Tag Archives: Christians

Are Christians Idol Worshipers?

More to the point, by Christians worshiping Jesus as divine, does that automatically make Christians idol worshipers according to Judaism?

The Jewish criterion regarding idolatry – as it relates to non-Jews – is also subject to debate. The accepted ruling is that if a non-Jew believes in a single all-powerful God, even if he accepts other forces together with God (such as the Christian belief in the Trinity), it is not idolatry. (Note that this distinction only pertains to non-Jews.) However, any other type of belief in a deity independent of God is idolatry (Code of Jewish Law – Rema O.C. 156:1).

-from “Ask the Rabbi”

Granted, the various branches of Judaism would have other issues with the worship of Jesus as part of the Trinity, but it is only idol worship if we are assigning an inanimate object with directly being God.

I’m not going to address the whole idea of the Trinity or the divine nature of Yeshua, and how all that’s supposed to work and, for once, I’m not going to write a lengthy missive on the topic. I just wanted to clarify for those folks out there who have accused Christians of being idol worshipers, that according to Jewish thought based on the above-quoted passage, we/they certainly aren’t.

As far as “the Father and I are one” (John 10:30) is concerned, there are other ways to understand why no one comes to the Father except through the Son.

But as the Aish Rabbi above explains, this applies only to non-Jews. For Jewish disciples of Yeshua, I can only imagine things may be a little harder to understand.

Notes from the Wrong Side of the Jordan

I shall make a distinction between My people and your people.

Exodus 8:19 Stone Edition Chumash (v23 in Christian Bibles)

R’ Shamshon Raphael Hirsch suggests that the phrase “between My people and your people” is a reference to the differing perspectives possessed by the people of the two nations.

-from “A Mussar Thought for the Day,” p.101
Friday’s commentary on Parashas Va’eira
A Daily Dose of Torah

I’ve definitely experienced some “distinctiveness” in opinion over the past several days in the comments section of my blog posts Saving Israel After the Fullness of the Gentiles Has Come (and Gone) and In the Image of God.

(I suppose I should note that even the title of the first blog post I mentioned, the phrase “Saving Israel” was taken as some sort of insult when I posted it in a private Facebook group on Messianic Judaism, due to a misunderstanding of my intent and my citing Paul’s words in Romans 11:26, and the reaction was so strongly disapproving of me, that I removed my Facebook post entirely.)

It’s true that if you’re going to write a “religious” blog, sooner or later, you’re going to rub someone the wrong way, but there are people out there who just can’t seem to tolerate that we are all going to either misunderstand each other from time to time, or that we will disagree on something, and there’s no way to any sort of peace with them.

OK. I get that. So I try not to enter into those debates so much anymore. They never end well. But sometimes these situations seem unavoidable.

Relative to my recent blog posts, there’s a particular group of Jewish people who are offering a service to larger Jewry by “exposing” the fallacies involved in Christianity as well as Messianic Judaism. I periodically had visits in the comments section of my blog from one such person, the subject of this blog post, until I finally had to ban him. I hate banning people, but sometimes a person is so persistently annoying and counterproductive that they inhibit any good that might come out of a discussion on at least some of the topics I write about.

Hence another couple of gentlemen, and I will continue to believe that they are well-meaning in their efforts, made some comments that were designed to be provocative and could well fall into the category of antimissionaries. But while their efforts may be seen as good for Jewish people, they’re not so good for the disciples of Yeshua, Jewish or Gentile.

I can sort of see why they’d want to “visit” Messianic Jewish blogs in an attempt, however misguided, to convince the Jewish blog writers of the error of their ways, but what did I do? I’m not Jewish and I try as much as I can to do no harm to Jewish people or national Israel in word or deed.

(I should say there was a third individual involved in some of these comments who isn’t Jewish and sadly seemed to be more of a troll than anything else).

For those of us who identify as Messianic Gentiles, these situations present an odd conundrum. On the one hand, I relate to Messianic Judaism, at least in its ideal state, as another branch of Judaism that runs parallel to Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and the rest of the various streams of Judaism.

On the other hand, antimissionaries relate to Messianic Judaism as a form of Christianity, and a rather deceitful one at that.

This also invokes Rabbi Stuart Dauermann’s essay for issue 114 of Messiah Journal, “The Jewish People are Us – Not Them”. It’s a strange thing to relate positively to Messianic Judaism as a Judaism and at the same time, to find yourself at odds with people operating in other branches of Judaism.

Or maybe not. Let me tell you a joke (and I have to thank reader “ProclaimLiberty” for telling me this one):

There were two Jewish men, David and Joel, who were the only survivors of a shipwreck at sea. The two men were washed up on the shores of a deserted island.

A year later, rescuers found them and discovered that they had built three synagogues on the island. One of the rescuers asked David why the two men built three synagogues. David answered, “That synagogue is the one I go to, the one over there is the one Joel goes to, and the one way over there is the synagogue neither of us would be caught dead in.”

Don't ArgueIf you don’t get the joke, it would be kind of hard to explain it to you. Another way of putting it is by expressing the Jewish adage, “two Jews, three opinions.”

Here’s another example:

At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.” But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.

Matthew 12:1-7 (NASB)

From a traditionally Christian interpretive dynamic, this looks like Jesus is contradicting or just doing away with “the Law” of Shabbat, but from a Jewish perspective (to the best of my ability to render one), it’s two groups of Jews debating on what is and isn’t permissible on Shabbat, more specifically, the melachot or acts of work that are considered forbidden to perform on Shabbos.

Remember, some of the Pharisees felt so strongly about Shabbat and performance of melachot that they even planned to destroy the Master (see Matthew 12:14). Fortunately, these disagreements don’t get to that point in this day and age, however, that doesn’t mean they can’t be quite passionate.

So where does that leave me in these discussions? I can’t resolve them. There’s little to benefit from entering into another long and useless debate, batting their proof texts and mine back and forth like so many tennis balls.

Of course, from my critics’ point of view, we aren’t discussing a simple disagreement. This is a matter of heresy, apostasy, sacrilege, and even idol worship.

So where am I to turn?

The clear inference of these passages is that the recognition of Hashem’s mastery over all areas of life is a liberating force, rather than a debilitating one. This concept is illustrated in the simple, yet extraordinarily profound saying of Ben Zoma in Pirkei Avos (4:1), which asks, “Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot.” Rashi concludes that even the wealthiest person who is discontented with his lot will be in a constant state of fear and despondency, and is considered a pauper.

-from “A Mussar Thought for the Day, p.102

Oh yeah, God. Remember God? This is supposed to be about God and not winning arguments or rattling “pagan” Christian cages just to get a reaction.

When I get tired of religious people and religious arguments, I take some comfort in the Bible such as this reading from the Psalms for this past Shabbat:

Desist, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted upon the earth.

Psalm 46:11

Unfortunately, even here with the (apparent) reassurance that it is right and appropriate for the nations to exalt God, Rashi’s commentary on the verse as found at Chabad.org states:

Desist: all nations from further marching upon Jerusalem.

and know that I am God: That I will execute judgment upon you.

I will be exalted among the nations: I will be exalted with My vengeance which I will wreak upon those nations.

leaving churchNot very soothing sentiments for a Gentile who is trying to relate to Yeshua-faith as a form of Jewish worship and study. Well, maybe Rashi wasn’t talking about people like me (although I think he actually was).

So why do I do this to myself? Why do I continually inject my attention, my studies, and my commentary into what is obviously Jewish space? Because traditional Christian study materials, interpretations, and doctrine are somewhat…how should I say it…wanting. I suppose it’s one of the reasons I left church last fall after attending for two years (and those of you who’ve been following my blog for a long time know how agonizing my decision to return to the church was back then).

So once again I’m standing in-between multiple opposing forces within my little corner of the religious blogosphere and in my life as well. But I did mention something earlier:

I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait,
And in His word do I hope.

My soul waits for the Lord
More than the watchmen for the morning;
Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant redemption.

And He will redeem Israel
From all his iniquities

Psalm 130:5-8 (NASB)

I have no doubt that God will fulfill His promises to redeem Israel. I just hope that when the dust settles, there will be something left for the rest of us…for me.

Addendum: For more perspective on the debate between Messianic Judaism and other Jewish religious groups and branches (in this case, Yad L’Achim and Chabad) please read Yad L’Achim’s Personal Jesus: the Berditchever Rebbe at the Rosh Pina Project.

The Sukkot Season of Joy

have-sukkah-will-travelSeven days shall you dwell in booths (Leviticus 23:42) … and you shall only be rejoicing (Deuteronomy 16:15).

Succos is the festival designated as the season of our gladness. Yet the commentaries state that one of the symbolisms of the succah, a temporary hut, is that we dwell in it for seven days to symbolize man’s temporary sojourn on earth for his average life span of seven decades (Psalms 90:10).

Human mortality is a rather sobering thought; it is hardly conducive to rejoicing. Most often we do not think about our mortality, and when circumstances force us to face it, we quickly dismiss it from our minds and go on acting as though we will live forever.

How different Torah values are from secular values! The Torah teaches us that there is an eternal life, a wholly spiritual life, whose bliss is far greater than the human mind can imagine. We are placed on this planet for our ephemeral earthly existence only to give us an opportunity to prepare for the eternal life.

The Torah teaches us to enjoy life, and if it restricts some pleasures, it is because we should enjoy life in a manner that befits a human being. Furthermore, our joy of living should not be diminished by the awareness of our mortality, nor need we deny it. The succah – the symbol of our temporary stay on earth – is beautifully decorated, and we enjoy our festive meals therein. Even our temporary existence can be beautiful and happy, and our faith in the eternal life should enhance that happiness.

Today I shall …

… try to enjoy life as befits a spiritual person, knowing that the true life of man is not the fleeting one, but that of eternity.

-Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski
“Growing Each Day, Tishrei 15”

I have to admit that at this time of year, sometimes I envy Jewish people. The traditions surrounding the celebration of Sukkot are so rich and full of life. Sure, I can build a sukkah and I can observe, to some degree, the same traditions, but I wonder what it must be like to have a life-long experience of such celebrations. What memories do Jewish people have of childhood, eating in a sukkah each year, “partying” with relatives and friends, singing, dancing, rejoicing?

I’ve come to the party far too late and worse, I was too late to bring my children. If I had been more timely, perhaps, my son would build a sukkah for his wife and child each year. Face it, in terms of traditions and spiritual depth, Sukkot has got Christmas beat all hollow.

I recently came across a Facebook page called Jewish People Around the World. The stories and photos of Sukkot observance are just fabulous. Certainly if, as Rabbi Twerski says, the Torah teaches us to enjoy life, then Sukkot is one of the crowning jewels of that Torah sentiment.

Rabbi Twerski also said this:

God wants us to enjoy worldly goods, but to do so in a manner that befits a spiritual people, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

Sukkot_Priestly_BlessingSukkot, for all its focus on being a “season of joy” does not focus on just the individual seeking his or her own joy as another of Rabbi Twerski’s commentaries notes:

Rabbi Mordechai of Nesh’chiz looked forward all year to the mitzvah of the Four Species on Succos. Since a fine esrog was costly and Rabbi Mordechai was hardly a man of means, he would accumulate small coins all year round, even depriving himself of food, in order to be able to afford an esrog.

A few days before Succos, Rabbi Mordechai joyfully took the money he had saved, and in high spirits, went off to buy the coveted esrog. On the way, he encountered a man sitting at the side of the road, weeping bitterly. He inquired as to the reason for the man’s grief, and the latter told him, “Woe is to me! I earn my living with my horse and wagon, and this morning my nag died. How am I to feed my wife and children?”

“How much do you need to buy another horse?” Rabbi Mordechai asked.

The sum that the man specified was exactly the amount that Rabbi Mordechai had laboriously saved all year long for the esrog. Without giving it another thought, he gave his purse to the man. “Here, my dear man. Go buy yourself a horse’

After the man joyfully left with the money, Rabbi Mordechai said, “Oh well. All of Israel will be fulfilling the mitzvah of the Four Species with an esrog, but I will do so with a horse.”

Rabbi Mordechai’s sacrifice of his personal comfort all year round teaches us how precious is the mitzvah of the Four Species, but his final act teaches us that the mitzvah of tzedakah (charity) is even greater.

Today I shall…

… try to realize the greatness of the commandment of charity, to make certain that another person has the means to survive.

I mentioned Christmas before, which I suppose is the closest thing in Christian tradition to Sukkot (apart from Thanksgiving, which strictly speaking, isn’t a “Christian” holiday). I think for some Christians, teaching charity and giving is the focus of that holiday, but for most people, including most Christians, all attention is drawn on buying and consuming material goods for their own sake and for ours, not for the sake of other people.

Also, as we read in the first quote from Rabbi Twerski, Sukkot teaches us the difference between temporal, material values and those for the sake of Heaven, and yet even eternal values are celebrated with the joys of our material world. Our mortal life is much like living in a sukkah, while what is beyond can be compared to basking in the glory of God on His Throne.

If it comes down to experiencing our own joy and providing joy to others in material ways that summon the eternal, I say, is it too much to ask for both?

Separating Good from God

returning-the-torahThe campaign of the Greeks was aimed to “make them forget Your Torah and violate the decrees of Your will” (Sidur p. 59); as the Midrash (Bereishit Raba 16) puts it, (the Greeks demanded) “Write…that you have no share in the G-d of Israel.” It was a war against G-d. “Let them study Torah,” the Greeks implied. “Let them practice the justice-mitzvot and the ‘testimonial’ observances. But they must not mention that the Torah is G-d’s Torah and the mitzvot are the decrees of His will. Torah and mitzvot must be severed from G-dliness.”

“Today’s Day”
Thursday, Tevet 2, Seventh Day of Chanuka, 5703
Compiled by the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Translated by Yitschak Meir Kagan

Why should any religion get the credit for people doing good, but not get the credit for people doing bad?

I think it should be consistent either way, don’t you? Either the church gets all the credit or none of it. You can’t just give it the good and ignore the bad.

-comment from NotAScientist
on my blog post
When Christians Do Good

Typically, one of the criticisms non-religious people level against Christians and other people of faith is that we need some sort of excuse to do the right thing. We use our faith and our religion as an external motivator to do good when, as human beings, we should just know how to do good and do the right thing because it’s the right thing.

This gets muddied up further when definitions about what “right” happens to be differ between religious and non-religious populations and certain social priorities and “causes” become involved. Then too, the matter of the “supernatural” vs. the “rational” is also injected into the argument, with rational, scientific atheism and secular humanism weighing in on the side of “thinking” as opposed to “believing”.

In doing a little research into “atheist advertising” for this blog post, I found a number of clever slogans that atheists use to promote their particular viewpoint. One was on the side of a New York City bus and read…

“You don’t have to believe in God to be a moral or ethical person”

The ad then provided the URL to the New York City Atheists website (see the story at The New York Times for details).

But that takes us back to the “Today’s Day” quote at the top of this blog post and interestingly enough, Chanukah.

As you’re reading this, Chanukah has just ended (at sundown Sunday night) but the lessons it teaches us are still fresh in my mind. Why would the Greeks be content to continue to allow the Jews to perform the Torah mitzvot and to do justice, as long as they divorced those moral and ethical deeds and the Torah itself from the God of Israel? If you donate food to your local food bank because you believe that helping others is the right thing to do, and I perform the same act in response to the will of God, what difference does it make? Hungry people are still fed either way, right?

atheist_christmas_adWell yes, hungry people are still fed either way. Someone can enjoy a donated meal without wondering about the motivation of the person who provided it. Their belly will be just as full and they can feel just as grateful to the person who helped them out. I can understand why an atheist would make such a statement, but why would the ancient Greeks, who had no end of gods of their own, want to say something like that about the Jews? Why separate the good deed from the ultimate author of the good deed, God?

Pinchas arose and wrought judgment, and so the plague was checked.

Psalms 106:30

The word tefillah, or “prayer,” has its origin in the word pallel, which means “to seek justice.” Prayer should therefore be an activity whereby one seeks justice. The first recorded prayer in Jewish history is that of the Patriarch Abraham. He sought justice for the people of Sodom and pleaded with God to spare them (Genesis 18:23-33). Thus, when we pray, whether for ourselves or for others, it should be with the understanding that we are seeking justice.

How, then, can we ask of God to grant our various requests? Are we deserving of this? Do we deserve them? Are they within the realm of justice?

Two answers come to mind. If, as part of our prayers, we admit the wrongs we have done, sincerely regret them, and commit ourselves not to repeat them, then we may indeed be deserving. We therefore do not make our requests on the basis of what we are, but on the basis of what we will be. Second, if we extend ourselves by forgiving people who have offended us and acting with kindness toward them, then God’s acting accordingly toward us can in itself be considered justice.

Thus, teshuvah (the process of regret and return) and gemilas chasadim (acts of kindness) are the foundations of prayer.

Today I shall…

try to do teshuvah, and to act toward others in a way that I wish God to act toward me.

-Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski
“Growing Each Day, Tevet 1”

I don’t have some wise commentary or a learned sage to draw from to answer the question I posed above, but there seems to be one difference between the atheist’s motivations and the reason a person of faith does good: the definer and creator of good.

If man is the final arbitrator of what is good and evil, then good and evil changes over time, changes between nations and cultures, and changes from one individual to the next. What I may consider good, another person may see as evil. What I can justify within my own conscience may be considered tremendously heinous within another’s moral structure.

But God is God. He does not change and thus what is good does not change.

And what is good?

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”

Mark 10:18 (ESV)

OK, it’s not that simple. I’ve mentioned before that religion and how we understand God evolves over time. Besides that, even just within Christianity, various denominations and even individuals who go to the same church can differ on a number of political and social issues in terms of what is “good” and “evil.” Should you pray for the well-being of President Obama or pray against his health and safety? You may believe the answer to that question is clear, but I promise you that no matter what your answer may be, there is a believer out there who has the opposite answer, and yet both of you believe you are in the right because of God and the Bible.

But even though we have that monkey wrench in the machine, I still believe it is better to seek out God in matters of right and wrong than to universally rely on our own judgment and feelings. I’ve been writing recently about the Sandy Hook school shootings and it is only the most recent of the many debates you will find on how to address violence in our society. What is the right thing to do? What is the ethical and moral thing to do in response to the death of 26 people, including 20 small children?

symmes_chapel_churchI don’t know.

I do know that even those of us who turn to the God of the Bible for our strength and our hope don’t always agree on the answer. How much more must a secular world with only the standard of public opinion dispute each other, disagree, and contend?

I don’t know the answer. But I am thankful that when I have to ask the question, I don’t have to ask another human being who is just as hurt, sorrowful, and angry as I am.

If my sense of right and wrong became detached from God, even if my basic behavior and my concept of what is good did not change, I would be at the mercy of the opinion of whatever group of people I chose to listen to or worse, I would have to depend upon the voice of my own personal thoughts and feelings.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2 (ESV)

It was God who took a family and made them a people and a nation too numerous to count. If the Greeks had succeeded and caused the Jews to detach the Torah from God, Israel too would become detached and ultimately lost. It is God who redeems the soul of every living person and from whose hand we receive what each of us needs at its proper time. Without God, we too would be lost.

Torah Study for Christians

This is “Torah 101” for everyone. Torah Club Volume One: Unrolling the Scroll offers Christians a Messianic Jewish study from Genesis to Deuteronomy with easy-to-read, devotional-styled commentary on the weekly, synagogue Torah readings.

Peppered with insights from ancient rabbis and anecdotes from modern Christian life, Volume One demonstrates the value of Torah for Christian living today. Includes connections to the New Testament and writings of early Christians. This volume introduces students to both the Hebrew Roots of Christianity and the world of Messianic Judaism.

from the promotional material for
“Unrolling the Scroll”
Torah Club, Volume 1

I know I’ve talked a great deal lately about returning the Torah to the Jews, so I suppose it seems odd that I’m now suggesting that we Christians actually study the Torah. Why the inconsistency?

Actually, no inconsistency exists. I never said that Torah, or how Jews understand the first five books of the Bible, was of no value to Christians, and in fact, I think that studying Torah is of tremendous value. You should be able to tell this by the fact that I cite mostly Jewish sources in my “morning meditations” and apply them within a Christian context.

One of my first introductions to the Torah within a “Messianic” context was the First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) Torah Club, but that was ten years ago. The Torah Club of today has been updated to be more relevant and eye-opening for Christian Bible study groups, and I must admit, having been absent from studying these materials for quite some time now, I’ve been curious about how they’ve evolved.

But what is the “Torah Club?” Sounds like meetings that adventurous Jewish boys would hold in a tree house or a book club for Jewish Bible readers. The second suggestion (both were tongue-in-cheek) isn’t far off.

To understand what the Torah Club is, you have to understand something about how Jews study the Torah in an annual cycle:

The Torah is an ancient scroll containing the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy—the first five books of the Bible.

The Torah is the foundation of faith in Yeshua. All of the concepts associated with the Gospel—such as God, holiness, righteousness, sin, sacrifice, repentance, faith, forgiveness, covenant, grace and the kingdom of heaven on earth—are introduced in the Torah. Basic sacraments and rituals like baptism, communion, prayer and blessing all come from the Torah. Faith in Jesus is meaningful because of the Torah. Without the Torah, the Gospel has no foundation on which to stand.

The Torah Club follows the weekly Torah readings that are read in Jewish and Messianic synagogues every Sabbath. “For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath” (Acts 15:21). In the synagogue, the Torah begins with Genesis 1:1 in the fall, usually around October. Each week several chapters are read aloud to the congregation in Hebrew—a total of fifty-four Torah portions. Each reading is called a parashah, which means “portion.” The names of the weekly portions are derived from a significant Hebrew word in the first sentence of that week’s reading. A year after beginning the first portion, the congregation finishes Deuteronomy and begins Genesis again.

In addition to readings from the five books of Moses, the Torah Cycle includes a weekly reading from the prophets. At First Fruits of Zion, we have created an accompanying reading cycle for the Gospels and Acts as well.

The full introduction to the Torah Club can be found at ffoz.org, but I think you get the basic idea. The Torah Club is a set of materials that can be used by a study group to follow each week’s Torah reading and gain insights about that section of the Torah from the Messianic/Christian perspective.

Why should you, as a Christian, care about a Law that supposedly was nailed to the cross and died with Jesus?

Because it wasn’t. In fact, Jesus himself said that, “until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18 ESV). As I look around, the earth is still here and I’ll take it for granted that heaven continues to exist. That would mean I suppose, that not everything is yet accomplished. But does that mean the Law or the Torah is fully applicable to the Christian as it is to the Jew?

As I’ve mentioned previously, I don’t believe so, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter at all. As you’ve already read, you can’t really understand what Jesus was teaching in the Gospels unless you understand his “source material.” Virtually everything he taught and everything we try to understand today as Christians comes from Christ’s understanding of the Torah: a first century Jewish understanding. If you’ve always believed the Torah is dead and totally irrelevant to the teachings of Jesus, discovering this isn’t true is your first lesson in Torah.

If you know nothing about Torah and its relevance in the life of a Christian, and you’re looking for a way to “discover” Torah in a small Bible study group, starting with Unrolling the Scroll is your best bet. If you’ve just clicked that link though, you’ve discovered, that there are six volumes of the Torah Club, each one with a different emphasis.

  1. Unrolling the Scroll: Getting started with the ancient Torah
  2. Shadows of the Messiah: Lifting the veil and revealing Messiah in the Torah
  3. Voice of the Prophets: Studying the words of the prophets and the end times
  4. Chronicles of the Messiah: Studying the life and teachings of Jesus
  5. Depths of the Torah: Understanding the difficult laws of the Torah
  6. Chronicles of the Apostles: Learning the epic story of the apostles and the early Christians

You can click the link I provided above and then explore each of the “volumes” tabs to learn more. You can also read over 200 pages of Torah Club sample materials to get a firm handle on what to expect from this method of Torah study for Christians.

I know, I sound like an infomercial, but I have a reason for writing this “extra meditation” today. Like anyone else who isn’t a professional Bible scholar with multiple university degrees and tons of letters after my name, I could use some help in deciphering my understanding of God, the Torah, Jesus, and everything else. From where I am today in how I understand the Bible, if I had to choose one of the six volumes, I’d probably go for Volume 6: Chronicles of the Apostles:

Chronicles of the Apostles takes students on a year-long study of the book of Acts with Messianic commentary and Jewish insights into the Epistles.

Follow the lives and adventures of the apostles beyond the book of Acts and into the lost chapter of church history. Study Jewish sources, Church fathers, and Christian history to reveal the untold story of the disciples into the second century.

This all new Torah Club Volume Six (2011–12) goes beyond the book Acts and opens the lost chapter of Messianic Jewish and Christian history.

In a Bible study that reads like an epic novel, Chronicles of the Apostles harmonizes Josephus, rabbinic lore, and apostolic legends to tell the story of the martyrdom of Peter, the work of Thomas, the flight to Pella, the fall of Jerusalem, John’s exile on Patmos, the Roman persecutions, Shavuotthe second generation of disciples, the transitions from Sabbath to Sunday and from apostolic Judaism to Christianity. Rewind your religion and discover the truth about our Jewish roots.

Actually, I’ve ordered this volume for myself (though it hasn’t arrived yet) since, if you’ve been reading my blog over the last several weeks, you know that I’m investigating how the covenants God made with Israel allow Christians to have a covenant relationship with God through Jesus Christ. I’m hoping “Chronicles of the Apostles” will illuminate my path.

Naturally, as I go through each week of study, I’ll write about it (I write about everything) and let you know what I’ve learned. If you want to learn more about the Torah and how its many differing viewpoints are applied to a Christian life and understanding of our Messiah, I can’t think of a better set of resources with which to start.


Praying As One on Sunday


Dear Friends,

There will be a world-wide simultaneous event on Sunday, September 23 (11:00 AM New York time), for all Jews to say the following prayer for G-d to send Mashiach (the true Messiah) – see http://www.facebook.com/AllJewsAsOne.

“Master of the Universe, we, the children of Israel, ask You for Mashiach to redeem us, now and with mercy, from exile and all suffering, to reveal Your Name in the world and to bring peace.”

Rabbi Moshe Weiner of Jerusalem (author of Sheva Mitzvot HaShem and The Divine Code) has approved a separate version for ALL GENTILES world-wide, to say as one at that same designated time:

“Master of the Universe, we, the children of Noah, ask You for Mashiach, now and with mercy, to end all suffering, to reveal Your Name in the world and to bring peace.”

We are looking forward to your participation!

Best regards,

-Dr. Michael Schulman
Ask Noah International

I received this as an email this morning and felt I should pass it along, not only to my Jewish readers but to everyone else. Most Christians don’t typically identify themselves as Noahides based on their (our) understanding of a Christian’s covenant relationship with God through Jesus Christ, but I would certainly encourage everyone reading this message to find the time to pray one of the above prayers (Christians will probably want to adapt the “Noahide” prayer) so that we all can be united in speaking to God at one time, with one voice, and one purpose; the purpose of bringing the Messiah.

The time of prayer is based on Israel time (winter time DST) and will begin there at 5 p.m. That will be 5 p.m. Paris time, 11 a.m. New York time, 9 a.m. Boise time (for my local readers), 8 a.m. Los Angeles time, and 1 a.m. (September 24th) Sydney time.

May we, the people of God, all of us, from our many backgrounds, faith traditions, and all peoples of every nation, tongue, and heritage, gather together from around the world and turn our hearts and our voices to God, begging Him to end the exile of the Jewish people and all of humanity’s suffering by bringing Messiah, Son of David, back to us.

May he come soon and in our day.