The Blood of the Prince

tallit-prayerThis is one of those “hot” topics. A Messianic Jewish rabbi friend of mine recently got an email from a distraught woman urgently asking him to intervene on behalf of her husband. I would like some opinions on the matter from my readers. I will paraphrase that email below to protect all parties:

Please pray for us and help us. You see, my Jewish husband (who is from Israel) believes that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel through whom God redeems and saves, but he refuses to believe that Jesus is God too. My husband is adamant that he will not accept this belief. I don’t know what to do – I don’t want him to be lost. I need urgent help and I think my husband will benefit from your counseling. I am really hoping that you would be able to convince him of his error before it’s too late.

Question for my readers: should this woman be concerned about the spiritual fate of her husband? If this Jewish man never changes his mind on the nature of the Messiah, should he be concerned about his final destiny and should we?

-Gene Shlomovich
Crisis? A Jewish husband believes that Jesus is the Messiah but not G-d
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Daily Minyan blogspot

I’m not in the habit of quoting one person’s full blog post to begin one of my own, but this question, which I thought was unanswerable, may just have been answered (though judging by the subsequent comments that have been accumulating as I’ve been writing this missive, maybe not). There was a lively debate by various folks commenting on this blog but it degenerated (and is still degenerating) into a “Jesus is God” vs “Jesus is Messiah but not God” vs “I don’t know what Jesus is” kind of debate. A few people took a stab at actually trying to answer Gene’s question, but no one really knew or could support their opinions from scripture…that is until now:

I am convinced that Peter’s first introduction to Messiah (John 1:41), and his own confirmation of that introduction (John 6:69, 11:27) brought him into sonship, and is all that is expected of any Jew to be saved and secured for Kingdom status (Romans 10:13, 11:26).

-Brad

Then Gene replied:

@Brad…

Thank you for providing an answer to my exact question directly from scripture.

Traditional religious Judaism doesn’t spend a great deal of time worrying about whether or not Jews are saved. In the merit of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, Jews are all considered to have a place in the world to come. However, in Christianity and the various corners of the Hebrew Roots and Messianic Jewish movements (which all overlap but are not really the same), there are a couple of important questions that have remained unanswered:

If Jews are “saved” through the merit of the patriarchs, what significance does Jesus have as the Messiah to them?

On a more fundamental level, the question is:

Are Jews saved?

I’ve struggled with these questions as well. To say that the process of salvation for a Jew is identical to a Gentile means that prior to the coming of the Messiah, no Jews could be saved. I also means that the millions of Jews who refused to convert to Christianity because they believed we Christians practiced paganism and polytheism, have been consigned to hell, often having suffered torture and murder at the hands of the church who was attempting to force their conversion, first.

I’m not sure I have the answer regarding “salvation” relative to all Jews everywhere, but it appears that Brad, armed with “only” a Bible, has answered the first question. Let’s take a look at his material in a more detail. His statement can be broken up into two main sections:

I am convinced that Peter’s first introduction to Messiah (John 1:41), and his own confirmation of that introduction (John 6:69, 11:27) brought him into sonship…

PrayingSo what do we see when we are introduced to the Messiah and that introduction is confirmed? What brought Peter into “sonship?”

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi”, “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah”. He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas”. –John 1:35-42 (ESV)

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” –John 6:66-69 (ESV)

Mary, the sister of Martha, also faced the same question and arrived at the same conclusion.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” –John 11:25-27 (ESV)

Now here’s section two:

and is all that is expected of any Jew to be saved and secured for Kingdom status (Romans 10:13, 11:26).

So what is actually expected of a Jew for salvation through the Messiah?

For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” –Romans 10:10-13 (ESV)

Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

“The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” –Romans 11:25-27 (ESV)

“No distinction between Jew or Greek” seems to be relative to the issue of salvation, so the Messiah has always been a vital element, but as Paul also said, “a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved,” so this two is part of God’s plan for Israel.

Putting it all together, nothing else but what has been presented above is required to answer Gene’s question (and I’m paraphrasing): “Is a Jewish man ‘saved’ if he comes to faith in Jesus as the Messiah but not as God clothed in flesh and blood?”

Peter believed that Jesus was the Messiah, the holy one of God and that he had words of eternal life. Mary, sister of Martha also believed that Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God that that “everyone who lives and believes in him shall never die.” Everyone, Jew or Gentile, who calls on the Lord’s name shall be saved, and Gentiles, in God’s mercy, are brought into the Kingdom through the temporary hardening of the Jews. In the end, as Paul continues, “all Israel will be saved.”

God will not abandon the life of his heritage Israel nor let the blood of the Messiah go to waste:

The poor man stood in the doorway, smelling the sweet, freshly baked bread, and held out his hand for something to eat. Hunger gnawed at his stomach, for he had not eaten in days. He had tried to find work, but no one wanted to hire him. At last, hearing that Rabbi Yitzchak of Kalush had an open heart and an open door, he came to his house late one Friday afternoon.

Even before they opened the door, he could smell the fresh baked bread . . .

The cook looked at her challahs, golden baked and twisted, and sprinkled with poppy seeds. The cook did not want to give him a slice from the challahs. They were for Shabbat. She looked in the kitchen cabinets and drawers for an old, stale piece of bread, the kind that is usually given to beggars, but she found none.

“Slice up a loaf,” a man’s voice said, “no blood will be lost because of it.”

And so she cut into the loaf, soft and white, and gave the poor man a thick slice to eat. Unless a person has truly been hungry, he cannot know the meaning of bread. The poor man ate greedily. As he left, a man with kind eyes nodded. He was the one who had told her to cut the bread. The poor man knew that this man had saved his life.

-from a commentary on
Ethics of Our Fathers (4:3)
“The Blood Not Lost”

The Son of God is the bread of life to all mankind but particularly to His people the Jews. The blood of the Prince was not spilled in vain on Jewish soil and was not wasted for the sake of Israel. We in the church should not consider the Jew with contempt:

Ben Azzai used to say: “Do not regard anyone with contempt, and do not reject anything; for there is no man who does not have his hour, and nothing which does not have its place.” -Avot 4:3

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42 thoughts on “The Blood of the Prince”

  1. Judah, you’re making an assumption that isn’t necessarily true. I don’t have an absolute conviction of exactly the nature of the Messiah. In fact, I’ll prove that I can talk about “the other side of the coin” in tomorrow’s meditation which will be called A Physical Object Merely is “I am” (Yeah, a strange title, but you’ll see what it means when you read my little write up).

    I’m sorry, but I can’t always go with “the church says it, I believe it, end of story” way of looking at Jesus. Is his character Divine in some inexplicable and mystic way? Most assuredly. Does the traditional doctrine of the Trinity explain how God can be both in his Heavenly court and walking around on earth as a flesh and blood man? I don’t think so.

    I’d prefer to continue exploring and developing my understanding rather than to sink it in cement, let it harden, and pretend I completely understand everything there is to understand. That’s probably not what you’re doing Judah, but the continual dialog is far more valuable for me than a canned solution.

    Did Jesus ever tell anyone to pray directly to him instead of God? Not that I recall. He did say to pray to God in his name, but he never cut the One God out of the equation.

    If ever I am standing before the Throne in the Heavenly court, am I to bow to God the Father, Jesus, or both? How does that work? And whatever happened to “God the Spirit?” No one ever talks about Him.

    1. James, you didn’t answer the question. It’s really a simple one; even if the answer is “I don’t know”, that’s fine, I just want to understand your position. Please: do you believe Yeshua should be worshiped?

  2. James, just to be clear – Bran provided “an answer” not “THE answer to end all answers”, by which I mean he responded to my question directly (without the obligatory attack on the “do you mean to say that Jesus is not G-d?” strawman) and he used scripture to support his answer.

  3. I didn’t think it was *the* answer, but it came pretty close, as far as I can tell, to satisfying the conditions required by the question. We have to limit the scope of the question pretty severely in order to even hope we can answer it. The *real* question is the nature of God and we have no hope in answering that one.

    Brad took a pretty good stab at answering the question within its scope and, as you say, he used the Bible to do it. The plus for me is that he didn’t feel he had to assault anyone else’s beliefs or feelings in order to respond.

    1. You guys are implying I assaulted your beliefs and degenerated the conversation by standing up for Yeshua’s divinity.

      Look. I answered Gene’s question to his satisfaction. I brought up Yeshua’s divinity because the question “can I be saved and not believe in Yeshua’s divinity” can’t be taken in isolation from the rest of the New Testament, nor can we ignore the historical and present realities of apostasy for those who reject Yeshua’s divinity.

  4. What do we do with Jesus? Do we worship him? Do we call him “God?” What does that do to our worship of “God (the Father)?”

    I don’t know what we do about worshiping Jesus. In my prayers, I tell God about that all the time. I tell Him I don’t know who I’m supposed to be addressing. I tell him I don’t want to screw up but that the Bible doesn’t really tell me that I should stop worshiping God in order to worship the Messiah. God is One and I worship One God.

    This issue is about as clear as the muddy Mississippi.

    I keep Jesus poised at the center of my vision and then continue to change perspectives and angles in order to try to figure out who I’m looking at. Tsvi Sadan’s book The Concealed Light has been an enormous help (if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it) and has shown me a Messiah who is multi-layered and very complex (and very Jewish).

    Since I don’t know what to do or how to answer your question, I do what Jesus said in the Bible do, which is to pray to God and God alone (Matt 6:9, 1 Pet 1:17, Eph 3:14) in the name of the Messiah (John 14:13 & 14).

    You never answered my question about who to worship at the Throne, Judah: Jesus, God the Father, or both?

    1. OK. For clarity’s sake, you, James, are saying, “I don’t know if Yeshua should be worshiped.”

      Good to know where you stand. I am a big fan of clarity, and now it’s clear where you stand.

      The issue is about as clear as the Mississippi”,

      Indeed it is clear: if people should worship Yeshua, then He’s God. All worship of any entity besides God is idolatry. That doesn’t mean we have God all figured out, or that God is not complex. But it does mean Yeshua is God made flesh.

      Regarding your question, we actually have an example of this in Scripture. The answer is, you worship at God’s throne. God’s throne is the Lamb’s throne. As Dr. Michael Brown put it,

      The book of Revelation is a bad place for those who deny the deity of Jesus.

      Not only do you have him identified as the First and the Last, Beginning and End, Alpha and Omega, but he is explicitly worshiped along with God in Revelation, the 5th chapter.

      The very same worship that goes to God the Father goes to Jesus; either he is God, or that’s idolatry. And when you get to the end of Revelation, 22:3, the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city and his servants will serve Him. God and the Lamb are one entity.

  5. OK, I don’t want this conversation to get out of hand and for people’s feelings to be hurt. I know that is hard to accomplish given the emotional nature of the topic, but we need to give it a shot. Judah, I suspect this issue is personal to you because of your brother. He apparently asked all these questions and eventually converted to Orthodox Judaism, denying Jesus as Messiah and God.

    I suppose on some level, the issue has to be personal for any believer because it’s one of the core doctrines of the church, but if we are forbidden to ask questions for fear of hurting someone’s feelings, then we have to keep our politically correct muzzles on our faces at all times among the body of Christ. How can I have a faith where I can’t ask questions and have to lock-step follow the parade?

    Is there no room in God’s mind or heart for me when I ask the question, “Who are You?” Is He going to be perpetually offended when I ask Him about the Messiah?

    As Derek recently said on his own blog, “We should never let sacred cows get in the way of understanding the Bible.”

  6. I have many articles about this. As I think the last and Final say is from the scriptures themselves. Ether we believe them or we don’t. THE issue on the Messiah being God or not is the Question , I think the scriptures tells of it. at the heart of the Matter is do you believe the Rabbis of Today, or the sages who are less them 200 years removed from yeshua over the ones that are 8 hundred years as in the Ramban and other of witch today Rabbinic community lives thier life on. orthodox judism today dont believe what the sages of Yeshua ( in the time and before yeshua) believed. Also lets As in this Matter beside the sages of old the Kabblah! you will also be surprised at what you FIND! also ask the Jerusalem talmud/. As this one was closed less then 200 years removed from Yeshuas time as the other went on for over 600 hundred years after the closing of the one made in the time of Yeshua. What you will find here is a different understanding and look at the Messiah! Many books are being written about this and are coming out from israel today. that the truth is Orthodox Judaism and also christian and not seeming the true look and way of the Messiah. So in that you will find that the sages of old and also their writing will agree 100% the deity of messiah and also the Aramaic writings , the tung of the Jewish people of Yeshuas time. along with the Kabblah . So you can chose to believe the sages! or Rabbinic today who have changed much in the light of all that they have gone though to dis prove Yeshua and the churches look at jesus. People need to do thier home work in this Matter. As it has hurt me and made many people go to rabbinical Judaism not knowing that Man has made up much and changed much & still do. But the scriptures are true!

  7. “I don’t know what we do about worshiping Jesus. In my prayers, I tell God about that all the time. I tell Him I don’t know who I’m supposed to be addressing. I tell him I don’t want to screw up but that the Bible doesn’t really tell me that I should stop worshiping God in order to worship the Messiah. God is One and I worship One God.”

    Like the ancient sages, you too developed the “Elvis syndrome.” How sad…..

  8. James, I find that sometimes it’s best to keep the details of your relationship with G-d, your beliefs, questions and doubts far away from eyes and ears of mockers who “have it figured out”.

  9. I’m sure that’s sound advice, Gene. Now if I could only find a way to keep my big mouth shut. 😉

    Seriously though, it’s one of the reasons I periodically meet with a few other guys over coffee. We can talk about things that would not generally be palatable by most other folks in the realm of believers.

  10. True story.

    Elvis used to wear a necklace with a cross and the star of David. when asked why both he replied: ” I do not want not to go to heaven on a technicality.”

    It seems you developed the same syndrome….

  11. “James, I find that sometimes it’s best to keep the details of your relationship with G-d, your beliefs, questions and doubts far away from eyes and ears of mockers who “have it figured out”.”

    No one is interested in what you find. Stick with your phobia of being Jewish….

  12. Judah, I really wish I knew what to tell you. In Exodus 23:20-21, an angel with God’s Name in him is able to forgive sins just as God does. In Exodus 40:34-35 the Shekinah God settled upon the Tabernacle in the desert and dwelt with His people Israel physically, while presumably, “God the Father” or what kabbalists called the Ein Sof continued to rule all eternity. In Mark 2:5 (for example), Jesus forgives the sins of a paralyzed man.

    Do you see what I’m getting at? Can you see why this doesn’t seem to be the straightforward, clear cut issues you make it out to be?

    Dan, I have a syndrome and Gene has a phobia. This must be “Psychology Monday.” 😉

  13. “Telling God that I’m not sure how everything works in His universe and being forthright with my doubts is a syndrome?”

    This is exactly what the rabbis thought. How many wrong halachot did they write from fear that God will not be pleased?

  14. “Dan, I have a syndrome and Gene has a phobia. This must be “Psychology Monday.” ;-)”

    James, you had me laughing [almost] out loud! Dan, in his recent email to me, told me that I “need a shrink”. I think it’s still may not too late for him to change his careers to pursue his true calling!

  15. “Do you see what I’m getting at? Can you see why this doesn’t seem to be the straightforward, clear cut issues you make it out to be?”

    It is a clear cut issue. Yeshua is the visible manifestation of the invisible Father. It is as simple as that. Why people don’t have any issues with God appearing to Moses as a little fire in the bush, but make a big issue of God appearing to mankind as a man? Abraham, Jacob, Hagar, and Manoach did not have any problem with that, did they? Don’t you think that the phobias and syndrome is an anachronistic phenomenon (another psychological term?), started after Yeshua ?

  16. “Dan, this is a personal journey. I’m not writing halachot or telling anyone else what to think, feel, or believe.”

    You are writing a blog with carry a following of people who look up to you (Me included). Your hesitations can cause people to stumble. Get off the fence….

  17. James, one other thing. You’re uncertain whether Yeshua should be worshiped. I’d like to explore that uncertainty for a moment.

    If Yeshua should not be worshiped, we’re left with an inevitable conclusion that billions of Christians are committing idolatry. After all, if Yeshua should not be worshiped, then he is not God, and worshiping someone besides God is idolatry.

    Rambam took the that belief to it’s full conclusion, stating that Christianity is shittuf – worship of God and another being – and went further by saying shittuf is acceptable neither for Jews nor gentiles. and thus, Christianity is idolatry.

    If a follower of Jesus took this belief that Jesus should not be worshiped, it would likely require throwing out portions of the New Testament where people, angels, creation actually do worship Messiah.

    From history and from anecdotal experience, James, the belief that Yeshua is not God leads to the inevitable conclusion that the New Testament advocates idolatry, and therefore, Yeshua is neither Messiah nor God.

  18. You are writing a blog with carry a following of people who look up to you (Me included). Your hesitations can cause people to stumble. Get off the fence….

    Dan, one of the reasons that I no longer (formerly) teach is that I’m hardly a theology expert. I’m pretty much just like everyone else in the community of believers: doing my best to serve God and trying to learn to be better. I have no intent to tell others what to do or what to believe. I can only share my own experiences and insights, and if others find that valuable in their own pursuit of faith and God, then maybe this is part of the reason God inserted me into this venue.

    You’re implying that I can’t have any doubts, or at least that I can’t express them in public. Has it occurred to you that what people find valuable about my blog posts is that I admit that I don’t know it all? The blogosphere and the rest of the world’s information containers are full of pundits who are more than willing to tell people how to live an anxiety free life, how to manage their money the Biblical way, how to lose weight by exercising only five minutes a day while eating ice cream, and so on. Pundits are a dime a dozen. Stories from the heart are a little harder to come by.

    I hope that I’m providing the latter. Thank you for saying you look up to me. I appreciate the vote of confidence. Our relationship is a great example of what I’ve been trying to say in other meditations: that two people can disagree, even on very fundamental and emotionally charge issues, and still remain friends.

    I’m “hopping the fence” in tomorrow’s morning blog post. It’s not indecision; it’s a journey of discovery. I’m finding one thread, one gem, one patch of fabric, one ornament at a time. I’m building a perception of the Messiah. Piece by piece, I’m letting anyone who cares to read my missives how I’m progressing.

    I’m not here to give out answers, particularly when I don’t always have them myself. I’m here to ask questions, to encourage others to ask questions, to stretch the fabric of faith past the typical boundaries that doctrine, theology, and dogma provide, and to see if we can get just a little peek at a God we don’t readily find in your neighborhood church.

    Each time I write something, I’m trying to do this:

    When you awake in the morning, learn something to inspire you and mediate upon it, then plunge forward full of light with which to illuminate the darkness.

  19. James, I share your sentiments. That’s why on my blog’s “About” page I make the following disclaimer: “My thoughts are my own. I do not seek to preach or teach, but rather to offer my opinion on a variety of subjects that interest me as a person, as a Jew, and as a student and follower of the Master.”

    I do consider the fact that some people “online”, “misguided” as they may be for doing so, may look up to me or may be influenced by me, for better or worse. Therefore, I try my best to be a source of good, wholesome and thought-provoking information. I believe that you do the same right here on your little spot of virtual real estate.

  20. Gene, you are no equal to James…when you will have a heart as genteel as James’ maybe I will look up to you too. Until then go back to mingle with the barracudas…..LOL! Still love you…..

  21. Gene, you are no equal to James…when you will have a heart as genteel as James’ maybe I will look up to you too. Until then go back to mingle with the barracudas…..LOL! Still love you…..

    As my wife and daughter are fond of saying at moments like this, Oy!

  22. I am an avid proponent of the divinity of Messiah. But debates aside, the post was beautiful and made my morning. The story of the sliced challah, the quote about not despising any person, the analogy of not wasting Messiah’s blood . . . thank you, James.

  23. Judah Gabriel Himango I enjoyed your Replys . Very interesting , Many people go off topic and ran down the street, I do hope that people did here what was said here and do look back over thier relationship . As Yudah said From history and from anecdotal experience, James, the belief that Yeshua is not God leads to the inevitable conclusion that the New Testament advocates idolatry, and therefore, Yeshua is neither Messiah nor God. Getting off the feance is a true statment ether we belive what the bible says over today Rabbis or GET OFF. and to one side or the other… didnt some one say that luke warmness was not a very good thing….

  24. I give here two offers , want to salve this problem with the True understanding? , Look up commentary’s from the Jerusalem Talmud on Messiah, Johnathon’s Turgum/Oskelos on the Word (Mitha)/(Memra) In Tanok and Johns writings,All by the Jewish people and sagnic writings.. if you do your home work you will come to full understanding No question that Yeshua and YHWH are ONE and If ONE and not two then worship is not an Issue. Look up in Kabblah from Gershom scholem pg 181-182 about God head.

  25. Greetings, jwat5.

    Before you judge me too harshly, you might want to read what I wrote today about this issue. Scroll up to my previous comment and then click on the link.

    Thanks.

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