clouds of glory

After the Meal of the Messiah has Ended

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the ekklesia, in filling up what is lacking in Messiah’s afflictions. Of this ekklesia I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Messiah in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Messiah. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Messiah Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument. For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Messiah.

Therefore as you have received Messiah Yeshua the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

Colossians 1:24-2:7 (NASB – adj)

I’m temporarily interrupting my reviews of the Nanos and Zetterholm volume Paul within Judaism: Restoring the First-Century Context to the Apostle in order to address a conversation I had with my friend over coffee last Sunday. Yes, this is the same friend who previously issued the pesky challenge (I say that tongue-in-cheek) of considering a return to church or some such congregation for the sake of fellowship.

Last Sunday, the challenge was to consider all that Messiah has done for me.

No, it’s not like I don’t have a sense of gratitude, but the way he put it, it’s like I am to consider only two beings in existence: Messiah and me.

The Death of the MasterSo often in the Church, over and over again, I’d hear “It’s just me and Jesus” like the rest of the human population of this planet didn’t matter. It also sounds like God’s overarching redemptive plan for Israel, and through Israel, the world, wasn’t important. All that’s important is the individual Christian and Jesus.

I look at Messiah through the lens of the entire Biblical narrative and what his death and resurrection means in terms of that narrative. I think of Messiah less as dying for me the individual, and more as dying and being resurrected as a definitive confirmation of God’s New Covenant promise to Israel; His promise of Israel’s personal and national resurrection and the life in the world to come. Messiah’s resurrection is definite proof of the resurrection for the rest of us. It certainly was to the direct witnesses of “the risen Christ,” and by their testimony, was accepted as evidence by many other Jews and Gentiles who through faith, became disciples of the Master.

I have a problem pulling Messiah out of that context, isolating his death and resurrection from God’s global redemptive plan, and making it all about “saving” me. When Paul wrote about “salvation,” he was talking about reconciling humanity with the God of Israel, not saving my one little soul so I could go to Heaven and live with Jesus when I die. Paul was “preaching” the New Covenant promises and their blessings to the Gentiles, who needed to do considerable catch-up work not having the benefit of even a basic Jewish education.

I think that’s what he’s saying in the above-quoted block of scripture. He’s writing to Gentiles. They/we who were once far off (Ephesians 2:13) and who had/have been brought near to the promises of God through the faithfulness of Messiah.

There’s no denying that without Messiah, the Gentiles are totally cut off from the God of Israel. The Jews were already near based on being born into the Sinai covenant. Yes, even they could be cut off (Romans 11:20) due to unbelief, but since they are natural branches, think of how much more easily can they be reattached to the root.

My friend said that those who deny Messiah, Jew and Gentile alike, are cut off from God. This at least suggests if not outright demands that God’s presence be manifest only with those Jews and Gentiles who have become disciples of Yeshua and He is apart from everyone else.

working handsI don’t believe that. For the Jews, I believe there’s close and closer. No, it’s not like there is no benefit for Jewish faith in Messiah. I outlined how unbelieving Jews can still be close to God and how believing Jews have a great benefit in being disciples of the Master in my review of D. Thomas Lancaster’s sermon The Holy Epistle to the Hebrews: Faith Toward God. Mark D. Nanos characterizes the text of Romans 11:25 as unbelieving Jews being temporarily “callused” against Messiah. But the text continues:

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.”

From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Romans 11:25-29

Paul, in part, is referring to this irrevocable promise of God to Israel:

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

So how do I understand my friend’s statement that all people, Jews and Gentiles, are alienated from God if they do not have faith in Messiah? Am I to believe that God abandoned the Jewish people at the cross?

I can’t do that.

I can believe, based on God’s faithful promises to His people Israel, that although many Jews temporarily do not see Yeshua for who he truly is as Messiah, one day everything will be revealed, and then they will all receive the promise of forgiveness of sins and thus “all of Israel will be saved.”

I have no problem believing that all means ALL! In fact, I’m counting on it.

However, God made no such promise to the Gentile nations of the world. We don’t directly benefit from those promises, though as Paul tells us, we do benefit from their blessings through faithfulness. In His mercy, God allows not just Israel, but also the Gentiles to receive the blessings of the resurrection, the indwelling of the Spirit of God, and the promise of life in the Messianic Age and beyond as members of the Master’s ekklesia and vassal subjects of the King.

But in my struggle to reframe the traditional Christian narrative into one that takes into greater account the first century Jewish context of Paul’s letters as they relate back to the promises God, I’ve gotten “stuck” with my panoramic view of the Messiah’s role in Biblical and human history.

Restoration
Photo: First Fruits of Zion

My fight has always been to communicate this Judaic view of ALL scripture, including the Apostolic Writings, as Jewish and centered on national redemption of Israel, and then through Israel, the nations.

Admittedly, I’m having a tough time changing my focus and allowing myself the “conceit” of realizing that there is (or could be) a personal relationship between me and the Master. Frankly, I don’t see why that shouldn’t intimidate the living daylights out of anyone, especially me. How can the King of the future Messianic Era also be, as many Christians might say, my “best friend?”

The presence of Mashiach is revealed on Acharon Shel Pesach, and this revelation has relevance to all Israel: Pesach is medaleg,1 “skipping over” (rather than orderly progress), and leil shimurim,2 the “protected night.” In general the mood of Pesach is one of liberty. Then Pesach ends, and we find ourselves tumbling headlong into the outside world. This is where Mashiach’s revealed presence comes into play – imbuing us with a powerful resoluteness that enables us to maintain ourselves in the world.

-Compiled by the Lubavitcher Rebbe; Translated by Yitschak Meir Kagan
Chabad.org

I too find myself “tumbling headlong” into unprotected territory. It’s become very easy for me to relate to Yeshua as a lowly subject relates to a King. But how can (or should) this “Messianic Gentile” gain an apprehension of a one-on-one relationship with my Master Yeshua?


1. Shir HaShirim 2:8. Midrash Raba on that verse describes the Exodus as medaleg, “skipping over” calculations and rationales for redemption, bringing Israel out of exile regardless of their merit, regardless of the length of the exile. Later in that section the Midrash applies the verse to Mashiach.

2. Sh’mot 12:42, as Rashi notes, the night destined for redemption.

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39 thoughts on “After the Meal of the Messiah has Ended”

  1. “I too find myself “tumbling headlong” into unprotected territory. It’s become very easy for me to relate to Yeshua as a lowly subject relates to a King. But how can (or should) this “Messianic Gentile” gain an apprehension of a one-on-one relationship with my Master Yeshua?”

    “I am but dust and ashes” and “the world was created for my sake.”

    I’ve always found this Mussar mediation on humility to be a good approach to that tension.

    However, it is a strange thing to examine because the Apostolic letters, even when addressing a single person, tend to speak of the works of God as towards the greater “us”, the more direct singular statements tend to be instructions on practice not the sort of flowery, ego-building encouragement we’d expect in Christian popular literature of today.

    Im sure that there’s a personal aspect, but you’re right that we’ve overbalanced in our emphasis on modern individualism. It’s something that I’ll be contemplating.

  2. James — I don’t wish to sidetrack the discussion here away from your consideration of the Buberesque “I-Thou” relationship between HaShem and any of the branches on the tree of faith, or between them and the salvation that is the root of that tree (i.e., metaphorically invoking Rav Yeshua [cif:Rom.15:12/Is.11:10]); but your title invoked in me thoughts of a different discussion entirely. You made indirect reference to it in your quote from the Lubavitcher rebbe about “Aharon shel Pesa’h”, on which the Baal Shem Tov inaugurated a festive meal to reflect upon the Seder that initiated the ‘hag. Hence Lubavitchers and some others celebrate a “Meal of the Mashia’h” in the afternoon of this final day. The Seder is thus viewed as the beginning which commemorates the redemption in past history, while the Messiah’s meal at the end evokes anticipation of the soon-hoped-for advent of the messianic era.

    I’m not entirely sanguine about ‘Habad inventing a new Jewish celebration, even if now a few centuries have passed since the Besht invented it. I prefer to preserve existing time-honored Jewish commemorations of actual events in our history, rather than try to add projections of future celebrations based on prophetic projections of events. I sense in such attempts the same sort of inaccuracy as in the notion of MJ as an anticipation of how Judaism will be practiced in the messianic era. We do have promises and a hope, but we must nonetheless continue to live in the present until future conditions allow us to celebrate their fulfillment. Will not tomorrow take care of itself? [viz:Mt.6:34]

    I also anticipate an egregious temptation among some MJs to co-opt this ‘Habad Messiah’s meal to try to celebrate some sort of Eucharist, much as HCs and HRs often have done with the Seder. Some MJs already observe a so-called “seudat ha-adon” (“Lord’s Supper”), based on a misreading of Rav Shaul’s observations to the Corinthian assembly in 1Cor.11:20-26. His point to them was to eat their fellowship meals in an orderly fashion, as illustrated by the Seder and particularly the pre-Seder teaching and demonstration meal in which Rav Yeshua added kavanot about his impending death to augment existing recognized Seder symbols. Rav Shaul was not suggesting to the Corinthians an invention of a new ceremony to celebrate their “communion” with one another, nor to substitute it for the Seder.

    I do wonder, though, whether there may exist some event relating to Rav Yeshua that could be properly associated with the last day of Pesa’h. For example, after his resurrection on the third day after the Seder he missed, the last day of unleavened bread would have been only a few days later. When might the events of Mk.16:14 have occurred? Apparently, Jn.20:19-23 happened in the evening following the resurrection itself (too early) and Jn.20:24-29 happened either eight days later (a few days too late) or, just possibly, eight days after Pesa’h (which would be only a day after the end of the Pesa’h/Unleavened Bread holiday). In any event, we seem to be lacking any truly convenient or desirable coincidence of dates that we could commemorate properly with a “Messiah’s Meal” on the last day of the holiday period.

  3. @William: Thanks for the reminder about that mussar. The rest of your comment seems to indicate that maybe traditional Christianity overemphasizes the “personal relationship” aspects of our faith.

    @PL: I based the title on the quote from the Chabad I ended today’s blog post with. I wasn’t so much advocating the creation of new Jewish traditions as much as what I thought that quote said (or said to me, anyway). The idea of us “tumbling headlong into the outside world” and the Messiah’s presence “imbuing us with a powerful resoluteness that enables us to maintain ourselves in the world” was a comforting image.

    As far as that Chabad tradition being incorporated into some elements of MJ, it already has by First Fruits of Zion a couple of years ago.

  4. James,

    I think Evangelicalism reacted against the idea that we were individually baptized into the “Church” and that the “Church” was saved. While that was, in many ways, an improvement – emphasizing the need for individuals to be born of water *and* of spirit. However, individualism, particularly the consumerist branch, has distorted things even farther – where, for example, women are encouraged to visualize themselves as the bride of Christ instead of understanding that it’s a metaphor for the whole assembly.

    I guess I can see how some of that has slipped into my thinking.

  5. The whole “it’s not a religion, it’s a relationship” thing I think distorts the actual association between people and God. Yeshua said to pray to God in Messiah’s name, not pray to Yeshua directly. I think of this as petitioning the Almighty by the merit of the Moshiach.

    I agree the bride/bridegroom images are metaphors, not literal roles individuals can take on.

  6. “It’s just me and Jesus”

    Well, I’m certainly glad the Apostles didn’t have this attitude! 🙂

    Re: Chabad. I find the increasing focus on them and their ways (in MJ) very problematics for a number of reasons, not the least of which is their saluting and praying to their dead rebbe’s chair, as well as problimatic issues of the rebbe’s character and known practices. It’d be like Christianity drawing their inspiration from a late-on-the-scene cult such as Jehovah’s Wittnesses.

  7. I have more intention to write something else, but I just saw the additional comment by you, James, about FFOZ incorporating Chabad tradition about Messiah (and such central tradition that it addresses Messiah/an idea of a messiah and the main commemoration of all of Judaism, Passover and unleavened bread). I’m concerned some (even more as their understanding increases as to what is going on) Jews who would be served in MJ would be, rather than served, very uncomfortable and discomfited by this. I am very uneasy about it.

    I think I will say what I was going to say in a separate post.

  8. ….my share on behalf of His body, which is the ekklesia, in filling up what is lacking in Messiah’s afflictions. Of this ekklesia I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages….

    I’m re-quoting this piece, although it’s much better in the full context (and the more full portion you chose, James, was good) because I’m focusing my attention on this “filling up what is lacking in Messiah’s afflictions” [nearly “blasphemous” in church thinking, surely it would be if the church didn’t so need Paul].

    I want to think more about this look at the mystery being Messiah and the knowledge being proper, loving behavior (the heart of the Torah, the distillation of “love” found at nearly the center): the “benefit” and “riches and glory” of “knowledge” among gentiles. This theme runs nicely on through the meditation as different angles are taken in to be worries (more or less). And this should be a marvel, that gentiles demonstrate such knowledge (as good living and action or deeds and discipline in stability through this wisdom of Yeshua). So “walk (a word having to do with halakha) in him… overflowing with gratitude.”

  9. @James — I am aware of FFOZ’s “haggadah” for the ‘Habad-styled “Meal of the Messiah”, because I participated in such a seudah last Friday evening at Boaz’s home here in Jerusalem. A portion of my comment was intended as a caution about not allowing foreign concepts to corrupt this meal away from its essential meaning as an anticipation of the soon-hoped-for advent of the messianic era. While another portion of my commentary was skeptical about the actual value and effects of such a celebration, if it is held at all I wish it to be maintained as truly as possible to its origin and intent. I never thought that you were advocating the creation of any new tradition; though initially I wasn’t sure whether your title implied that you were about to discuss such matters or potential corruptions thereof.

    I can see where some might feel that ‘Hag ha-Matzot doesn’t have sufficient closure, and that it merely “drops us off” at the end of the week without any fanfare — whereas a closing celebratory meal that evokes the notion of going forth with the Messiah as our escort does add a note of comfort. I really have never felt any lack of closure without such a special seudah, because my focus was on the Torah service of the last day of Pesa’h, whether the seventh day in Israel or the eighth day in the galut, and on a havdalah that expresses the transition from the holiday to the ordinary at the end of this final day’s “holy convocation” — just as we see at the departure of each Shabbat. Of course, the scheduling this year made that transition into one from the holiness of Pesa’h to that of another Shabbat, and havdalah was thus not needed until after Shabbat. Moreover, since I always feel the presence of the Messiah as my escort, I would not tend to feel that a special seudah at the end of Pesa’h, devoted to anticipating his coming, would ever evoke any particular additional comfort. Indeed, I tend to feel that the havdalah prayers evoke that anticipation, and that at all other times HaShem’s ‘hesed continues to be sufficient. Therefore, I suppose, I feel that this ‘Habad invention is somewhat superfluous, though it can be very pleasant (perhaps even “edifying”).

    I once attended a class in which the rabbi was discussing the relative value or merits of various elements of Judaism. He asserted that the elements which were more “weighty” were those which represented Jewish praxis and belief across the longest periods of time and across the widest distribution of locations in which they were or had been observed. By this standard of evaluation, something like the ‘Habad-styled “Meal of the Messiah” doesn’t rank very high at all. Of course, by that two-dimensional standard neither does the Holocaust, nor the creation of Israel, so it would seem that a third dimension should be added to those of duration and distribution: one of depth of impact on Jewish survival or well-being. Thus, even recent key events constrained in time and space may take on value and become widely celebrated or commemorated even if there has been little time so far during which such observances could gain value. Now, the notion of Messiah is a time-honored one, as is the expectation of the messianic era. But, the idea of celebrating their future fulfillment … not so much. Does such a celebration hold the potential for deep impact? I’m not convinced about that. Meanwhile, I’m willing to reserve judgment and keep my sense of evaluation pending.

  10. @Sojourning and Marleen: I can’t speak for FFOZ or their choices regarding the inclusion of a Chabad tradition into their teachings. I can only guess that this was a way of incorporating a later Jewish practice that specifically honors Messiah during the Pesach/Resurrection festivities. I don’t particularly have any problem with it and I recognize that there’s more than one type or branch of Messianic Judaism in existence. FFOZ represents one viewpoint and tends to overlap others.

    @Marleen: I tend to think of the mystery surrounding the Messiah as primarily being about how he makes it possible for the Gentiles to be grafted into “the Way” by his faithfulness and without formally becoming proselytes. A secondary mystery is why the Messiah, having come once, must ascend to the Heavenly Court and come again at some unspecified future time to finish the Messianic act of redeeming Israel and the world.

  11. Also, a note: It says all men even though I don’t think “all” men will be established and rooted as such. And we certainly don’t see it now, if we ever will (but I guess some have dangerously decided we have to get the whole earth cleaned up before he returns or in order that he return).

    Then again, James, I agree with you that all means all when we get to the matter of Israel being saved. Like you said.

  12. PL said:

    Moreover, since I always feel the presence of the Messiah as my escort, I would not tend to feel that a special seudah at the end of Pesa’h, devoted to anticipating his coming, would ever evoke any particular additional comfort.

    FFOZ has a large Gentile audience, most of whom came from a prior church experience. More than a few may feel indeed that they’re dropped off at the end of Passover without so much as a by your leave, and particularly without any closure regarding the “risen Messiah”. For them, the Meal of Messiah may have more symbolic import.

    Of course, by that two-dimensional standard neither does the Holocaust, nor the creation of Israel, so it would seem that a third dimension should be added to those of duration and distribution: one of depth of impact on Jewish survival or well-being.

    I am not unmindful that Holocaust Remembrance Day is fast approaching.

  13. @SWJ — Don’t judge all of ‘Habad by their messianic Schneersonite fringe. This particular meal is not focused on him by other ‘Habadniks, nor by some other “denominations” of ‘Hasidim who also observe this custom. That is why I suggested it be evaluated on its own merits, apart from disagreements over who is a valid messiah-candidate.

  14. @James — Regarding that “large gentile audience” that FFOZ addresses: that motivation to insert notions relating to “Resurrection Sunday” (not to call it “Easter”) is precisely the sort of corruption that I would see prevented from distorting the Messiah’s Meal, at the closure of the Pesa’h week, which is an anticipation only of the impending work of Messiah ben-David. Incorporating commemorations of the fulfillment of the Messiah ben-Yosef’s work, which is another reflection of past redemption, would be inappropriate.

  15. @James: In Messiah Yeshua is all mystery and knowledge.

    @PL: Indeed, I tend to feel that the havdalah prayers evoke that anticipation, and that at all other times HaShem’s ‘hesed continues to be sufficient.

    I do too.

  16. @Marleen — I think I should have said: “Indeed, I tend to feel that the havdalah prayers evoke that anticipation *sufficiently*, and that at all other times HaShem’s ‘hesed continues to be sufficient”. Nonetheless, I appreciate your agreement.

  17. @PL:
    “@SWJ — Don’t judge all of ‘Habad by their messianic Schneersonite fringe.”

    I don’t, and have had my own interaction with Chabad and am not basing my remarks on rumors. Neither am I talking about FFOZ James. Rather, an increasing love affair with all things Chabad by many in MJ and a refusal to deal with their (very) problematic issues (which I will refrain from mentioning here) and instead paint them as the perfect representation of either holiness or Judaism. They are not.

  18. I have been to a couple of Messiah Meals and the focus is on the future messianic meal by ben David with all the righteous in attendance.

  19. This was at BI. Several passages from Talmud, Midrash Rabba, etc are read or are in the notes.

  20. Gets me to thinking about the parallelism drawn between Moses and bed David. ‘As the first redeemer was revealed, then hidden and revealed again, so with the last redeemer.’

  21. @SWJ — I agree that even the best of ‘Habad is not a perfect or archetypical representation of Judaism. But then, no one group is. There is, however, much good worth learning from ‘Habad ‘Hasidism — just as there is from Gur and Breslov, because MJ really ought to be seen as yet another type of ‘Hasidism due to the characteristics of piety represented in Rav-Yeshua messianism. Nonetheless, there are, at times, elements of a false anti-intellectualism in “modern” ‘Hasidic piety; hence it must be constrained and thoroughly-informed by classic Jewish literature and not overbalanced by Kabbalistic mysticism — and it must accommodate also modern advances in knowledge of all kinds.

  22. This past Friday night, unexpectedly and happily, my oldest son came over and he and a couple others and I watched the newer Moses/exodus movie. Yeah, not all the right things to do on a Friday. Nor the best dramatization, but I was glad that’s what he chose (none of us having seen it and, despite some unfavorable reviews, our being curious). I found that the discrepancies in the film provided opportunities for discussion. Like, someone asked, “Were there crocodiles in the story?” Answer, “No, but that’s apparently this movie’s idea of how the water turned to blood.”

    Someone else repeated the criticism that Christian Bale, as Moses, never said, “Let my people go!” Or “Thus saith the LORD, ‘Let My people go.'” This Moses did talk of his people, though.

    I appreciated the understated moment when the pharaoh, who in this Hollywood version had threatened to kill Hebrew children, scoffed angrily and sadly at Moses about Moses’ God killing Egyptian children. “Who would follow a god like that?” Of course, he called himself God, as did his father himself, who had put Hebrew children to death. [I had also cried when the Egyptian children died.]

    One thing that came across well was that there was a lot of time between different parts of the many story aspects.

  23. I don’t know that there is such as thing as authentic tradition, as these have developed and altered over centuries, incorporating elements of the cultures through which Judaism dwelt and passed through. Moroccan Jews have Mimouna. I’m sure all of us realized there are others in this world besides Jews and Christians, but perhaps, effectively, it seems as if these don’t exist.

    @James, perhaps you would be more likely to thrive in a non-doctrinal social service or other group. This would allow fellowship without unacceptable conformity. Or, you might try an oxytocin nasal spray prior to entering whatever religious community you decide to visit. Oxytocin is known as the bonding hormone, and promotes trust, loyalty, intimacy, but on the negative side, is associated with social bias. To bond with one group is to enter an us/them viewpoint, and it seems a requirement. One cannot enjoy that feeling of belonging if one also doesn’t exclude others. If one doesn’t enter this hormonal drug induced state, it is difficult to bond in a religious environment, so you end up lonely in a crowd. I can see the value of this, as a mother needs to bond with her baby to the exclusion of others; a spouse needs to view their partner as more attractive and preferable to others. But in the area of thought, belief, practice, things get rather muddied. Sometimes I miss that naive, sometimes blissful ignorance, but it is like slight of hand tricks – once you know how they work, it isn’t fun anymore.

  24. I appreciated your meditation today, James, and feel as if I may have written it myself. It’s funny how sometimes your writings reflect the thoughts of my household.

    Our Meal of Messiah has always been an opportunity to focus on the promises of the coming kingdom and as we are able to share with friends and family how many of those promises are being fulfilled today, right now, and that we have seen and experienced them personally – it is amazing. We talk of people we know who live on the very mountains that G-d promised to bring His children back to and are it is not uncommon for them to be experiencing amazingly abundant fertility without fertility treatments and most often without medical intervention during pregnancy (such as one family with two sets of twins, two sets of triplets, and a few single births as well). Promised grapes growing on those promised mountains that produce more than anyone ever dreamed and new vineyards winning coveted international awards, and the abundance of those grapes so that the wineries must call and tell the workers to stop harvesting because the vats are overflowing. Plowing, seeding, and harvesting all at the same time and in the same area and on the same day, etc. It always leaves us in hopeful and joyful tears because we’ve seen it beginning, we tell our friends and family and we drink that wine, and somehow we’re all transported into the future for a short little glimpse of something awe inspiring.
    If these promises are being fulfilled today even in a small measure, how can we think that the rest are not coming soon as well? Soon may have different expectations within a group, but that’s part of the point too.

    All of this aside, I have struggled with “my own personal Jesus” too. There is a difference between the Master-servant relationship and the buddy-buddy relationship. My Master is still subject to the King of the Universe. So where does that leave me? Besides, I have no covenant with the King. So my gratitude at being grafted in and accepted in some manner should be tremendous. I do not have the place to demand a seat at the table. Goodness, if I were to be “just a servant” would that not be enough? Even servants are inside the house and not locked out while the wedding banquet is taking place. Being a servant in the home of a godly master is a blessing because you are part of the family but yet not family, you are cared for and protected and employed for as long as you live. King David, the one with whom the Messianic Covenant was made, said he would be pleased even if he were to be a lowly servant in the house of the King. Why should I be any different?

  25. I’m waiting for an Israeli boutique wine to make the top ten Wine Spectator list or get a coveted Robert Parker 100. Currently, Israel has some very good wines, but no spectacular ones. Too bad some would rather reign in hell than serve in heaven.

  26. I think you are correct, that theologically, in some manner, if MJ dumped its connections to evangelicalism, it could be similar to Breslov, where they don’t have a living rebbe. Hasidic groups have a wonderful depth of thought and devekut, but live insular and highly conformist lives, in utter submission to their leaders, as well as a highly restricted role for women. Maybe for someone else, but not for me. Perhaps the only way this will occur is for a type of Yeshuaist messianism to arise out of the Jewish world, as other forms of Hasidism have. MJ arose out of the evangelical world, although Paul Levertoff was an Anglican priest. Academics consider him one of the greatest Kabbalists of the modern age, ignored due to his beliefs. I can imagine that a form of Hasidism could have formed around someone like Levertoff, given the right environment, which didn’t happen. Hasidism requires a charismatic, brilliant and pietist leader/progenitor, and I don’t see any candidates in MJ, but if you do, let me know. 🙂

  27. I duuno, but heretics of Christianity like JW’s Mormons, SDA, etc., took a step in the right direction when they realized something was wrong in Christianity, not that they necessarily fixed it. At least, in separating themselves from the history, they may have removed themselves from its judgement. Perhaps some MJ’s are looking for validation in finding common beliefs and practices within certain Jewish sects?

  28. @James, isn’t that also a problem of interpreting ancient writings via our modern frame of reference? Yeshua wasn’t giving his disciples a formula, and to approach Hashem in the merit of a tsaddik is common within Jewish practice.

    The meme, “Its not a religion, its a relationship,” – I would ask who this relationship is with. The relationship is with the particular church’s doctrines and leaders, and one views everything through this. In any case, this, “relationship,” is the loss leader and bait and switch to get one into their religion. Antiissionaries also use this meme, as well as other evangelical memes.

  29. @Chaya — So is it your recommendation to serve some good-quality Israeli wines in heaven rather than to reign in hell with a spectacular one from someplace else? [:)] I am entirely in favor of continuing quality improvement, in wines as well as in all other things, but I’m not sure what standards to apply to a “spectacular” wine. Tastes vary, and the purposes for drinking wine vary. Personally, I would like to see each wine rated and categorized for what foods it best complements, and for its effects, since some wines have different effects on health and well-being. My wife tends to experience headaches after drinking most wines, even in small amounts, due to the way they are often processed, while some that could be said to have been produced by certain natural processes do not affect her so. Thus she is very particular about the wine she might dare to drink, while generally avoiding it altogether — so, to her, any wine that does not give her a headache is “spectacular”.

    As for an MJ ‘Hasidism, we already have the most charismatic admor and tzaddik possible in Rav Yeshua. We could, I suppose, try to identify some of his higher-quality present-day apostles. I know a few whom I would consider good candidates, but I would never subject them to the embarrassment that would be heaped upon them, since common folk would jump to point out their flaws, failing to recognize that apostles are not to be expected to be supermen (nor superwomen). I’ll grant that it could be easier to identify some false apostles, or at least lower-quality ones; but why waste energy taking cheap shots, when all available effort is needed for more constructive pursuits? ‘Hasidism is an outlook from which to learn, and by which to address and reform internal motivations; and it does not require — nor would it be well served by — the presence of a charismatic shill to make of it a bandwagon for folks to jump onto.

  30. “Perhaps some MJ’s are looking for validation in finding common beliefs and practices within certain Jewish sects?”

    It’s Gentiles who seem to be most mezmorized by “the rebbe” and his followers, dressing like them (ish), and don’t seem to be aware of the serious problems of this organization, theologically, morally, etc.

  31. @PL: Relative to Gentiles and the Messiah’s meal, a lot of us have a tendency to “muck up” Jewish practice when left to our own devices, so I can only imagine the amount of discomfort experienced by Messianic Jews who have to witness this. I suppose that’s one of the big reasons why I don’t do anything “Jewish” anymore…to avoid adding insult to injury.

    @Sojourning: I have almost no direct experience with the Chabad, so I can’t really speak to their issues. I do know that my wife has formed a friendship with the local Chabad Rabbi and Rebbitzin and she’s started going to shul again, this time at Chabad. She even went on the last night of Pesach (Saturday night), so I’m encouraged. As I think I’ve mentioned before, on top of all that, she’s taking Hebrew classes and studying the Tanya. Chabad may not be perfect (what is?), but they are opening a door for my Jewish spouse to have more Jewish community and to worship as a Jew with other Jews.

    @Steve: It would be interesting to compare an MJ Meal of the Messiah with how it is commemorated by the Chasidim.

    @Marleen: I avoid all “Biblical” movies because the inaccuracies drive me nuts.

    Chaya said:

    @James, perhaps you would be more likely to thrive in a non-doctrinal social service or other group. This would allow fellowship without unacceptable conformity.

    Interesting comment. I think I’ll just stick with what I’m doing now and see what comes up.

    @James, isn’t that also a problem of interpreting ancient writings via our modern frame of reference? Yeshua wasn’t giving his disciples a formula, and to approach Hashem in the merit of a tsaddik is common within Jewish practice.

    I’m finding the Nanos and Zetterholm book I’m reviewing to be illustrative of putting Paul back in his original context, or as much as we can being nearly 2,000 years removed.

    @Lisa: It’s my fond wish to be able to speak to other people like me so that we can have a common voice, so to speak. I’m glad this “mediation” spoke to you.

  32. “Chabad may not be perfect (what is?), but they are opening a door for my Jewish spouse to have more Jewish community and to worship as a Jew with other Jews.”

    This is a touchy subject James, and I don’t mean to offend you or list too much info that could be misconstrued. But from experience, the “door” may be to encouraging a divorce.

  33. Well hopefully the Chabad Rabbi doesn’t have that much influence over the missus. She tells me that there are a number of intermarried couples at Chabad, so the Rabbi may just have to tolerate her being intermarried, too.

  34. @James — Somehow, from you I really wouldn’t expect any attempt to “muck up” Jewish praxis. Further, there exists a time-honored principle of long standing that would protect everyone from doing so, if only they would carefully observe it. It is impelled by a devotion to genuineness and authenticity, and it is simply to not add nor take away from that which has been already defined and traditionally preserved. Just as we are enjoined not to do this to Yohanan’s book of his apocalyptic vision, nor to do this to Torah, but rather to investigate diligently what is already in them — if we would examine the content of traditional Jewish prayers and practices for what they are, we just might find that nothing worthwhile is truly missing nor is any addition needed. Rather, it is our own internal kavanah and interpretation and understanding (and sometimes commentary) that add depth and richness.

  35. ProclaimLiberty ~
    I truly appreciate your comments and that you take time to share your insight and perspective.
    Thank you.

  36. @PL: I more meant those many non-Jews out there who think they are “practicing Judaism” by keeping Leviticus 11 “kosher,” and incorporating small bits and pieces of how they perceive Jewish observance to go, even when it disagrees with traditional Jewish praxis (“We obey the written Torah, not the traditions of the elders” sort of thing). I admit that back in the day, I was guilty of such thinking and doing.

  37. http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/news/crime/article/1-year-anniversary-of-shootings-at-Jewish-sites-6194715.php

    I thought of this memorial in relation to the following.

    ….I once attended a class in which the rabbi was discussing the relative value or merits of various elements of Judaism. He asserted that the elements which were more “weighty” were those which represented Jewish praxis and belief across the longest periods of time and across the widest distribution of locations in which they were or had been observed. By this standard of evaluation, something like the ‘Habad-styled “Meal of the Messiah” doesn’t rank very high at all. Of course, by that two-dimensional standard neither does the Holocaust, nor the creation of Israel, so it would seem that a third dimension should be added to those of duration and distribution: one of depth of impact on Jewish survival or well-being. Thus, even recent key events constrained in time and space may take on value and become widely celebrated or commemorated even if there has been little time so far during which such observances could gain value. Now, the notion of Messiah is a time-honored one, as is the expectation of the messianic era. But, the idea of celebrating their future fulfillment … not so much. Does such a celebration hold the potential for deep impact? I’m not convinced about that. Meanwhile, I’m willing to reserve judgment and keep my sense of evaluation pending.

  38. And it came to pass on the eighth day (9:1)

    The number seven represents the cycle of creation; the number eight represents the “circumference”–that which lies beyond the perimeter of time and space. This is why the Divine Presence came to dwell in the Israelite camp on the eighth day. This is also alluded to in the saying of our sages (Talmud, Erchin 13b) that “The lyre of Moshiach has eight strings.”

    (Keli Yakar; Shaloh)

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