simchat torah

What I Learned in Church Today: The “Lost” in the Church

When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe.

Acts 28:23-24 (NASB)

Today’s (as I write this) sermon and Sunday school lesson at church was on Acts 28:17-31, the end of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. Pastor Randy has spent more than three years and given seventy-two sermons on the Book of Acts and next week, he launches into a sermon series on, no, not Romans, though I was looking forward to it, but on the Ten Commandments starting out in Exodus 19. That promises to be full of interesting information and my Sunday school teacher, who was not exactly thrilled with the idea initially, is going to have his hands full with me.

But I digress.

At one point early in his sermon, Pastor said that God keeps all His promises, including His promise to return the Jewish exiles to the Land of Israel, His promise to raise Israel as the head of the nations, and His promise to rebuild the Temple. Pastor said if we can’t trust God to keep His promises to the Jewish people, we can’t trust that He will keep His promises to us.

Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Romans 10:1-4 (NASB)

And then he said that the Jewish people chose to follow Rabbinic Judaism rather than the plain meaning of the Biblical text. Pastor had such a great start, too.

It would be difficult to convince most people at church that what we call Rabbinic Judaism (is there any other kind of religious Judaism?) today is an extension of Pharisaism and that the first century Jewish religious stream of “the Way” is simply Pharisaism with a “Messianic twist” and an unusually liberal policy about admitting Gentiles. It would be almost impossible to convince them that God may well have imbued the sages with the authority to make binding halachah for their communities, and thus that God continues to be involved positively with Jews practicing Judaism in the present age. I guess that’s yet to come.

One of the things that was driving me nuts, both in the sermon and in Sunday school, was the constant mention of Christianity. Christianity didn’t exist in Paul’s lifetime. It was a variant religious discipline within larger Judaism, just as was practiced by the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and the Qumran Community. They all shared a common core Judaism but outside of that, had widely differing beliefs and to a degree, practices.

In Pastor Randy’s notes, he had one of the three main themes of the Book of Acts as “the hostility of the world towards Christianity.” I rewrote it in my copy of the notes to say “hostility toward God” since “the world,” and by that I assume Pastor meant the pagan Greek and Roman world, wouldn’t have noticed a difference between “the Way” and any other form of Judaism.

One other good thing Pastor said was regarding the quote from Romans 10:4:

For Christ is the end of the law…

The word translated in English as “end” is the Greek word “telos” which Randy translated as “goal” or “purpose” and which can be expressed as “the reason for,” thus we could say:

“For Messiah is the purpose of the Torah for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

MessiahMessiah is the purpose for, the goal, the reason for the Torah, the target, the focus that gives Jewish observance of the mitzvot its clearest meaning as the conditions of obedience to the Sinai and New Covenant and the lived experience of Jewish devotion to God.

I know how I understand what all that means, but I wonder what Pastor understands since in our previous conversations, he seemed to indicate that the Torah was passing away in this “transitional period” of Jewish and “Christian” history and was soon to be extinguished?

I wonder what the people in the sanctuary were thinking as they listened to him? Nothing radical if Sunday school class, which studies the sermon material, is any indication. I suspect (hope) that Pastor’s sermon series on the Ten Commandments will expand on this topic, but here too, I know Pastor’s perspective. He believes that the Ten Commandments can be generally applied to Christianity but not the entire set of Torah commandments (which are organized into 613 commandments in modern Judaism based on the teachings of 12th century sage Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, also known as Maimonides or the Rambam). Further, he believes the Torah commandments no longer are an obligation for the Jewish people, particularly Jewish believers in Christ.

However, I agreed with Pastor when in his sermon he said how we Gentiles are grafted into the root through the faith of Abraham, which connects nicely with how I see what bridges the gap between Gentiles and the New Covenant blessings.

And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, saying,

‘Go to this people and say,
“You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;

For the heart of this people has become dull,
And with their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes;
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.”’

Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.”

Acts 28:25-28 (NASB)

We find after listening to Paul’s evidence from the Torah and the Prophets establishing Yeshua is Messiah, that some of the Jewish leaders in Rome were convinced and came to faith and others did not. Since they didn’t all agree, Paul quoted from Isaiah 6:9-10 which one person in Sunday school class pointed out was the statement God made to Isaiah after commissioning him as a prophet to Israel to bring them to repentance. Isaiah was to speak of repentance but God told him point-blank in advance that no one was going to listen.

So apparently it was the same in Paul’s day as well, except that some did repent. I wonder if some individual Jews repented in the days of Isaiah but that it was not enough to save the nation from God’s wrath?

But what does that say of the Jews in Paul’s day let alone in ours?

What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; just as it is written,

“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
Eyes to see not and ears to hear not,
Down to this very day.”

And David says,
“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
And a stumbling block and a retribution to them.

“Let their eyes be darkened to see not,
And bend their backs forever.”

I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they?

Romans 11:7-11 (NASB)

working handsThis seems to say that some Jewish people were chosen to accept Messiah but the rest were hardened against such acceptance quoting Deuteronomy 29:4; Isaiah 29:10, and Psalm 69:22,23

Verse 11 continues:

May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.

I won’t get into the whole “provoking jealousness” or “zealousness” thing right now since I’ve written about it before, but I want to compare two conditions:

Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.”

Acts 28:28 (NASB)

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,

“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”

“This is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”

Romans 11:25-27 [see Isaiah 59:20,21; 27:9 (see Septuagint); Jer. 31:33,34] (NASB)

So on the one hand, the Jewish people, most of them anyway, were temporarily hardened against coming to faith in Messiah, and on the other hand, a time will come when all Israel will be saved.

In Isaiah 6:10, God states that if Israel would turn (make Teshuvah), God would heal them, but I’ve read a paper by Dr. Mark D. Nanos titled ‘Callused,’ Not ‘Hardened’: Paul’s Revelation of Temporary Protection Until All Israel Can Be Healed (PDF) in which he states this “hardening” can be compared to calluses on the hands, which are a temporary protection after injury (I lift free weights regularly at a local gym so I know about calluses on my hands) and which can be softened and eventually healed.

Paul was pulling from Jeremiah 31 which famously contains some of the New Covenant language:

They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Jeremiah 31:34 (NASB)

It all comes back to the New Covenant and how we can understand it applying to Israel and the nations.

And just for emphasis, lest anyone be mistaken:

Thus says the Lord,
Who gives the sun for light by day
And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar;
The Lord of hosts is His name:

“If this fixed order departs
From before Me,” declares the Lord,
“Then the offspring of Israel also will cease
From being a nation before Me forever.”

Thus says the Lord,

“If the heavens above can be measured
And the foundations of the earth searched out below,
Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel
For all that they have done,” declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 31:35-37 (NASB)

Cutting through the metaphorical language, God is saying that one of the blessings of the New Covenant for Israel,  all the Jewish people, is that they will always be a people and a nation before Him and He will never cast them off or reject them.

It doesn’t get much plainer than that.

MitzvahIn his sermon, Pastor said that Acts 28:17-21 was just the latest in Paul’s declarations of innocence that he had said or done nothing against the Torah of Moses, the Jewish customs, and the Temple (See Acts 13, 22, and 23). In other words, he never, ever taught the Jews in the diaspora not to circumcise their sons and to not observe the mitzvot in the manner of the their fathers. Paul also kept the commandments in obedience to the Covenant Israel made with God, and in spite of what men like John MacArthur have said, there is no concrete evidence that this was some sort of “transitional period” in the Bible between Jewish observance of the Torah commandments and being “Law free”. We have every indication that Paul never saw any sort of change in a Jew’s duty to God based on the New Covenant, and a careful reading of all of the New Covenant language in the Prophets indicates that the conditions of the New Covenant are identical to the conditions of the Sinai Covenant, that is, the mitzvot of Moses.

One of the questions in the Sunday school teacher’s notes is:

How is God bringing His good out of the blindness of the Jewish nation? Has He forsaken them? Have you or I? (Rom. 11:1 & 25-29, Zech. 12:9-31:1)

I asked the teacher if he was talking about the Jews in Paul’s time or in ours and he said “ours”. My response was that I was aware of a number of Jewish people who had come to faith in Messiah within their own context.

I’m sure everyone in class missed the “within their own context” part or at least no one mentioned it or asked what I meant by that. What I meant by that, in case you can’t guess, is that I’m aware of Jews who are disciples of the Master who live fully realized Jewish lives, observant to the mitzvot and the customs of their fathers and zealous for the Torah of Moses, given its full meaning through faith in Moshiach.

“You see, brother, how many (tens of) thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law…”

Acts 21:20 (NASB)

As it was then, may it be so now.

The message is so close and so nearly apparent to the Christians I study with at church that I still can’t believe people aren’t tripping over it, but somehow they still can’t quite see it. They still feel all this means that in the end, the Jewish remnant is going to convert to Christianity and that they will still be a Jewish people and national Israel (as such), but there will be no practice and lived experience of Judaism, the traditions, the mitzvot, the Torah as a continuation of a Jew’s duty and obligation to the God of their fathers and in obedience to the Sinai and New Covenants.

I try to steer the class a little bit closer to the realization of a continuation of lived Jewish experience among Jewish disciples of Messiah each week, but in order to put it right under their noses (so to speak), I’d have to hijack the class, and that’s not going to happen. More realistically, I’d have to teach a class, because the answer to all this can’t be properly expressed in response to the questions asked by another teacher in a lesson that is less than sixty minutes long.

Acts 28:23-25 describes a day-long “sermon” if you will, given by Paul to the leading Jewish people in Rome. He cites both the Torah and the Prophets to prove his case, convincingly enough to bring some to faith. What did he say? I don’t know, but in class, I said I wished Luke had written it all down, just as I wish he had written down all the Master said during that fateful journey on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).

The answers are there if we just knew where to look and especially, if we knew how to interpret from the perspective of the Master, Paul, and their Jewish audiences. I said out loud in class (and there were a couple of guests visiting the church who were passing through from South Carolina on their way to California to see their kids, so it was kind of “cheeky” of me) that I study the Bible and Christianity through a Jewish (I didn’t say Messianic Jewish) lens because it’s impossible to understand Jesus without understanding the Old Testament from a Jewish perspective.

Abraham and the starsOf course, it’s more complicated than that, but basically, I’m trying to tell these folks that they can study the Bible using standard Christian theology and doctrine all day long and still hit a wall in their ability to learn and comprehend based on the limitations contained in Christian tradition.

I don’t know if they’ll ever have an “ah ha” moment when the light bulb goes off over their collective heads and they actually “get” what I’m saying. If they ever do, they’ll either become highly curious and want to know more or (and this is probably more likely), they’ll figure I’m a heretic, an apostate, or a cult member, and boot me out of the church.

Pastor Randy said that the mistake the Jews of Paul’s day made was to pursue Rabbinic Judaism and not the plain meaning of the Biblical text, but in reading Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 36 and the other prophets who speak of the New Covenant, this is the plain meaning of the text!

The last question in the Sunday school teacher’s notes is:

Do you and I allow rejection to affect our ministry or love for others?

Pastor asked something similar at the end of his notes about how it is the responsibility of every believer to proclaim the Gospel and what are we actually doing about it?

What am I doing about it? Certainly, I’m blogging incessantly but that’s not enough since by and large, I’m reaching an audience that already has a conceptualization of the Bible similar to my own. One of the responses to his question the Pastor gave was to direct us to ask God to give us a “burden for the lost.”

But what about the “lost” in the Church? What about all those Christians in all those churches who read a truncated Gospel or worse, those who don’t read the Bible at all and just depend on their Pastor or their teachers to tell them what the Bible is saying? Even under the best of circumstances (and at the church I attend, the perspectives on the Bible, Jewish people, and Israel are pretty good), they still will get only part of the story. They’ll never understand why Paul went to the Jew first and only afterward to the Gentile. They’ll never understand that the Good News of Moshiach is even better news for Jewish Israel than it is for the Gentile nations. They’ll never get that the “better promises” (Hebrews 8) are better for Israel and that it is only through God’s redemptive plan for Israel that we people of the nations have any hope at all.

Paul said he was in chains in Rome for the “hope of Israel”. We are here because of that hope, too. But the Church will never know the full extent of what that hope means unless they open their eyes. To that degree, Isaiah 6:10 could have been talking about the “lost of the Church” as well as Israel.

Only by grasping the meaning of the New Covenant blessings for Israel and then what they mean to a grafted in Gentile humanity will our hearts become sensitive, our ears learn to hear, and our eyes begin to see, and when we return to the Jewish King, God will heal us too, after He heals His people Israel.

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71 thoughts on “What I Learned in Church Today: The “Lost” in the Church”

  1. Somehow, the Messianic movement, including us, need to list a handful of items that need to be taught consistently to Christians about Salvation in Yehoshua, Yehoshua was a Pharisee, Paul kept and taught Torah, How the Christians abandoned The Way, Why the written Laws throughout Scripture need to be kept despite Salvation, and about the Gospel of the Kingdom.

    Then, we have to deluge them with simple information since too much detail drowns out the main point, and prove it with Scripture. The Church has been dumbing down those saved for too long with great slogans, and repeated lies.

    In the end, Christians have to be told that they are preventing their own blessings in this time, and in the olam haba by lawlessness just as the Jews have, and are limiting the inheritance they hope to have in the Kingdom, if they get it at all. They may be saved, but without fruit, they might not be in relationship with Yehoshua, and find themselves hearing…”I never knew you.”

    I may be pessimistic, but I don’t think they will pay attention without these simple facts told in a kind but blunt manner.

  2. HI, James….about mid-summer I “accidentally” found your blog…and wanted you to know how much it encourages me. am sooooo encouraged by it b/c I am a gentile believer who is waking up to the incredible gap between the LORD of the Bible and the one presented in today’s church…I’ve just finished leading four groups of students from several different denominations thru a 15 year study of the Hebrew scriptures (these dedicated students of God’s Word are an incredibly patient bunch, but we are changed) and I was seriously thinking of retiring (am 64 yrs old) after Malachi, but am compelled, strengthened by His Spirit to lead a new lengthy series in the apostolic scriptures (beginning last week in Luke) because of the great errors that have been continually promoted, albeit unknowingly…i certainly don’t have all the answers, but sooo appreciate reading of YOUR journey and YOUR questions along the way…AND the discernment you highlight regarding the wide spectrum within the HRM…today’s posting especially touched my heart because of your reference to “the lost” within the church….i understand, I know them.

    I also REALLY enjoy your excellent gift of expression (worked thru a humble heart), the artwork you use, and the references to other thoughtful material (I had actually begun slugging my way thru Mark Nanos’s Galatians earlier this spring, and have rec’d Skip Moen’s daily blog for about a year….in fact, I think that’s how I “found” you…googling Skip’s name)

    But just wanted to begin my week of study & teaching by thanking you for blogging your journey to know Him more accurately. It’s an encouragement to many….and wanted you to know that we readers are joining you in passing it along to whoever may be thirsty for more….

    Todah rabah,

    Dee Alberty

    Baton Rouge, LA

  3. There it is: Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.” That is the verse at the end of Acts that the ‘Right Division’ group say that things changed. They say ‘sent’ is a different word. That it means ‘sent with authority’. Notice it says ‘salvation of G-d’ not Kingdom. I do appreciate all I learned from the ‘right division’ camp. It was then I learned that Israel means Israel and the church is not spiritual Israel. Endeavor to persevere. I am weary of wars and lawlessness. Oh, that Christians could understand G-d’s plan and purpose for Israel! They would be praying for the peace of Jerusalem, that the Temple be built and Torah go out from Zion! “Our Father who art in Heaven,hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…Amen!

  4. @Questor: I think a lot of Christians in churches give intellectual ascent to Jesus being Jewish, having a Pharisaic tradition, keeping the commandments, and so on. Where they struggle is extending all that forward in time not only into and past the days of Paul but beyond that and into the current age. You can’t beat all that into someone’s head by clobbering them repeatedly with a blunt Torah scroll. If people are going to listen at all, you have to be with them regularly, accepted by the community, and understood to be a reliable information source. Coming off as arrogant or crazy will just get me (and others like me) booted out the door. We must be patient and persistent.

    @Dee: Wow! A 15-year Bible study. I’m impressed.

    Thanks for reading my blog and for your kind comments. I’m glad I’ve been adding a bit of illumination to the path we are all walking.

    I just turned 60 last month and I don’t think 64 is quite old enough to retire. I know people well into their 70s who teach the Bible and that sort of experience is invaluable. Besides, know in my own case that I couldn’t force myself to stop pursuing the Word and not writing about it would be a struggle. I may give it a rest at some point, but there’s still so much to learn. I guess there always will be since our God is an infinite God and His teachings are boundless.

    Blessings,

    James

  5. @Cynthia: I just want to remind us all that just because we believe we see certain things a bit more clearly than others doesn’t mean that we’ve got it all right. I know I can make mistakes. This blog isn’t about always being right, it’s about learning including learning from my own errors. I encourage dialogue here because I believe conversation often more educational than me just writing pronouncements or something like that.

  6. You mentioned Religion….
    and as we coin it today…..In a way…. those in there beloved religion…..
    put a veil over there eyes, to the One true God

    words can mean whatever one wishes …..

    in the ancient greek literature, the word “religion” did not exist, but the ancient greek word English bibles translate as “religion” means ritual associated with divine worship; and so, james defined that ritual one way; james 1:27; and paul defined the ritual in another way; acts 26:5.

    in the ancient Hebrew literature, the word “religion” did not exist, but the ancient Hebrew word associated with the ancient greek word meaning “ritual,” would be “ah-vahd” or “serve.” …. so, the concept “religion” in the ancient Hebrew literature would refer to the levitical “service” of the tent of meeting or God. numbers 8:11; or for other Hebrews, exodus 23:14-19.

  7. Bruce, I think you’re getting hung up over nomenclature. I’m using the word “religion” to describe a systematized or organized method of worship and devotion. Those folks that say Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship seem to forget that they operate within a specific organizational structure which defines their identity and practice. With rare exception, we all do if we claim to have a faith at all and we are communal.

  8. @James

    “Lost” &”Faith” both operate under an experience…..

    One Experiences it…. the other doesn’t

    the child believes the mother and father won’t drop her …

    not because of what the child read in a book

    but because of what the child experienced; aka mother and father holding her countless times without dropping her.

    the faith of abraham in the Father …. no different. abraham did not read about faith; he experienced it.

  9. @James

    Not lost on the nomenclature…..

    James defined religion one way James 1:27….

    Paul defined it another Acts 26:5….

    And before there time the concept “religion” in the ancient Hebrew literature would refer to the levitical “service” of the tent of meeting or God. numbers 8:11; or for other Hebrews, exodus 23:14-19…..

    In our time 2014 c.e. religion is viewed as this http://www.economist.com/blogs/erasmus/2014/08/children-and-religin

    🙂

  10. @James

    I agree that one cannot force people to sit, listen, and absorb the Torah that exists throughout the Old and New Covenant Scriptures, nor always get their pastors to allow such dangerous ideas into their congregation. My first comment was aimed at an outreach from FFOZ, for instance, or other Messianics. If they could settle on just a few agreed topics to teach Christians everywhere to lead them further into the Scriptures from a total Bible perspective, rather than a Greco/Roman mis-interpretation of the New Testament by itself, it would help a lot.

    The so called ‘lost ones’ in the churches have a hope in Yehoshua, even if they do not understand it. With an earnest desire to come together with Messiah, baptism, and the deposit of the Holy Spirit, even the poor, small, and limited teachings of Sha’ul as expressed in many Christian Churches can give them the beginning in G-d that they need.

    The Holy Spirit can do a lot with a willing heart, and even with bad teaching, a new Christian can learn. It’s just one of the harder ways of living a Believers life.

    Yehoshua will be blaming not the ‘babe’ who requires the appropriate milk for spitting it out for being a bit past it’s drink by date, but the nursemaid pastor who is limiting the new Christian to reconstituted formula. A little ‘child’ in G-d is a young disciple, according to the idioms in Hebrew, and as the child grows, he will seek, and the Ruach haKodesh will be sure to see he gets fed.

    You, James, provide a place for meat to be chewed on for anyone who happens past, and should be aimed at allowing all those that Abba sends to your blog an opportunity to learn. And strangely, that is just what you do, and you do that by sharing your personal journey in Yehoshua. The Ruach sends us each, one by one where we can learn, and occasionally pass on our understanding, experience and viewpoint of the topics you raise of these matters to enrich our journeys. Others will come, if you simply continue your personal expression, and the information given can be very valuable for those young seekers in Christ.

    Keep teaching meat when you can, and pray for the ‘little ones’ of the congregation that they are led towards you, and writers like you.

    As for your Pastor, has he read D. Thomas Lancaster’s ‘Restoration’ yet? It could point out a few things to him that he has not yet looked at from a viewpoint that will challenge, but not condemn him as he reads.

  11. Part of what you said Questor reminded me of James 3:1, Let not many of you become teachers. I suppose even blogging comes under that heading, which then behooves me to do the best job I can at understanding the Bible and then communicating, if you consider what I write “meat.”

    No, Pastor hasn’t read Lancaster’s “Restoration” but he has read a number of other FFOZ publications including Torah Club volume 6 on the Book of Acts, and Lancaster’s “Galatians” book. Neither made much of a dent on his pre-existing theology or doctrine, but Pastor is too well-grounded in his perspective to easily allow it to shift.

  12. “….We have every indication that Paul never saw any sort of change in a Jew’s duty to God based on the New Covenant, and a careful reading of all of the New Covenant language in the Prophets indicates that the conditions of the New Covenant are identical to the conditions of the Sinai Covenant, that is, the mitzvot of Moses.”

    “….Pastor Randy said that the mistake the Jews of Paul’s day made was to pursue Rabbinic Judaism and not the plain meaning of the Biblical text, but in reading Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 36 and the other prophets who speak of the New Covenant, this is the plain meaning of the text!”

    I’m having trouble sorting this out. It kinda looks like you’re saying that to develop Rabbinic Judaism is the plain meaning of the text. I think of Rabbinic Judaism as something that really got going during and after all the war subsequent to the life of J’shua. There might have been some seedlings of it already, and I think it was the Pharisees, who weren’t in charge of the temple, who both already had taught some things that weren’t the plain meaning (not that they were the only ones doing this) and who established Rabbinic authority later. But that was and is the new way of coping, not the plain meaning.

    As for Randy’s statement that it was a mistake to not pursue the plain meaning of the Biblical text and rather to do other things (which he put as pursuing Rabbinic Judaism), I think he’s onto something. At least he’s not saying the mistake of the Jews in Jesus’ day and Paul’s was that they gave a hoot about the Torah, as most Christians say or think or can’t figure out quite why they’re supposed to think. There was definitely a problem that the Law wasn’t being applied and cherished properly (while I wouldn’t blame that on Rabbinic Judaism).

    Lastly, and I’m pretty sure you’d agree with this, “Paul never saw any sort of change in a Jew’s duty to God” — but he did see a change in his own behaviour. That was not in the sense of converting to Christianity or abandoning the Law, but in leaving his prior activity (which probably had seemed like duty to God at the time he did it, I’m guessing).

  13. I’m having trouble sorting this out. It kinda looks like you’re saying that to develop Rabbinic Judaism is the plain meaning of the text.

    No, that’s not what I said. I do believe that without the Temple, the Priesthood, the Sanhedrin, and the ability to live in the Land, what was vital to Jewish survival was a shift in authority from a geographical base to knowledge and tradition. If we believe that God gave the Jewish sages the authority to establish binding halachah (Jewish Law) on their communities, then Rabbinic Judaism isn’t a departure from what came before, but an extension.

    As far as the so-called “plain meaning of the text,” in absolute terms, it doesn’t really exist. We all interpret the Bible through some sort of theology or traditional matrix. This was true in Yeshua’s time and it’s true now. The Jewish people going forward in time interpreted and re-interpreted the Torah to meet the needs of history and their various communities. Christianity, that is, Gentile Christianity which began in the 2nd century CE and then expanded like wildfire, did something similar. There was no single, linear path of Christianity going forward in time. As with Judaism, it fragmented into different streams describing different paths progressing into the future.

    Today, there are an estimated 41,000 Christian denominations in the world and they didn’t appear out of thin air. They appeared out of a series of historical streams of Christianity that evolved across time.

    And each and every one of them interprets the Bible through their history and tradition, even the ones that say they adhere to the plain meaning of the text.

  14. I suppose we could say that the second temple never was (or at least wasn’t at the time of J’shua) a complete implementation of the Law — thus the need to stick largely with tradition and knowledge of what was done in exile, and hence continuation on through that temple period.

    I agree that people interpret the Bible through matrices and that history and communities matter. But that doesn’t mean we can’t discern obvious departure from the plain meaning. Although there would be people who’d argue the case, there is no foundation for a temple in say Utah.

  15. That’s certainly not what I’m saying. I’m saying departure from plain meaning can be discerned (at least to some or a great degree) and that such departure was a problem (as Randy said). The answer can’t always be ah, well, I’m all for tradition. Your pastor may have read something of literature from the period, both Jewish and not Jewish, that described corruption in the temple and elsewhere. Both Jews and people who were not Jewish were unhappy with the situation. Even the writings we often call the New Testament say the gentiles were (off the top of my head I don’t remember the exact wording) something like appalled. And we have to face the fact J’shua had conflict with Jewish representatives (not only over whether he was the Messiah but over specific topics of halacha). He also said that if Torah were accepted, so would he be (something along that line).

  16. I can’t imagine what you’re trying to say, Marlene, about the second temple. The second temple, like the first temple and the tent that preceded both, was a stage upon which certain aspects of Torah were performed. None of these would ever be described as a “complete implementation” of anything except the sanctuaries that they were constructed to be. This role they fulfilled perfectly, though there were “political” complaints in the first century BCE about corruption in the priesthood that continued into the subsequent century, which is why the Essenes formed a separatist commune in the Judean desert and was also a reason for some of the complaints against Sadducees. After the temple was destroyed in 70 CE, Jewish authorities needed to adjust Jewish praxis to accommodate the new conditions, just as they had also to accommodate the second exile that began little more than a half-century later. They made use of some precedents from the first exile, and also began to document the discontinued practices so that they would not be entirely forgotten and might be restored one day. But most of all they needed to develop symbolic forms of prior traditional practices to preserve the memory of them and to make them “portable” into the foreign territories of exile.

    I don’t think we really need to discuss here the Roman Catholic emulation and re-interpretation of temple rituals in place of the genuine Jewish original, nor the even later example of similar presumption in Utah.

  17. Pastor Randy is extremely well-read and lived in Israel for fifteen years, so I believe he is quite knowledgable, which isn’t the problem. Whilst I hardly accept 100% of the midrash and such as factual and struggle with many of the traditions (I’m hardly leaning toward converting to Orthodox Judaism and my wife, though Jewish, is not Orthodox), I do believe that the Jewish people have a right to search and comprehend the scriptures in their own manner without the Church telling them not to do so or that Jewish apprehension of the Torah is invalid. One of the reasons I study the Bible through a Messianic Jewish lens so to speak, is because I believe the “plain-meaning-of-the-text” church misses a lot of meaning in the Bible by deliberately setting aside ancient and modern Jewish interpretations of the Bible.

  18. My mention of complete Implementation, PL, was in an effort to understand what James is saying or meaning or trying to believe. I find it frustrating that a line of thought can’t be followed and I have to be some anti-Judaic bad guy or something. It’s ridiculous.

  19. When I say Rabbinic Judaism is a way of coping, I don’t mean that as a put down. For one thing, everyone is coping with the fact Messiah is not yet in charge of everything on this earth. It’s just a fact. Also, it’s built right into Judaism that we hope for more — for instance, “next year in Jerusalem.” And we put Elijah’s cup on the table and open the door.

    It seems to me this should be understood and not something I have to argue, to defend myself (which again, the need for I did not see coming). We can hardly complain that the church can’t get from second temple times to now if we can’t articulate it or know it. And I keep finding that trying to approach the conversation is hopeless and cause to duck.

    Educated Jews (and apparently I have to qualify this too, not only Messianic) know that the condition of second temple times was such that it had to end if it couldn’t be corrected. And it is established well (this not only in Judaism) that giving an extreme example of a stubborn logic that doesn’t apply is an attempt to dislodge it constructively.

  20. If by corruption you mean that Herod wasn’t really King of the Jews because he didn’t possess the proper lineage and that the High Priest wasn’t valid because of the wrong background and being in Rome’s pocket, yes. Occupied countries are like that. Look at France when it was occupied by the Nazis. The Nazis put collaborators or people they could control in key government positions to keep order and have their fingers in everything.

    But there were also many priests who were legitimate like Zacharias, the father of John the Baptists (you know all this, of course), so while there was political intrigue in the late second Temple period, there were also men and women of valor who were devoted to the Temple service in honor of Hashem.

    It’s sometimes a difficult subject to discuss because historically, Christians have tended to look at the Jewish people, including those who lived in and around the earthly ministry of Jesus, in a very narrow way. Not that this is you, but we Christians have to establish enough of a track record such that our comments aren’t taken as if it were still the “bad old days” in the Church. I hope that makes sense.

    There are still times when something I say to my wife hits her the wrong way, particularly if we’re discussing the Apostle Paul who she has learned (primarily from the local Chabad Rabbi) to distrust if not dislike. That’s difficult because from my studies of Paul, I hold him in high regard. One of the people my wife and I need to agree not to discuss.

  21. “I do believe that without the Temple, the Priesthood, [etc.] in the Land, what was vital to Jewish survival was a shift in authority from a geographical base to knowledge and tradition.” I agree, James.

  22. “….we Christians have to establish enough of a track record such that our comments aren’t taken as if it were still the “bad old days” in the Church. I hope that makes sense.”

    I agree absolutely.

    “There are still times when something I say to my wife hits her the wrong way, particularly if we’re discussing the Apostle Paul who she has learned (primarily from the local Chabad Rabbi) to distrust if not dislike. That’s difficult because from my studies of Paul, I hold him in high regard. One of the people my wife and I need to agree not to discuss.”

    I agree with this too. Although I’ve learned to understand Paul in a positive light (whereas I used to have to hold for dear life to James, and still like the book of James), it’s almost impossible to even get anything meaningful across on the subject of Paul. And I have decided it’s not important except for my own understanding (and discussion with other people of Messianic familiarity)..

  23. James said:
    “As far as the so-called “plain meaning of the text,” in absolute terms, it doesn’t really exist. We all interpret the Bible through some sort of theology or traditional matrix”

    and also

    “And each and every one of them interprets the Bible through their history and tradition, even the ones that say they adhere to the plain meaning of the text.”
    _______________

    Again?

    How hard is such a thing to understand? That God wants us to know the truth and HE is totally capable of teaching us the truth. The only thing keeping any us from the truth is our preference for something other than the truth: a preference FOR that history and tradition.

    Insisting that we can ONLY “interpret bible through history and tradition” and that “plain meaning of the text in absolute terms doesn’t exist” is either a denial of God’s desire, His willingness and His ability to teach His Truth, or it’s an admission of our unwillingness to submit and learn from Him.

    As long as you have determined that your understanding will ALWAYS be compromised by “some sort of theology or tradtional ‘matirx'” then that WILL be the case. God will not overrule what you willingly choose for yourself.

  24. I haven’t been implying anything about you as an “anti-Judaic bad-guy”, Marlene. I found your expression confusing, and it seemed to me to suggest that some clarification of history was needed; therefore I tried to supply it, as did James. I don’t see that anyone is attacking you either, that you should need to defend yourself or to “duck”. Communication is an imperfect process, and if we have been talking past one another without connecting with understanding then I appreciate that you are tenacious enough to keep trying. We should all be trying at all times to say what we mean clearly, to interpret what others say as accurately as possible, and to be gracious to allow the benefit of doubt to ameliorate any mishaps between them.

  25. What I’ve been trying to express Tim, is that it is also possible (and likely) for any number of people to come forward and say the Holy Spirit talks to them (and only them) and then to lay out a bunch of stuff they say is the truth. How many times has that happened in the world of religion. Each person is responsible for exploring the scriptures and yes, the Holy Spirit will be there to help interpret, but the Spirit doesn’t overwrite our free will or our human nature, which is why I suspect we have an estimated 41,000 Christian denominations worldwide.

    If the Holy Spirit simply “programmed” us with the will and wisdom of God as if we were a blank hard drive, then there’s be exactly one denomination. As it says in Jeremiah 31, someday we will “know God,” but for right now, we read the Bible “through a glass darkly”.

  26. Indeed, James — and if we may infer from Zech.14:9 it will be after HaShem is acknowledged as King over all the earth that such a singular view of these things will come to pass. Meanwhile, those of us who already acknowledge His Kingship must also address ourselves diligently to His Torah instructions which include the inferences of the Shm’a that means not only to listen or obey but also to study intensively to seek understanding. This implication appears also in Mt.5:19-20 regarding greatness in the kingdom of heaven and supra-Pharisaic diligence to be entering into it.

  27. James, I agree deeply with your concern about people who claim to hear from the HS, and then lead people astray. At the sense time, though, we can know that there is a range of of what can vary, because of community, and yet be reasonably like or in remembrance of and hope for what the Bible says. I say knowing this is a needed safeguard.

  28. I think it would be pertinent to add that there is a “problem” with the gospel book of John. It speaks over and over of “the Jews.” It’s not really a problem in and of itself. But there is need for understanding of the context so people don’t go and talk that way themselves. I was able to see this after I’d gone through a bunch of “first world”/old world crap and then sat down to read, first, Matthew, then John over again for myself and in huge chunks rather than bits. Then I read, when I came across it, Capernicus and the Jews. This was confirmation. I highly recommend the section on John’s use of such wording. I believe current people should stop using “the Jews” as if it means something instructive religiously in any sense referencing people today, which it cannot but do if stated the same way. For the most part, his meaning is the most powerful and corrupt people in the province.

  29. Province, as in… there would have been powerful and corrupt people in the other provinces too. It’s not a Jewish thing.

    Like you said, James, “[o]ccupied countries are like that.”
    So are a lot of places.

  30. @Marlene — While I wouldn’t quite describe the problem as intrinsic to Yohanan’s besorah, you are quite correct to point out that the translation of phrasing in it about “the Jews” is an historical mis-rendering of references to “the Judeans” (as distinct from Galileans or Idumeans). In other words, it is a reference to key people in one “province”, as you properly described it. Such political distinctions, and the nuanced feelings associated with the term, have been entirely obscured in traditional Christian translations. I believe Gruber did explain that in “Copernicus…”. It does indicate, however, that Yohanan wrote from the parochial perspective of a Galilean who rather distrusted Judeans. It may also reflect an all-too-common cultural tendency among Jews in that period to express a sectarian attitude which later Talmudic analysis described as “sinat ‘hinam” and blamed as the primary cause for the Temple’s destruction. Of course, by the time Yohanan wrote his besorah (according to best educated estimates) this destruction had already occurred and a great deal of sectarian tension had been directed against followers of “the way” by various Judean factions. Such political background could quite understandably have colored Yohanan’s view and influenced his mode of expression to be a bit more jaded than if he had written a few decades earlier while Rav Shaul was teaching and Yacov (Rav Yeshua’s brother) was still leading the Jerusalem Council.

  31. *Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, saying,

    ‘Go to this people and say “….”‘*

    James continued sharing:

    Isaiah was to speak of repentance but God told him point-blank in advance that no one was going to listen.

    So apparently it was the same in Paul’s day as well, except that some did repent. I wonder if some individual Jews repented in the days of Isaiah but that it was not enough to save the nation from God’s wrath?

    But what does that say of the Jews in Paul’s day let alone in ours?

    *What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; just as it is written,

    God gave them a spirit of stupor,
    Eyes to see not and ears to hear not,
    Down to this very day.

    ….*

    Down to that very day, anyway.

    https://mymorningmeditations.com/2014/08/27/sermon-review-of-the-holy-epistle-to-the-hebrews-better-promises/

  32. I can see how that would be quite possible, PL, that Yohanan might have written differently had he been writing somewhat earlier. He may have been showing his own bias or may have been trying to reflect the bias the Judeans had held against, for example, the people of the land, a bias and elitism that didn’t serve well (on the contrary as you indicated).

    I used the word “province” thinking of distinction from other conquered areas of Rome that weren’t Israel (explaining that they would have other sets of most powerful and corrupt rulers), and I appropriated James’ use of the word “countries” from earlier. You might be right about the word “provinces” being applied to different areas within Israel as the Roman sanhedrin rulership involved different areas of Israel (and that history is explained better than I remember at the moment in “Capernicus…”). I’m trying to get across that while it can seem like everything is about corrupt Israel or Jews, because we’re reading about something very particular, the same kind of set-up went over others too.

    Well, I’ll change gears to say it sure wouldn’t hurt to teach on a broad scale Roman history with Israel’s spot in it at the time and similarities within the Empire and, as Nanos has done to the degree he can, the constrictions placed upon cultures with a closer look at Israel in particular. And, as a friend of his has pointed out in her writing (he names, at his site, recommended books of colleagues), enforced division was strategic to dominance and conquering.

    Teaching won’t happen any time soon on a large scale as both most churches and most schools are mainly interested in people being able to make money, learning to make money or that they should make money, making the money, showing the money, groveling to the money. And historically, classes about Rome are primarily about the glory and brilliance (and sometimes fun in mimicry). Granted, you do have to make money, and all the more so in a culture that has little respect for much else. Money is our power (for most people anyway although there are some who want to acquire tanks and so on).

    I don’t think it was so much a type of Judaism as contrasted with the “plain reading” of the word, that led to things falling apart (or not quite getting put fully together as the case may be), but more plainly being like the world and fearing-admiring (some spectrum) the Romans (who didn’t represent a secular governance where Jews had freedom of religion, nor a governance with Israel’s values).

  33. I have a “note” or “question” for what was quoted:

    Figure out how this section differs, is unacceptable as applied to Israel.

    *And David says,

    Let their table become a snare and a trap,
    And a stumbling block and a retribution to them.

    Let their eyes be darkened to see not,
    And bend their backs forever.

  34. “I said …in class …that I study the Bible and Christianity through a Jewish (I didn’t say Messianic Jewish) lens because it’s impossible to understand Jesus without understanding the Old Testament from a Jewish perspective.

    “Of course, it’s more complicated than that, but basically, I’m trying to tell these folks that they can study the Bible using standard Christian theology and doctrine all day long and still hit a wall in their ability to learn…”

    I think it’s good you said this.

  35. james said: “but the Spirit doesn’t overwrite our free will or our human nature,”

    And THAT is why we need to submit to HIM and not man’s traditions, but if we choose to submit to traditions and man’s theology it’s not suprising there would be:

    “an estimated 41,000 Christian denominations worldwide.”

    Each of that estimated number sprang out of a denomination before it making sometimes only minimal changes but sticking with the overall approach to theology and organisational structure learned from preceding denominations.

    Exercise the free will God has given and choose to trust HIM.

  36. To what extent is our understanding shaped by “history and tradition”?

    To the extent that we allow it to be.

    If I we are always “interpret[ing] the Bible through … history and tradition” it’s because of our own freewill choice to do so, it is not an unavoidable inevitability.

  37. To the extent that we allow it

    My point exactly. Since no human being, because we are flawed, can submit up to the 100% mark, even the greatest saint or tzaddik will still have some of his/her humanity standing between him and God.

  38. So why make things worse by submitting to a defeatist view that immediately undermines us?

    We may not achieve 100%, but does starting with 0% expectation achieve anything?

    Firstly it is not a matter of submitting 100% from the start – it is a matter of desiring to reach that 100%. Do we want the Truth? Or are we satisfied with something less because we’ve convinced ourselves of our incapability to receive the Truth?

    Again, God should not be left out fo the situation. Is He able and willing to overcome OUR weaknesses if we ourselves are willing to have more faith in Him than in our own weakness?

    Is our weakness more powerful than God’s ability?

    Are we willing to allow God to change us and bring us to maturity? Or are we resigned to staying as we were, limited by retaining every weakness we had when we first came to Him?

  39. Marleen
    AUGUST 27, 2014 AT 3:19 PM
    I have a “note” or “question” for what was quoted [from church]:

    Figure out how this section differs,
    is unacceptable as applied to Israel.

    *And David says,

    Let their table become a snare and a trap,
    And a stumbling block and a retribution to them.

    Let their eyes be darkened to see not,
    And bend their backs forever.
    *

    { The comparable passage,
    from Paul quoting Isaiah:

    God gave them a spirit of
    stupor, eyes to see not
    and ears to hear not,
    down to this very day.
    }

    I’m thinking this is a history thing.
    I get that we shouldn’t be “snowed”
    by the latest claimant to expertdom.
    Or the oldest or whatever, which I see
    As different from acknowledging history.

    A theologian moving verses around like cards
    in a card trick is different from a real scholar or
    historian. Even here we have to discern, obviously.

    { I hope it’s clear why I’m drawing extra attention to this. }

  40. I don’t think these two quotes are both about “the Jews” and followed by Paul simply declaring or begging that NO, it can’t happen. This is frequently taken as what is going on here. Instead, it seems to me he is contrasting one about the Jews, or Israel of his day, with the other that has do with different people who are not those to whom he’s speaking a word.

  41. In other words, he’s pulling one forward to apply to his now (though the words weren’t originally for that now), and the other he is leaving in the past except as a contrast and example of what will not happen.

  42. This would be an easier example of history in a sense, because all you have to do is look and read who David would have been talking about (as opposed to who Isaiah was dealing with) and what the situation was. So, that’s a bit different from the historical backdrop for when Paul was writing. But then I think we have more to work with for that (even if some if it is to be found outside the Bible). [I’m mixing these two topics now, the one about history being okay (or not) and, the one about Paul’s rhetoric.

  43. @Tim: You’ve often accused me of having an all or nothing policy on the Holy Spirit, but now it seems you’re working that side of the street. When I did I advocate for no Holy Spirit involvement in human lives at all?

    I’m always a little dubious about a person saying they know “the Truth” as if they are the sole keepers of said “Truth”. Assuming you’re presenting yourself as an example of a person who has a high level of submission to the Spirit and thus, an equally high level of understanding of the Bible and thus “Truth”, what “Truth” do you have to share with the rest of us.

    As far as whether or not our weakness is more powerful than God, no, of course not. But God chooses not to override our free will, otherwise we’d be just a bunch of robots with God running us by remote control.

    @Marleen: The way your comments are organized and written makes it difficult for me to grasp what you are saying or asking, so I don’t know how to reply. Can you kind of “sum it up” for me?

  44. Okay, James. Thanks. In the quoting from Paul in your beginning meditation here, there is Paul quoting Isaiah and then quoting David. What I think mostly happens is Christians think both of these are being directed at or are painting a condition on Jews. If so, it’s an everlasting condition. And it seems to me, really, only one is an actual comparison in Paul’s mind for the Jews of his day or those he was talking to on that particular day. The next one of the quotes, the one from David, was (I’m thinking) known by his hearers to be about some group of people that were not current-day Jews (his contemporaries). So, Paul is contrasting a temporary projection or prophecy of orientation with an eternal one (that applies to others). So, they know they are in the former of the two categories. And while he’s going to go talk to gentiles, his brothers to whom he’s spoken on the subject of J’shua are always welcome to think about it and change their mind or catch on to what he’s talking about. I think it’s an encouraging word (although also very serious as he’s conveying to them that what he’s talking about is very important). The Isaiah comparison is known to pertain to a temporary situation (even if not well known among Christians), while the David contrast isn’t.

  45. Ah, sorry. I’m mixing thoughts from Acts and Romans. But I’m still saying the same thing. There is the actual comparing (via prophecy that is temporary) and also contrasting (the David portion being permanent). I don’t think, now that I’m thinking of again, that this would be so well understood even by Paul’s immediate audience in Rome (as it would be by Jews), much less by Christians these centuries later.

  46. If you can make sense of what I’m trying to say from those two posts, then I might be able to go back to an earlier question in this meditation comments section. But tell me if I need to try again on this.

  47. James said:

    “I’m always a little dubious about a person saying they know “the Truth” as if they are the sole keepers of said “Truth”.

    James there is ONE person I know who has ALL of the Truth and HE is the One I have learned to trust when I’m seeking to understand the Truth.

    I am far from having all of the truth but the tiny fraction that I DO have has been attained by trusting God and the teacher HE provided to the church – namely the Holy Spirit.

    I don’t expect to ever receive ALL of the truth in this lifetime and I have no problem with that. But one thing I do KNOW is that I don’t have to condemn myself to ignorance (or to believing something false) by resigning myself to always being hamstrung by tradition, culture, or human theology.
    The God I follow is BIGGER than any human tradition and He is bigger than any weakness I have.

    I spent around 10 years following man’s teachings and traditions; trusting them to the extent that I was ignoring strong doubts about some of the things I was being taught. Eventually my faith was almost lost because I couldn’t cope with the accumulation of contradictions. It took many years before I realised that the teachings were the source of the contradictions NOT the Bible.

    Since then I have learned that I don’t need to have someone else to interpret scripture for me. I don’t need anyone to tell me what scripture REALLY means. God sent the Holy Spirit to be our teacher and HE is more than capable of carrying out that role. Scripture is not so hard to understand when we don’t try to dig for deeper hidden meanings in every sentence or word. I just accept what I CAN understand and put aside the rest, trusting the Holy Spirit to clear up what I don’t understand later, should it be necessary. And if I need to understand, He WILL give that understanding at the right time.

    James said:

    “Assuming you’re presenting yourself as an example of a person who has a high level of submission to the Spirit and thus, an equally high level of understanding of the Bible and thus “Truth”, what “Truth” do you have to share with the rest of us.”

    James, it doesn’t take “a high level of submission to the Spirit”, it just takes a willingness to submit. And it’s not about having a high level of understanding of the Bible” it’s a matter of being sure what little understanding we have is right and that we are not following (and promoting) false doctrine.

    The only truth I have to share with you is the same thing I’ve continually said.
    We are NOT condemned to be limited by the effects of culture, tradition or human theology. We are not condemned to “interpret the Bible through some sort of theology or traditional matrix”.
    UNLESS WE CHOOSE TO BE.

    However there is another choice – to trust GOD to reveal His truth and to free us from the accumulation of man’s theology that has clouded our understanding in the past.

    James said:

    “As far as whether or not our weakness is more powerful than God, no, of course not. But God chooses not to override our free will; otherwise we’d be just a bunch of robots with God running us by remote control.”

    You are right, God does not override our will – so that is why WE need to make the choice that will free us from the hindrance of that “traditional matrix” you keep mentioning. If we choose to submit ourselves to that “traditional matrix” then it will continue to be a hindrance. If we resign ourselves to always being affected by that “traditional matrix” then we WILL be affected by it because we chose to be.

  48. Let me see if I can approach what I’m saying from a different direction. I’ll start with this. This an example of a temporary condition, right (this quoting of Isaiah)? The Jewish people would be in exile but would eventually be brought out of exile (historically, back in time). And Paul, here, puts his contemporaries in with those who belonged in exile (and, as I see it, were in exile even in Israel). Anyway, this is temporary language with regard to the people, right? Israel would bounce back at some point. Yes?

    And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, saying,

    ‘Go to this people and say,
    “You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
    And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;

    For the heart of this people has become dull,
    And with their ears they scarcely hear,
    And they have closed their eyes;
    Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    And hear with their ears,
    And understand with their heart and return,
    And I would heal them.”’

    Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.”

    -Acts 28:25-28 (NASB

  49. What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; just as it is written,

    “God gave them a spirit of stupor,
    Eyes to see not and ears to hear not,
    Down to this very day.”

    And David says,
    “Let their table become a snare and a trap,
    And a stumbling block and a retribution to them.

    “Let their eyes be darkened to see not,
    And bend their backs forever.”

    I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they?

    -Romans 11:7-11 (NASB)

  50. ….I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

    NASB Paul, early in Romans 10

  51. Marleen, if I’m understanding everything you’re writing correctly, yes Paul seemed to have been not only commenting about believing vs. unbelieving Jews in his day in Romans, but prophesying about the Jewish people’s temporary “calluses” until the “day of the Gentiles is fulfilled”. The Church has developed a tradition that interprets these verses to mean the Jews have become permanently hardened and replaced by the Gentiles and that the Jews will only be “softened” by converting to Christianity, effectively ceasing to be Jewish.

  52. So, …”Paul quot[es] Isaiah and then quot[es] David. What I think mostly happens is Christians think both of these are being directed at or are painting a condition on Jews. If so, it’s an everlasting condition. And it seems to me, [RATHER], only one [the quoting of Isaiah, not the quote from David] is an actual comparison in Paul’s mind for the Jews of his day or those he was talking to on that particular day [in Acts]. The next one of the quotes [the one after the quote from Isaiah in Romans], the one from David, [wasn’t a continuation of the same thought] was (I’m thinking) known by his hearers [at least known by Paul, and we know he was considered difficult to understand even in his day] to be about some group of people that were not current-day Jews (his contemporaries). [I think the Jews would understand the David quote if any of them heard it, but the Roman audience, maybe.] So, Paul is CONTRASTING a temporary projection or prophecy of orientation with an eternal one (that applies to others) [exiled Jews not being the same as David’s enemies]. So, the Jews Paul was talking with in Acts knew what kind of category he was comparing them to or putting them in even while Christians tend not to]. And while he’s going to go talk to gentiles, his brothers to whom he’s spoken on the subject of J’shua are always welcome to think about it and change their mind or catch on to what he’s talking about (J’shua).

    If we think Paul was really just running with the same thought from Isaiah to David, that David supports (from the quote given)So, …”Paul quot[es] Isaiah and then quot[es] David. What I think mostly happens is Christians think both of these are being directed at or are painting a condition on Jews. If so, it’s an everlasting condition. And it seems to me, [RATHER], only one [the quoting of Isaiah, not the quote from David] is an actual comparison in Paul’s mind for the Jews of his day or those he was talking to on that particular day [in Acts]. The next one of the quotes [the one after the quote from Isaiah in Romans], the one from David, [wasn’t a continuation of the same thought] was (I’m thinking) known by his hearers to be about some group of people that were not current-day Jews (his contemporaries). So, Paul is CONTRASTING a temporary projection or prophecy of orientation with an eternal one (that applies to others). So, the Jews Paul was talking with in Acts knew what kind of category he was comparing them to or putting them in]. And while he’s going to go talk to gentiles, his brothers to whom he’s spoken on the subject of J’shua are always welcome to think about it and change their mind or catch on to what he’s talking about.

    If we think Paul was really just running with the same thought from Isaiah to David, that David supports (from the quote given, which Paul selected) what Paul says next, that doesn’t make sense. Instead, David provides a contrast to illustrate Paul’s exclamation. May it never be!

  53. If I’m getting all this correctly then, yes. Paul was saying there was a temporary state in existence for many/most Jewish people relative to being “callused” to the good news of Messiah and his identity, vs. the eternal forgiveness and reconciliation they would receive when the Messiah returned. Next Wednesday’s review of D. Thomas Lancaster’s ongoing “Epistle to the Hebrews” series addresses just this point.

  54. I’m really trying to look specifically at this topic. Each distinct thought adds up such that all works together. I’m not trying to get into the callusing subject (even if it follows logically and historically). I’m looking at a point in time when Paul was hoping the callusing wouldn’t have to happen (for long).

  55. When Paul was speaking, to the Jews in the Acts quote — and similarly to the Romans but with the contrasting David quote that may have gone over his gentile charges’ heads. Turns out he says, although he’s made it clear [or intended to] hope is (was) not lost, that as things stood presently his brother’s in the flesh who weren’t agreeing with him (and he wanted all of them to agree in his lifetime or soon) were lacking in knowledge or were not in accordance with knowledge.

  56. To the gentiles or in Romans, Paul wants to convey Jews aren’t David’s enemies (or lost forever). Maybe some Jewish people there could explain that to them from the history in the prophets, kings, chronicles, etc. (which most gentiles wouldn’t have been familiar with). But he did want Jews to know they were continuing in an exile condition not in accordance with…

  57. This is from John 5.

    “You sent to John [a prophet], and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?

    As I’ve suggested before, this was most likely about most rulers.

  58. What happened to the prophet John? He met a similar fate (or end) as that of the one he said would be greater than himself, the one quoted above who affirmed his own testimony was greater than greatest — Matt. 11 & Luke 7. They were each put to death in a corrupt, elitist system. It’s not only that J’shua was not recognized as Messiah that was the problem. It’s that he was condemned. Something lacking in application of Torah or love of God was rampant (in Judea and Jerusalem) and impairing judgment both in live encounters talking with him and evaluating J’shua’s words and deeds, and in taking him by night.

  59. Actually Marleen, that Yeshua claimed to be the Messiah wasn’t really the problem. Jewish history is replete with Messianic figures. Of course, claiming to be Messiah while the Roman army has occupied Israel certainly implies that he is going to lead a violent overthrow of the Empire, which would be cause to execute him, but Pilate found no evidence of such in Yeshua. As far as the Jewish hierarchy was concerned, claiming to be Messiah wasn’t a capital crime, but claiming to be co-equal with God was:

    But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

    Matthew 26:63-64 (NASB)

    Of course, the death of the Master had much greater implications, the death of the greatest tzaddik to atone for the sins of many and to act as a doorway of sorts, not only for the Jewish people, but the Gentile nations of the world, to reconciliation with God through the New Covenant promises, which the Master inaugurated during his first coming and certainly with his death and resurrection.

    Returning to Romans, Paul states that the Jewish people (although literally tens of thousands came to faith in Messiah and were all zealous for the Torah in Paul’s day — see Acts 21:20) were temporarily “callused” and made insensitive to the revelation of the identity of Messiah until the time of the Gentiles was made full. Of course, that’s temporary and even now, many Jews are recognizing the face and name of the Master and turning to him, yet also living fully realized Jewish lives in accordance with the Covenants and in performance of the mitzvoth.

    The calluses are being softened and I pray the time of the King’s Return is near.

  60. Actually Marleen, that Yeshua claimed to be the Messiah wasn’t really the problem.

    Yeah, I didn’t say it was; I was responding to your putting the focus on that.

    And then I was showing that there was corruption in the “leadership” or rulers. The “people” came to him (as did some very few individuals among those who thought the title “the Jews” most belonged to them, those in positions of authority). That the people did was threatening to those with the most power who were afraid of losing their place.

    “The people” were not any less Jews, but the elite looked down on them; again, besides that, wanted to keep their place. Unlike John (the prophet who bore witness to J’shua), who said he would have to diminish while J’shua would increase (because, John said, he wasn’t even worthy to tie his sandal)…

    If a callusing among large numbers of people followed upon J’shua’s elimination, it doesn’t mean corruption in leadership wasn’t happening. Again, I’d point you to J’shua’s words and to accounts of interaction throughout the gospels.

    But if you’re staying stuck on theology and, as it appears, you’re saying God blinded Jews in general such that they didn’t see what they needed to see because God decided they wouldnt, we’re walking in a zone I can’t entertain.

    Callusing is a protection. The people didn’t need to be protected from J’shua. Once he was gone, however, it makes sense they be viewed as protected from fully understanding him and truly rejecting him [and the gospel has not been clear for many hundreds of years, still isn’t].

    As it is written that choosing not to put truth as foremost in priority or at least as a serious priority will lead to individuals falling for “the” lie, also not listening to Moses led to the way leadership or rulership treated J’shua. People can choose not to have a fully sound or upright mind.

    I pray that calluses (on the part of both Jews and gentiles or Christians and Messianics or the messianically-curious among us at this point) will continue to soften.

  61. http://www.lazaruscomeforth.com/
    http://www.lazaruscomeforth.com/lazarus-raised-from-the-dead/
    http://www.lazaruscomeforth.com/lazarus-the-beloved-disciple/
    I was looking up where precisely the story of Lazarus is told…and
    I ran across this series of evaluation. I haven’t finished reading it yet.
    What it’s talking about primarily, so far, is not why I was looking it up.

    The reason I’m saying anything about Lazarus is that the rulers wanted to kill him too, not for anything he had done. So his inclusion in the gospel story also illustrates corruption and conflict. Look farther back in time, and there are the young boys who were killed, by a different ruler.

    My mention of choosing not to have a fully sound mind is not meant to indicate perfection on anyone’s part but to acknowledge there are people who for instance are outstanding at their job (requiring intelligence) but who don’t decide to be honest and moral or to care about the truth of much other than what advances their pet project(s).

  62. Quick note: because it’s there in the third link I last posted, I have to state for anyone at all interested to read my posts that Paul (like others in the apostolic writings) did not change his name. Even if people like Abraam changed names, people in the apostolic writings had more than one name — that they kept. We have to always sort out what someone says that isn’t so well-informed or which they haven’t had the time to think through and study [or for which they may have a stubbornness] from what they say to which it would be beneficial to listen.

    James, my mention of your pastor reading something of the corruption in second temple times was not meant as any question of his intelligence or even as a thought that you question his intelligence or how “well-read” he is but to say, as I did say, that he may have read such a thing (in particular). He also might not have read such a thing, but source material exists wherein priests in the temple are described as greedy and so on.

  63. “…. I think it was the Pharisees, who weren’t in charge of the temple, who both already had taught some things that weren’t the plain meaning (not that they were the only ones doing this) and who established Rabbinic authority later. [….]”

    I said that (above) earlier in this thread comments section. I hope it’s understood that Paul also considered himself a Pharisee, even while he believed in J’shua. And by using and misusing him has Christianity largely been built.

    Neither is the plain meaning of the text.

    However, God did tell his people (between the first and second temple periods) to marry and carry on figuring out how to live even in exile.

  64. I sent James a link to a lecture by Rachel Elior. Marleen, you will find it supportive of the point you are making regarding corruption of leadership. It is a most informative and fascinating lecture. James, I hope you don’t mind me sharing it with Marleen on your blog. Brief description of Rachel: Rachel Elior is John and Golda Cohen Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Jewish Mystical Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Israel Studies Professor for Spring Quarter 2013 at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

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