I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers,[a] my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.(Romans 9:1-5)
I have been listening to a lot of Rabbis lately, because I have been moved to find out why it is that a good many Christians have been swayed by these Rabbis to the point where they have converted to Judaism, and in the process, they have denied Jesus. This is a subject of eternal consequences.
This movement is called “Torahism” , according to Christian author, RL Solberg. Many churches and Christians are “Going Torah” to various degrees, and accepting the Pharisaic interpretation of Torah, as well as the Pharisaic critique of Christianity.
When I use the word “Pharisee” I am not being derogatory. In an earlier article I mentioned that to an orthodox Jew, Phariseeism has a good name. The celebrated Rabbi, Tovia Singer openly acknowledges that he is of the “Perushim”, ie Hebrew for’ the Pharisees’. They consider themselves faithful to the Torah and indeed the entire Tanakh, and as in the days of Jesus, and the early church, they are fierce opponents of the gospel.
So many Christians I have met over the years are naive about the differences between Judaism and Christianity. They do not realize the extent of the gap, while at the same time, they are enamored of much about the Jewish people, simply because of their love for Jesus, the Jewish Messiah.
I have seen a spectrum that ranges from simply realizing and appreciating that ours is a Jewish faith, and that Jesus was a practicing Jew, (all of which is very healthy and enriching), to the other extreme of Christians sitting under Rabbis, taking on the trappings (Skullcaps, prayer shawls, Shofar blowing, keeping feasts, Sabbaths )and eventually what we are seeing today in the Noahide movement, which is apostasy away from Christ.
Because of my faith in Jesus, I love Jews. I appreciate them, and what they have given us, and the whole world. I agree with my Savior’s evaluation when he told the woman at the well, ‘Salvation is of the Jews”. My heart aches for them, for the “time of Jacob’s trouble” which is coming as well as for the two thousand year exile which they have suffered.
However I am under no illusions as to the tremendous gap in theology which exists between the Jews and their understanding of the Bible, and our Christian revelation. Like many I used to think it trivial, “They are still waiting for the Messiah, But we know He has come” , that was all it amounted to as far as I knew, and one day they will be able to see “Him whom they pierced”.
Here is a brief treatment of three tremendous chasms which exist between Judaism as it stands today and Christianity-
- Judaism emphatically denies the need for a sacrifice- especially a blood sacrifice. I have heard Rabbis such as Michaell Skobac of Jews for Judaism, and Tovia Singer among others, emphatically deny the need for any sacrifice whatsoever. They cite scriptures such as Micah 6:8 And Psalm 40;
- He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?…
- Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.
The Rabbis even cite the 14th chapter of Hosea, which gives a word for word prayer of repentance,
O israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.
By these verses and others the Rabbis vigorously assert that God requires “Teshuvah”, repentance, a heart for Him, and not sacrifice.
Christians on the other hand, read the same Old Testament that Jews read, and see the requirement of blood, from the very beginning, in the garden of Eden, through the bloody sacrifice of Abel, the sacrifices offered by the Patriarchs, and the blood on the door of the Passover, and to the rivers of blood which flowed from the Temple of the LORD. All of this was appointed by God.
We would say, All of this points to the once and for all final offering, of the body of Jesus Christ for the sins of the World.
Jews would say that human sacrifice is forbidden in the Torah and is considered an abomination.
This is a major difference between Judaism and Christianity. The blood of sacrifice is an offense to the Jews, and they do not see it as a requirement in their Torah. It is particularly offensive to Jews when Christians speak of the ‘blood of Jesus’.
I have been transformed by the news that Jesus died for me, but ‘torahists” stumble over it.
The Nature of the Messiah- Jews and Christians both believe in a Messiah, an “anointed” King to come, and who will set the world right and restore the Kingdom to Israel. In that there is agreement, but the gap is so great in what they believe about the nature of Messiah, and the “Messianic age” it is truly amazing.
The Rabbis all refer to Messianic passages such as Isaiah 11, Isaiah 2, and show that the point is not any given person, but the characteristics of the Age. Michael Skobac in teaching on this subject acknowledges that yes there will come a man who will be a direct descendant of King David, and who will rule on a throne in Righteousness, establishing Peace on Earth. But Skobac says that in Biblical descriptions of the Messianic age, little is given to emphasis on Messiah, the person, but the Age itself.
Tovia Singer points to similar passages and exclaims, (for example Isaiah 11) that there is nothing in there about Messiah dying for our sins! Furthermore he is emphatic that the Messiah could not be Divine, because Isaiah 11 says He will have the “spirit of the fear of the LORD”, and ‘How could God fear himself?’.
We who are Christians believe in the dawning of the same age, (We call it the Millenium, they call it “the Messianic age), but all emphasis with us is on the Man who is the Messiah. Jesus is everything! By his sacrifice he made us worthy to partake in the glory of the age to come, and we just cannot get over that!
But the Jews say that since the Messianic age obviously did not commence at the coming of Jesus, Jesus couldn’t be the Messiah. One Jews for Judaism tract even says that the words “The Messiah” , as one supreme person, and the focus of faith, never occurs in the Hebrew Bible,
The Hebrew word “HaMashiach” (lit. the Messiah) describing a future anointed person to come does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Since the Bible makes no explicit reference to the Messiah, it is unlikely that it could be considered the most important concept in the Bible. Indeed, in Jewish thought, the Messianic idea is not the most crucial. However, in Christian thought, the Messiah is paramount- a difficulty in light of its conspicuous absence from scripture.
I disagree with the Jewish view, but it has been helpful looking at everything from a completely different perspective.
The Oneness of God, (Monotheism)– Perhaps this is the greatest division between Jews and Christians. The Jewish witness against polytheism, is remarkable in History and can only be attributable to a Revelation from God. The entire world was involved in idolatry, but on Sinai, God did reveal himself to his people as One God.
Christians also believe in only one God, but a God who has revealed himself in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I am a monotheist. All of the ‘gods of the nations are nothings, they are idols” there is only one God. The Torah is right, as it is the Word of God.
“This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent…” (John 17:3)
Christians have a hard time describing the person of God. For example how could Jesus be God and yet pray to God? But shouldn’t it be difficult to describe the infinite personal God?
The Jews have some problems too, in the Torah and Prophets; for example how could God tell Moses,
Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries.( Exodus 23:20-21)
Why did Hashem say that the Angel would not pardon their sins? Isn’t the forgiveness of sins the perogative of God alone?
There is more to say on this subject but I hope this is a start. There are people who once knew Christ who have come under the teachings of the Rabbis and consequently are defecting from Jesus. Souls are in the balance, spirituality is not just a matter of “fads” which one can go thru and replace at will without consequence…