Tag Archives: Jewish people

The Spirit of God and the Jewish People

Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel SchneersonMy father wrote that he heard in the name of the Alter Rebbe that all rabbinic authors until and including the Taz and Shach, composed their works with ruach hakodesh, the Divine Spirit. An individual’s ruach hakodesh, as explained by Korban Ha’eida in Tractate Sh’kalim (Talmud Yerushalmi), end of ch. 3, means that the mysteries of Torah are revealed to him. This comes from the aspect of chochma in its pre-revelation state.

-from the talks and letters of the sixth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory.
Compiled by the Lubavitcher Rebbe; Translated by Yitschak Meir Kagan

Moses received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua; Joshua to the elders; the elders to the prophets; and the prophets handed it down to the men of the Great Assembly.

Pirkei Avot 1.1

This isn’t going to resonate well with Christians who believe that God has abandoned the Jewish people. On the other hand, in reading the First Fruits of Zion book Gifts of the Spirit, I came across this:

We confuse ourselves regarding the giving of the Holy Spirit when we assume that, prior to the Shavu’ot even described in Acts 2, Jewish people did not have the Holy Spirit. That assumption also leads us to believe that non-Messianic religious Jews after that could not possibly receive inspiration from the Holy Spirit, act in any capacity of the Holy Spirit, or perform miracles by the Holy Spirit. These assumptions, I believe, are based squarely upon a misunderstanding of John 7:39 where it says, “He said this about the spirit that those who believe in him would receive, because the Holy Spirit was not given before Yeshua was glorified.”

-D. Thomas Lancaster
“Chapter 3: A Pledge of What is to Come,” pg 39
“Gifts of the Spirit”

That quote also won’t sit well with the vast majority of Christians, and I will comment more extensively on this quote and other chapters of the book next week.

But I got to thinking about the relationship between God and the Jewish people, all the Jewish people, not just those who profess a faith in Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah and Son of the Most High. Did God cut them off? Are Jews and Judaism “dead” to God and only those Jews who convert to Christianity (or alternately, enter into faith as a Messianic Jew) “alive” to God?

I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?

Romans 11:1-2 (NASB)

Paul goes on to speak of a chosen remnant within Israel selected by God’s grace, which certainly makes it seem as if only a few Jewish people will “make it” and the rest are toast.

But there’s more to the story:

But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

Romans 11:13-15 (NASB)

JudaismIt seems the “stumbling” and “partial hardening” (v 25) of the Jewish people is for the benefit of the Gentiles, and this was Paul’s warning to the Gentile believers in Rome, as I discussed in my reviews of the Mark Nanos book The Mystery of Romans, to not create additional “stumbling blocks” between the Jewish people and faith in the Messiah by the arrogance of the Gentiles in the Roman synagogues.

How can we say that God abandoned all or even most of the Jewish people if Paul never did?

I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

Romans 9:1-5 (NASB)

One of the Nanos papers (PDF) discusses a translation of the Greek we read in Romans 11:25 as “partially hardened” and renders it as “callused,” indicating that what separates most Jewish people from the knowledge of Messiah is a temporary condition, one which can be healed so that “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).

If this is God’s intention for Israel, the Jewish people, the chosen nation of Hashem, then who are we, the non-Jewish disciples of the Jewish Messiah, to stand in the way for the sake of our own “self-superiority,” which is the same condition Paul was chastising the believing Gentile believers in Rome for exhibiting?

And yet, how are we to believe that the Holy Spirit continues to be with the Jewish people, even as they are “temporarily calloused” toward the identity of the Messiah, when in the Church, we believe someone receives the indwelling of the Spirit only when we come to faith in Jesus Christ?

Has the Holy Spirit of God abandoned the Jewish people or does the Spirit guide the “rabbinic authors” in composing their works? It’s difficult to imagine that one unifying Spirit is guiding all the Jewish people when the various sages across history and the different streams of Judaism today all seem to disagree with each other. But then again, examining the different denominations of the Christian Church, we see the same phenomenon: multiple streams of Christianity which are theoretically all guided by the same, unifying Spirit and yet all disagree with each other on a number of important theological and doctrinal details.

But every once in a while in Christianity and Judaism, we see evidence of the presence of the Spirit of God working in interesting and surprising ways:

A few months before he died, one of the nation’s most prominent rabbis, Yitzhak Kaduri, supposedly wrote the name of the Messiah on a small note which he requested would remain sealed until now. When the note was unsealed, it revealed what many have known for centuries: Yehoshua, or Yeshua (Jesus), is the Messiah.

With the biblical name of Jesus, the Rabbi and kabbalist described the Messiah using six words and hinting that the initial letters form the name of the Messiah.

-Aviel Schneider
“The Rabbi, the Note and the Messiah,” May 30, 2013
Reprinted from Israel Today Magazine, April 2007
israeltoday.co.il

You can click the link I provided to read the full article and also, go to YouTube to view a brief (4:48 minutes) video on Rabbi Kaduri’s revelation.

Rabbi Yitzchak KaduriThe yartzeit of Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri was observed last December 31st (the 29th of Tevet), which is why this information has been recently re-published in magazines and social media.

I’ve been writing a great deal on whether or not the “gifts of the spirit” have ceased or continued past the closure of Christian Biblical canon. To listen to John MacArthur of Strange Fire fame and other “cessationists,” the answer is that no human being has been granted specific gifts of prophesy, speaking in tongues, having visions, or healing in nearly two-thousand years. He and his colleagues have plenty of opposition to this idea.

My reading of the “Gifts of the Spirit” book, named for a conference I attended last May, tells me that the Holy Spirit continues to be active in our world today in very observable ways, but doesn’t really emphasize particular individuals continually exercising specific “gifts” provided by the Spirit of God. After all, we aren’t the apostles, so how can we expect to operate at their level of spirituality and holiness? Maybe there are a few tzaddikim (Christianity would call them “saints”) or exceptionally righteous individuals who can apprehend such gifts, but I’d have to say they’re few and far between in our religious and historical landscape.

I consider it nothing less than miraculous that Rabbi Kaduri could come to such a startling conclusion, which certainly has sent ripples of interest and shock across the body of his disciples and across the span of religious Judaism.

There’s a great deal that I don’t know about the Spirit and how He chooses to move among those who pray to the God of Abraham, which includes Christians, Jews, and Muslims, but I believe God can do exactly as He desires to do without the consent of human beings. I choose to believe Rabbi Kaduri had a vision. I choose to believe God did not abandon the Jewish people or Judaism. There is still wonder, and awe, and amazement, in our world as God is present among His people and speaking to us in many voices. I’m glad Rabbi Kaduri chose to listen and obey. It’s a message of hope for all believers and for all Jewish people that the gospel message of Moshiach is indeed good news for the Jews, and also for the people of the nations who are called by His Name.

Why did I write all this now? I read the quote I put at the top of this blog post today and everything else fell into place.

FFOZ TV Review: Jewish Prophecies

ffoz_tv4aEpisode 04: The land of Israel is a hot topic of debate not just amongst secular news but even in churches. It is key that Christians realize Israel is not just important because of what happened there in the past but also because of what is to take place in the future. In episode four viewers will learn that not only did the ancient Jewish prophets predict the coming of Messiah but they also predicted his second coming and the ingathering of the Jewish people back to their land. Israel thus becomes the stage on which the final redemption will happen.

-From the Intro to the episode Jewish Prophecies
FFOZ TV: The Promise of What is to Come

The Lesson: What Does Jewish Prophecy Say About Israel and the Jewish People?

The beginning of this episode, Jewish Prophecies seems to depart from the theme of the first three programs, which defined the basic concept of the gospels, the meaning of the word “Christ,” and the meaning of the name “Jesus” from a Messianic Jewish viewpoint. However, the focus, which is the specific Jewish prophecies that relate to the work of the Messiah and the gospel message, tie in very well, especially with the episode addressing The Good News.

This show is also different in that teacher Toby Janicki begins the program by discussing the modern nation of Israel within a political, social, and news media context (my review is timely given the current Israeli/Palestinian “peace talks”). However, he explains, we cannot really understand why the modern world is so focused on the tiny nation of Israel unless we look at it from a Spiritual and Biblical perspective.

When you see encampments surrounding Yerushalayim, know for certain that its destruction is near. Then let the men of Yehudah flee to the mountains! Let whoever is in it come out! Whoever is in the open areas should not come into it! For they are days of vengeance to fulfill all of what is written. How terrible for those who are pregnant and for nursing mothers in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. They will fall by the sword and be exiled to all the nations. Yerushalayim will be a treading place for the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Luke 21:20-24 (DHE Gospels)

This is Messiah speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, which would occur several decades after his earthly ministry had ended. And yet, it’s the very last sentence that tells us of today’s topic. When will the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled and what will happen next?

Jesus is a Jewish prophet talking to Jewish people. He is also, as Toby states in this episode, presenting The Mystery of the Jewish People and their Return to the Land of Israel. This mystery is directly associated with the Messiah and the gospel message and is illustrated for us in the ancient Jewish prophecies as well as in the prophecies of Messiah.

And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

Luke 21:27 (ESV)

ffoz_tv4bAnd what will Messiah do upon his return. According to Jewish prophesy, as described later in the episode, he will redeem Israel by gathering the Jewish people back to their Land. This leads to the first clue.

Clue 1: The Good News is the restoration of the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel.

The gospel message is to the Jews first and foremost. Prophecies in Isaiah 11:11-12 and Isaiah 61:1-4 teach us that the Root of Jesse, that is Messiah, will gather the Jewish people and return them to their Land, back to Israel. He will also show favor to Zion by rebuilding and restoring Jerusalem and the rest of Israel.

The gospel isn’t about the church, it’s about Jewish national restoration to Israel.

But what’s interesting is that this work has been going on for quite sometime. Depending on your point of view, it began with the modern Zionist movement in the 19th century. You could also consider it starting, or at least really getting off the ground, in 1948 with the establishment of the modern state of Israel.

The Jews have been returning to their Land in droves. But that begs the question, What is a Jew?

For the answer, the scene shifts to Israel and to teacher and translator Aaron Eby.

Simply said, the word “Jew” is derived from the word “Judah,” which is one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Judah was also one of the sons of Jacob. But what about all of the other Israelites? How come we call all Israelite descendents “Jews” today?

According to Aaron, in the time of King Solomon, the twelve tribes were united in a single nation, the Kingdom of Israel. After that time, ten of the twelve tribes separated from Judah and Benjamin. They were the Kingdom of Israel while Judah and Benjamin had control of the Kingdom of Judah, which included Jerusalem.

ffoz_tv4cThe Assyrians conquered the Kingdom of Israel and the majority of its inhabitants went into exile. Those who were left of the inhabitants of Israel moved to the Kingdom of Judah, and along with whatever members of the ten tribes were able to eventually return to the Land, they all were subsequently assimilated and absorbed into Judah. In a literal, physical sense, Judah…the Jews, are the descendents of all twelve tribes in our modern-day world (This process is described in more detail in Boaz Michael’s book, Twelve Gates: Where Do the Nations Enter?).

This takes us back to Toby and the second clue:

Clue 2: The Jewish People are the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

This would seem to be an “oh duh,” but it’s actually an important point. Both traditional Christianity and some branches of the Hebrew Roots movement have been attempting to lay claim to the Land of Israel as well (in fact, just about the entire Arab word is laying claim to Israel as “Palestine,” so you can see this is a popular activity). It’s vital for the church to understand who the Jewish people are and that Biblical prophecy clearly states that Messiah’s mission is to restore the Jewish people to their Land, the Land of Israel, and he is to restore and rebuild it.

The Jews and their nation Israel don’t go away…ever.

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.”

Jeremiah 31:35-36 (NASB)

The offspring of Israel, that is, the Jewish people, will always be a nation before God forever as a nation, as Israel. Linking the verse from Jeremiah with Matthew 5:17-19, we plainly see that the Jewish people, national Israel, and the Torah will all continue to exist as long as the Earth and the “fixed order” of the Sun, the Moon, and the stars continue to exist. They are all tied together beyond any untying as declared by Messiah, by Jesus.

Really, the message doesn’t get any plainer than that. There are only two major themes in Jewish prophecy: Exile and Redemption. The story of the good news of Messiah is all about the redemption of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and the restoration of Jerusalem.

But where does that leave the Gentiles? What about us?

Then in that day The nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; And His resting place will be glorious. Then it will happen on that day that the Lord Will again recover the second time with His hand The remnant of His people, who will remain, From Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, And from the islands of the sea. And He will lift up a standard for the nations And assemble the banished ones of Israel, And will gather the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth.

Isaiah 11:10-12 (NASB)

ffoz_tv4dYou can see that as part of the plan for restoring the Jewish people to Israel, there will be another effect. When the Gentiles see what Messiah is doing, we will “resort to the root of Jesse,” that is, we will be drawn to him. Messiah will “lift up a standard for the nations” and he will redeem us, too.

This is the final clue:

Clue 3: The Ingathering of Israel will have an international effect.

According to Zechariah 9:9-10, Messiah will not just rule over and bring peace to national Israel, but to all the nations of the world. Messiah’s Kingdom will be over all the earth.

What Did I Learn?

It’s actually taken me over a year to really grasp the meaning of redemption and restoration as a Jewish story focused on national Israel. When I first heard of it at the 2012 First Fruits of Zion Shavuot conference, I couldn’t make the Biblical connections. Now it seems so obvious.

I learned today that we might consider the Messiah already working “behind the scenes” somewhat, since the nation of Israel has been re-established and the Jewish people are being gathered back in. I don’t mean to say that Messiah has returned, that is yet to come. But the Messianic mission is definitely moving forward through the Spirit of God.

Toby and Aaron made other important points in this television episode (I left a clue in the last screen capture I posted above), so I hope that you’ll take the time to view this thirty minute program and be illuminated.

I’ll review the next episode very soon.