nor My Father,” Jesus answered. “If you knew Me, you would also know My Father.” 20 He spoke these words by the treasury, while teaching in the temple complex. But no one seized Him, because His hour had not come.
21 Then He said to them again, “I’m going away; you will look for Me, and you will die in your sin. Where I’m going, you cannot come.”
22 So the Jews said again, “He won’t kill Himself, will He, since He says, ‘Where I’m going, you cannot come’?”
23 “You are from below,” He told them, “I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
25 “Who are You?” they questioned.
“Precisely what I’ve been telling you from the very beginning,” Jesus told them. 26 “I have many things to say and to judge about you, but the One who sent Me is true, and what I have heard from Him—these things I tell the world.”
27 They did not know He was speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing on My own. But just as the Father taught Me, I say these things. 29 The One who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone, because I always do what pleases Him.”
30 As He was saying these things, many believed in Him. 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33 “We are descendants of Abraham,” they answered Him, “and we have never been enslaved to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus responded, “I assure you: Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. 36 Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free. 37 I know you are descendants of Abraham, but you are trying to kill Me because My word is not welcome among you. 38 I speak what I have seen in the presence of the Father; therefore, you do what you have heard from your father.”
39 “Our father is Abraham!” they replied.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” Jesus told them, “you would do what Abraham did. 40 But now you are trying to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do this! 41 You’re doing what your father does.”
“We weren’t born of sexual immorality,” they said. “We have one Father—God.”
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me,because I came from God and I am here. For I didn’t come on My own, but He sent Me. 43 Why don’t you understand what I say? Because you cannot listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Who among you can convict Me of sin? If I tell the truth, why don’t you believe Me? 47 The one who is from God listens to God’s words. This is why you don’t listen, because you are not from God.”
48 The Jews responded to Him, “Aren’t we right in saying that You’re a Samaritan and have a demon?”
49 “I do not have a demon,” Jesus answered. “On the contrary, I honor My Father and you dishonor Me. 50 I do not seek My glory; the One who seeks it also judges. 51 I assure you: If anyone keeps My word, he will never see death—ever!”
52 Then the Jews said, “Now we know You have a demon. Abraham died and so did the prophets. You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste death—ever!’ 53 Are You greater than our father Abraham who died? Even the prophets died. Who do You pretend to be?”
54 “If I glorify Myself,” Jesus answered, “My glory is nothing. My Father—you say about Him, ‘He is our God’—He is the One who glorifies Me.55 You’ve never known Him, but I know Him. If I were to say I don’t know Him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know Him, and I keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham was overjoyed that he would see My day; he saw it and rejoiced.”
57 The Jews replied, “You aren’t 50 years old yet, and You’ve seen Abraham?”
58 Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Before Abraham was, I am.”
59 At that, they picked up stones to throw at Him. But Jesus was hidden and went out of the temple complex.
Gospel of John Chapter 10
24 “If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
25 “I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered them. “The works that I do in My Father’s name testify about Me. 26 But you don’t believe because you are not My sheep. 27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.
Gospel of John Chapter 14
16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.17 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.
25 “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.
In these verses the God-head is fully described. Furthermore Yeshua’s description is in complete harmony with the Tanakh. We have seen how God came in human form as described in the Tanakh, but evidence of God’s triune nature is also described. There is a distinction between God and the Spirit of God in Gen.1:1-2. The Elohim of verse 26 uses “us” and “our” to describe the God’s Uni-plural nature.
In Isaiah 48:16-17 it states, “16 Approach Me and listen to this.
From the beginning I have not spoken in secret;
from the time anything existed, I was there.”
And now the Lord God
has sent me and His Spirit.
17 This is what the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says:
I am Yahweh your God,
who teaches you for your benefit,
who leads you in the way you should go.
Here the One who was there from the beginning of time states that He was sent by the Lord God and His Spirit. In verse 17 the One sent describes Himself as the Lord, Redeemer and Holy One of Israel. This significance cannot be underestimated. The Lord or master is sent to his people. For one to be the redeemer of Israel he must come from them, i.e., be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Here he is not described as the Holy One of God but the Holy One of Israel. In other words to be the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel he must come from Israel. Therefore the scripture supports Him as coming from God and entering humanity through Miriam a Jewish woman who is a descendant of Judah, Jesse, and David. He was thus qualified to be Israel’s Redeemer.
Generations after the time of Yeshua’s earthly ministry, during the Diaspora, the rabbis brought the oral tradition from the traditions of the elders with the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmud comprised of the Mishna and Gemora. In doing so they removed critical analysis of the Scriptures from the Israelite Kohanim [priests] and other Levites, and of Spirit-filled prophets, and asserted that authority for themselves. The rabbis refused to accept that the Tanakh could be understood from its clear, explicit meaning. They insisted it could only be interpreted through the prism of the Talmud. This left the Jewish people with the one true God and an interpretation of the Law of Moses, but without the understanding of God’s universal plan for salvation.
Yeshua uniquely described the nature of God. Yes God is one, but the God of the Bible was NEVER alone. The God of the Bible was always in communion and reveled in an eternal relationship. This God, in an act of love created this physical universe just for us and made us in His image. He walked in the Garden of Eden while also continuing to occupy His place in heaven. When our first parents failed and fell from grace, God chose to allow the Word of God to be born of a woman and pay the price for our sin. Once we come to understand the triune nature of God, the Scriptures come alive and allow us to understand and embrace the divinity of God our heavenly Father, the divinity of God’s Messiah who is also the Holy One of Israel, and the divinity of the Holy Spirit, present at the creation, the one who inspired all the Prophets and proceeded from the Father to bring about the incarnation. The Holy Spirit is also the gift given by God to all who believe and trust in God’s messiah, Yeshua, who is the divine Seal confirming for us the promise of life eternal for trusting Him as our Atonement, our Savior and Redeemer, our Lord.