The Torah of Fellowship and Peace

The Ten Commandments (Shemos 22:2-17, Devarim 5:6-21) as spoken by G-d to the Jewish nation at Sinai were engraved upon the Shnei Luchos Habris, Two Tablets of the Covenant. The first Five Commandments belong to the category of laws between “man and his Creator” while the remaining Five Commandments are precepts between “man and man”.

The Ten Commandments engraved upon the tablets of stone and brought down by Moshe from G-d to the Jewish people are accorded a special distinction over all the other 613 precepts.

The Ten Commandments written upon the Two Tablets are comparable to the Kesubah, “marriage contract” drawn up as the essential contractual terms under which a Jewish man and woman enter into Jewish matrimony. Herein the parties pledge their allegiance and the principle obligations to each other thereafter. (The Avos deRabbi Nosson 2:3 fascinatingly explains this is why Moshe smashed the Two Tablets, tearing up the marriage contract, when the Children of Israel were disloyal by worshipping the Golden Calf and had to provide a substitute upon their national repentance).

The Ten Commandments forge this eternal relationship.

The covenant struck between “two” parties, affirming the relationship between G-d as the “Source” and Israel as the “product”, is mirrored in the Ten Commandments inscribed upon the Shnei Luchos HaBris, “Two” Tablets of the “Covenant”. The emphasis is on how this relates to the eternal bris, “covenant” of Torah that unites man and his Creator.

How this bond is intrinsic to the national Jewish psyche is magnificently captured in the Ten Commandments engraved through the thickness of the Tablets – such that the letters and stone were inseparably one.

Herein is included the symmetrical record of the laws pertaining both to man’s relationship to “G-d” and to “man”. The first grouping, those of “man-G-d laws”, relate to G-d the “Source” while the second grouping, those of “interpersonal laws”, relates to man, the “product”.

Side-by-side, the Ten Commandments are the microcosm to all 613 Commandments (See Bamidbar Rabbah 13:15). They embrace the acceptance of G- d’s Sovereignty at Sinai as the essential platform for strict adherence to all the other 613 laws in the Torah, which serve to polish and perfect man to become more G-dly.

Through its symbolism of the “eternal covenant” between man and G-d, of two parties inextricably bound in their mutual relationship…

-Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene
from his commentary on Torah Portion Yitro
“Two Tablets: Prescription for Jewish Observance”

When the Prushim heard that he had shut the mouth of the Tzaddukim, they conferred together. A certain sage among them asked him a question to test him, saying, “Rabbi, which is the greatest mitzvah in the Torah?” Yeshua said to him,

“Love HaShem your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your knowledge.” This is the greatest and first mitzvah. But the second is similar to it: “Love your fellow as yourself.” The entire Torah and the Prophets hang on these two mitzvot.Matthew 22:34-40 (DHE Gospels)

In one of my recent morning meditations, I commented how the Torah functioned as a ketubah or “wedding contract” between God, the groom, and national Israel, the bride. For Christianity, this is a puzzle (unless you wholly substitute “the Church” for “Israel” in this event), since how can God be eternally married to the Jewish people, the inheritors of the Mosaic covenant, and at the same time, have the Christian church be “the bride of Christ? I asked this question on the aforementioned “meditation,” but no one was willing or able to respond to my query.

In studying the Torah portion for last Shabbat, I noticed an interesting parallel between the Rabbinic commentary and the teachings of the Master:

Side-by-side, the Ten Commandments are the microcosm to all 613 Commandments… -Rabbi Levene

The entire Torah and the Prophets hang on these two mitzvot. –Matthew 22:40 (DHE Gospels)

Traditional Judaism, at least as Rabbi Levene describes it, compresses the entire 613 commandments into the ten mitzvot we see on the two tablets that Moses brought down from his personal encounter with God, while Jesus tells us that they are represented, along with all of the writings of the Prophets, by the two greatest commandments, which he cites from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Neither source is saying that all we need are only the ten commandments or the two greatest commandments, but they are the foundation and representation upon which we formally base our obedience to God, for Jew and Christian.

Am I saying that both Jews and Christians have identical responsibilities to God relative to the Torah? Absolutely not. There have been plenty of debates, both among scholars and on the various religious blogospheres on this topic, and my personal opinion is that we non-Jewish disciples of the Master are not obligated to take upon ourselves the full yoke of Sinai. The Master himself tells us that “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30) while we find Peter, who walked with the Master, saying, “why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? (Acts 15:10), referring to the non-Jewish disciples (and a comparison of these two verses is a study all its own).

So are we to say that God has two brides, that there are two paths to salvation, and that there are two laws? Is this the veil of separation that I’m rebuilding between Jew and Gentile that was supposedly torn down? (Ephesians 2:14)

Heaven forbid.

Yet, if I am not describing two brides separated by a veil, must I say that the only resolution to this conflict is to adopt a supersessionist viewpoint and to declare that the Church has replaced Judaism in all of the covenant promises, creating a new “spiritual Israel” out of the non-Jewish Christians? Must I say that the Jews become “one new man” with the Church only be renouncing their Judaism in totality and converting mind, body, and soul into Gentile Christians, trading in the Jewish Messiah for the “Greek” Jesus?

No, I’m not saying that, either.

According to Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann in his blog post Inconvenient Truths: The One New Man:

Rather than superseding the Jewish people, the Church from among the nations joins with them as part of the Commonwealth of Israel. Only in this way can the “dividing wall of hostility” – which supersessionism maintains – be removed. Gentiles are no longer categorically outsiders to the community of God’s people, but neither do they supplant Israel. However if Gentiles were required to obey Torah and live as Jews, one would be perpetuating their categorical exclusion as Gentiles. And it is a major component of the good news as proclaimed by Paul that this former categorical exclusion is over and done with through the work of Messiah!

The balance of unity and diversity in the One New Man is further highlighted in Ephesians 3:6, where Paul says “Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” The terms “fellow heirs, fellow members, and fellow partakers” require another communal reality with whom the Gentiles are joined, and that other partner is the community of Messianic Jews living in solidarity with wider Israel. It is only as Messianic Jews embrace this calling that their communities become the communal joining point whereby the Church from among the nations is joined to the Commonwealth of Israel.

Admittedly, this is a set of points that most traditional Christians and Jews will find difficult to absorb into their current understanding of how God relates to each of our religious groups. This also gives us something new to think about in terms of how Jews and Christians are supposed to relate to each other. But in giving the Torah at Sinai and the blood of the Son at Calvary, God provided the means by which the Jews could become a special, unique and “peculiar people” to God in a way no other people or nation had ever or has ever become to Him, and has also opened the door for the rest of the world, through the Messianic covenant, to allow the larger body of humanity to draw close to God, alongside the descendants of Jacob.

This isn’t a realization that all Jews and all non-Jews have, even though this open door is available to everyone. Secular Jews are just as much a part of Sinai as their religious brothers, whether they choose to acknowledge that fact or not. Every non-Jewish person on earth is equally invited to stand before the throne of the King by the mercy of God who sent the Messiah to both Jewish and Gentile humanity, if only we will accept that gracious offer. Jesus presents the Jews with the continual and perpetual fulfillment of the prophesy of the Messiah and a life lived in obedience to Torah as God intended from the beginning, and brings close a “grafted in” humanity together with the Jews in one Kingdom as we too respond to the Torah as proceeds from Jerusalem and as it is meant for us to comprehend and obey.

There is one Torah but two intents. Torah is the ketubah of Sinai for the Jews and at the same time, it is a light unto the nations. How Jews are forever “married” to God and we Christians are the “bride” of Messiah, I do not know, but of all the different mitzvot among the 613, many are selected to identify Jews as Jews forever, and other portions are indeed universal truths applied to all, for no man made in the image of the Creator should murder his fellow, or steal from him, or covet his property, or blaspheme the name of God or worship idols of stone or wood or paper.

Jew and Gentile, where do we start? Where do we start establishing a relationship with God and an understanding of each other? We start with studying the mitzvot of the tablets and the commandments of the Messiah. Most of all, we start with this one, new commandment that I believe Moshiach gave to each and every one of us, if only we have ears to hear.

I am giving you a new mitzvah: that you love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. –John 13:34 (DHE Gospels)

and many peoples shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go the law,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. –Isaiah 2:3

The Torah has gone forth from Zion, carried on the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, and we among the nations have heard the words of the Messiah and the “Word made flesh”. If we who are Christians can learn those lessons and the Jewish people can turn their hearts toward the Torah given by Moses and Jesus, then we will someday truly love one another in obedience to that Torah, and sit and eat together at the table of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matthew 8:11) in fellowship and peace.

The Torah of Hashem is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of Hashem is trustworthy, making the simple one wise; the orders of Hashem are upright, gladdening the heart; the command of Hashem is clear, enlightening the eyes; the fear of Hashem is pure, enduring forever; the judgments of Hashem are true, altogether righteous. They are more desirable than gold, than even much fine gold; and sweeter than honey, and the drippings from its combs. –Psalm 19:8-11 (Stone Edition Tanakh)


30 thoughts on “The Torah of Fellowship and Peace”

  1. “How Jews are forever “married” to God and we Christians are the “bride” of Messiah, I do not know”

    Because the bride of the lamb, Jerusalem is gentile. Shalom

    When Israel mourns as for an only son it is because she is the mother, not the bride of Yeshua. The bride rejoices at the arrival of her bridegroom, Israel mourns at the arrival of her only son.
    The bride of Yeshua is a gentile bride. Jerusalem (redeemed and washed in blood) is the bride of the lamb, not Israel. Just like Adam put to sleep, Yeshua slept. Out of his side were taken a rib to form his woman to be his helper. Disciples from Israel (the rib) added to the saved of the nations (dust) to form the last “mother of all living” (like eve) the “NEW JERUSLEM” coming down from heaven.
    Jerusalem is a gentile city that was left to die after her birth from her gentile parents, but El passed by while she was in her blood and said “live”. She was adopted by her Father and he gave her his name because he pitied her. Her bathed her, dressed in the finest, and raised her as his own. But she ran off with many men and defiled herself in fornication.

    Taken by David and made into an Israelite. Like Boaz and Ruth, “wherever you go I shall follow (Israel) your people shall become my people, your El, my El”.
    Ezekiel 16:3 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite.

    The bride of Yeshua is formed from the rib of Messiah (believers of Israel) and the dust of the earth (believers of the nations) made with water (the word spoken) to be the woman who is joined as one back to him “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh”. She must be born again, formed in the womb of the world, in darkness but birthed from above into the light.

  2. There’s a few missing pieces. One is whatever happened to the marriage between the Children of Israel and God at Sinai. Second, if Jews and non-Jewish disciples are part of a single community (one new man, and so on), shouldn’t both Jews and non-Jewish disciples (as opposed to non-Jews only) be present with the King at the end of all things?

    Also, Ruth converted to Judaism to marry Boaz, the kinsman redeemer, she didn’t retain her non-Jewish identity. Since we non-Jews are not required to convert to Judaism to be reconciled with God, our “process” is not the same as hers. That’s the miracle and the mystery of the Messiah: that he allows both his peope the Jews and we grafted in people, the non-Jews, to both be considered the Sons’ of God.

  3. James,

    Well, first of all, cool graphics.

    And second, a thought I had while reading your meditation.

    If we as a global community of believers in Messiah Yeshua, made up of both Jews and non-Jews, strive to maintain our individual and corporate distinctions, whatever they may be and for whatever reasons, then the hope of participating together at a table of peace and love is diminished by those very distinctions we choose to maintain.

    As an example, there are many non-British citizens who live in England without a visa because they come from one of the commonwealths of England. They are considered British citizens whether they live in England or one of England’s commonwealth countries.

    I understand from some articles that I have read that this arrangement irritates some of those who were born in England and have lived there all their lives when these “foreigners” come to live in their neighborhood. For them, no matter which commonwealth country these people come from they are considered “foreigners”.

    But are they?

    Their birth in a commonwealth of England was not their choice. But their place of birth does define their culture and their citizenship. And though that culture might seem to be “foreign” to the natives of England, they are citizens nonetheless.

    If those born outside of England choose to live in England because they enjoy the benefits of citizenship, and are consequently not allowed to fully integrate into British society, then who is at fault?

    The native born English? The foreign born citizen? Or the British government for having caused the existence of the commonwealth in the first place?

    If YHWH decided to set apart the Hebrew people from all the other people on the planet for His own purposes, and then decides to join people from all the other nations to that nation of Hebrews through faith in His Son, who are we blame for the outcome if there is bigotry and dissension? Should we wonder why YHWH has chosen to bring others from strange places with strange cultures and habits into close proximity to the original people group? Is that not His business? Of course it is.

    So where does our responsibility lie as individual believers in Messiah Yeshua? Can we bring peace to this situation? I believe that we can as long as we attend carefully to the words of Yeshua and do not let ourselves be distracted by differences that were never meant to bring division between His people, only a separation between His people and the rest of the world.

    Nice post. Well considered.


  4. Obviously, I see things differently, Russ. If God is supposed to make us all identical beings with absolutely no distinctions and only then, sit us at the same table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom, where’s the miracle in that? He might as well have simply required that the nations convert to Judaism and be done with it. The result would be the same.

    For me, the miracle and mystery of the work of the Messiah is that he enables so many different people types with so many different distinctions to be able to sit down at the same table in fellowship. If the lion and the lamb are supposed to recline together, so to speak, and be at peace with each other, why can’t the Jew and the Christian? Lions and lambs (I know I’m mangling the original text for the sake of the common cliche) are certainly about as diverse as you can get, yet they are still to be peaceful with each other.

    Have you ever wondered just how different you are than Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon, Peter, and Paul? Do you think they will present as 21st century Gentiles when you finally interact with them? Don’t you think there will be distinctions based on history, culture, religious perceptions, and the like? The answer to the peace of the Messiah isn’t becoming clones of one another, it’s learning to find our commonality in God even though we are radically different from one another.

    God isn’t abolishing differences and distinctions. He’s allowing us to find peace in Him as different and distinct humanity.

  5. “There’s a few missing pieces. One is whatever happened to the marriage between the Children of Israel and God at Sinai.”
    The bride of God: Isaiah 14:1 For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.
    “Second, if Jews and non-Jewish disciples are part of a single community (one new man, and so on), shouldn’t both Jews and non-Jewish disciples (as opposed to non-Jews only) be present with the King at the end of all things?”
    It is only those who are given to Yeshua that are his bride, born again. “they were yours but you have given them unto me” and “I have not lost one, except the one so the scriptures may be fulfilled”.
    The rest remain God’s, not born again, a remnant saved by grace.
    “lso, Ruth converted to Judaism to marry Boaz, the kinsman redeemer, she didn’t retain her non-Jewish identity.”
    No, Ruth did not convert to a religion called Judaism to marry Boaz. She was already married to a man of Judah who died leaving her a widow, and was being redeemed along with the land of Naomi. She bore a son to Naomi, not to herself and Boaz.
    We become one, married to Messiah and become one flesh. That means Messiah is Jewish, so the church becomes. (At the union of Messiah and the Church)
    “That’s the miracle and the mystery of the Messiah: that he allows both his peope the Jews and we grafted in people, the non-Jews, to both be considered the Sons’ of God.”
    No, the sons of God are those born of God from above. Like 70 went into Egypt, the womb of the gentile world, but came out a birthed nation. The disciples were sent into the gentile woman womb, to come out a birthed out nation.
    The mother of Yeshua Israel, who is the bride of YHVH is not the bride of Yeshua. And the Son’s of God are not the Mother.

  6. Dan asked: Where in Scriptures do we find a convertion ritual for Ruth? and why is she mentioned as Ruth the Moabite and not Rith the Israelite?

    Right here:

    But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.Ruth 1:16-18

    As I’m sure you’ve heard, in ancient days, the process of converting to being an Israelite did not have the same formality as it does today. On the other hand, if you consider all of the things Naomi had Ruth do in relationship to her behavior toward Boaz, there does seem to be a ritualistic quality to it, so perhaps it was not a simple matter of making a verbal declaration. In any event, the conversion process has evolved for whatever reason, to the set of rituals we see today.

  7. Steven said: We become one, married to Messiah and become one flesh. That means Messiah is Jewish, so the church becomes. (At the union of Messiah and the Church)

    Whoa! That got my attention. So when a Gentile becomes a Christian, he becomes Jewish? I know lots and lots of Jewish people who would disagree, both Messianic and non-Messianic. Again, if there were the point, why all the complicated theology? If Gentiles are supposed to become Jewish, why not just have Gentiles convert to Judaism? On the other hand, if one of the defining characteristics of Judaism, is the Torah of Sinai, how can we be “Jewish” if we completely disregard the Torah and any other behavioral expectations from God?

  8. James,

    My fault, I should have defined what I was referring to regarding differences and distinctions. I did not mean to cast a negative light on the fact that all human beings are different in some way. It is those very differences that declare the awesomeness of YHWH and His infinite nature. And I was not lumping together the differences with the distinctions. Both are naturally occurring within each person and as far as possible should be respected and even appreciated.

    What I failed to do was to narrow the scope of my response to what I call “voluntary religious differences and distinctions”. That I look different physically than every other man on the planet is to expected and I don’t think anyone would argue that it is my fault that I do.

    But if I choose to tattoo my face with a unique symbol, one that no one else has, and that tattoo makes me look different than all other men, then it is not the same thing as being unique simply because I am me and not someone else. And if I try to exclude others from fellowship based on the fact that they do not have the same tattoo that I have, then I have generated a distinction that breaks fellowship.

    The commandments of YHWH were given for the whole world. For everyone. Initially the vehicle to carry those commandments to the world was the nation of Israel. If everyone had kept those commandments back then there would be no difference between different people groups within the context of those commandments. Of course everyone would still be a unique individual, but in regards to obedience, they would be the same.

    If I love my brothers and sisters in the faith and they love me in return with the same love, then in that respect we are the same and there is no difference between us. We can fellowship on that basis as individuals. I don’t see a problem with that. And if that is what is happening, fine.

    But the reason for your blog postings is partially the fact that it is not happening. Distinctions are being made, even argued for, so that what is perceived by some to be the proper lines of division are kept in place. Which creates a frustrating situation and is the basis for some of your questions about why we can’t get along in Messiah instead of always looking to what makes us different from each other in matters of religion.

    We have answers. The question I keep having is, “why don’t we accept those answers and move on?”.

    But then I suppose that is the purpose of exploration. Though we profess to want to arrive at the goal, I think we like the journey too much to do so quickly.

    And so on we go. Arm in arm as they say.


  9. James,

    In the passage you quoted, not once can we find the word “conversion.”

    So I ask one more time; Where in Scriptures do we find a conversion ritual for Ruth? and why is she mentioned as Ruth the Moabite and not Rith the Israelite?

  10. “If Gentiles are supposed to become Jewish, why not just have Gentiles convert to Judaism?” Yuck, that would mean incest.

    James, Marrying Jewish is not the same thing as converting to a religion called Judaism, it is joining two individuals into one. The become a new creature. One. Not two.

    Genesis 2:24
    Therefore shall a man (Yeshua) leave his father (GOD) and his mother(Israel), and shall cleave unto his wife (gentile bride NEW JERUSALEM): and they shall be one flesh. One flesh can not be both gentile and Jew. The woman has no name of her own, she must get it from a man. When the man takes her name from the betrotheds Father, if the Fathers name is of Judah, she becomes of Judah and her children become of Judah.

    What happened between Ruth is not a ritual conversion to the religion called today Judaism. It was an agreement to go with Naomi. Ruth was a gentile woman who had already became Judah by marriage having taken the name of Naomis husband (which was passed to the son).

    There is no need to redeem a foreign woman but one who was once gentile and now has the “NAME of the Father” who’s husband has died must be redeemed by a kinsman to raise up children to “THE NAME OF THE FATHER”.

    “Lo, I have given THEM (believers) your name” to raise up children so “THE FATHERS NAME” is not cut off from Israel.

  11. Steven, that’s a highly “spiritualized” interpretation of Genesis 2:24. Where is the basis for that interpretation? Why can’t we take Genesis and subsequently Christ’s interpretation of the verse at face value and say they were talking about a plain, old fashion man & woman marriage? Symbolizing it to support a particular aspect of Christian theology seems unwarranted.

    Dan, Ruth probably “converted” in the same sense as the “mixed multitude” converted to becoming Hebrews. They simply started doing what the Hebrews did until they or their descendents were accepted as Hebrews. They certainly didn’t retain their Gentile identities generations later, just as Ruth’s descendants didn’t retain any Gentile identity. Neither David nor Jesus were considered Gentile but Jewish.

    Russ, I still maintain that there are covenant differences between the Jewish and non-Jewish disciples. If the non-Jewish disciples were to take on a covenant identity that is absolutely identical with the Jewish disciples, in essense, they would simply be converting to Judaism, which Paul spoke against most vigorously.

  12. James, I thank you for the sincere expressions of holy awe in your posts. You are a credit to those who follow Yeshua.

  13. JAMES,

    My joy at encountering the following source of the Rabbi Jesus’s teaching leads me to exclaim: Eureka!

    “Side-by-side, the Ten Commandments are the microcosm to all 613 Commandments (See Bamidbar Rabbah 13:15).”
    COMMENT: For mathematically the ONE G-d symbolically rules/commands, both the microcosm by the 10 commandments = 1 G-d; and the macrocosm by the 613 commandments = 10=1 G-d.

    They embrace the acceptance of G- d’s Sovereignty at Sinai as the essential platform for strict adherence to all the other 613 laws in the Torah, which serve to polish and perfect man to become more G-dly.
    COMMENT: And so be even more at ONE, with ONE’s true-self, in whose image we are made and meant to align.

    Through its symbolism of the “eternal covenant” between man and G-d, of two parties inextricably bound in their mutual relationship…
    COMMENT: So that efficacious self-help, being in “its symbolism of the ‘eternal covenant’ between man and G-d,”, explains to a scientist such as myself the ‘miracles’ depicted in the scriptures.
    For ‘made in the image of God’ our original covenant “of two parties inextricably bound in their mutual relationship…” transcends not only Sinai and Golgotha; but also Islam’s Holy Mount.

  14. ” that’s a highly “spiritualized” interpretation of Genesis 2:24. Where is the basis for that interpretation?”

    James, many of the things spoken in Genesis are prophetic and have various applications at Yeshua’s time as well as at the end.

    Taking your view, why should Yeshua have to be a lamb that was slain? Can’t we just get a regular lamb? Do we have to “spirtualized” it?

    Why did God tell man in Genesis he would eat his bread by the sweat of his brow and then see Yeshua in the garden sweating drops of blood from his forehead as he struggled with the will of God as he asked more than once, let this cup pass from me, but not my will be done but your will. And he had said “my food is to do the will of the Father”. We see him eating his bread by the sweat of his brow.

    What are you having trouble with? Revelation says clearly that the New Jerusalem is the bride, it does not say Israel, converted or otherwise. Jerusalem is a gentile city, adopted by God as he showed us through Ezekiel. There is no place in the bible that teaches Yeshua marries Israel. There is very clear word of God that Yeshua marries New Jerusalem.

    You object to my “spiritualized” interpretation. How about you? Israel who was called “my firstborn son” as he was coming out of Egypt, you say was married to God, “I commented how the Torah functioned as a ketubah or “wedding contract” between God, the groom, and national Israel, the bride.” Tell me how Israel went from my firstborn son, to my bride in just a few days?

    You are teaching that somehow between being born from Egypt, the firstborn son became female and the bride. But you think I’m the one giving “spiritualized” interpretations?

  15. I understand your point Steven, but where do we get decide something in the Bible is only literal, where do we decide it is only “spiritual” and where do we decide something in the Bible can be taken both ways? This is the amazing wonder and “trap”, if you will, about Biblical interpretation. We can *always* choose to see the various scriptures as supporting the theology we prefer. That’s something all people are vulnerable to, including you and me. I’ve never heard of that section in Genesis being used in the particular manner you suggest. That’s why I asked you where you learned that interpretation. Is that viewpoint widespread in the Christian church, or is it a minority opinion?

    As far as my interpretation of Israel being the bride of God at Sinai, that’s a widespread and accepted interpretation in mainstream Judaism of the event, and I don’t think it’s particularly farfetched. After all, the Old Testament is replete with “marriage metaphors” where God refers to Israel as His bride, often speaking of Israel as an “unfaithful wife” (see Hosea 1 for an example) and Himself as a “jealous” God. The Bible also refers to those times when Israel has strayed into idol worship as “infidelity”, so the marital imagery is displayed in the plain meaning of the text as well as in traditional interpretation.

  16. I got a little help via email on the whole “Ruth conversion” issue. I’ll keep the name of my source out of it for now, but here’s what he had to say:

    I think that the Ruth story does paint an illustration of two levels of identification. This first level being self identification, “Your people will be my people…” this can be compared to millions of Christian that have attached themselves to Israel, her God, etc. The second level which is a clear form of conversion is found in chapter 4 were there is a legal transaction in front of the elders and the larger community.

    “Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel.” (Ruth 4:7 ESV)

    Conversion really boils down to a formal process and most importantly community affirmation and agreement. It is also interesting that this process of meeting with the elders at the gate, the community affirmation, etc. took place right prior to the wedding.

    Here’s a link to the relevant portions of Ruth:

    This actually dovetails quite nicely into how I conceptualize the conversion process in terms of Ruth. I guess my ability to express what I was thinking still needs a lot of help.

  17. James, Is Yeshua a literal man? Is he literally getting married? Does he have a Father, a mother and a bride? If yes, then would it not be reasonable to apply Gen passage to him while identifying the various persons? Or do you believe that is does not apply to him?

    “a widespread and accepted interpretation in mainstream Judaism of the event”

    You don’t accept Judaism’s wide spread interpretation of the crucifixion? You don’t accept Christianities widespread interpretation of the destruction of the Law? So I don’t think we can use “widespread interpretation” as though it is a status of acceptability in its own and dismiss me because my idea is not mainstream. More likely you just don’t want to learn from me and if I am teaching by the Holy Spirit you are resisting and dismissing him, not me. I did not write here to tell you what you already know. You said you did not understand and asked if anyone did. I do, if you can accept it.

    Judaism and Christianity have no original material. Everything they believe they received from one of two sources. Truth is from God, Lies from the Father of lies, the devil. There are no other sources of information.

  18. James, so this man is saying the legal process of “conversion” is the result of “redemption”. Does this mean that the redeemed/converted person has converted to “Judaism”? Let’s add it up then. You are saying….

    A converted and redeemed person becomes a Jew?

  19. James, and doesn’t that dove tale nicely into how I conceptualize how the church, the redeemed from the world, convert to Judah at the public legal transaction of Baptism?

  20. Steven asked: Is Yeshua a literal man?

    He certainly was during the days he walked In Roman occupied Judah with his disciples. Who he is as he exist now as the High Priest in the Heavenly Court, I cannot say in any detail. I don’t think anyone can.

    OK, let’s cut to the chase:

    And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”Matthew 19:3-9

    The plain meaning of this text seems to say that the Pharisees were testing his knowledge of and interpretation of the laws having to do with marriage and divorce. He answers and apparently gives a good answer on these laws. I *suppose* there could be another, mystical or spiritual meaning hiding behind the plain text (and sometimes there is, as far as I can tell) but does that mean there *must* always be a hidden or mystical meaning? Does that mean your particlar hidden or mystical meaning of this text must exist and must be correct?

    This is interpretation, not fact.

    Steven said: Judaism and Christianity have no original material.

    We don’t? That’s going to come as quite a shock to the multitude of Christian and Jewish scholars who are continually doing research and teaching at the various seminaries and Yeshivas around the world. Why just recently, Dr. Daniel Wallace announced a discovery of several papyri fragments of Mark’s Gospel that may date back to the first century. The find is in dispute, but if it turns out to be valid, it would be a tremendous discovery to find parts of a Gospel that date back to the lifetime of the witnesses of Jesus and his teachings. Yet you are saying that the only sources of information we have are God and the adversary. No documentation at all?

    Steven said: James, so this man is saying the legal process of “conversion” is the result of “redemption”. Does this mean that the redeemed/converted person has converted to “Judaism”? Let’s add it up then. You are saying….

    A converted and redeemed person becomes a Jew?


    Actually, I’m saying that Ruth went through what was, in her day, the formal process of a non-Jew converting to Judaism. She married Boaz and eventually became the grandmother to David and an ancestor of Jesus. What does that have to do with you or I confessing Christ and being saved? We don’t become Jews. I thought my multitude of blog posts would have convinced you by now that just because a Gentile becomes a Christian that he or she does not also become Jewish.

    I admit that the vast majority of how I understand the Bible, Jesus, and God aren’t going to match up at all with traditional Christian interpretations. If they did, there wouldn’t be much point to my blogging because I’d be saying the same things about a billion other Christian bloggers are writing about every day. I’d blend in and disappear into the church milieu without so much as a whimper. However, I choose to attempt to view the Jewish Messiah through a different and unconventional lens. My interpretations are my own and if I’m wrong, I’m wrong. If you want to know why I believe I do, you can ask me (as you have been doing) and I’ll do my best to respond. However, I’m not trying to convince you that you should stop believing as you do and start believing as I do. I have no agenda that says I must get other people to accept my beliefs. I’m not a pastor or a leader or a teacher of any kind. I’m just a guy who is writing about my own experience. Most people are going to assume I’m “full of it.”

    On the other hand, I’m not entirely convinced that the modern church is completely accurate in its understanding either. Although you use a few Hebrew words in your writings here and there, your perspectives seem to be very traditionally Christian. That’s fine and dandy. I just don’t happen to agree with most of them. I think God has more in mind for the Jewish people than disintegration based on His original promises to the Hebrews, and I’m going to look for what that whole thing may be. I may fail miserably, but the drive in me to seek out God’s love for both the Christian and the Jew won’t let me give up. I won’t surrender to 2,000 years of man-made supersessionist theology that was created by Gentiles in the early Christian era for the express purpose of substituting Gentiles for Jews in the covenant promises and to make themselves more palitable to a Rome who had just destroyed the Temple and turned the majority of the Jews into a people without a country. Those church fathers were desperate to prevent a brand-new Christianity from being dragged into the mud along with the Jews and their Messianic faith, but to do that, they had to disconnect completely from anything Jewish. Over the course of several decades to several centuries, they succeeded. But the price that we Christians as well as the Jewish people had to pay was and is horrible.

    If we expect to understand who the real Jesus is and what he wants us to learn about his teachings, we’re not going to find it by sitting back on our comfortable seats built on a destroyed Judaism. God keeps putting the Jews under our noses for a reason, as if to say, “Pay attention! You’ve got it all wrong. The Jews are going to be redeemed. They’re not dead.” Like I said, I could be wrong. But God is going to have to drop a brick wall in front of my face t prove it. So far, he hasn’t done that.

  21. James, why do the Jews need to be redeemed? If the process of redemption of a gentile (Ruth) is a “conversion” to Judaism? I don’t want to be obstinate, but I don’t understand the logic of what is being taught here.

    Have we stolen everything, or missed everything? Are those who are redeemed “converted” to Israel like Ruth, or not? If Israel is redeemed like Ruth and that is conversion, what are we being converted to, Israel?

    When Yeshua marries the church will they have Jewish Babies?

  22. Steven, I’m willing to take the story of Ruth at face value. It’s the story of a woman who saw something in her mother-in-law that she loved so much that she could not stand to be apart from it or her. I don’t know that this story has to have anything directly to do with Jesus. Why do you insist that it must?

  23. James, if the scriptures have nothing for us but “face value” I can stop studying it. I got the face value the first time through. I wonder why the Rabbi’s you quote don’t just accept things at face value, (BUT YOU ARE INSISTING I MUST, and are always looking for deeper meaning, (for instance what about “Torah is the ketubah” at Mt Sinai was not in the “face value” version).

    On the one hand you say “I don’t understand” on the other “I will not change my mind unless a brick wall”. To me that sounds like you are saying “I am ignorant and determined to stay that way until God knocks me over the head”.

    There is much more to the story of Ruth and to the brides of God and Yeshua than can be understood on the surface or everyone would be on the same page without confusion. I tried to gently point you in the right direction so you could “understand”. But since you won’t hear me, maybe you will get your brick. Shalom

  24. “Steven said: Judaism and Christianity have no original material.” Just to clarify what I meant by that statement: I was not talking about having man made items original to the writer.

    I was (I think clearly) saying that all truth originates with God. All lies originate with Satan. Judaism has no knowledge they came up with on their own. Neither did Christianity. Everything we know, all knowledge, whether true or false we learned from someone else. That is what I mean by having no original material.

    Do the Jews say they thought up the Torah? Or do they say the received it?

  25. Steven, I’m not insisting you do anything. In fact, in one of my previous comments, I said that I wasn’t trying to make people change, gather a following, or any of that. You are perfectly free to continue believing as you always have. I’m just explaining why I don’t agree with your beliefs about Jews.

    As far as face value is concerned, of course there are parts of the Bible that have a deeper than surface meaning. In fact, the Rabbinic sages go to great lengths to describe the hidden and mystic meanings behind the text. Admittedly, I don’t always agree with them and frankly, I don’t always “get” where they’re coming from. Guess I’m a fairly literal guy, which makes it strange that I also like Chasidic mysticism with a little Kaballah on the side.

    Actually, I’m a really conservative and cautious guy. Just because something sounds good doesn’t mean I’m immediately going to jump at it and embrace it. I typically start off by looking at the text through the lens of occam’s razor and go from there. I tend to treat allegorical, mystical, supernatural, spiritual interpretations very carefully since they have been used to justify just about anything. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard this “religious leader” or that say things that were completely outrageous “based on scripture” because the Holy Spirit told them a special, hidden meaning. I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing and in fact, I believe you are proceeding from an understanding of the Bible that you believe is very grounded and in tune with the Holy Spirit, but I like to test things. Admittedly, one of my assumptions and convictions is that God would not make a promise to the Hebrews that they would be His “splendorous treasure” forever, and then “fulfill” them and replace them with the rest of the world. If that makes me a bad person, a wrong person, or a dumb person, I guess I’ll just have to live with that until God smacks me upside the head with a two by four.

    What I’m trying to get at is that anyone can say anything about any part of scripture and say “it’s the hidden meaning” or “it’s the symbolic meaning.” What I’m trying to get at is that, when something is “symbolic”, since there’s no way to prove the symbolic meaning from the text (because it’s also highly subjective), and you either have to take the interpreter’s word for it or you don’t. Do you just expect me to take your word for everything you say without asking questions? As I recall, Paul didn’t take offense to the Bereans checking up on his interpretations (Acts 17:11). Why are you upset when I don’t automatically accept how you choose to interpret the Bible? I’m not upset that you don’t accept my viewpoint and in fact, I expect you not to.

    I’m in a constant state of challenging my assumptions and trying to check them out, but that doesn’t mean my moral convictions are made of wet sand. I’m not going to shift my thinking and my beliefs all of a sudden just because you, or anybody else has a different opinion. I one thing that will take a “brick wall” experience for me to change is to say I must through Jews and Judaism under a bus in order to be a “good Christian”. I’m not saying that’s what you’re advocating as such, but it’s the logical extension of supersessionism.

    I’m sorry if you are angry and upset, but I’m not going to agree with you even for the ways of peace. There’s been too many compromises already in Christianity to make people feel good about themselves, especially in the western countries.

  26. I was (I think clearly) saying that all truth originates with God. All lies originate with Satan. Judaism has no knowledge they came up with on their own. Neither did Christianity. Everything we know, all knowledge, whether true or false we learned from someone else. That is what I mean by having no original material.

    Do the Jews say they thought up the Torah? Or do they say the received it?

    I’ll accept that all truth comes from God and all deception comes from the Adversary. What do you know? We agree on something. 😉

    Oh, and it’s really easy for people to misunderstand each other in a text-only world, so even though you probably were expressing yourself clearly, Internet communication is a funny thing and what we think we say clearly can still be received differently than intended.

  27. James, I am not angry or upset. 🙂 I think I understand you better now, also, because you patiently explain and I appreciate that. Just because I challenge what you say and think you know, (as you do me) does not make me angry or upset. Iron sharpens iron, so don’t be surprised if people challenge what you say on occasion. Shalom

  28. No worries. As I said, in a text-only environment, misunderstandings are bound to happen. It’s sometimes difficult to know how someone is feeling. Emoticons help a little. 😉

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