Keith Hunt - From the Mind of a Christian Jew #5- Page Five   Restitution of All Things

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From the Mind of a Christian Jew #5

Faith and Life of Messianic Jews


FROM THE MIND OF A CHRISTIAN JEW #5

by Daniel Juster(1986)

The Faith and Life of Messianic Jews


     Messianic Jews live in the period between the "already" and
the "not yet." Already, they know that the Kingdom of God has
come spiritually in Messiah Yeshua. As communities, they seek to
demonstrate this reality of the present Kingdom by lives of love,
power, reconcilation and healing. The Kingdom has not yet come in
its fullness to all the earth. Only when Messiah Yeshua returns,
will the Kingdom be a reality in fullness over all the earth.
Hence Messianic Jews live in expectation of that Day of the Lord,
when "His will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven"
(Matthew 6:10). The life of Messianic Jews, however, is a life
with definite concept of authority, the way of salvation, the
work of God's Spirit, the Messiahship of Yeshua, what it means to
be Jewish and how all this is manifest in one's lifestyle and
practice.

THE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE 

     Messianic Jews accept the full authority and truth of the
complete Bible. Whatever Scripture teaches is to be believed and
obeyed. It is crucial, however, that there be an accurate
understanding of the meaning of the authority of the Bible. The
Bible is certainly true, but how do we ascertain its truth? What
do we mean when we say the Bible is inspired? Basically, the
inspiration of the Bible means that God superintended the
Biblical writers in such a way that what they wrote conveyed what
God desired to convey. That which was taught was all truth and
not error. God did not usurp the personalities of the writers by
placing them in "trancelike" states. Rather, He used their unique
styles and personalities to convey His truth.
     Paul can ask Timothy in a very human way to bring his cloak
and we gain a glimpse into the intimate life of the Apostle. This
was God's desire. However, Paul also can write that his teaching
is the commandment of God (I Corinthians 14:37). Scripture
therefore says, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God"
(II Timothy 3:16). The Greek sense of inspiration is "God
breathed." And in II Peter 1:20-21 we read, "No prophecy of the
scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came
not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as
they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
     It is crucial to understand that the highest authority and
court of appeal for all teaching in Messianic Judaism is the
Bible.
     However, what a person understands the Bible to teach varies
from reader to reader. Each perceives within his own limitations
of knowledge and ability as illuminated by the Spirit. What we
seek to understand is the intended teaching of the Biblical
author.
     The only objective means of sorting varying interpretaions
is to understand Scripture in  By context we mean several things:

     The verse is to be understood in the context of the whole
Bible. As one writer aptly stated, "a text without a context is a
pretext." 
     Secondly, part of the context for better understanding is
the original language of revelation (Hebrew or Greek). 
     Thirdly, the original language, words, sentences and
literary styles must also be understood according to the usage of
the time of writing. To whom did the author write? Why did he
write? And how would his audience have understood his writing in
their circumstances and their language usage? When we understand
these things, we can make more accurate applications of the
Scriptures. It is crucial to respect Biblical scholarship and to
avoid narrow subjective interpretations. These are the laws for
understanding any piece of literature.
     Every Bible translator depends upon the above type of
practice and seeks to ascertain all of the above information in
making his translations. However, a translation is an abbre
viation of the fullness of meaning. The translator uses
cultural-historical studies, commentaries and linguistic-
grammatical studies to produce an English translation. Messianic
Jews must therefore eschew the rejection of scholarship. The
Bible teaches only truth; but our understanding of the Bible
depends upon a proper interpretation (see Acts 8, Philip and the
Ethiopian eunuch).
     Does not this place the Bible beyond the average layman and
overlook the teaching ministry of the Spirit? Not at all. The
Spirit does not teach us to parse Hebrew and Greek verbs; but He
indeed illumines the Scripture to every sincere reader. Every
sincere reader of a good translation receives much understanding
of the basic teaching of the Bible on salvation, love and
service. The Spirit reveals this to our hearts, empowers us and
helps us to apply the Word. However, our perceptions of the
Spirit are fallible: we see now through a glass darkly (1
Corinthians 13:12), and controversial Biblical issues require
more information for solution.
     Furthermore, it is crucial that we understand the Spirit's
work, what He does and does not do. The Spirit illumines the
Word; but He will not give us Hebrew lessons! He will give us
insight; but his insight is a subjective perception unless it is
tested by the objective tools of Biblical study. The Bible
enjoins us to "test the spirits" and to not believe another
gospel (I John 4:1-3; cf. Galatians 1:8-9). The only objective
test for interpretation is the tools to accurately understand
Scripture in context. The Word is the test of the Spirit; but
without the Spirit, the Word is dead and unapplied to our lives.
The Spirit and Word go together; but we must never elevate the
Spirit and His illumination above the objective Word. We have
seen groups give themselves to wholesale heresy and deception by
having no objective test for their understanding in the Word. The
Bible is for all to read and grow by. The Spirit is likewise
given to all believers; but let us not be foolish in rejecting
the tools for a more accurate understanding. All should read the
Word in dependence on the Spirit.

Why do we believe the Bible? 

     There are multitudinous reasons, of which we summarize only
a few. There is first, the interior claim within the Bible, a
unique claim in comparison with other religious literature: The
Mosaic writings regularly testify having been written according
to the instruction of the Lord.
     This is also the case with the prophetic books, in which the
words, "Thus saith the Lord," are regularly found prefixing the
message. The same is true in the New Testament, where we read in
II Timothy 3:16, that "All Scripture is given by inspiration of
God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction .
..." Paul, the Apostle, writes in I Corinthians 14:37, "What I am
writing to you is a command of the Lord." These claims are so
unique that they give import to the unique inspiration of the
Scripture.
     We also find great evidence from the teaching of Yeshua. He
who rose from the dead, on the best of historical evidence, He is
our authority and teacher. He taught the inspiration and
authority of all Scripture, stating that "until heaven and earth
pass away, not a jot or tittle shall pass from the law until all
be fulfilled" (Matthew 5:18). Further, He stated, "the Scripture
cannot be broken" (John 10:35). His whole teaching demeanor
demonstrated His attitude toward Scripture. He consistently used
several words - "It says," "Scripture says," "It is written," and
"God says" - as interchangeable. For Yeshua, a quotation from the
Tenak (Old Testament) settled the matter. For Yeshua, then, the
Old Testament was inspired and true in all its teaching. He also
made provision for the New Testament by giving His apostles full
teaching authority as witnesses and interpretors of His truth
(John 16:12-14; 14:26). This is reflected in the apostolic
writings as well, for Ephesians 2:20 says that Yeshua's
congregation is "built upon the foundation of the apostles and
prophets." Peter says, "we did not follow cleverly devised myths
... but we were eye witnesses of his majesty" (II Peter 1:16).
     Furthermore, the Bible through and through gives evidence of
being the supernatural Book of God. For example, the Nation of
Israel began with a miraculous deliverance from Egypt, the
reception of the Law at Sinai and the conquering of the land
of Canaan. Archaelogy bears out the conquest of the very cities
described in Scripture. Only the account of the Torah adequately
explains the existence of this singular nation, Israel, which
alone believed in one personal God, characterized by His justice
and love. The archaeological record reveals the idolatry of
Canaan and an amazing freedom from idolatry in the periods of
Israel's righteousness, just as the Bible recounts.
     The Bible amazingly predicts the future history of nations.
For example, the Bible predicted the utter destruction of Tyre
and even mentions the causeway which would be built to finally
destroy the ancient city some 300 years later (Ezekiel 26). Yet
the sister city, Sidon would have a sad, bloody history and still
not be destroyed (Ezekiel 28). The Bible sketches history with
amazing accuracy, predicting the progress of world empires - down
to our own day! Daniel 2 and 7 predict and describe the
successive empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome and a
last-day confederation of nations which will oppose God.
     The Bible also predicts the dispersion of Israel (Leviticus
26) and her last-day regathering from all over the earth (Isaiah
11).
     Bernard Ramm tabulates the amazing accuracy of the Biblical
predictions of God's future judgments on nations and cities. All
the references are given in his account. The Bible predicts the
following of nations:

Egypt will remain, but decline as a world power. 
Israel (Northern tribes) will cease as a nation. 
The Jews will remain.
Philistines will cease.
Moab and Ammon will continue after the Babylonian exile.
Edom will cease completely. 

Of cities:

Tyre will be fully destroyed. 
Sidon will remain.
Thebes will be destroyed. 
Ninevah will be destroyed. 
Babylon will be destroyed. 
Jerusalem will remain.

     Even more supernatural are the Bible's predictions of the
Messiah. He was predicted to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), to
be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), to be rejected, to die as
a sacrifice and to rise from the dead (Isaiah 53, Psalms 22), to
be cut off before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D.
(Daniel 9:25-26) and many, many more.

     Surely this is an incredible Book, inspired and unlike any
in history! As to why we accept all the books of the Bible we
mention the following: We know Yeshua accepted the Jewish Bible
of His day. From Jewish tradition and Josephus, we know this
Jewish Bible consisted of just those books today designated as
the Old Testament. The Old Testament consists of the covenants of
God with Israel and the records of prophets who called Israel
back to Torah and instructed the nation on the basis of the
Mosaic revelation (Deuteronomy 13,18).
     Provision for the writing prophets was made in Torah itself.
The Old Testament is the covenantal record of the relationship
between God and Israel. As we said, the New Testament is the
product of the apostles chosen by Yeshua. His resurrection,
testified to by apostolic and other martyrs who died for the
truth of their witness to His resurrection, authenticates His
teaching. The early communities preserved and testified to those
books which had true apostolic origins, and these became part of
the New Testament, our foundation for doctrine and teaching. 
     The Bible thus stands alone among all ancient books, its
historical accuracy tested by archaeology and its supernatural
origin attested to by fulfilled prophecy and the resurrection of
Yeshua.

     Even more important, however, is the moral character of
the Bible and the spiritual nature of its message. No other book
reads with the quality, majesty and depth of the Bible. It has
the ring of truth. Only the Bible reveals a God who acts and
speaks in history through Yeshua. Only the Bible has brought
God's life-giving message to millions, turning them from despair
to hope and purpose.
     As Messianic Jews, we may gain wisdom and insight from our
Jewish tradition. The tradition, however, is to be tested by the
Bible, which alone is accepted as totally true.
     Tradition has not this authority. That which is consistent
with the Scriptures can be accepted; that which is inconsistent
must be rejected. The Bible is the final rule of faith and
practice.

     It is our authority

SALVATION BY GRACE

     The popular use of the words "salvation" and "saved" is a
distortion of the rich Biblical meaning of the terms. In
Scripture, salvation includes the fullness of deliverance from a
meaningless life of transgression, emptiness, alienation and
darkness, concerning life after death to a life of fellowship    
with our Creator, as well as hope, healing, community with 
and the assurance of everlasting life with God. Unfortunately,
the word "grace" is a misperceived concept as well in much
popular thinking. Many, for example, believe that grace
means that God has suspended the moral standards of His Law to
accept us. Because He has accepted us, we need only believe - it
does not matter what. This is totally contrary to the Biblical
view of grace.
     In Scripture, grace is God's offer of unmerited forgiveness
to us, despite the fact that we are sinners or lawbreakers. Yet
God upholds His character and Law in His offer because Yeshua
paid the penalty of the Law. In Him, we can be counted as
fulfilling the Law. It is crucial to understand that God judges
us as a people in Him.
     We are "in Him" (Galatians 2:20) and are in Him accounted
righteous. He is perfect according to God's Holy Law. Hence,
David can say in Psalms 32:2, "Blessed is the man to whom the
Lord imputes no iniquity." It is also clear in Psalm 51 that
David cast himself totally on the mercy of God for forgiveness
and did not depend on his own merits. He said, "Be merciful to
me, O God, according to thine abundant mercy, blot out my
transgression ... Purge me with hyssop and I shall be
clean, wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow" (vv.1,7).
     Eternal life is God's gift (Romans 6:23) and no one can earn
it, for none are righteous (Psalm 53:3). Hence, God can say of
Israel that He did not choose them because of any righteousness
or might of their own (especially Deuteronomy 8-10).
     However, the reception of God's gift in Yeshua requires a
response of faith. We can only be righteous before God because we
are in Him, and He alone is perfectly righteous according to
God's Law. Faith grasps the gift of God and by faith we are born
again and given a new Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26; II Corinthians
5:17). The Hebrew word faith (emunah) cannot be divorced from the
word faithfulness (emunah). A true response to God issues in a
heart or spirit whose desire is to obey and please God. Salvation
by faith never leads to moral looseness when rightly understood.
Paul can thus say in Romans 3:31 as he recounts God's Law upheld
in Yeshua and our new heart to obey, "Do we then overthrow the
Law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the
Law." Jeremiah well reflected the relationship between faith and
faithfulness when he stated that the Spirit will write God's Law
upon our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33).
     God's grace is effective. It is God's power within us,
enabling us to do His will. God in Yeshua has delivered us from
the penalty of the Law; but we do not cast away the Law or its
value for teaching and guiding (II Timothy 3:16-17). I John 3:4
says that "Sin is the transgression of Law." Romans 6 says that
we are "not to yield ourselves to sin" or "continue in sin that
grace might abound." Obviously, if our hearts have responded to
God, we will not desire to break His Law. Sin is the
transgression of Law (I John 3:4). Because we are free from the
bondage of the penalties of the Law and our fleshly efforts to
keep the Law which end in failure (Romans 7), we can now do the
Law by God's power (Romans 8:1-4). We can say with the Psalmist,
"Oh how I love thy law, it is my meditation all the day long ...
sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb"
(Psalms 119:97,103). Scripture's message never divides grace from
obedience, but teaches that the heart must be changed first.
"For by grace are you saved thfough faith, it is a gift of God
not of works lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9); "for
God is at work in you to will and to do of his good pleasure"
(Philippians 2:13). James says, "Faith without works is dead"
(James 2:20). Titus teaches we are "justified by grace" (3:7),
and then exhorts us to be careful to "apply ourselves to good
deeds" (mitzvot) for "these are excellent and profitable to men"
(Titus 3:8).
     The Tenach also records this relationship between faith and
works and the Law, for we read of Abraham, "Abraham believed God
and God accounted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6),
but Genesis 26:4-5 says, "by your descendants all the nations of
the earth shall bless themselves; because Abraham obeyed my voice
and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my Laws."
     We are justified (accepted as righteous) by faith, but the
justified one has a heart for God's will and Law. (See James 2,
which comments on Genesis 26.) We desire to be obedient and to do
His commands.

SPIRIT AND LAW

(One Bible Commentary I have says, "We are not saved by the law;
we are saved in order to keep the law" - Keith Hunt)

     Another subject of great contemporary misunderstanding is
the relationship between the Spirit of God (within each disciple
of Yeshua) and the Law. Some put Spirit and law in total
opposition, which is a Biblical impossibility. The central
chapters of the Bible for understanding the correct teaching are
Romans 6-8.
     These chapters must be read with great care or false
conclusions may be drawn.
     First, let us note that sin is the transgression of Law,
"whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the Law; for sin is
the transgression of the Law" (I John 3:4). Paul clearly shows
that the relationship of the Spirit to the Law is not
 antithetical. The Spirit revealed the Law; He will write God's
Law on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 36:26). So He can say,
"Are we to sin (transgress the Law) because we are not under Law
but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you yield
yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are the slaves of
the one to whom you obey, either of sin (the transgressing of the
Law) or of obedience, which leads to righteousness" (Romans
6:15-16).
     What Paul has in mind is that the Author of the Law would
dwell within, giving us an intuitive sense of right as well as a
love which obeys the Law in its true spirit and intent. We would
then serve not a set of external articles with do's and don't's
(a written code) but in newness of the Spirit. In other words,
the Spirit will make obedience a personal response of love, not
legalism.
     Romans 7 and 8 are the great chapters which summarize that
the way of obedience is through the power of the Spirit. This is
because, from our own power in our fallen nature (called the
flesh), it is impossible for us to obey the Law. The problem is
not the Law. That reflects God's eternal character and standard.
Yeshua said that not a "jot" or "tittle" of the Law would pass
away until all is fulfilled. Heaven and earth would pass away
before God's Law (Matthew 5:17-18). Thus Paul can say "If it had
not been for the Law, I should not have known sin ... the Law is
holy, and the commandment holy, just and good. Did that which is
good, then, bring death to me? By no means ... we know that the
Law is spiritual ... Now if I do not do what I want, I agree that
the Law is good" (Romans 7:7,12,13,14,16). This should be enough
to convince anyone of Paul's positive regard for the Law. The
problem is not the Law, but our sinful nature which is bent
toward transgressing the Law. So fallen is man that he even uses
the commandment as an occasion to imagine the forbidden action
and to be drawn, falling, into the act. "I should not have know
what it is to covet if the Law had not said, You shall not covet.
But sin finding opportunity in the commandment, wrought in me all
kinds of covetousness" (Romans 7:7-8).

     So Paul describes the man who seeks to obey the Law by his
own power as not able to do the very things he desires. This is
the law "principle" of the sin nature and it perpetuates
a state of spiritual and physical death (the law or principle of
death).
     The cry thus goes forth, "Oh wretched man that I am, who
shall deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24). The
solution is "Thanks be to God through Yeshua ha Meshiach" (Romans
7:24).
     For through Him, we are given a reborn spirit, and in
recognizing that we died to our old self in Him and rise to new
life, we are empowered by the Spirit to no longer be in bondage
to sin. We may still fall; but we now have the power to obey.
From our position in Yeshua, we can grow to progressive obedience
in love. Hence, the Spirit enables us to fulfill the Law (Romans
3:31). Thus, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those
who are in Messiah Yeshua. ... for the law of the Spirit of life
in Messiah Yeshua has set me free from the law of sin and death.
For God has done what the law weakened by the flesh, could not
do; sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, he
condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the just requirement of
the law might be fulfilled in its, who walk not according to the
flesh but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:1, ff).
     The issue is not a conflict between Law and Spirit but
between flesh and spirit. Do we seek to please God by our own
fleshly efforts to keep the Law, or do we depend on the resur-
rection power of His Spirit within? We are to set our mind on
depending on the Spirit. By His power, we can please God. With
this understanding, the Messianic Jew has no ambivalence in
approaching the whole Bible as "profitable for doctrine, for
reproof, for correction and instruction in righteousness" (II
Timothy 3:16-17). Truly he can say with the Psalmist "O, how I
love thy Law." Yet, even more does he love the demonstration of
the meaning of the Law in Spirit and in truth in Yeshua ha
Mashiach......

THE MESSIAHSHIP OF YESHUA

     Our purpose in defending a distinctive Messianic Jewish
stance does not require a comprehensive summary of the reasons
for our belief in the Messiahship of Yeshua. We only briefly
recount here a summary of the Messianic hope and our reasons for
affirming that "He is the One of Whom the prophets spoke."
     The Messianic hope begins in Genesis 3:15, where God
promises to the human race a seed of woman who will crush the
head of the Serpent (Satan, the representative of evil), even
though this seed will be bruised in the heel. The story fits the
religious symbolic literature of the ancient Near East in
recounting deep spiritual truths through natural phenomena.
Although it is not of absolute proof value, there is evidential
value in the fact that the verse teaches that a seed of a woman,
not a man, bruises the head of the Serpent though Satan bruises
its heel. Satan receives the fatal blow; the seed, a serious, but
limited blow. How well this fits Messiah Yeshua, born of a
virgin. Jewish writings also reflect this Messianic
identification ... as Targum Onkelos, which speaks of the seed as
her son. The great expositor David Kimchi clearly identifies the
seed as "the MESHIACH, the son of David, who shall wound his
heel." 
     We shall see that there are several promises in relation to
"seed" which, when traced, have great Messianic significance,
although not limited to Messianic significance. The next passage
which talks about seed is Genesis 12. Abraham, who is called to a
new land, is told, "by your seed all the families of the earth
shall blessed." Blessing is to flow to the world through the
nation Israel. However, there are hints that the seed-promise of
Abraham looks forward to an individual. Sarah, Abraham's wife, is
childless. The seed-promise is to be applied to her offspring,
not to any other. Sarah herself gives birth to only one son,
Isaac. Isaac is thus the recipient of the seed-promise. The
Messianic Jew cannot help but see the parallels. Isaac, the only
son of his father, is a child of a miraculous birth (for Sarah
was beyond child bearing age--Genesis 18:12,13). Most amazingly,
Abraham is commanded to offer his son Isaac on Mt. Moriah as a
sacrifice. This is a test of his faith and obedience. Isaac is
not killed, but the symbolism of his being offered as a sacrifice
is carried out in Genesis 22. Moriah is the later site of the
temple; traditionally, among Jews, it is the exact stone where
the altar later stood. That the image of Abraham's only seed is a
sacrificial image should make us note the parallel to Yeshua, who
is also a child of miraculous birth, the only son of his Father,
who is offered as a sacrifice.
     The seed-promise is next passed on to Isaac's son, Jacob,
and then to the twelve children of Israel. However, there is a
promise to Judah which indicates that the Messianic ruler will
stem from Judah. "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor
the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom
it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples"
(Genesis 49:10). Either Shiloh in this passage is a title of the
Messiah or is "he to whom it (rulership) belongs" comes. All of
the Targums identify this promise with the Messiah. Many
centuries pass before the seed-promise becomes more explicit. The
figure of Moses, a prophet, priest and ruler of his
people was considered to pre-figure the Messiah by many Jewish
people before Yeshua came. 
     In II Samuel 7, we find the next great seed-promise: It
relates to the future ruler and representative of Israel. David
is promised in this passage an everlasting throne through his
descendants. Isaiah makes it clear that this will be fulfilled by
one child. In Isaiah 7:14, a promise is given of a Messianic king
who shall be named Immanuel, God with us. The contrast is drawn
between this child and the wicked king Ahaz, who would not ask
for a sign to prove God's will as requested by the prophet
Isaiah. That Isaiah 7:14 has in mind the Messiah is clear since
no other child of the time was given the name Immanuel. Hezekiah,
the ancestor of the Messiah, might have also been born at this
time as a sign of the greater birth to come. Lest there be doubt,
however, in the Messianic character of Isaiah 7:14, we point out
these two facts: The translations of the Septuagent recognized
the passage to be predicting a virgin birth. "Almah," meaning
young woman, is used of a young woman of marriageable age who is
presumed to be a virgin. They translated it "parthenos," virgin,
before there was any debate. Secondly, the title of the king,
Immanuel, is a parallel title to those given King Messiah in
Isaiah 9:6,7 (v.5 Hebrew Bible). Other promises concerning King
Messiah as the stem of Jesse are found in Isaiah 11:1-10.
In Isaiah 9:6,7, we read, "For to us a child is born, to us a
son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders and
his name shall be called 'Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.' Of the increase of his
government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of
David, and over his kingdom to establish it, and to uphold it
with justice and righteousness, from this time forth and forever
more" (R.S.V.).
     Here we note that the Messiah is given uniquely divine
titles in this passage, which will be explained in the next
section. Our translation is very close to the literal Hebrew;
other translations seek to blunt these titles by adding
interpretive material. There is no disagreement on the Messianic
character of these verses. We now see that blessing flows to the
world through Israel and through the Messiah. Of the Messiah we
read that the Gentiles, non-Jewish peoples, shall seek after Him.
He shall be a sign to the peoples and "to it shall the Gentiles
seek" (Isaiah 11:10 ff).
     Of the "Servant of the Lord" in Isaiah 40-66, we read that
He will bring forth justice and He will be a light to the nations
(Isaiah 42:3,4,7). Though Israel is found in these passages as
God's servant, so is the Messianic king. For the promise of the
servant of the Lord here includes the same content as the promise
of King Messiah in Isaiah 11.
     There is a special connection of the Messiah to Bethlehem,
not only because this was David's city, which was obviously
known. Micah 5:2 connects the Messiah to Bethlehem to show that
His birth there shall parallel David's. It is a sign. Hence the
scribes of Matthew 2 could easily answer Herod's question as to
where the Messiah would be born ... "in Bethlehem." They then
quoted Micah 5:2, which states that the ruler of Israel shall
come forth from Bethlehem. Micah also says of Messiah that His
"goings have been from of old, from Everlasting." Messiah in some
way has a reality before His actual birth. Some traditional Jews
see that prebirth reality of the Messiah as in the being of God;
He is in some special sense, part of God.
     However, more astonishing than all these passages is the
Scriptural indication that the Messianic figure must suffer and
die before He rules and reigns. This gave rise to the Talmudic
idea that a suffering Messiah, son of Joseph, would precede the
triumphant Messiah. We have already noted that the Servant of
the Lord of Isaiah 40-66 has both reference to Israel and
Israel's king. Of this "servant of the Lord" we read that He
suffers as a sacrifice for sin (in Isaiah 53) and experiences
many other sufferings.
     Isaiah says - "He is despised and rejected of men, a man of
sorrows and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our
faces from Him.... All we like sheep have gone astray, we have
turned every one to his own way, and the Lord has laid upon him
the iniquity of us all ..." (Isaiah 53:3,6).
     Of this One we also read that he is with both criminals and
a rich man in His death. In the gospels we read that Yeshua was
crucifed between criminals. Joseph of Aramathea, a rich man and
member of the Sanhedrin, had Him buried in his own tomb. Because
of his sacrifice, we read "he shall see his offspring, he
shall prolong his days .... He shall see the fruit of the travail
of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the
righteous one my servant, make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities" (Isaiah 53:10 ff). The One
who dies as a sin offering lives again. How well this fits
Yeshua. Jewish voices are not lacking who refer this passage to
the Messiah, even though they do not accept Yeshua as the
Messiah. The Talmud, in Sanhedrin 98b, gives a title to the
Messiah, "the leprous one," because Isaiah said He bore our
diseases in this chapter. The famous kabbalist R. Elijah de Vidas
from Safed in Upper Galilee is most emphatic that this referred
to the Messiah saying, "it follows that whosoever will not admit
that Messiah thus suffers for our iniquities, must endure and
suffer for them himself." 'So also the Targum Jonathan, a most
ancient source, sees the Servant as King Messiah. The One who is
pierced is spoken of as well in Zechariah 12:10, where we read,
"And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they
shall mourn for him as one mourneth for His only Son, and shall
be in bitterness for him as one who is in bitterness for His
first born." That this refers to a suffering Messiah is clear in
most ancient Jewish interpretation. The Talmud (Succah 52:1)
refers this to the Messiah, the son of Joseph, as does R.
Alschech and Kimchi. However, what is the warrant for holding
to two Messiahs instead of one Messiah who must first suffer
before reigning?
     Daniel 9:25,26 gives an astonishing reference to the
Messiah. For in this prophecy, the Messiah is predicted as cut
off before the destruction of the second temple. Seventy weeks of
years which were decreed from the time of Artaxerxes would bring
us to the time of the Messiah Yeshua (490 years). Even beyond
this, however, "the Messiah the Prince" is cut off in the 69th
week (483 years) and the temple and city are destroyed soon
after. Many Rabbinic references show that this is the Messiah
(cf. R. Moses Abraham Levi, Sanhed. Tal. 97.b, Nachmanidies, and
Abarbanel).
     When we observe all of these passages together, it is
astonishing how precisely Yeshua fulfills the nature of the
Messianic hope as it is developed in the Tenach. He is the seed
of the woman who gives Satan his fatal blow (Genesis 3:15); He is
the only child of Abraham, a child who, like Isaac, is the only
son of His Father and is offered as a sacrifice by His Father
(Genesis 12:1-3; 22); He is the prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy
18); He is a descendant of David (II Samuel 7), the one born of a
virgin and given supernatural titles (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6,7), born
in Bethlehem but from Ancient Days (Micah 5:2); He is the source
of light to the nations, for it is only by turning to Yeshua that
non-Jews received God's Scriptural revelation (Isaiah 42:11); He
is the One who is pierced and dies in the image of a scrifice,
but yet sees His offspring (Zechariah 12:10, Isaiah 53); and He
is the One who comes before the destruction of the second temple,
which occurred in 70 C.E.! (Daniel 9:25,26).

     Yeshua alone fits the Biblical hope. Furthermore, His life,
miracles, death and resurrection multiply the strength of the
evidence. Only the Spirit of God can open the eyes of those who
are blinded, but the evidence is extraordinary. No man ever
taught like Yeshua. Read His summary of the heart meaning of the
Law, in Matthew 5-7, or His parables in Matthew 13. No one ever
performed miracles of compassion like Yeshua. No other man ever
was raised from the dead like Yeshua. The evidence for His
resurrection is not just good evidence - it is the best evidence
we have for any ancient event. We have only positive evidence for
the resurrection, no negative evidence. The sources are all
early; the four gospels, the letters of Paul, Peter, James,
Hebrews and Revelation were independently written and all testify
to the resurrection. The early fathers of the Church maintain
this testimony. Most of the disciples died for their faith in
Yeshua's resurrection, never recanting under pressure. The
Apostle Paul could testify that 500 brethren were witnesses to
the resurrected Messiah at one time, most of whom were still
alive (I Corinthians 15). The implication is that his readers
could go and ask the witnesses about the truth.
     There is no explanation of the resurrection by the early
critics of Yeshua except the excuse that His disciples stole His
body, the same disciples who died for the truth of their
testimony! The dead body could not be produced because Yeshua was
alive again. Yeshua alone fits our hope and Scriptural
expectations of the Messiah. He identified with Israel and
personally paralleled Israel's life; His family fled to Egypt and
was called out of Egypt (Matthew 3:15); He went through the
waters of baptism, paralleling Israel going through the sea; He
was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days, paralleling Israel's
40 years (Matthew 4); He exposited the Law on the mountain
(Matthew 5). His life was integrated into all the Jewish feasts
(J 5-10). He is certainly the One of whom the prophets spoke. He
shall yet return to rule on the throne of David, fulfilling each
of the prophecies which are part of Israel's Messianic hope.

IS THE MESSIAH DIVINE?

     To raise the question of Yeshua's divinity is to open one of
the greatest debates between Jews and Christians. This question
leads to the whole debate about the Trinity, since the Messiah is
said to be divine as one part of the Triune God.
     Christians have locked themselves in Greek philosophical
definitions of the Trinity. Jews ask, do Christians believe in
one God or three? In reaction to what they perceived as
tri-theism (belief in three gods), Jews have also defined their
God in opposing Greek categories of oneness. Maimonides who is
quoted and referred to for the Jewish doctrine of God, explained
God's oneness or singularity, formlessness and simplicity after
the thinking of Aristotle. The term "trinity" or "triunity" is
not in the Bible. We therefore are not so concerned to argue for
the term as for those aspects of the Biblical revelation which
the term reflects. We have to begin with the salient fact that
Jewish literature itself reflects something of the mystery of
God. This is most evident in speech about the "Sheekeenah," or
Holy Spirit. He is spoken of as God and yet as separate from God.
When the Temple was destroyed, the Shekeenah is said to have gone
into exile with Israel. The Shekeenah is also said to have moved
from the Temple mount to the Western Wall. It is this author's
contention that the literature of Judaism and the Bible always
reflected this mystery of God, wherein God is spoken of as one,
but manifestations of God are spoken of as to some degree
separate from God. 

THE THREENESS OF GOD?

     Jews spoke functionally and never drew a theological
conclusion concerning oneness or threeness during all of the ages
of history before Yeshua. Christians, however, who were
Greek-oriented, drew specific theological (ontological)
conclusions from this functional language. The Jewish reaction to
the Christian doctrine was to finally draw an opposite and
contrary conclusion. God was defined as "yachid," completely and
totally singular.
     In Genesis 1:26 God said, "let us create man in our own
image." "Eloheem" (God) itself is a unique uni-plural form which
takes a singular verb, but could be translated "gods." It is
possible that the "Let us" structure could be a regal plural of
majesty, such as found in Queen Victoria's speech. However, God
says, "God created man in his own image ... male and female
created He them" (1:27). The fact that male and female together
are in God's image must bear some significance. Further, God says
of marriage, "For this reason a man will leave his father and
mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh"
(Genesis 2:24). The word for "one" here is "echad," the same used
in the Sh'ma, "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone
(echad)" (Deuteronomy 6:4). One Jewish authority personally
admitted in a class at a prominent Jewish college that the 'ma
was not a statement fat all about God's mathematical singularity,
but that this invisible God of revelation was to be worshipped
apart from other idols. Furthermore; if the Sh'ma is an assertion
of God's oneness it would be a statement counter to the obvious
indications of plurality in the Tenach. (See also Ezra 2:64 and
Exekiel 37:17). "Echad," however, does not connote singular
oneness in many usages.
     The examples of plurality in the Tenach are arresting to
say the least. In Genesis 18, one of three angels is designated
the LORD, the Holy name of God. Here is a manifestation of God,
yet He is not all of God Himself. Is it God or an angel of God?
It is both.
     In Genesis 32, Jacob wrestles with the Angel of God, called
a man in v.24. Jewish literature explains this as only an angel.
Yet how then do we explain Jacob's words in v.30, "So Jacob
called the place Peniel, saying, "it is because I saw God face to
face and yet my life was spared." Jacob was amazed because it was
believed that no man could see God and live. Jacob did not see
God fully; no one ever has. However, this was a manifestation of
God in human form which cannot be put aside by calling it a
powerful angel which, being from a divine level of reality, would
cause the fear. This explanation completely ignores Jacob's own
words.
     In Exodus, the Angel of the Lord is distinguished from God
Himself and yet is continually called by the holy name of God
Himself, written The LORD (all caps) in English and (Hebrew).
     Exodus 14:19 - the Angel of God travels before the people in
a pillar of cloud.
     Exodus 13:17 ff. - God Himself leads the people.
     Exodus 13:21 - God is called The LORD who went ahead. 
     Exodus 33:14 - God says "My presence will go with you."
     Moses prays for God's presence to precede Israel, in verse
16. However, in verse 9, the presence is identified with the
Lord, as Moses prays for the presence of the LORD to go with
Israel. Clearly, the LORD goes with Israel in leaving the
tabernacle, in Exodus 40:36-38.
     There are several other examples where the Angel of God is
distinguished from God and then called God or the LORD. In
Genesis 22:11, we have the Angel of the Lord; but in 22:12, He is
God (cf 16:7, 16:13).
     In Exodus 23:20-23, God's name is said to be in the Angel in
such a way that he can pardon sin. "Behold, I send an angel
before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place
which I have prepared. Give heed to him and hearken to his voice,
do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your
transgression; for my name is in him. But if you hearken
attentively to his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an
enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.
When my angel goes before you and brings you in to the Amorites
and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the
Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, you shall not bow
down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their
works, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their
pillars in pieces. You shall serve the Lord your God, and I will
bless your bread and your water; and I will take sickness away
from the midst of you. None shall cast her young or be barren in
your land; I will fulfil the number of your days. I will send my
terror before you, and will throw into confusion all the people
against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies
turn their backs to you. And I will send hornets before you,
which shall drive out Hivite, Canaanite, and Hittite from before
you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest
the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against
you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you,
until you are increased and possess the land. And I will set your
bounds from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from
the wilderness to the Euphrates; for I will deliver the
inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them
out before you. You shall make no covenant with them or with
their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you
sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a
snare to you" (Exodus 23:20-33).
     Judges 13 brings out the phenomenon clearly. Beginning with
verse 9, we read, "the angel of God came to the woman while she
was in the field ... Menoah got up and followed his wife. When he
came to the man he said ... the Angel of the LORD replied" (v.
3).
     Menoah inquired of the name of the Angel of the LORD (v.
17).
     Menoah said, "we are doomed to die. We have seen God" (v.
22).
     However, his wife assured him that IF they were to die, the
LORD
     would not have accepted the offering. Just as in the story
of Jacob wrestling with God, we have the Angel of God both
distinguished from God and identified with God.
     Most astonishing of all the examples is Exodus 3, where the
"Angel of the LORD" appeared to Moses in flames of fire from
within a bush. What did He say? "I am the God of your father, the
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." As Menoah, Moses asked His
name and God gave the inscrutable name which He did not give to
Menoah in Judges 13 saying "I am who I am" (a variant of YHWH).
So the Angel is God and yet distinct from God.
     Other references show forth similar mysteries. Is God's
Spirit of Shekeenah somehow God and yet distinct from God? What
of all those passages where it is spoken of in this way? We note
especially Isaiah 48:12-16, "Hearken to me, O Jacob, and Israel,
whom I called! I am He, I am the first, and I am the last. My
hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread
out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together.
Assemble, all of you, and hear! Who among them has declared
these things? The Lord loves him; he shall perform his purpose on
Babylon, and his arm shall be against the Chaldeans. I, even I,
have spoken and called him, I have brought him, and he will
prosper in his way. Draw near to me, hear this: 'from the
beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to
be I have been there.' And now the Lord God has sent me and his
Spirit."

(The author tries to say the "Spirit" is a separate person, hence
THREE persons in heaven under "God." It is one form of the
"trinity" doctrine. I prove in a number of studies on this
website, such is not the case - the Godhead consists of TWO
individuals - the Father and the Son. See my studies in answer to
the teaching of the "trinity" - Keith Hunt)

     Furthermore, there are hints of the Messiah being more than
just human. In Isaiah 9:6-7, the Messiah is given the names of
God - literally in Hebrew, "Wonderful Counselor, Almighty
God - Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." This child who is
born will rule and reign over all the earth. The Messianic king
is addressed, "The Lord said to my Lord" (Psalms 110:1). Who is
this that David calls Lord? How this question puzzled Yeshua's
listeners!
     "What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?"
     "The son of David," they replied.
     "He said to them, 'How is it then that David, speaking by
the Spirit, calls him Lord? For he says, The Lord said to my
Lord, sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your
feet.'"
     "'If David calls him Lord, how can he be his son?' No one
could say a word in reply." (Matthew 22:42-46. See also Micah
5:22; The Messiah is from Ancient of Days.

     Some rabbinical responses to the literature of the Tenach
are quite unconvincing. Jacob's wrestling with the Angel is
overlooked or glossed over. The reason the Angel of God is called
God is not because he is God, but because God's name is in Him.
What is this supposed to prove? If we can call an Angel by the
holy name of God (YHWH) because God's name is in Him, so also
could we not call Yeshua divine because God's name is in Him? The
evidence of Tenach leaves us with a belief in one God with a
plural dimension seen in manifestations of God. This revelation
provides for an understanding of the New Testament revelation and
its teaching on God and Yeshua..... (The author tries to prove
the "Spirit" is a person separate from God the Father and God the
Son. It is the usual argument given, which I have answered fully
in my study on the Holy Spirit on this website - Keith Hunt)

     Yeshua is not only a man, but uniquely carries the name,
nature, or stamp of divinity which is not true of other men. He
is born of a virgin as predicted in Isaiah 7:14 (which was
translated parthenos [Greek for virgin] before Yeshua's time by
the Jewish translators of the Septuagent version, (100 B.C.E.).
As being born of a virgin, His origin is part human and part
special creation by God to carry the nature of God. In the very
Jewish virgin birth account in Luke, which continually talks of
the hope of Israel and Israel's deliverance from oppression, the
virgin birth is spoken of as the act whereby Yeshua will be
called the Son of God. Let us note that Israel was called God's
son (Hosea 11:1) and that David was promised that Solomon would
be God's son (II Samuel 2). However, this is not in the same
unique sense of Yeshua. Although the New Testament does not
emphasize Yeshua's divinity in an out-of-balance way, it clearly
brings out this truth. In John 8:58, Yeshua claims to be one with
the "I Am" saying, ". . . before Abraham was I am" (cf., Exodus
3:15). In John 5:17-18, Yeshua claims oneness with the Father,
who, according to rabbinic teaching, did not rest on Shabbat
because he had to maintain the world's order. He also called God
His father in a special sense. We have already quoted Matthew
22:41-46, where Yeshua asked how David could call the Messiah,
his son, his Lord. The writings of the rest of the New Testament
also bring out this truth. Matthew 28:19 commands the Mikvah
(baptism) to be performed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy
Spirit. So also the Messiah is called the One in whom "all the
fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form" (Colossians 2:9). He
was in the form of God (Philippians 2:6) but emptied Himself,
becoming a servant. As a result of this every knee shall bow and
every tongue shall confess that Yeshua the Messiah is Lord
(Philippians 2:10).
     Yeshua, however, is not all of God's totality. He is one
person or one aspect of that plural manifestation of God (from
the Tenach) who became a human being. He, therefore, is a man who
depends on the Spirit, prays to the Father, gets weary and dies.
His divine nature never dies, but He is human as well as divine.
As such, prayer in the New Testament is not primarily addressed
to Yeshua but to "Our Father" in the Name of Yeshua. For Yeshua
is the human revelation of the Father.
     This should not be thought so incredible. Man alone is
created in the image of God. He alone, therefore, can be the
perfect revelation of God. A perfect man who carries God's Name
or nature but is not all of God fits into the whole character of
Biblical revelation. Yeshua, the man, did not exist before the
first century; but His divine nature did. (I'm not sure here what
the author means, some teach that the One we know today as Jesus
the Christ did not exist before His human birth, which is totally
incorrect as I've prove in other studies on this website - Keith
Hunt)

     Yeshua is not all of God, but is a man embodying God's
nature. He gives preeminence to His Father (John 5:19.17:1-5:
16:25-27. So Yeshua is described in Scripture as without sin
(Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22; John 8:46). If God is a uniplural
being, this is perfectly sensible, although beyond our complete
understanding. Jews shunned this doctrine; but it is not at all
impossible. They have rejected Christian prayer, which seems to
limit God to Yeshua - as if Jesus was in Himself, the Christian
God.
     Sometimes Christians speak as if they have lost sight of God
the Father; what G.E. Wright called a "Christo monism." Yet the
New Testament, although recognizing Yeshua's divinity, recognizes
that God is more than Yeshua. It only rarely addresses prayer to
Yeshua, while recognizing that by His life, teaching, death and
resurrection, He is the fullest revelation of God to man.
     Jewish ways of expression are needed, ways more consistent
to the New Testament, if Jews are to penetrate Christian rhetoric
to see the truth of Yeshua's divine nature.
     Jewish literature is not totally silent on the mystery of
God's plurality. It should be mentioned that this literature
sometimes reflects the reality of God's plurality. The Zohar
mentions that the Ancient One is revealed in three heads "which
are united into one....... described as being three"  "But how
can three names be one? ... (This) can only be known by
revelation of the Holy Spirit" (Zohar, Vol. # p.288. Vol. 2: p.
43).

(Again Jewish and Christian ideas of God are many, most end up
saying the Godhead cannot be understood. Nothing could be further
from the truth. The Godhead CAN be understood - God the Father
wants you to understand the Godhead, and His plan He is working
with the human population. All is explained fully and clearly in
other studies of mine on this website - Keith Hunt)

     Once we accept the divine nature of Yeshua - a teaching both
consistent with Tenach on the uni-plurality of God, as well as
the New Testament teaching on Yeshua - we might ask other reasons
why God would reveal Himself in this way. There are several.
     In terms of revelation, since man is created in the image of
God, only a man would be able to bring the fullest revelation of
God. A perfect man, however, would need to bear the nature of God
to maintain perfection when born of our race. God reveals Himself
in a man to benefit our understanding, a level of revelation we
indeed can comprehend.
     As a demonstration of God's unity with and love for the race
of man, a revelation of God in a human being is the greatest
possible way God could personally and intimately show His great
love (John 3:16).
     Such a revelation also has a unique redemptive significance.
The sufferings of the Messiah are not the substitutionary
sufferings of a separate agent being punished for sin instead of
the guilty party. Rather, the Messiah's suffering is the
suffering love of God revealed, which forgives in the midst of
devastating hurt - if man will only turn in repentance. "Father
forgive," said Yeshua when He was crucified (Luke 23:34). Such
love awakens us to our sin and wins us back in repentance. Yeshua
as representative man - also in love carries the hurt and
destruction of the race for them or in their stead, as a parent
would suffer in love to free his wayward children and turn them
to the right. As the divine Messiah, His sacrifice has infinite
value. If we are spiritually one with Him, God accepts us in Him.
He thus is our mediator and high priest, not in the sense that we
pray to Him instead of the Father, but, because we are "in the
Messiah" (Galatians 2:20), we can go directly to God.
     The divinity of the Messiah is not idolatry, but reflects
the fullest revelation of God. It is like the revelations of God
in human form in the Tenach, which also were not of an idolatrous
nature. In the Messiah, the revelation is conveyed in a human
being that remains forever a human being.
     The Scriptures thus communicate to us the impression of one
great divine reality of three inseparable manifestations of God.
(Again the author is deceived by the Christian [Roman Catholic
and Protestant] "trinity" teaching, which varies in teaching from
the idea of one blob called 'God' becoming 2 or 3 persons at
different times, to 3 separate individuals in heaven all called
'God' - both ideas are very wrong - Keith Hunt)

     The relationship of love and accord blends the three into
eternal oneness beyond human comprehension. Yeshua prays to the
Father, thanks Him for His love and asks that He would be
glorified with the love He had with the Father before the
foundation of the world (John 17:5). The love relationship then
is the highest eternal reality. This love overflows in creation.
God gives Himself in love to the creation and the creation gives
itself back to God in love.
     When we say that God is love, God was not before creation loving
Himself narcissistically. Rather, a reciprocal giving
relationship of love is eternally existent within the plural
unity of God.
..........

To be continued


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