Tag Archives: UMJC

Why Do the Jews Hate Jesus?

I know this is a rather controversial title for today’s “morning meditation,” but it came to me as I was reading through the Gospel of John and I thought I’d share what I’ve been pondering.

And He said to them, “What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

Matthew 12:11-14 (NASB)

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”

John 15:18-19

So why did the Jews hate Jesus (Yeshua)? Actually, that’s a misleading question since not all Jewish people hated Jesus. In fact, a lot of Jewish people during the “earthly ministry” of Jesus really liked him and thought he was a prophet and some even believed he was the Messiah.

When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Matthew 21:10-11

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them. When they sought to seize Him, they feared the people, because they considered Him to be a prophet.

Matthew 21:45-46

Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, “This certainly is the Prophet.” Others were saying, “This is the Christ [Messiah].” Still others were saying, “Surely the Christ [Messiah] is not going to come from Galilee, is He? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ [Messiah] comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” So a division occurred in the crowd because of Him. Some of them wanted to seize Him, but no one laid hands on Him.

John 7:40-44

As you can see, particularly from the last quote, opinions about who Jesus was were mixed, but clearly a lot of Jewish people thought well of Jesus and thought he was a prophet, a Holy Man from God. So not all the Jews hated Jesus. In fact, probably relatively few Jewish people actually hated Jesus, and most of those were invalid priests and corrupt Pharisees and scribes (though not all Pharisees and scribes were corrupt) who experienced the Master’s teachings as upsetting their own apple cart, so to speak.

ancient-rabbi-teachingThere were also probably a number of well-meaning Pharisees who opposed Jesus because they authentically disagreed with how Jesus interpreted the mitzvot, particularly the laws about Shabbat (see Matthew 12:1-7 for example). On the other hand, there were also Pharisees who were at least intrigued by if not devoted to Jesus (John 3:1-21, John 19:38-42).

But if this was true during the first earthly ministry of Jesus, what about after his death, resurrection, and ascension?

When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region. But the Jews incited the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.

Acts 13:48-51

This is only one small example of how some Jewish populations, particularly synagogue leaders, opposed Paul’s teachings of Jesus being the Messiah. But remember earlier in this scenario, the born Jews and righteous converts couldn’t get enough of Paul’s teaching:

As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath. Now when the meeting of the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and of the God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God.

Acts 13:42-43

However…

The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming.

Acts 13:44-45

What happened? Well, crowds and crowds of Gentiles were consuming space within Jewish community, and unlike the Gentile God-fearers and converts, these Gentiles were straight up pagans who might well walk all over Jewish customs relative to kosher and ritual purity…and this guy Paul was the cause of it all.

So, get rid of Paul, get rid of the Gentiles, and the Jewish leadership once again retains control over their communal space. Of course eventually the teachings of Jesus as Messiah and the influx of Gentiles into Jewish community became so linked that many Jewish communities in the diaspora learned to reject both Jesus and the Gentiles out of hand.

Magnus Zetterholm
Magnus Zetterholm

In fact, according to my review of the works of Mark Nanos and Magnus Zetterholm, even within the early Messianic movement, there was quite a bit of confusion and disagreement about how or even if the Gentiles should be integrated into Jewish communal and social life. This ultimately led to a rather messy divorce between Jesus-believing Jews and Gentiles, and for a time, there were two parallel religions: Pharisaic Messianic Judaism and Gentile Christianity. Eventually the former dissolved and the latter attained prominence, first in the Roman Empire and then eventually throughout the world.

And the Church, for most of its history, never learned to “share and play nice” with the Jewish people and religious Judaism:

I had made up my mind to write no more either about the Jews or against them. But since I learned that these miserable and accursed people do not cease to lure to themselves even us, that is, the Christians, I have published this little book, so that I might be found among those who opposed such poisonous activities of the Jews who warned the Christians to be on their guard against them. I would not have believed that a Christian could be duped by the Jews into taking their exile and wretchedness upon himself. However, the devil is the god of the world, and wherever God’s word is absent he has an easy task, not only with the weak but also with the strong. May God help us. Amen.

-Martin Luther
Excerpt from Luther’s work entitled “The Jews & their Lies”
quoted at Jewish Virtual Library

Even mentioning a partial inventory of the history of enmity between Christianity and Judaism far exceeds the scope of this one, small article. To get the full flavor of how at least one Jewish source sees this history, visit the page on “Christianity” at Jewish Virtual Library. Also see the website for the “anti-missionary” group Jews for Judaism.

So do Jews hate Jesus? It might be more accurate to say that Jews resent the long history of abuse they’ve historically had to suffer at the hands of the Christian Church and various Christian nations. They also resent any attempt to convert Jews to Christianity because of the threat of the destruction of the Jewish people, not by violence in the modern era so much as by assimilation.

It’s never been as simple as “the Jews hate Jesus” or “the Jews killed Jesus”. The Bible tells a story of how certain groups within Judaism, corrupt groups or corrupt individuals, opposed Jesus either on religious, political, or financial grounds. On the other hand, much of the common populace in ancient Israel and not a few religious leaders supported him and believed him to be a prophet, with some few recognizing him as Messiah.

After the ascension and into Paul’s mission, the reasons for opposing Jesus changed and were largely based on the liberal inclusion of unconverted Gentiles into Jewish space as equal co-participants of religious and social community. This was something not easily accepted because of a misunderstanding as to just how a Gentile could participate in the New Covenant blessings as well as the general feeling that close association with Gentiles might render a Jew “unclean” in some sense (although there was little actually basis for this in Torah).

Unfortunately, this spilled back onto anything Paul had to say and teach about Jesus, so it took some dedication for Jewish audiences to overcome their concerns and accept what Paul taught, then accept discipleship under Jesus as Messiah.

The Gentiles, for their part, ate it up with a spoon, so to speak, at least at first, but as I mentioned above, eventually the attempt to meld the two communities became unsustainable and the “experiment” flew apart like autumn leaves in a strong wind.

Rabbi Isaac Lichtenstein
Rabbi Isaac Lichtenstein

But it’s not all bad. The 19th century saw many Jewish luminaries who discovered the identity of the Messiah in Jesus, and more recently in history, the modern Messianic Jewish movement, represented by groups such as the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA) and the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC) have become increasingly active, attracting Jewish people to the Messiah within a wholly Jewish ethnic and religious context.

So it’s pretty unfair to say that “the Jews hate Jesus” when after all, Jesus loved and loves his people, the sheep of his pasture.

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.”

John 10:11-16

As you can see, in addition to his Jewish “sheep,” the Master has “other sheep” in another fold that he intends to bring to himself.

The situation appears to have been reversed, at least temporarily, since the shepherd’s flock seems to have a whole lot more Gentile sheep than Jewish at the moment. But that will change:

He will also restore the royal dynasty to the descendants of David. He will oversee the rebuilding of Jerusalem, including the Third Temple. He will gather the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.

-Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
“All About the Messiah”
Aish.com

I don’t doubt there will be skeptics among both Jews and Christians as to the authenticity of Jesus as Messiah upon his return, but at least for the Jews, as they see him fulfilling prophesies such as the ones listed above, they will believe.

“I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”

Zechariah 12:10

Ultimately, as the Jewish exiles are all returned to their land and as their hearts are turned in teshuvah, the sins of the entire nation of Israel will be forgiven, and through their forgiveness, so too the rest of the people of the nations who have believed and remained faithful:

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

That last part I wrote about the Gentiles is a bit of a stretch, since the text regarding the New Covenant only mentioned the House of Judah and the House of Israel, but my rather exhaustive research into this covenant assures me that we sheep from another fold will also benefit from the blessings of redemption and the resurrection to come.

tallit-prayerSo the Jews don’t “hate” Jesus. They may be hesitant or even fear some of his disciples based on the history between Judaism and the Church, and they may mistakenly blame Jesus as well as Paul for that history, but Christians have taught Jews to read the Apostolic Scriptures in the same distorted and flawed manner for centuries, an interpretation so anti-semitic and so supersessionistic that it can no longer be separated from the real meaning of the text in most Christian minds.

If we want the Jews to stop “hating Jesus,” then we have to live lives that say we do truly love the people and nation that Jesus loves. That’s one of the roles of the Messianic Gentile, and I hope it will be a mission that the mainstream Church one day adopts.

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A Review of the Sinai Ethic: On the Way to Sinai

All her ways are ways of pleasantness. And her paths are peace. She is a tree to those who lay hold of her: Those who hold her fast are called blessed.

Proverbs 3:16-18

The Sinai Ethic was originally presented by Rabbi Russ Resnik, executive director of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC), during the annual First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) Shavu’ot Conference at Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship in Hudson, Wisconsin. Shavu’ot, the anniversary of the giving of the Torah and the pouring out of the Spirit, is a holy and deeply spiritual time that provides a reverent connection with the people of God who heard the words of the LORD spoken from the fire at Mount Sinai. These teachings, given in three sessions during the festival, focus on the moral and ethical mandates that the giving of the Torah established for the Jewish people and all nations.

-from the back cover of the CD for the audio teaching, “The Sinai Ethic”

Session One: On the Way to Sinai

I received this packet of two audio CDs containing the three sessions that make up Rabbi Resnik’s “The Sinai Ethic” presentation some time ago, but until now, I haven’t had the opportunity to listen to any of them, let alone write a review. So on a warm and pleasant Sunday afternoon, having completed the construction of my humble sukkah on my back patio, I set about to listen to the first of the three lectures.

I don’t know what I expected, but whatever it was, this wasn’t it.

Actually, it took me awhile to figure out what R. Resnik was getting to, that is, the actual topic and point of his presentation. I suppose it would have helped if I paid attention to the overall theme of this year’s FFOZ Shavuot conference, but since I didn’t attend, it really wasn’t on the forefront of my thoughts.

Rabbi Resnik started out with a familiar topic, the Shabbat. In Exodus 20, he states the commandment is to “remember the Shabbat”, but in Deuteronomy’s repeat of the Ten Commandments, it shifts to “observe the Shabbat”. Of course one must remember in order to keep and observe, or perhaps it’s the other way around. The point is that “remembering” isn’t a matter of holding an idea in your thoughts, but in re-enacting an event. It’s what Shavuot does when Jews are called up to the bema to read the Torah portions, just as the ancient Israelites went up to Mount Sinai to hear the Torah and receive it.

I want to make sure I insert this next part because it’s the cornerstone of Resnik’s talk. He quotes a Rabbi who lived sometime around 400 CE and who said (I’m paraphrasing):

All that is written in the Torah is for the sake of peace.

That’s a nice sentiment, but there is plenty recorded in the Torah that doesn’t sound very peaceful. The taking of the Land of Canaan, for example, was anything but peaceful. In fact, it was war.

Speaking of re-enacting…

Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.’

Exodus 6:6-7 (NASB)

Rabbi Russ Resnik
Rabbi Russ Resnik

There are four promises in these verses that are re-enacted during the Passover seder with the four cups. God’s promises to take the children of Israel out of Egypt, free them from bondage, redeem Israel, and take them for His people as their God.

But there’s a fifth promise spoken of in verse eight:

I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the Lord.’”

God will fulfill the promise He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the promise of the Land of Canaan, and give the Israelites possession of it.

There are two important things to remember here about the Israelites and the Land:

  1. The Promise of the Land
  2. Possession of the Land

In Genesis 12:1-3 and again in Genesis 15:1-16, we see God making this promise to Abraham and acting out its confirmation. This promise is totally without condition. Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob don’t have to do anything at all for this promise to be given to them, the promise that their descendants will one day possess the Land. Nothing can take this promise away.

But here’s where the “Sinai Ethic” comes in:

Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.

Genesis 15:16

The promise is unconditional, but taking possession isn’t. The Israelites couldn’t take possession on a whim. Certainly Abraham couldn’t possess any part of the Land, even though technically, he held the deed. In fact, after Sarah dies, he must buy the cave of Machpelah and the surrounding field for a hefty price in order to bury his wife.

Abraham and his descendants received the promise of the Land, but they couldn’t take possession until the iniquity of the inhabitants in current possession reached a certain threshold that triggered God’s judgment upon them.

But that’s not the only condition. In fact, the entire giving of the Torah at Sinai was not only the list of conditions the Children of Israel had to obey to hold up their end of the covenant, it was the conditions for taking possession of the Land. And while the promise isn’t conditional, taking and keeping possession is.

What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.

Galatians 3:17

sinai
Sinai

Resnik says the context of this verse has to do with the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles, but the underlying principle has to do with promises and possession. The fact that God made the Sinai Covenant with Israel in no way made void or invalidated the promise He made with Abraham. A subsequent covenant or event never nullifies a previous covenant or a promise of God.

Period.

(As an aside, going back to the context of the above-quoted verse, I could interpret this, based on the principle, to mean that the giving of the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles in no way undermines or reverses God’s covenant promises to Israel, either the Sinai or the New Covenant, but that’s not what Resnik was driving at, so I digress)

Resnik applied this principle to our day-to-day lives as individual believers. The world doesn’t like committed religious believers and Resnik says some of that is our fault. We have become arrogant. We say we have the promises, and forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection, and at least some of us talk and walk around like we’re “too cool for school” (my words, not Resnik’s). The technical term in religious circles is “Triumphalism.”

Yes, the promises we have received as believers are true and they are real, but we haven’t taken possession of them yet. The resurrection has yet to come, just as Abraham had the promises but did not have possession. Like him, we need to learn to walk humbly before God and man, living out our faith day by day in obedience.

“Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name.”

Deuteronomy 6:10-13

Taking and then keeping possession of the Land required obedience to God’s commandments. When the Israelites obeyed God, they lived well in the Land. When they didn’t, the promise of the Land was still intact, but typically the Israelites went into exile and (temporarily) lost possession of the Land. In some ways, the exile isn’t really over today because Messiah hasn’t returned, many Jews still live outside Israel, and national Israel has enmity with her neighbors (and probably the rest of the world).

sukkot jerusalem
Sukkot in Jerusalem

Which brings us back to that Rabbinic quote about peace, the Torah, and the Sinai Ethic.

Resnik quoted a modern Orthodox Jewish scholar (I tried looking up what I thought his name was on Google but got nothing). As near as I was able to write it down, in part, this Orthodox scholar said he preaches “love of the Land with a high degree of non-violence.”

The gist of this scholar’s statement and Resnik’s agreement to it is that we shouldn’t be too caught up with political and military power for holding onto the modern state of Israel, particularly when it violates peace in the region and around the world. The Jewish people should be prepared to once again lose possession of the Land for the sake of upholding peace, because we know, as the Orthodox Jewish scholar knows, that when Messiah comes (returns), the Jewish people will get back possession of the Land based on the promises anyway.

That was a lot for me to swallow, but let me continue.

It’s not through politics or armies that the promises are fulfilled, but through returning to God in deep teshuvah and being obedient in all His ways. Resnik was careful to point out that we do indeed have a part to play in all this. He’s not advocating total pacifism and immediate surrender to Israel’s enemies, he apparently just wants to put everything in its proper context in that God is the one who will ultimately cause His promises to come to pass.

Remember, Messiah is called Sar Shalom, the Prince of Peace.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Matthew 5:9

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…

Matthew 5:43-45

To be “sons of God” in this case is to reflect the nature of God. Resnik explained to his listeners that Yeshua wasn’t preaching some pie-in-the-sky ideal, but how to live out practical life in that place and time. Israel was occupied by the brutal Roman empire, and yet the Master preached not only loving your neighbors, your fellow Jews, but even the harsh persecutors, those who pursue you, all for the sake of peace. Jesus wasn’t leading a revolution, even if his disciples and the common people who believed he was the Messiah wanted him to.

At the end of his first of three lectures, this is where Rabbi Resnik left us with the Sinai Ethic.

What Do I Think?

Like I said above, this was totally unexpected. I thought there would be some other focus (though I didn’t imagine what it would be) than the juxtaposition of possession of the Land of Israel by the Jewish people, and the potential for losing possession, all for the sake of the higher value of peace.

One thing I do know is that Messiah will return as a conquering King in the spirit of David, not a “meek and mild lamb”. During his first appearance as the “Word made flesh,” he didn’t put up a fight, even for his own life, but indeed, was led to the slaughter, so to speak, all for the sake of bringing atonement, not only to the Jewish people, but to the world.

That’s not how he’s going to come back.

Of course, since he’s not here yet, Resnik may have a point, but Israel has been through too many wars and won most of them against all odds (and I believe through the providence of God) for me to believe that current Jewish possession of the Land is entirely by human effort. I believe God is already playing a part, a big one, in Jewish people living in Israel today.

I’m not Jewish and I’ve never even been to Israel, but something just sticks in my throat when I even think about the Jews, under any circumstances, rolling over and giving the Land to Abbas and his cronies. “Peace” in the Arab world is something of an illusion. When the Arabs don’t have Jews to fight, they fight each other. I know that probably sounds racist, but that’s the history of the Arab peoples across the long centuries. In fact, Dennis Prager late last month, published an article which highlights my point called What the Arab World Produces.

abandoned_israelBut since “The Sinai Ethic” is made up of all three sessions, with this being just the first one, I could be jumping to a hasty conclusion. Ecclesiastes 3:8 says there’s a time for war and a time for peace. God has commanded war for the sake of His people Israel on numerous occasions. The ancient Israelites took the Land originally by force of arms at the command of Hashem, Master of Heaven’s Armies, so it’s not like the Torah only teaches peace and self-sacrifice. Yes, it does teach those things, but as a former instructor of mine once said, “Once in action, watch the timing.”

I’ll listen to and review the second of the three sessions by the by which should add some dimension to what “the Sinai Ethic” means.

Finishing Off Shabbat

extinguished_candleIn Judaism, Shabbos is a time to be especially careful not to become angry or to become involved in a quarrel. Quarrels spread like fire and destroy everything that is precious. The sanctity of Shabbos, if it is observed properly, enables people to feel a sense of unity. It promotes love and brotherhood. The sanctity of Shabbos can spread and enter the hearts of each individual and everyone can become as one.

-Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
“The Sanctity of Shabbos”
Aish.com

I’ve been trying to write a commentary for Torah Portion Re’eh (the reading for this coming Shabbat) but it’s not coming. I actually did write something, but I didn’t like it, so I deleted it (a rare thing for me). I know I’m forcing stuff into the text rather than just letting it flow. That’s not typical of how I write but then, it’s still Monday and maybe I’m just too far away from Shabbos mentally and spiritually.

Rabbi Pliskin says that we should not become angry or quarrel on Shabbos. It destroys peace. It’s destroys sanctity, not just the sanctity of the Shabbat, but the sanctity among God’s people (if we can call ourselves God’s people).

Here’s an example of Shabbos as described by Derek Leman in his blog post The Jewish Experience at UMJC 2013:

The highlight of the conference for me came in the Shabbat Shacharit service. While our crowd of 600 people that morning may not have been the largest crowd I have ever been in, it was the largest crowd of Jewishly knowledgeable and intensely spiritual people I have ever been in. I have worshipped in a stadium with 50,000 Christians before and found it to be powerful. But to be in ballroom meant for 474 people that has 600 Jews packed in with tallitot and kippot, all of whom know the calls and responses of the Hebrew liturgy, was something powerful on a level I can hardly explain.

Before reciting the Shema we sang a song about the Shema. It began with a haunting melody that we called out for several minutes just to the sound “oo.” Kavanah, they say, is the Hebrew word for inner intent, devotion and concentration upon an idea. I have never felt kavanah like that before.

When the Torah scrolls were being paraded around the ballroom, paraded throughout a dense crowd, standing room only, aisles packed, and being paraded slowly so all could touch their tallitot or books to it and bring the word to their lips, we recited the “Niggun Neshama,” by Neshama Carlebach. It must have taken at least ten minutes to complete the Torah parade, with the crowd facing it wherever it was in the room and a spirit of intensity of devotion on every face and joy that was overwhelming.

I truly experienced what God said about Shabbat, “It is a sign between you and me forever” (Exod 31:13).

I have to admit to being a little envious (sorry, Derek) at reading his description, but then again, even if I had the bucks to spend on going to a conference in Los Angeles, Derek did say it was “600 Jews packed in with tallitot and kippot,” so it’s not an experience that would be open to (Gentile) Christians.

no_kvetchingNo, I’m not kvetching. I understand and support worship venues that are specific to Jewish people in the Messiah. I realize I’m not part of the community of Messianic Jews (and I’ve calmed down since I wrote that last blog post). Last May, I expressed some concerns about worshiping in a Messianic Jewish context, based on my “transition” into a Christian religious space, but after about nine months in church, as much as I enjoy certain aspects of being in church, if I had my “druthers,” I’d probably worship at some place like Beth Immanuel.

But for lots and lots of reasons, I don’t have my “druthers” and probably never will. Frankly, I don’t think it’s about me getting my way. I think it’s about me being where I am and doing what God wants me to do. Anyway…

But as much as Derek enjoyed his time at the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC) conference, there are others who didn’t think it was so hot. I was going to quote from a certain Hebrew Roots blogger or one of the commenters on his blog as an example of their criticism, but after reading through the material, I just didn’t have the heart. It’s not Shabbos, but really, the words have been put online once. I don’t need to repeat them. Suffice it to say, there are those who find that the UMJC is disingenuous, or non-Biblical, or too Talmudic, or not enough apostolic scriptures, or whatever.

I’ve complained about religious people on more than one occasion. Really, it takes a lot of effort sometimes to remain religious, at least publicly, given the way some people express themselves, supposedly for the sake of Heaven.

From there they sailed to Antioch, from which they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had accomplished.

Acts 14:26 (NASB)

Last Sunday, my Pastor preached on Acts 14:21-28 in his sermon, “What Makes a Good Missionary (Part 3)?” I’ll write more about it on Thursday, but as part of his description of the end of “Paul’s first missionary journey,” he said that Paul and Barnabas reported back to their “home church” at Syrian Antioch (I’m more inclined to believe it was a synagogue that included Jewish and non-Jewish disciples of Messiah) about everything they had accomplished. Reminded me of this:

The essence of Shabbos is peace of mind. Our attitude on Shabbos should be as if all the work we need to do has already been completed. If you need to travel or do any kind of work, on Shabbos you should try to feel as if you have reached your destination and every single job you have to take care of has already been completed.

All the laws of Shabbos serve as a recipe for attaining peace of mind. Not only are we to refrain from doing any form of work, but we are enjoined not to even discuss anything that has a connection with work.

-Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
“Let Shabbos Finish Your Work”
Aish.com

Absence of quarreling and peace of mind at the week’s work having been accomplished. Sounds good, but my view of the world of which I’m a part doesn’t provide for peace.

Derek ended his blog post this way:

I am encouraged. I am strengthened. I pray you, Jewish or non-Jewish reader, find your heart warmed as well. May God, as Solomon prayed, hear in heaven and forgive the sins of our people and bring them again to the land which was given to the Jewish people as an inheritance.

up_to_jerusalemThe Jewish people have a right to pray for the God of Israel to forgive their sins and to return them to their Land which was given to them as an eternal inheritance. If we Gentile believers can’t be a part of the solution, then we should at least get out of their way (and out of God’s way…not that we could ever inhibit His will). My generation used to have a saying: “If you aren’t part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.”

We Gentile believers, whether we call ourselves “Christians,” “Hebrew Roots,” or anything else, need or consider our position and make a few adjustments. The fact that we are disciples of the Jewish Messiah does not give us vast authority to run roughshod over those people who were uniquely chosen by God at Sinai. If there was no Israel, there would be no method of attaching a Gentile through covenant to God. We vilify the Jewish people at our own peril. We should be wise. A blessing and a curse lay before us as well.

I’ve been writing about the Shabbat which I currently have no way to enjoy. I suppose that’s my fault for a lot of reasons, but it is no longer in my control. However there is an eternal Shabbat promised to all the faithful, if we can just maintain our strength until it comes. But in denigrating the Jewish people including Jews in Messiah (no, we don’t have to agree with all Messianic Jewish organizations about everything) are we unknowingly throwing away our place within that Shabbat? Are we in the process of finishing our work as the crown jewels of the nations or are we simply ending our opportunity for the final Shabbat rest because of our hostility and disrespect?

Sorry for another in a long line of “why can’t we play nice together” blog posts. I really wish the lot of us would take the advice of Thumper’s father (brief video) and just hush up and worry about perfecting our own spirituality. Let other people including Derek Leman and the various attendees of the UMJC conference attend to their own relationship with the Almighty.