A Few Thoughts on a General Soul

Hasidism teaches that while not all are able to attain the highest levels of elevated spirituality, the masses can attach themselves to the Tzadik, or truly righteous one, (in Hebrew: התקשרות לצדיקים) whereby even those of lesser achievement will reap the same spiritual and material benefits. By being in the Tzadik’s presence one could achieve dveikut through that of the Tzadik. The Tzadik also serves as the intercessor between those attached to him and God, and acts as the channel through which Divine bounty is passed. To the early Rabbinic opponents of Hasidism, its distinctive doctrine of the Tzadik appeared to place an intermediary before Judaism’s direct connection with God. They saw the Hasidic enthusiasm of telling semi-prophetic or miraculous stories of its leaders as excessive. In Hasidic thought, based on earlier Kabbalistic ideas of collective souls, the Tzaddik is a general soul in which the followers are included. The Tzaddik is described as an “Intermidiary who connects” with God, rather than the heretical notion of an “Intermidiary who separates”. To the followers, the Tzaddik is not an object of prayer, as he attains his level only by being completely bittul (nullified) to God. The Hasidic followers have the custom of handing pidyon requests for blessing to the Tzaddik, or visiting the Ohel graves of earlier leaders.

from the article “Hasidic philosophy”
Wikipedia.org

I can hardly tell you how the above-quoted paragraph seems to describe how I understand the Messiah.

OK, I know that Wikipedia has less than a stellar reputation as a direct resource, but given that Chasidic and Kabbalistic philosophy can be enormously difficult to comprehend (at least to me), I selected what I thought was the most accessible information source. But why am I posting a quote about bonding with a Chasidic tzadik at all? What possible relevance can it have to a Christian, even one who is trying to view his faith through a traditional Jewish lens?

Last week, as I’ve mentioned numerous times, I attended the First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) 2012 Shavuot conference at the Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship in Hudson, Wisconsin. Among the various teachers and speakers at this event was FFOZ author and staff member Aaron Eby. He said something about the Messiah during one of his presentations that I just had to write down. This probably isn’t word-for-word, but hopefully, it’s close.

Messiah has a general soul and he cannot separate his soul from the soul of Israel.

I’m not sure if the other stuff I have written down on this little piece of paper I’m looking at was said by Aaron or just my interpretation and expansion on what he said, but here it is.

When a Gentile takes hold of the tzitzit of a Jew, he is taking hold of Messiah. He is taking hold of the tzitzit of a Jew and being led to the Temple Mount. Find God in the Jewish people.

I’m obviously referencing Zechariah 8:23 in my notes, but let’s take a look at the verse in it’s context.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.’ Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” –Zechariah 8:20-23 (ESV)

These events occur in the Messianic age, so thus far, ten men of the nations haven’t taken a hold of the tzitzit of a Jew in the manner described by the prophet. However, we know that this will happen and we know we Christians should get used to the idea that it should happen, and that it is all part of God’s plan for the Jews and for us.

A few weeks ago, I wrote on another meditation something that caused quite a stir:

This is another reason why we Christians, and indeed, the entire world, owes the Jews a debt that can never be repaid. It is their King who will finally come and bring peace for everyone, not just the nation of Israel, but the nations of the earth.

The “push back” I received about those words was that we owe God the Father and Jesus Christ such a debt, not the Jewish people. The idea is that Christians should not glorify a people group but instead, glorify God. As far as that statement goes, I agree wholeheartedly. Our worship and devotion belongs only to the God of Israel. Jesus Christ came and even said that God sent him to the lost sheep of Israel. And we know from the very often quoted John 3:16 and many other scriptures that the scope of the Messianic covenant extends far beyond Israel and indeed, to the entire world.

ShavuotBut what was that thing about a “general soul?”

When Aaron made that statement, I immediately thought of the different ways I tried to explain why we Christians do owe a debt to the Jews. In the best way I knew how, I tried to show that the Messiah as an individual, cannot be separated from his people the Jews. In essense, Messiah is Israel and is their firstborn son. Now I have another way of thinking about Messiah as having a general soul that is inseparably joined to the soul of all his people. But maybe, if we can take a different look at Zechariah 8, the door swings both ways, so to speak. We in church, when we “take hold” of Christ, are also taking hold of Israel and the Jews. But we can also “take hold,” as the prophet said, of a Jew, and by doing so, be joined to Israel and her Messiah.

I want to be very careful here and explain that I’m not talking about substituting Judaism in the place of the Messiah. So many Gentiles in the Messianic Jewish movement have fallen into this trap and abandoned Jesus altogether, choosing instead to convert to a traditional Judaism. This is not what I’m suggesting at all. What I’m saying is that we cannot separate the Messiah from Judaism. Perhaps I’m also saying that we cannot separate Judaism from Messiah. I’m not particularly scholarly in these areas, so I don’t have the means to evaluate the mystical implications of all of this, but if nothing else, I see the Messiah and his general soul as a way for us to continually realize that we cannot say we love Jesus Christ and throw the Jews, Judaism, and national Israel under a bus at the same time.

If we accept Christ as Messiah and Lord, we accept all of him, just as he is and always will be. Totally joined to Israel and to every Jew who has ever existed.

So be careful what you say and how you treat the next Jewish person you meet. You never know if someday it may be his tzitzit you will be clinging to as you cling to the soul of the Messiah.

Since the Divine activating force responsible for the existence of created things must continuously be present within them, they are completely nullified in their source. This means, as the Alter Rebbe explained in the previous chapter, that in reality they do not “exist”.

Why, then, do we nevertheless perceive created beings as enjoying a tangible “existence”? — Only because we are unable to see or comprehend the Divine utterance that is contained within each created thing and that calls it into being.

The Alter Rebbe illustrated this by considering the sun’s rays. When they are not within their source, the sun, but diffused throughout the expanse of the universe, they are perceived as having independent existence. However, when they are contained within the sun-globe they clearly have no such “existence” at all.

From “Today’s Tanya Lesson” (Listen online)
Shaar Hayichud Vehaemunah, beginning of Chapter 4
Sivan 12, 5772 · June 2, 2012
Chabad.org

62 thoughts on “A Few Thoughts on a General Soul”

  1. I just received an email from someone who I greatly respect who expressed grave concerns about the topic of this blog post. Based on his private comments to me, I just want to clarify that I’m not describing any of the above as literal facts. When delving into mystic realms, it is extremely important to be mindful of what you’re communicating and why. In my case, I employ Chassidic tales and mysticism as largely metaphorical. I want to communicate a connection between the Messiah and Israel that we might not otherwise experience. I want to try to show people, particularly Christians, that we aren’t justified in separating Messiah and keeping him apart from his people, as if Jesus was a wholly owned “object” of the Christian church.

    While I can’t provide direct spiritual or Biblical support for the mystic concepts I have written above, it was (and still is) and attempt to use Chassidic thought as another way of saying what I tried to communicate in one of my comments from a previous blog:

    Israel was always meant to the the beacon that would lead the rest of the world to God. Consider Isaiah 49:6 and Isaiah 51:4. By extension, Jesus said of himself that he was (and is) the light to the world (John 8:12) and he passed that torch (if you’ll pardon the obvious pun) to his disciples, including us, when we said that we are a light to the world (Matthew 5:14).

    There’s an unbroken chain in the transmission of God’s Word from God Himself, to His people Israel, and to Israel’s firstborn son of Creation and the firstborn of the dead Jesus Christ. Jesus is called the King of the Jews, which hardly divorces his work of salvation from the Jewish people. We thank, praise, and honor God for our salvation and redemption from sin, however He chose to provide those gifts through the birth of Jesus and the light of His nation Israel, which was always to be our guiding light, since the very beginning.

    God is God alone, but Jesus doesn’t exist in isolation. We was born, lived, died, and was resurrected within a specific context so that “The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:2)

    If I contributed to confusion rather than elucidation, I apologize.

  2. OK, you probably knew I would object and I do. I don’t believe you will come to see it as I do, but I’ll state my objections for the discussion.

    First, “the nations” are not “the Church”. The Church is “A NATION” made up from every tongues and tribes called out and chosen from among “the nations” to be separate or holy.

    Second, Yeshua said that not all Jews were his family nor joined to him but only those “who believe are my Mother, Sister and Brother” so that leaves out “every Jew who has ever existed as being “joined”.

    Third, we cannot say we love Jesus and not love everyone including our enemies whether Jew or Gentile. Our specific commandment to “love each other” and ‘believers” has no race.

    Fourth, Judaism is a religion which includes traditions that “make to no affect the commandments of God” at least in part as well as some paganism and superstition mixed in. You may not agree, but that’s the way I see it.

    Fifth, as believers (Jew and Gentile) we have already been joined to God through Messiah (unbelievers have no part in him) and we have no further need to convert or of a Jew to “take hold of” but, that is for those of the nations who have not been joined as one with Messiah.

  3. Hi Steven. Yes, I had a feeling you’d make a comment or two. 😉

    First of all, make sure you read my comment above, so we don’t enter into a discussion on the relative merits of mysticism. I’m speaking metaphorically here.

    That said, can you clarify where you find that the church is actually a distinct nation? The church is made up of all of the nations of the earth, but doesn’t represent any one of them. The only distinct nation that I can see in the Bible is Israel, and God said Israel would always be a nation/people before Him.

    OK, so will literally every single solitary Jewish person across the long span of history be “saved?” I would guess probably not. But Israel will be. How that works in terms of the specific mechanics, I don’t know, but they’ll be there at the end of all things, according to what we see in John’s Revelation.

    When Jesus said (echoing the Torah) to love your enemies, he wasn’t talking about war or warring nations or nations in general, he was talking about people in the community, friends and neighbors, some of whom we don’t always get along with. That isn’t always well communicated in some Bible translations.

    Judaism is and isn’t a religion. It’s not a religion in the sense that modern Christianity is, because it involves a specific people group as well as (ultimately) the nation of Israel. When the Torah laws were presented at Sinai and later, they were specifically applied as the laws of national Israel. In America, we separate, national, state, and city laws from social standards, mores, and taboos, but the Torah put all of that in one “bucket” so to speak. In ancient times, it was just as much a law to keep the Shabbat as it was to help your neighbor (whether you liked him or not) lift up his fallen donkey or to return a lost item to your neighbor. Religion fuses with law an fuses with lifestyle so they’re all one thing. Most Christians don’t connect obeying God with not exceeding the speed limit, more’s the pity (I sometimes encounter some really rude drivers who have a “Christian fish” stuck to the back of their cars).

    I never said we weren’t already joined with God or that we needed to convert. Far from it. I’m only saying there is a dissonance between how we Christians see ourselves today and prophecies we see in places such as Micah 4 and Zechariah 8, which give us a glimpse of the Messianic Age.

    Ultimately, I’m not providing final answers but instead, the motivation to think and to question assumptions. Metaphors and mental “pictures” are just one way of doing that.

  4. “we have no further need of a Jew to “take hold of” but, that is for those of the nations who have not been joined as one with Messiah.”

    Steven, I believe that you will be proven wrong. Very wrong. I am just going by scripture and two thousand years of history of Christian attitude in relation to the Jewish people and Israel (which you reflect, unfortunately).

    Take for what it is, but here’s an account from my friend that I posted on my blog a few months ago: “A story of one Christian’s after-death regret about Israel and Judaism

  5. “can you clarify where you find that the church is actually a distinct nation?”

    Yes, Yeshua spoke of it as a nation. “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to A NATION bringing forth the fruits thereof.”

    As well as a Kingdom:
    “Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
    for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
    and YOU HAVE MADE THEM A KINGDOM and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”

    God did not say he would make Abraham “a nation” but “a multitude of nations”.

    Those “multitude of nations” will possess the land.

    “And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

  6. I think Aaron’s main point in bringing up the Chasidic teaching about Messiah and Israel was simply to show that one cannot truly accept one while rejecting the other. Beyond this, I do not think he was wanting to get into the mechanics or details of Chasidus.

  7. Gene, so what you are saying is that…. although we have been joined to God by Yeshua and have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and God lives inside believing gentiles and Jews…..the Gentiles still need a Jew to teach them about God because he is with them but not with Gentiles?

  8. Boaz, you may be right about why it was brought up…but, when if that is the only point I would bring up Moses.

    “Exodus 32:26
    Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.”

    You can’t have one without the other….but you can get yourself on the wrong side of things if you don’t make distinctions within Israel of believers verses unbelievers.

  9. Steven, the word rendered “nation” in your quote from Matthew 21:43 can also be translated as “people” which renders a different meaning. Of course, what it actually says in Greek might be helpful, but I don’t have that information at my fingertips. Anyway, it would seem, on the surface, to make more sense to refer to the general body of the church as “people” since we are a collection of “goyim” from among the nations, rather than try to “nationalize” Christianity.

    Oh, and “Kingdom” as in “Kingdom of Heaven” typically refers to the rule of God over the earth, not “Kingdom” as referring to a specific nation or country.

  10. Steven, as Boaz noted above, you can’t have Messiah of Israel without Israel/Jews. Gentile relationship with Messiah and G-d depends on the covenant G-d established with the Jewish people. And yes, you do learn from Jews, every time you open your Bible, when you read both the “Hebrew” Bible that was faithfully preserved by the Jewish scribes and the New Testament that was penned by the Jewish disciples of the Master. Also, a day will come when you will learn directly from the Jews in person. You are learning even right now as you’re reading my words:)

  11. “can also be translated as “people” which renders a different meaning.’

    No James, it renders the SAME meaning, People/Nation are synonymous. Nice try

    “refers to the rule of God over the earth”

    Again, I disagree James…..God already has rule over the earth…that was the lesson he gave by making the King eat grass 7 years. “so you will know God rules in the Kingdom of men”.

    Yeshua said his Kingdom was NOT of this world.

  12. Gene, while I agree we learn from Jews we also learn from Gentiles for the Holy Spirit and the word are IN the Church and TRUTH did not come from JEWS but from GOD to the Jews and Truth was rejected by them except for a few…but accepted by far more and many many multitudes of gentiles.

    The unbelievers neither understand the Torah nor Keep the Torah. They have broken the covenant and reaped the curse. They are deaf, blind and hardhearted and unrepentant. They are not teaching anyone anything other than “what not to do”.

    Yeshua taught a man is with him or against him. On Yeshua’s side are all believers, those who have the Holy Spirit, I’m on the Lords side. We are the very temple of the living God. He made the church that and it does not matter race, gender etc.

    So, to say we can not have Yeshua without Israel is not the same as saying we cannot have Yeshua without Jews….for on Yeshua’s side are both Jews and Gentiles….but not all of Israel is on the lords side.

    Those without the son are without the Father, Yeshua said that and he got that directly from the Father. You will never convince me otherwise.

    The Church is elevated above Israel because she believed and Knew Yeshua and received the Holy Spirit….while those bidden to the wedding but refused to come…..well, you know….

    Shalom

  13. Well something is missing, otherwise Jesus wouldn’t have to come back and “rule and reign for a thousand years,” Steven.

    I can see the people comprising “the church” being called a people and collectively “the bride of Christ” (although you also have to consider all of the marriage metaphors in the Tanakh that refer to Israel as the bride of God), but you can’t literally nationalize Christianity unless you create a physical nation like the USA and rename it the “United States of Christians”. It doesn’t quite form a nation and people group the way that Israel does. Of course, this is the part where most Christians say that the inheritance of the physical land of Israel is passed onto the church, but to do that, you have to cancel the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants. While Abraham’s seed results in him being the father of many nations through Messiah (that is, the people from many nations become Christians), that still doesn’t abrogate God’s promise that the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob specifically inherit the Land of Canaan, and those promises were fulfilled in ancient times when the Israelites followed Joshua across the Jordan and took possession of that Land.

    I have a feeling that this will be yet another conversation where we will not see eye to eye, Steven. I was recently reminded that virtually none of these conversations on the blogosphere result in anyone changing their minds. The primary purpose (at least based on their result) seems to be the ability to express our personal opinions. We are each answering the “battle cry,” someone is wrong on the Internet (image).

    Such is life and the nature of human interactions.

  14. “People/Nation are synonymous.”

    What??? “There are ten people in this room” – can you render it “There are ten nations in this room?” A group or groups of “people” need not signify nation or a nations. People in the Ekklesia are not a “nation”, but they are subjects of the Kingdom of G-d – where many nations will live.

    “Yeshua said his Kingdom was NOT of this world.”

    He’s still the King of the Jews and Israel, which, the last time I checked, were still very much on this planet. Perhaps Yeshua meant something else – that the current evil world with it’s wickedness is not his Kingdom.

  15. “It doesn’t quite form a nation and people group the way that Israel does.”

    Of course it does, we are BORN AGAIN, a new creature into a Kingdom not of this world.

  16. עַם or AM
    Strongs 5971
    1) nation, people
    a) people, nation
    b) persons, members of one’s people, compatriots, country-men
    2) kinsman, kindred

  17. The Church is elevated above Israel because she believed and Knew Yeshua and received the Holy Spirit….

    That’s a complete reversal of causality, Steven. In Acts 2 the Jewish Apostles received the Holy Spirit and subsequently, thousands of Jews came to faith and received the Holy Spirit during the festival of Shavuot (Pentecost). Few if any non-Jews (with the probable exception of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8) came to faith in the Jewish Messiah and received the Spirit for the next fifteen years, until God required that Peter go to the Roman Centurion Cornelius. When Peter and the other Jews with him saw that Gentiles could receive the Spirit as well, they were astonished!

    Most people I know who call themselves Christian aren’t as supersessionist (or at least they don’t express it to me) as you express yourself to be, Steven. I’ll take it for granted that you believe everything you say and that you aren’t deliberately hostile to Jewish people, either personally or on the level of theology, but you really seem to be missing the point of a lot of the ancient prophecies. According to you, Israel just isn’t going to make it.

    At the conference I attended, I met many Christians (who aren’t necessarily “Messianic”) including a Lutheran Pastor and a Baptist Pastor, and they were much more open to the idea that Jews have a tremendous presence in the current activities of human beings in His plan and with ultimate redemption of the world.

    I’m sorry, but I’m just amazed that you can call yourself “Messianic” and yet espouse what has been the most harmful elements that have inhabited much of the church for the past nearly 20 centuries. Why do you even use the occasional “Yeshua” and “Shalom” when it seems as if Jews, Judaism, and Israel have no value to you as a disciple of the Jewish Messiah King and worshiper of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

    Really Steven, I’m just floored.

  18. Those who are believers in Yeshua are my brothers and sisters and they are “the Church” and race does not matter to me. They who have obtained eternal life, both the Jews and the Gentiles, male and female, slave or free. Can’t change the words of Yeshua just to please men.

    Those who were invited and refused to come to the wedding…faithless Israel, “the sons of the kingdom”

    And when Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

    And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven:

    but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast forth into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.

  19. Jesus also said that he came for the lost sheep of Israel, not the lost sheep of whatever. Paul went first to the Jew and only then to the Gentile, and he was the specified emissary to the Gentiles. Paul also said that all of Israel would be saved, and I’m willing to take him at his word. In Revelation, 12,000 members of each tribe are present along with a vast, vast number of people groups from every nation, tribe, and tongue.

    You’re operating on an “either/or” principle, Steven. Either the Jews are God’s people or the Christian church (i.e. non-Jews) are God’s people, and as far as I’m reading you, it seems as if there’s no room in your theology for both (unless a Jew gives up Judaism and becomes a non-Jewish Christian, abandoning Israel and the Torah). And yet in 2 Peter 3:9, we find that God does not want anyone to perish but wants everyone to repent. Repenting means repenting of sin, not the “crime” of being Jewish.

    Have individual Jews been faithless? Sure. Will individual Jews be faithless when Messiah returns? Yes. So will a whole boatload of non-Jews. But the Bible unmistakably said all of Israel will saved and restored and redeemed. You can cite examples of individual Jews who were faithless in the Bible and individual Gentiles were were faithful, but that’s not proof that God is done with all Jews everywhere and collective, national Israel. Over 2,000 years, Christians have built a theology that was designed to say that, but as we can see from a critical view of the Bible, that’s not the only possible conclusion.

  20. “You’re operating on an “either/or” principle, Steven”

    And I thought that is what you were doing James, perhaps we are not understanding each other?
    Those guests who refused to come…are rejected and replaced with others.

    “Jesus also said that he came for the lost sheep of Israel”

    He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
    He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
    But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

    Which were born, NOT OF BLOOD, nor of the will OF THE FLESH, nor of the WILL OF MAN, but of God.

  21. He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”Matthew 15:24

    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”;Romans 11:26

    After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel…

    After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”Revelation 7:1-4, 9-10

    Not either/or. Both Israel and the Gentile disciples “make it.”

  22. Yep, that’s why I keep repeating Jew AND gentile.

    And how is ungodliness banished from Jacob? Matthew 13:41

    “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

  23. “I have a feeling that this will be yet another conversation where we will not see eye to eye, Steven. I was recently reminded that virtually none of these conversations on the blogosphere result in anyone changing their minds.”

    Your right, so I’m going to bow out gracefully! Shalom my brother James! (I just say shalom because I like the word and I say Yeshua because I was informed that is his real name)

  24. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.Matthew 13:41-43 (NIV)

    I agree that Christ’s immediate audience was Jews and that he was warning his own people to repent of sin and lawlessness (which in this context, meant lack of observance of the Torah, interestingly enough). However, it does not mean that all Jews are the law-breakers and will be condemns vs. all Gentile Christians are the righteous and will “shine like the sun,” etc..

    Let’s take a brief tour of Romans 11:25-29

    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.”
    As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

    Paul is saying, “Lest you (Gentile Christians) be wise in your own sight….a partial hardening has come upon Israel for the sake of the Gentiles entering into discipleship with Jesus. But it’s a temporary hardening because all Israel will be saved by the “Deliverer from Zion” (the Messiah) who will banish all ungodliness from Jacob.

    At this point, we should realize that it’s part of God’s plan for Israel to temporarily “take a bullet” for the Gentiles by being hardened by God. If God hadn’t hardened Israel, perhaps Israel would have come to the Messiah en masse during or soon after Paul’s time, locking out Gentile entry into the Messianic covenant. Good thing Israel is currently suffering for the sake of Gentile salvation, isn’t it? Good thing that, temporarily, God made the Jewish people “enemies” of the Gospel for the sake of the Gentiles. I just hope we Gentile Christians can avoid being arrogant and “wise in our own sight” like Paul warned us not to be.

    Now pay attention to what Paul says about the Jewish people:

    But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

    In regards to Israel’s election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. Wow! Their gifts and their calling are irrevocable!

    Irrevocable is an adj. meaning: “not to be revoked or recalled; unable to be repealed or annulled; unalterable.”

    Wow! That’s God’s promises to the Jewish people. They are unable to be repealed or taken back. Israel will be saved by the Messiah. Imagine that.

  25. WOW!!! Why didn’t all the prophets just say so? Israel has nothing to be concerned over! There are no unbelieving or faithless. No one is going to be cast out or burned up! Everyone will enter into his rest and everyone will have eternal life.

    Really James?

  26. Steven, if you will read all of my comments and put everything together, you’ll see I didn’t say that every single Jewish person will be “saved.” However, it’s difficult to disregard the words of Paul in Romans 11 for the sake of supporting supersessionism. As far asl “all the prophets are concerned, we know that the ancient prophets did foretell a time of national Israel’s return to the Land and “they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken” (Micah 4:4). Why is that so hard to believe or worse, why is it so hard to be OK about?

  27. It’s not hard to believe, it’s only hard for me to skip everything in between as though it does not exist and is unimportant.

    I have said over and over that “believers” will be saved, Jew or Gentile. The “whosoever wills” will replace the “whosoever will not’s”.

    It’s clear that is what Yeshua taught.

    Obviously, once we get to Micah 4…these are the “whosoever will’s” as the others have been burned up with fire.

  28. That doesn’t erase my quote from Romans 11, Steven. I suppose we could accuse each other of picking and choosing our supporting scriptures all night long, but that’s hardly going to be productive. Unfortunately, habit and tradition seems to interpret the Bible as much as actual reading and scholarship.

  29. Just a quick note for the conversation you are having:

    All who are saved are Israel.

    Need a scripture for that?

    Start in Genesis where YHWH divided the light from the darkness and just follow the path all the way to the end where YHWH separates one people from the other.

    And the criteria for that separation?

    Those who belong to Him and those who don’t.

  30. BTW, the sages interpreted Zecheriah 8:20-23 differently. In Bavli Shabbat 32b (and elsewhere): “Whoever is careful [to wear] tzitzit shall merit to have 2,800* servants cater to him, for it is written . . . [Zechariah 9:20-23].”

    Although I don’t like this interpretation very much – the word “avedim” really means slaves here, not servants — it actually seems more in tune with the scripture verses than the more mystical approach. The prophet depicts Gentiles as desperate to meet God and grabbing on to the only ones whom God is with – Jews. I suspect that they would be willing to serve as slaves if only to gain access to God. At the very least, the prophet depicts Gentile access to the Temple as dependent on their clinging to Jews. They do not have an independent right of access. This interpretation supports your overall argument about Gentile relationship with God.

    *Note: 2,800 probably represents ten from each of the 70 nations (=700) times the four corners of the garment).

  31. Carl, I’m curious to see how you interpret this relative to Christianity. Do you think Zechariah was referring to Gentile pagans who have no relationship with God, or Christians who are members of the Messianic covenant? Also, when you talk about Gentiles having no access to the Temple without a Jewish person, how would you reconcile that with the Orthodox opinion that Gentiles are allowed to bring burnt offerings to G-d in the Temple when it is standing in Jerusalem ? Additionally, Gene recently blogged about Gentile access to the Temple as far as the Court of the Gentiles, and their (our, in my case) ability to offer sacrifices.

    Thanks.

  32. “Gentiles having no access to the Temple without a Jewish person, how would you reconcile that with the Orthodox opinion that Gentiles are allowed to bring burnt offerings to G-d in the Temple when it is standing in Jerusalem ”

    James, would it not mean that if the Temple stands it will be precisely because the Jews will be there in the Temple (which means that Gentiles will have access to it WITH a Jewish person, as Carl noted)?

  33. I’m just trying to understand the “mechanics” of all this, not being fussy…honest. 😉

    So you’re saying that even if a Gentile is allowed to offer the sacrifice, he could only enter the Court of the Gentiles if accompanied by a Jewish person?

    Paul was accused of taking Trophimus the Ephesian into the Temple when he merely was with him in the city. Would this have been the case if Paul had actually taken Trophimus into the Court of the Gentiles, or was his crime the assumption that he had taken Trophimus further in, where no Gentiles are not allowed?

    Oh, and assuming this comment makes it in this time, just letting everyone know that WordPress has been acting very dodgy this morning. I can’t even access the admin console half the time.

  34. “So you’re saying that even if a Gentile is allowed to offer the sacrifice, he could only enter the Court of the Gentiles if accompanied by a Jewish person? ”

    James, the Temple will be manned by Jews 24/7. So, no worries. I don’t think that Carl mean that a Gentile must be chaperoned by a Jew just to go to the Temple. I think he meant that Gentiles will cling to Jews since G-d is with them (in a spiritual sense, I hope!) and that without Jews there will be no Temple, because “Theirs is… the Temple worship” (Romans 9:4).

  35. I am in Christ and I am telling you the truth. I am not lying. And my conscience, ruled by the Holy Spirit, agrees that what I say now is true. I have great sorrow and always feel much sadness for my own people. They are my brothers and sisters, my earthly family. I wish I could help them. I would even have a curse on me and cut myself off from Christ if that would help them. They are the people of Israel, God’s chosen children. They have the glory of God and the agreements he made between himself and his people. God gave them the Law of Moses, the Temple worship, and his promises. They are the descendants of our great fathers, and they are the earthly family of the Messiah, who is God over all things. Praise him forever! Amen. –Romans 9:1-5

    Doesn’t sound like Paul thought any of this was over post-ascension of the Messiah.

    Well, even if Yeshua should return within my lifetime, the chances of me making it to Jerusalem aren’t promising so I suppose in a personal sense, it doesn’t matter. Still, there is a question, and I don’t know if anyone can answer it, if non-Jews under the Messianic covenant would be considered any different, relative to Temple worship, than generic pagan Gentiles. Given the issue of Trophimus the Ephesian (Acts 21), assuming Trophimus was a believer, probably not.

  36. “generic pagan Gentiles”

    Will not everyone who will make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem to worship G-d in those days and bring sacrifices to G-d there be a “believer in Messiah” and not your “generic pagan Gentile”? I mean there will be G-d’s presence in the Temple and His Messiah will be there (not to mention that the whole earth will be filled with the glory of G-d) – I don’t think that faking devotion and being a pagan coming to worship G-d will fly. In a word – all Gentiles who come before G-d to worship Him in the Temple will be “Christians”.

  37. I do not go to temple…I am the temple of the living God. God dwells in me.

    It seems strange to me that gentile believers who have Christ and the Holy Spirit in them would not be allowed in a temple made with human hands that God will never live in.

  38. “It seems strange to me that gentile believers who have Christ and the Holy Spirit in them would not be allowed in a temple made with human hands that God will never live in.”

    Steven… you must’ve slept through the prophets class, my friend.

  39. God dwells in the Temple of the heart. God dwells in the Temple in Jerusalem. Reminds me of the famous Yogi Berra quote, “when you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

  40. “Steven… you must’ve slept through the prophets class, my friend.”

    Gene…but, I did not sleep through Jesus teachings….

    “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

    Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

    Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

    But the hour cometh, ****AND NOW IS**** when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

    God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

  41. Steve… I suppose Jesus was zealous over G-d’s Temple in Jerusalem for nothing, after all. And the prophets were all wrong too, and nations will not come to Jerusalem to worship G-d.

    “And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the L-RD Almighty and to entreat him.” (Zechariah 8:22)

    “In the last days the mountain of the L-RD’s Temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.” (Isaiah 2:2)

    All wrong.. all spiritualized away.

  42. James – I agree with Gene’s comments on your comment on my comment.

    BTW, if we take Yeshua literally, that the time will come when “you shall worship neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem,” then those will be the only two places on earth where the Samaritan woman will would not be permitted to worship. That’s nonsense, of course. Yeshua was saying that worship (her’s or anyone’s) would not be restricted to the centers of Samaritan or Jewish worship. Worship can take place anywhere, but it must be “in spirit and in truth.” This does not eliminate Temple worship, but it must characterize” Temple worship.

  43. “And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
    to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
    and to be his servants,
    everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
    and holds fast my covenant—
    these I will bring to my holy mountain,
    and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
    their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
    for my house shall be called a house of prayer
    for all peoples.”
    The Lord God,
    who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,
    “I will gather yet others to him
    besides those already gathered.”
    Isaiah 56:6-7

    This seems to say that the foreigners (nations, Gentiles, us) who join ourselves to God to minister, to love, and to serve Him will be brought to God’s holy mountain (Temple Mount in Jerusalem) and we will be joyful in His house of prayer (the Temple…this is in Messianic times which have yet to come). Interestingly enough, it speaks of Gentiles keeping the Sabbath, and that our sacrifices will be accepted in the Temple. Virtually in the same “breath,” God says that he gathers in the outcasts of Israel and the “others” he refers to probably means the Gentiles. Looks like one big party to me.

    Jesus didn’t seem to have invalidated this prophecy. In fact, he quoted from it:

    He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”Matthew 21:13

    Granted he was pretty upset at the time, but in quoting a snippet from Isaiah 56 his audience would have understood the full context of the verse, as should we.

  44. “This does not eliminate Temple worship”

    But, it’s destruction sure did. lol

    Why did God allow his temple to be destroyed?

    Because old wine skins cannot hold new wine or it would burst.

    Thus a temple made without hands.

    You guys really need to catch up! At first I though you were just a little off the mark, but now starting to see you just about missed entirely the things that Jesus and his Apostles taught. We are living stones of a heavenly temple formed by God, not by man. I am already seated in heavenly places and while remaining in the world, appointed to offer up “SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES”.

    Temple worship is not of a building made by human hands and God is not pleased with animal sacrifices.

    You guys really need to get a grasp on Hebrews 10. What part of “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” don’t you get?

    Having been made perfect and sanctified and filled with the Holy Spirit, seated in heavenly places already, not in the future, formed into a temple and priesthood of the living God, you want me to take hold of a mans Jewish flesh to learn about God?

    There is only one mediator between me and God. He is Jewish. It is enough! He is making ONE NEW BODY of JEW AND GENTILE and you guys better get out of the way with your trying to put his “new wine” into your old wine skins.

    Shalom

  45. “He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” -Matthew 21:13”

    Looks to me like Yeshua is 1) Validating the fact that the Temple was still his Father’s house, an actual physical place where people worship and pray to G-d (not only the bodies of believers, which is a spiritual language not meant to be taken literarly), and 2) That it will be called (indicating the future) a house of prayer for all nations, in agreement with all the prophets that the Temple will once again stand where such a thing will be possible..

  46. “This seems to say that the foreigners (nations, Gentiles, us) who join ourselves to God to minister, to love, and to serve Him will be brought to God’s holy mountain (Temple Mount in Jerusalem) and we will be joyful in His house of prayer (the Temple…this is in Messianic times which have yet to come). ”

    No James, we ARE “the holy mountain”, the church, the New Jerusalem to whom the nations will flow.

  47. No James, we ARE “the holy mountain”, the church, the New Jerusalem to whom the nations will flow.

    Oh my. This is a highly spiritualized interpretation of scripture that requires way more “brain bending” than accepting, in this case, that God was actually talking about a Third Temple. To be best of my understanding, the only reason for refactoring significant portions of the Bible to turn people in to holy mountains is to minimize or eliminate the Jewish people as having any sort of future history and significance in God’s plan.

    Steven, I will be glad to send you PDF versions of my first two installments of my “supersessionism” series if you’d like, but I suspect you won’t read them.

    If you think you have a completely unfiltered view of what the Bible is telling humanity, you are sadly mistaken. What you are expending such energy to say is the same dreck that the traditional church has been selling for hundreds of years.

    Ironically, Christian scholarship is progressing well beyond supersessionism, but that information has yet to filter down to the “average Christian on the street.” I just read a review of Lois Tverberg’s book Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus as written (the review, that is) by Baptist Pastor and scholar Jacob Fronczak and he says in part:

    In scholarly circles, the Jewish Jesus is becoming ever more popular. The “radical new perspective” on Paul, which sees Paul as operating within a completely Jewish context (and not departing from Judaism, as classical commentators believed), is also steadily gaining ground with a growing list of scholarly advocates…

    The Christian “man on the street” still perceives Jesus through the lens of the church fathers as interpreted by today’s popular preachers and writers, and not in context with the Jewish world.

    Fronczak goes on to say that Tverberg’s book is written for the “regular Christian,” making it very accessible for those who don’t operate in highly scholarly circles but at the same time, utilizes information that has been “historically restricted to technical academic literature.” Fronczak’s review of Tverberg’s book seems quite promising and I recommend you take a break from insisting that your view is the only view (since you already are deviating from accepted Christian scholarship at this point) and start your own study; questioning your own assumptions.

    I know you won’t want to do that. I didn’t either, when I wrote my first blog post almost two years ago in an attempt to question my own flawed assumptions. Please take this to heart, Steven. You’re spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

    That said, they’re your wheels to spin and you are free to continue doing so. Just don’t expect me or some of the others in the Messianic blogosphere to agree with you.

  48. “Looks to me like Yeshua is 1) Validating the fact that the Temple was still his Father’s house, an actual physical place where people worship and pray to G-d (not only the bodies of believers, which is a spiritual language not meant to be taken literarly), and 2) That it will be called (indicating the future) a house of prayer for all nations, in agreement with all the prophets that the Temple will once again stand where such a thing will be possible”

    Gene, there was nothing wrong with the building but the hearts of men. God did not send his Holy Spirit to live in that temple and allowed it to be razed to the ground for a reason.

    When he sent the Holy Spirit it was into the hearts of men who together form the “living temple”. One god does not dwell in….the other he does. I am part of the temple he dwells in. I do go to pray in a house…..I am that house.

  49. Mark 14:58
    We heard him say, I WILL DESTROY THIS TEMPLE that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.

  50. Steven, give it a rest. We’ve reached a functional impasse and there is no further benefit in all of us repeating ourselves. Look at my comment above, consider my words, pray, put your personal desires aside, and consider if it’s possible you could be wrong. I know what that feels like. It’s scary but sort of liberating at the same time.

    Just give it a try. Thanks.

  51. I’m not scared or ignorant. But, since you guys don’s seem to even understand the ‘milk’ of what Jesus and the Apostles said and the purpose to “do thy will and prepare a body” which Yeshua came to do….I will leave off and give it a rest.

    But, I’ll leave you with a stern warning. The false teachings presented here are going to come back to haunt you if you refuse to repent. One day you will stand before God in shame.

    I’ve had all the “Church bashing” in the guise of “standing with Israel” I’m going to take.

  52. I’m sorry you see it that way Steven, but at least you (hopefully) can agree with me that further conversation on this topic is pointless, especially if you feel that we are in any being unfriendly or hostile. Frankly, f this level of exchange was going to continue, my next step would have been to close comments on this blog post. I’m grateful I didn’t have to take that step.

    Please, please consider that Gene and I are not engaging in “church bashing” but rather, presenting our understanding of scripture from a perspective that is different from the one in which you are operating. Consider what I said above about the dissonance between what is traditionally taught by local Pastors and the current understanding of the “Judaism” of Jesus and Paul in modern Christian scholarship which may well be more like the viewpoint of folks such as Gene and I.

    At least take a few days and think about it. Pray about it. It can’t hurt you to lay your current assumptions aside for even ten minutes and ask God what to do next. Like I keep telling you, I know exactly how that feels.

    Peace.

  53. “I’ve had all the “Church bashing” in the guise of “standing with Israel” I’m going to take.”

    Far from “Church bashing”, I and most Messianic Jews I know fully support Christians and churches, support friendship and cooperation between MJs and Christians, fully support the freedom Gentile believers have to live and worship the way they do, and in fact encourage Gentile believers to remain in churches and not join Hebrew-roots congregations, many (but not all!) of which are spiritually immature, theologically inept or worse.

    However, I am against Superessionism, anti-Judaism and anti-semitism within Christianity and anywhere else it’s encountered, including among those who congregate under the “messianic” umbrella.

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