A Rabbi Comes Closer to Accepting Jesus. Another Jewel From the Shema.

Today’s meeting promised to be an exciting one. Rabbi Jonah Greenberg, Ben Kaplan, and Ben’s three medical students, Sarah, Josh, and Matt, were all gathered together in Ben’s office. They had all done their homework and were ready to present information on the all important question: Does the Shema support One God with a plural or complex nature?

Ben opened the discussion.

“Let’s look at the Shema again. I have it written on the whiteboard in English, in an English transliteration of the Hebrew, and in Hebrew:

Deuteronomy 6:4 1. HEAR, O ISRAEL: THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE.

Shemah Yisrael Adonai Elohenu Adonai Echad

שׁמע ישׂראל יהוה אלהינו יהוה אחד׃

“Last week, Jonah explained the significance of the Shemah when he said ‘These words, recited morning and evening in the synagogue represent the core of what it means to be a Jew. God is One. There is, simply put , no polytheism in Judaism and Moses made that abundantly clear to the Nation of Israel before the people entered the Promised Land’.

“In addition we made a strong case that the word echad means one but not an indivisible one. There is a Hebrew word for an indivisible one and that word is yachid. Echad means one but it is clearly a complex one and we gave a number of examples of this from the Hebrew Scriptures. There are an enormous number of additional examples.

“Thus echad was the first portion of our “case” that the Shema speaks of a God who is most definitely One but He is a complex One. He is a single God with a plural nature,” said Ben.

“I’m with you Ben. Echad is a complex one. So God being called Echad could definitely mean that God is a complex One,” said Rabbi Greenberg.

“Thanks, Jonah. Let’s now take a look at the word Elohenu, written in bold above, and see where that takes us,” said Ben. “Then, we’re going to discuss Dr. David Cooper’s take on all this, OK?”

The Rabbi, and Sarah, Josh, and Matt, all nodded their agreement.

“Now, as we said before, Elohenu is a masculine plural construct noun. That is not controversial,” said Ben.

“Ben, I’ve studied Hebrew for many years and I agree. Elohenu is a plural noun. It is the first person plural possessive of Elohim and so it is essentially the same word as Elohim which everyone knows is a plural noun. No orthodox Jew would debate that. We orthodox Jews consider Elohim, the first word for God in the Torah, to represent the prerogative of a supreme ruler to refer to Himself in the plural form. It’s like a human king saying to his subjects We command you to do this or that. So I don’t see the significance of Elohenu being plural in your argument,” said the Rabbi.

“Jonah, I think that the point here is that Elohenu, a plural noun, cannot be explained by the majestic plural. It just can’t work that way in the Shema,” said Ben.

“Why can’t it work in the Shema, Dr. Kaplan?” asked Matt.

“The LORD gives Moses further instructions for the Children of Israel as they are about to enter the Promised Land.  Let me paraphrase the relevant verse.  Because I hope to make this as understandable as possible, I’m going to paraphrase this as if the instructions were being given to Jewish people today.  And I’m going to put some additional words in parentheses to further facilitate understanding, to make things as clear as possible.  I’m putting it on the whiteboard now.

We (the LORD, using the majestic plural, is speaking to Moses, the Leader and Lawgiver of Israel) command you (Moses) to tell the children of Israel (God wants all Jews everywhere to know what He is about to say) to speak the following twice daily in the synagogue: The LORD Our God (Our God meaning the God of the Children of Israel) is One.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t see any way that the majestic plural has any possible place, grammatically or otherwise, in the translation of Elohenu. The majestic plural simply does not fit into Our God. There is just no way,” said Ben.

“I think you’re right Ben!” said the Rabbi. “But I have a question. Why is Elohenu, a plural noun, always translated as our God in the Tanach?”

“May I speak?” asked Josh and then, in an excited voice, proceeded to do so. “I don’t know Hebrew. But, I’m blessed to be able to use software that at least partially overcomes this lack of knowledge. Elohenu is translated our gods, meaning pagan gods of course, in the Tanach in Isaiah 42:17:

Isaiah 42:17 (ESV) They are turned back and utterly put to shame, who trust in carved idols, who say to metal images, “You are our gods.”

“This is great research, Josh. Jonah, what do you think about all this?” said Ben.

“I’m impressed,” said the Rabbi.

“OK, how about we get an opinion now on Dr. Cooper’s work on the Shema?” asked Ben. “Sarah, please share your research with us.”

“For sure, Dr. Kaplan,” said Sarah. “Matt, could you lead off please?”

“Sure, Sarah. Straight and simple, here is how Dr. Cooper translates the Shema, literally. I’m writing it on the whiteboard now,” said Matt.

“Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our Gods is Jehovah a unity.”

The Rabbi was quick to speak up. “Ben, I don’t buy that translation for one second. Do you?”

“No Jonah. I don’t.

“Jonah, I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Cooper. He was a great scholar. He profoundly loved the Jewish people. His works are phenomenal and have helped me personally. But, although his translation of the Shema may be literally correct, Dr. Cooper is missing the point in this case. Our God is a plural God. Our God has a complex nature. But our God is emphatically One.

“And, the correct translation of the Shema is what we said it was earlier, as it is still written on the whiteboard,” said Ben.

HEAR, O ISRAEL: THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE.

“Jonah, are you getting closer to accepting the notion that God could be three persons making up one complex God?” said Ben.

“I am Ben, I definitely am. I’m not quite there yet however. I need to pray and think about all this. I’d like to come back in a few weeks. Is that OK?” asked Jonah.

“I think we are all more than OK with that,” said Ben.

Josh, Matt, and Sarah vigorously nodded their agreement.

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Questions About Islam, Part I

“Hi Dr. Kaplan.  I hope you don’t mind that we’ve brought another student with us today,” said Matt.

“Of course I don’t mind.  In fact I know Hassan Taqizadeh. Glad to have you with us Hassan!  How is your father?  Is he still doing cardiac surgery?” said Ben.

“Yes he is sir.  He is well and sends his regards,” said Hassan.

“Dr. Kaplan, Hassan has some real concerns about the Islamic faith.  Could we talk about that today?” said Josh.

“Sure we can.  I’ve just finished reading the Quran for the first time and I’d love to talk about Islam,” said Ben.  “Hassan, is there a particular question that you have?”

“Yes, there is.  My greatest concern is how I can get to heaven after I die.  I’m not sure that I can accept what Allah says in the Quran about that,” said Hassan.

“My understanding is that the Quran teaches that a Muslim can get to heaven if his good deeds outweigh his bad deeds in Allah’s judgment.  Because a believer can’t know this before judgment day he lives with uncertainty all his life as to where he will spend eternity, whether in heaven or in hell.  This was true even for Muhammad.  But there is another way according to the Quran.  And that way allows the believer to know that he is going to heaven.  That way is to die fighting for Islam.  Is that what’s bothering you Hassan?” said Ben.

“Yes, Dr. Kaplan.  Can I read you 3 Quranic verses that speak to this?  I’m reading from surah 47:4-6,” said Hassan.

“[47:4]  If you encounter (in war) those who disbelieve, you may strike the necks. If you take them as captives you may set them free or ransom them, until the war ends. Had GOD willed, He could have granted you victory, without war. But He thus tests you by one another. As for those who get killed in the cause of GOD, He will never put their sacrifice to waste.

[47:5]  He will guide them, and bless them with contentment.

[47:6]  He will admit them into Paradise, that He described to them.”

 “Dr. Kaplan, can you understand why this upsets me?  According to the Quran the only sure way to be admitted into Paradise, heaven, is to die in the cause of God in a war against non-Muslims; Allah could have granted victory without war but he chose not to.  He uses war to test Muslims.  So if as I’m striking the neck of my enemy someone kills me my reward is guaranteed.  I will spend eternity in Paradise. It seems to me that these verses encourage war and killing by Muslims.  Would a religion of peace have such a teaching?” said Hassan.

“Hassan, I can understand why this upsets you.  I think there are a couple of issues that we need to address here.  One of them involves how the Quran is interpreted.  The second involves whether most Muslims know what the Quran actually says,” said Ben.

Josh spoke.  “The Quranic verses above seem very clear.  Isn’t there only one way to interpret them Dr. Kaplan?”

“I wouldn’t say that Josh.  Hassan, can you tell us what the doctrine of abrogation is?” asked Ben.

“Sure, Dr. Kaplan.  I’m going to read a verse from surah 2 and a verse from surah 9.  There are 114 surahs or chapters in the Quran.”

“2.256 Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.”

“9.29 Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

“Do you see how these 2 verses contradict each other?  The first verse says that nobody should be forced to convert to Islam.  The truth of Islam will make itself known.  This verse is compatible with a religion of peace.  The second verse says to fight those who do not believe in Allah, until they pay a tax, the Jizya, and are subdued.  So an imam who wants people to believe that Islam is a religion of peace may quote the first verse and then quote the second verse to promote jihad when speaking to a different group of people.  If someone asks ‘What about the first verse?’ the imam can say that it has been nullified by the second verse.  This doctrine of abrogation, also called nasikh,  can be used to deceive people and promote Jihad,” said Hassan.

“Wouldn’t a Muslim who studies his Quran see the contradiction here and wonder about it?” said Matt.

“Possibly,” said Hassan.  “But many Muslims don’t read the Quran and have no idea what is in it.  And the Quran itself has a few verses that even seem to endorse this doctrine of abrogation.  Let me read one of them.”

“2.106 None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?”

“So surah 2.106 can be used to justify verses that contradict each other, such as one verse proclaiming freedom of religion and another commanding that all unbelievers be subdued or pay a tax or worse,” said Hassan.  “Dr. Kaplan, do you think that a book with contradictions like these and additional text which even justifies these contradictions can be divinely inspired?”

“I don’t think so Hassan.  A God who transcends the universe and who is beyond time and who is all knowing could not contradict Himself.  And that is what Allah is doing in his Quran.  So the question is did the Quran come from God  or did it come from somewhere else?  Our God does not contradict Himself,” said Ben.

“That was what I was afraid you would say Dr. Kaplan.  I’m afraid that Allah is not God.  But the cost to me of denying Allah, of leaving Islam, could be huge.  I could even be killed,” said Hassan.  “But regardless of that I must know the truth.”

“Dr. Kaplan, couldn’t Islam be reformed?  Wouldn’t it be okay then?  I seem to hear increasing calls for  Islam to be reformed, on various news programs,” said Josh.

“The problem with that Josh is that the Quran would need to be rewritten to eliminate contradictions such as the one we’ve been discussing today.  If that were to happen then Islam would no longer be Islam.  Can you imagine an imam or mullah preaching to his people about the Quran being in error?  He’d be better off urging his people to change their religion.  And of course that is exactly what I pray for, that Muslims would become followers of Jesus, the Son of God.

“Jesus is the only way.  Let me quote a verse from the gospel of John.  Jesus is talking to his disciples,” said Ben.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 3:16, ESV)

“But Dr. Kaplan, isn’t that awfully arrogant?” asked Hassan.

“No Hassan.  It’s not arrogant because Jesus is God, and God is not arrogant.  It is exclusionary and it is meant to be.  Yet every person is welcome to come to Jesus.  God desires this,” said Ben.

“But how can a religion be exclusionary and at the same time welcome everyone?” asked Hassan.

“Hassan, God transcends the universe, is beyond time, and is all knowing.  He is also all powerful and He is good.  Such a God has provided a way of salvation for all people and this way is perfect.  That’s why it’s the only way.  That’s why it’s exclusionary.

“Everyone is welcome because God loves everyone and does not want anyone to perish,” said Ben.

“You said Jesus is God.  Jesus is in the Quran as a prophet but not God. Tell us how you know that Jesus is God, Dr. Kaplan,” said Hassan.

“Let me read you a passage from the Gospel of Matthew which is in the New Testament,” said Ben.

“And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home.” Matthew 9:1-7 (ESV)

“Hassan, in this passage Jesus is explaining to his audience that what he just did proved that he is God.  I think this proof is pretty convincing,” said Ben.

“Hi, Dr. Kaplan.  I have a question too.  Remember me?” said Sarah with a chuckle.  “I’m your Jewish medical student who believes in Jesus.”

“I’m sorry, Sarah.  I didn’t see you back there in the corner.

“And Sarah, I remember that you raised a question last time that still needs to be answered,” said Ben.

“Yes, Dr. Kaplan.  It’s this: Why do Islamic nations nearly always hate the Jewish people and Israel?” asked Sarah.

“I’m going to give you the short answer today.  Islam is a false religion, inspired by Satan, who hates people and does not want people to love the true God of the Universe.  For that reason, Islam has Jew hatred as one of it’s core principles.  Satan wants to use followers of Islam, Muslims, to annihilate the Jewish people and Israel,” said Ben.

“Wow!” exclaimed Sarah.  “Can you explain that in more detail, Dr. Kaplan?” said Sarah.

“Yes.  Let’s plan to cover that at our next session,” said Ben.

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Anti-Semitism, Part I

Anybody who follows the news knows that Antisemitism or Jew hatred is active and virulent all over the world. It has been with us for thousands of years. It is not getting better. On the contrary, it is the underlying reason for lack of peace in the Middle East and because of it the plans of men to bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians cannot ever succeed.

There is a root cause of Jew hatred. The Messiah, also known as Yeshua, also known as Jesus Christ, came to earth 2,000 years ago and shed his blood on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and so that we could have eternal life. He will return to earth soon and when he does he will destroy Satan, the archenemy of God. But the Messiah will not return unless the Jewish people plead for him to do so. For that reason, Satan’s plan is to annihilate every last Jew on the planet. Satan believes that he can accomplish this through Jew hatred and he has been working hard to do this for centuries.

The explanation for Jew hatred is in the Bible, in Genesis, the first of the five books of Moses. After Satan, who is the father of lies, the one who inhabited the serpent in the Garden of Eden, tricked Eve into eating the fruit that God had forbidden her to eat, God spoke to the serpent:

Genesis 3:14-15 NASB

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; [15] And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Verse 15 spells out Satan’s final destiny. His head will be bruised. A better translation is crushed and this injury will be progressive so that finally Satan will be totally and permanently disabled, with no ability to cause trouble for mankind because he will be in the Lake of Fire for eternity. But even more important than this prophecy of what Satan’s end will be is the prophecy of who will accomplish this. It will be the seed of Eve, the woman. Please carefully note that “seed”, used twice in verse 15, is a singular noun in the original Hebrew. Although this word seed can theoretically indicate a “collective singular”, the symmetry of this verse, the context of this verse, and certain prophecies related to this verse, and explained below, make it clear that “seed” in this verse refers to a single individual. Therefore each use of the word seed in this verse refers to an individual and so there are two individuals here. Who are these two individuals? Who is the your seed and who is the her seed? Before we can answer this question we must look at two important rules of Bible interpretation.

The first is Dr. David Cooper’s Golden Rule of Scripture interpretation:

“When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise.”

The second rule is this:

“The Old Testament and the New Testament together comprise one book, our Bible”.

Knowledge of these two rules is necessary for a proper interpretation of the two Bible verses we are considering, especially verse 15. Although Bible verses are generally meant to be taken literally, sometimes they can’t be. These two verses comprise a Bible passage where metaphor is used and we must understand that. If we don’t, we will be confused by these verses. We’ll talk about this more a little further on.

But we must talk about the second rule now, the rule that says the Old Testament and the New Testament together comprise one unified book. The first book in the Bible, Genesis, and the two verses we are considering describe the result of Satan’s rebellion against God at the beginning of human history. However in order to comprehend the full meaning of these two verses, and especially the meaning of verse 15, we must look at the last book of the Bible, the New Testament book of Revelation, because that book explains the final result of Satan’s rebellion at the end of human history, which is the crushing of his head (and that is a metaphor). Before we get to that point however we must see that the book of Revelation also tells us about the seed of Satan who is the Antichrist. You might say to me “Art, are you telling me that verse 15, from the first book of the Bible, tells us what is going to happen at the end of human history?” Yes! But we also need the New Testament if we are to understand who the seed of the woman is. We learn that from the New Testament Gospel of Matthew:

Matthew 1:23 ESV

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

This verse is the fulfillment of a prophecy given by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 7:14 ESV

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

And this Isaiah verse is itself a prophecy of the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15. Do you see how wonderfully interconnected the word of God, the Bible, is? This is in itself a miracle!

Now let’s get back to verse 15 and break it down in more detail:

Genesis 3:15 NASB

And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Let’s look at your seed first. That would be the seed of Satan. So who is the one who is the seed of Satan? Who has Satan “produced”? We know who from two verses in Revelation:

Revelation 11:7 ESV

And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them,

Revelation 13:2 ESV

And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority.

This beast is metaphorically the seed of Satan, the product of the devil. This seed is the Antichrist. The dragon gives this beast his power, his throne, and his authority! This is metaphorical language. Satan did not literally give birth to the beast. But metaphorically he did in that he, Satan, gave his power, throne, and authority to the beast.

How do we know that the dragon is Satan (the devil) and that he is that ancient serpent who deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden? Revelation 12:9 tells us that this is the case.

Revelation 12:9 ESV

And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

But what about the second part of verse 15? Here the pronouns referring to these two arch-enemies are also both in the singular. It’s not hard to see that the he in he shall crush your head is a singular pronoun but what about the you in you shall crush his heel? In modern English the word you can be either second person singular or second person plural. But things are different in Hebrew and in this verse the you in you shall crush his heel is in the second person singular. Oh, and by the way, the seed of the woman is no ordinary Bible phrase. In the Bible, geneologies and births are reckoned through the father and not the mother. In addition women don’t have seed. They have ova, i.e., eggs. So this is not a prophecy of any ordinary birth! This is a prophecy of the virgin birth described in the Isaiah verse above. The child born, the seed of the woman, is none other than the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.

So God, through the Messiah, (who is the Son of God) is going to destroy Satan (a counterfeit God), as well as the Anti-Messiah (the Antichrist, Satan’s counterfeit Son of God). Do you see the symmetry here?

You should also know that the Antichrist has an important part to play in the famous 70 weeks prophecy in the Old Testament book of Daniel where he is the one who signs a treaty with Israel. That signing initiates the 7 year Tribulation. Half way through that 7 years the Antichrist breaks his treaty with the Jews and the Time of Jacobs’s Trouble begins. The Antichrist is one bad actor. We will talk about this more in a future post.

Daniel 9:24-27 NASB

“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. [25] So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. [26] Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. [27] And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”

The Antichrist in this passage is the prince who is to come, and the people of the prince who is to come are the Romans who destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD.

Satan’s seed, the Anti-Christ, also known as the man of lawlessness and the son of destruction, is also found in another New Testament book, 2 Thessalonians:

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 NASB

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, [4] who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.

Here we clearly see Satan putting forth the Antichrist as a counterfeit deity! Jesus, the true Messiah and divine Son of God, will destroy this Anti-Christ:

2 Thessalonians 2:8-9 NASB

Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; [9] that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,

Yeshua (Jesus) metaphorically crushes Satan’s head and we are told about this in the last Book of the Bible.

Revelation 20:10 NASB

And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Satan metaphorically crushed Messiah’s heel when Messiah was crucified. The Messiah, Jesus, recovered fully from that injury.

I need to emphatically state that if we do not properly understand these two verses, and especially the second verse of the two, i.e., Genesis 3:15, we will never understand God’s overall plan for the universe, we will never be able to understand what the Bible teaches, and we will never understand the root cause of Jew hatred. That is how important and foundational this verse is.

But, you ask, how could we possibly misunderstand these two verses? They seem to be so clear now. Let me show you how these verses can be easily misunderstood by someone who has not carefully studied them. They can be misunderstood because of something called interpretive bias. We’re going to look at these two verses as they are translated in the Jewish Publication Society Tanakh, 1985 Edition, and we will see there an example of a translation with interpretive bias:

14Then the Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you did this,

More cursed shall you be

Than all cattle

And all the wild beasts:

On your belly shall you crawl

And dirt shall you eat

All the days of your life.

15I will put enmity

Between you and the woman,

And between your offspring and hers;

They shall strike at your head,

And you shall strike at their heel.”

(Italics added by me).

This translation of verse 15 confuses the meaning of this passage by substituting They and their, second person pronouns, for He and You which are first person pronouns. This translation is wrong and it changes the sense of the passage in a major way. Rather than depicting the ultimate battle between the Messiah and Satan, what is depicted is a battle between good people and evil people or really between “Good” and “Evil”. But that is not what the verse says and changing the meaning of this verse prevents us from understanding many critically important truths including the root cause of Jew hatred because Jew hatred is ultimately related to a battle that is between two specific individuals, the Messiah and Satan. My friends, you must understand this!

In order to see this more fully let’s look at two more Bible verses:

Zechariah 12:9-10 NASB

And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. [10] “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.

These verses are telling us two things. Firstly there will come a future time when nations will come against Jerusalem to destroy her (We can see that taking shape today). Then, at that future time, the Jewish people will “look on me”, meaning they will recognize their Messiah as being Yeshua, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was crucified in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. They will then realize the enormity of their sin in rejecting him as their Messiah and they will mourn and weep bitterly. They will repent. The entire Nation of Israel will accept Jesus then and he will return to Jerusalem, save them, and destroy Satan. This will occur at the very end of an incomparably terrible time, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. It will be much worse than Hitler’s holocaust and that time is drawing nearer to us every day.

Satan will do anything in his power to totally destroy the Jewish people, so that there will not be one single Jew left alive to repent and to call for Messiah’s return, because Satan knows that when the Messiah returns, his (Satan’s) career is over.

That is the root cause of Jew hatred.

So what is to be done? Ultimately, Jew hatred will not stop until Yeshua returns to earth because only then will Satan be essentially destroyed.

But can we do anything in the meantime? Yes! Two things for right now:

1. We must pray for the Jewish people and we must be spiritual watchmen:

Psalm 122:6 ESV

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you!

Isaiah 62:6-7 ESV

On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the LORD in remembrance, take no rest, [7] and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.

2. If you have not already done so, accept Yeshua as your Lord and Savior now that you might be born again, i.e., saved, and have eternal life. If you do this you also will not enter the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.

Romans 10:9-11 ESV

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. [10] For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. [11] For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

But, you ask, isn’t there more that I can do? Yes! And we will talk about that in the next post.

Shalom, my friends.

Art Wolinsky

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Who is the Messiah? Part 2

This post is dedicated to Lynn Wright and Aaron Hyman.

My dear Jewish brothers and sisters, I think you know by now that I have an unshakable conviction that Yeshua, Jesus, is our Messiah. If I have this unshakable conviction, why is it that so many Jewish people refuse to believe that Yeshua is the Messiah? I practiced medicine for 46 years and my specialty was making the correct diagnosis in difficult cases. I was successful at it, and to be successful at it, I had to analyze data and weigh evidence constantly. Weighing evidence is a significant part of what we need to do when we approach a question such as “Is Yeshua the Messiah?” Nevertheless, there are reasons why most Jewish people do not believe Yeshua is The Messiah, and in attempting to find out why, I had to sift and weigh a great deal of evidence, both positive and negative. An important piece of negative evidence is something that is important in Judaism today. It is the 13 Articles of Faith formulated by a rabbi who has had a profound influence on Jewish thought and belief for the past approximately 900 years. His name is Maimonides, and there is no rabbi held in greater esteem today by Jewish people all over the world than Maimonides.

Maimonides, also known as the Rambam, an acronym for Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, was born in Spain, where his father was a prominent rabbi. The family was forced to leave Spain because of severe persecution from the Almohades Islamic Dynasty which ruled in Spain and in Western North Africa. The family relocated to Fez, Morocco, where persecution from the very same Islamic sect again forced the Rambam and his family to depart. After a brief stay in Palestine, Maimonides settled in Egypt where the Almohades Dynasty did not rule, and due to his brilliance, kindness, and love for his people, the Jewish people, he became head of the Jewish community in Egypt. It should also be noted that The Crusades started not long before Maimonides was born. So Maimonides lived at a very turbulent time and, in fact, things were so bad for the Jews that there was at that time great yearning for the coming of The Messiah so that peace would reign and persecution would cease. I think it would have been very hard for Maimonides to accept the belief that The Messiah, Yeshua, had already come and would come again at a later date. Maimonides had been taught that when the Son of David, The Messiah, came there would be world peace and that the Jews would never be persecuted again.

This brilliant young rabbi, Maimonides, codified Jewish Law from the Hebrew Scriptures and the Talmud in his monumental work, the Mishneh Torah. It is from the Mishneh Torah that we get the 613 laws that we Jews know about today. The Mishneh Torah is revered by rabbis all over the world.

Maimonides also authored the 13 Principles of the Jewish Faith, mentioned above, which in his eyes every true Jew should know and believe. In fact, The Principles are recited in synagogues around the world today in the form of the Yigdal prayer found in the Siddur. I have it in my very own Artscroll Siddur1. Each of the 13 Principles begins with “I believe in perfect faith”. These Thirteen Principles are taken very seriously indeed. Although Maimonides lived about a thousand years after Yeshua’s time, understanding the Rambam’s 13 Principles can help to explain why many Jewish people today refuse to believe in Yeshua.

I want to talk with you now about one of The Thirteen Principles, namely the Third Principle. The Third Principle is the negation of corporeality. God cannot have a body. Since Jesus had a body and said that he was God the Third Principle makes Jesus a liar and a scoundrel. Jesus also said that he was the Messiah. How could a Jewish person accept a scoundrel and a liar as The Messiah? There is no way! Except for one thing: the Rambam, as great and good as he was, was dead wrong. Let me show you the evidence for this by looking at a portion of Scripture with you from the New Testament that shows us that Maimonides’s Third Principle is absolutely incorrect. This Scripture portion will show us two things: that Yeshua was, and is, God, and that God can be corporeal, meaning that God can have a body. Here is the Scripture portion:

“And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home.” Matthew 9:1-7 (ESV)

So what happened here? A number of things:

  1. Yeshua said to a paralytic, who could not walk, “your sins are forgiven”.
  2. Because only God can forgive sins, Yeshua was saying that he is God.
  3. This was clearly recognized by some of the Jewish scribes because they said “This man is blaspheming”.
  4. When a person is forgiven of his or her sins there is no immediate way to know that that has occurred. There is no outward change in the person’s appearance that can be observed.
  5. Therefore, Yeshua offered proof to the scribes that he had authority on earth to forgive sins by doing a miracle which was much more difficult to do than proclaiming “Your sins are forgiven” to a person and which could be verified by an easily observable external change: Yeshua told the paralyzed man to pick up his bed and go home, and the man immediately did this. He was healed.

Please also note that Yeshua referred to Himself here as the Son of Man:

But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—

Yeshua did this to call attention to the fact that not only is he God, he is also human, and that would of course be obvious to anyone who saw him. He was and is a man. But because he could and can forgive sins, he is God. He is the God-Man. He has two natures: he is perfectly human in every way, except for the fact that there is no sin in him (unlike each and every one of us) and, he is God, the Son of God, with all the attributes of God. He had to have both natures, that of God and that of man in order to save us. Because to save us required the ultimate blood sacrifice and that means that Yeshua had to die, and as God he could not die. He had to have the nature of man in order to die and the nature of God in order to forgive sin by becoming the perfect blood sacrifice. Please remember that the Torah makes it clear that a blood sacrifice is required to make atonement for sin (Leviticus 17:11) and please also note that the blood of animals could not provide permanent forgiveness of sins. That is why animals had to be sacrificed again and again. Yeshua’s one blood sacrifice provides permanent forgiveness of sins for anyone who will accept it by faith.

Please note one other thing. Jesus proved he is God. God does not lie. Jesus said he is the Messiah. Therefore, he is The Messiah..

So, my dear Jewish brothers and sisters, can you see how Maimonides’s Third Principle can seriously discourage a Jewish person from accepting Jesus as Messiah and God? And can you imagine the effect that this Third Principle could have on a modern Rabbi, who’s job it is to teach people the truth, but who may be unwittingly teaching his people an untruth embedded in this Third Principle? And do you know that because this Third Principle is so embedded in our prayerbooks, teachings, and culture, that you, as a Jew today, can be affected by it even if you have never heard of Maimonides or his 13 Principles of the Jewish Faith? Let me say it once more: The teaching that God can not have a body is incorrect (more about this another time; our Hebrew Scriptures spell this out clearly also). And saying, and believing, that God came to earth as The Messiah and God, as The God-Man (there is only One!), does not make you a heretic. On the contrary, it makes you a truer Jew than you could ever otherwise be!

We will talk about these things more in future posts because there is much more to say. But in the next post, we’ll switch gears and talk about something different. We will talk about something that Yeshua paid the price for us to escape from, if we have faith in Him. We will talk about something called The Time of Jacob’s Trouble and we will also talk about something called The Rapture.

Hope to see you next time!

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Who is The Messiah?

Why is it important to know who The Messiah is? Because he is the primary agent in the cure for death. He can bring a person from death to life. My dear Jewish brothers and sisters, that is important!

So, let’s talk about The Messiah. But first let’s get our terms straight. The word Messiah comes from the Greek word and the later Latin word Messias. Messiah is the word we use in the English language. The Hebrew word is Mashiach. Messiah means an anointed one, usually one anointed with oil, as the first High Priest, Aaron, was. But in this post I’m not talking about an anointed Old Testament Levitical priest or an anointed Old Testament king. Nor am I talking about any other Old Testament person whom the LORD had chosen to anoint and set apart for a particular purpose. I’m also not talking about a person who might be a “messiah” in a secular sense. For example, a military general who wins a great war and by doing so saves his nation from invasion and defeat by an enemy force, might be referred to as a messiah even though such a person would not generally be anointed with oil. We are not going to talk about that type of messiah. We are going to talk about The Messiah, of whom there is only one. It is he who brings peace, righteousness, and the Messianic Age. The Messiah essentially brings heaven to earth. This is The Messiah that Jews have been waiting for, for thousands of years.

If you try to look for the one source or the one text that specifies who The Messiah is or what his qualifications are you won’t find one source for this information. And there is no definite agreement even among Jewish scholars and Rabbis as to who The Messiah is or which ancient books or texts can be used to identify him. And it’s important to know how we might identify The Messiah because if we don’t have reliable criteria we could miss The Messiah when he comes or we could wrongly identify an individual who is not The Messiah as being The Messiah. So how do we begin our quest to find The Messiah? Did he already come or do we look for him yet to come? And where do we look for answers to these questions?

As noted above, Messiah, or Mashiach, means anointed one. But the Jewish people mainly used the word Mashiach to describe that person, a human being and not God, who would be the deliverer or liberator or saviour of the Jewish people and Jewish Nation. So The Messiah is someone who would deliver the Nation of Israel and the Jewish people from disaster or catastrophe or oppression and such a person in actuality would not necessarily be distinguishable by being anointed with oil. Certainly someone thought to be The Messiah could be anointed with oil by a person with the authority to declare an individual to be The Messiah. But there is a potential problem with that. If one of us, you or I, were a King, or Chief Priest, or Chief Rabbi, of Israel and had the authority to declare a person to be The Messiah, we could then anoint that person with oil and declare him to be The Messiah. But I wouldn’t be convinced by that. Would you be? For an office as important as that of Messiah, the anointing must be from an unbiased and unimpeachable source. It’s quite clear to me that the unimpeachable source has to be God. Does that make sense to you?

If there is no one source of information to tell us about The Messiah, where did the information that we have come from? Where did it originate? It originates from the Hebrew Scriptures, i.e., the Old Testament, or Tanach.

Now suppose that you or I decided to carefully look for information and evidence pointing to The Messiah. I would start my research in the Old Testament. There would be more than one way to do that. I could study the works of someone who has already carefully researched this question of The Messiah’s origin and who is also familiar with the Hebrew language. Such a person would be Jewish and would very likely be a Rabbi or other Jewish scholar renowned for his knowledge on this entire topic. I could simply accept the conclusions of such a person regarding who The Messiah must be and of equal importantance, who the Messiah cannot be. And that could be the end of my research.

Or I could do this a different way. I’m Jewish but I don’t read Hebrew well, but I could, myself, read through an English translation of the Hebrew Scriptures looking for passages that seem to talk about a deliverer or liberator who will rescue the Jewish people, and possibly other people as well, from the consequences of disaster or oppression, from slavery or even from death. I could use dictionaries to help me understand particular Hebrew words, I could consult books written to give me the opinions of one or more authors on the subject, and I could directly question people who know more about this topic than I do. But I would put my own study of the Hebrew Scriptures first. I would want to avoid being biased and I would want to do my best to shed any presuppositions that I might have about The Messiah before beginning my study. I would not necessarily accept the opinion of an expert, particulary if it did not make sense to me and if it contradicted the plain meaning of the Tanach. And I would begin my study at the beginning of the Old Testament, in the Book of Genesis.

So, we will take a look at the Book of Genesis regarding who The Messiah might be, but before we do that we must confront two difficult and very important questions.

The first question is as follows: Why do questions about the identity of The Messiah often cause contention? Could it be that there is a very strong motive for someone to cause confusion about The Messiah’s identity? Could the reason for causing this confusion be so that the Jewish people will not accept The Messiah when he comes?

The second question is this: Could there be someone who even wants to stop The Messiah from coming altogether?

If the answers to the above two questions is yes, why would that be the case and who would that someone be? And there is something else too. The Messiah is peculiarly related to the Jewish people and the Jewish Nation, Israel, and over the centuries there have been more attempts to destroy the Jewish people and Israel than there have been to destroy any other people or country. Why? Could these attempts be related to The Messiah?

When we talk about The Messiah and the name of Jesus comes up, especially with Jewish people, feelings can quickly rise to the level of extreme anger and people, Jewish people, can sometimes even become violent. The Apostle Paul, who started his career as a Jewish Rabbi, was one of those who became extremely angry and he lived many centuries ago. Why does the name of Jesus provoke this anger and contention even today? Could it be that he is the Messiah?

The Jewish people, The Chosen People, have been persecuted for thousands of years. That persecution began long before the time of Jesus Christ but not before the time that the first evidence for The Messiah made its appearance. Antisemitism today is not decreasing. It is increasing. That is positively frightening. Much of it comes from Islamic countries. What is the ultimate reason for this antisemitism?

What if these two things are connected? The two things I’m referring to are 1) extreme anger and rejection on the part of many Jewish people when the possibility of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah is brought up, and 2) several thousand years of antisemitism and murder of Jews that finally escalated to the point of the attempted eradication of the Jewish people by Adolph Hitler and his Final Solution, and the current desire of radical Islam to eradicate the Jewish people and their Nation, Israel.

Could there be an evil mastermind behind these things directing this hatred and the consequences that follow from it? In my opinion the answer is an unequivocal yes. I want to give you the evidence for my opinion and I propose to begin with a verse from the first book of the Bible, Genesis.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”” Genesis 3:1

At this point I’m asking you to please recall my first post (The Cause of Death) in which we talked about the ultimate cause of death. But here is a summary: Death occurs because sin entered the human race when Adam broke the one commandment that God gave him. Adam was commanded not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and this commandment also applied to Eve, Adam’s wife. She ate of this forbidden fruit because the serpent tricked her into disobeying God’s commandment, and Adam followed Eve and ate of this fruit also. The serpent caused Eve to doubt the truth of what God said and to disobey the one commandment that God gave Adam, a commandment that applied to both Adam and Eve. In doubting the truth of this commandment Eve doubted God Himself and put the word of the serpent above the word of God. The serpent was very well aware of the one commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve. Here is how the serpent worked his deception:

“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:5-6

And here is what God ordained for the serpent and clearly communicated to the serpent because of what he did:

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15 1

Now something profoundly important has occurred here, in fact so profoundly important as to be beyond what we could even imagine. The woman, Eve, will give birth to a male descendant and either he, Eve’s son, or a male desendant of Eve’s further down the line, is going to bruise the serpent’s head. Many translators believe that crush is a more accurate translation than bruise. The male descendant will have only his heel injured. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, in his commentary on Genesis2 sees this verse as conveying a picture of Eve’s male descendant bringing his heel down on to the head of the serpent in a fatal crushing blow, and the serpent in a vain attempt to save itself, biting the descending heel. The bite inflicted by the serpent is non-fatal and comparatively minor.

Please remember that it is through what the serpent did, by tricking Eve into breaking God’s commandment, with Adam following Eve and doing the same thing, that Death entered the human race. When God spoke and pronounced sentence on the serpent, ultimately the sentence of death, God identified who would do this to the serpent. The person identified is a male descendant of Eve. Only here, and nowhere else in the Bible is someone described as being the descendant of a woman with no father mentioned. This is very significant. The fact that no father is mentioned fits well with the virgin birth of Jesus. This was prophesied by the Hebrew prophet Isaiah 700 years before it actually occurred.

Was the serpent acting on his own? No. Were any other animals in the garden said to have the ability to speak? No. Inhabiting this serpent was Satan, an evil angel, the archdeceiver, the father of lies, a murderer, and a hater of God. Satan, using the serpent as an instrument of evil, directly defied God and brought the curse of death on the entire human race. Would not this situation as described in Genesis warrant someone to reverse this curse of death? That someone would need to crush Satan’s head, utterly defeating Satan, and also pay the price for the sins committed by Adam and Eve and all of their descendants, including you and me. Only then could we be declared righteous, only then could this penalty of death be changed into eternal life.

Who could this descendant of Eve be? Would not this have to be The Messiah? That is what I believe. But more than that, a number of ancient Rabbis thought so too. They may not have known who The Messiah was to be but they did believe that he who would crush the serpent’s head was The Messiah.

Has there ever been a catastrophe so great that only a Messiah, The Messiah, could provide the remedy to liberate the human race from the bondage of sin and death that followed from the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden? Never! The consequences of this catastrophe are affecting you and me today. It is the reason for war, genocide, hatred among humans, and the evil pervading our world. This Messiah would need to be mighty powerful to reverse this curse! He’d have to be stronger than Satan, the chief of evil angels. It almost seems as if this Messiah would need to have the power of God.

But what about the two questions that I asked above? Why such anger when the name of Jesus is brought up and why anti-semitism, better called Jew hatred, and genocide? Is Satan responsible for these? Yes! He does not want his head eventually crushed. He knows the Bible and he is wily and powerful. But how will destroying belief in The Messiah benefit Satan? And how will eradicating the entire Jewish race benefit Satan? In order to understand the answer, I’m going to ask you to read several Bible verses with me, one from the New Testament and the others from the the Tanach:

““O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”” Matthew 23:37-39

Jesus said this to the Jewish people, his people, in Jerusalem, shortly before his death. He was telling them that he would not return, he would not come back, until they, the Jewish people, called for him to return by saying:

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Jesus was quoting part of a verse from the Tanach. It was from a messianic psalm, Psalm 118:26, recognized by Rabbis as referring to The Messiah. By quoting this verse, Jesus was once again affirming that he was The Messiah. Here is the whole verse, in Hebrew, in transliterated Hebrew, and in English:3.

כו. בָּרוּךְ הַבָּא בְּשֵׁם יְהוָה בֵּרַכְנוּכֶם מִבֵּית יְהוָה

Baruch haba beshem Adonai. Berachnuchem mi’beit Adonai.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; we have blessed you from the House of the Lord

Jesus is telling the Jewish people, his people, that they will not see him again, that he will not return to deliver them, as a Nation, until they ask him to come back by blessing him in the Name of Adonai, God the Father.

Now, please look at these verses from the Tanach:

“On that day the LORD will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the LORD, going before them. And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.” Zechariah 12:8-10

The Hebrew prophet Zechariah is speaking of The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, also known as The Great Tribulation. It will be a time of trouble like none ever before seen on this planet. The Son of David – The Messiah – will come to destroy all the nations attempting to annihilate Israel and the Jewish people. The Jewish people will look on him, Jesus, whom they have pierced, they will recognize him as their Messiah and mourn. He, Jesus, will then rescue them. He will destroy all nations coming against Jerusalem and he will bring in the Messianic Age.

In an attempt to prevent this from happening Satan will try to silence every last Jewish voice from crying out for Messiah’s return. He will try to do this by two means. He will decieve Jewish people so that many will not even consider that Jesus could be their Messiah and he will also attempt to destroy every single Jewish person. By means of this double plan he will attempt to silence the last possible Jewish voice so that not one Jew will cry out for deliverance. By so doing he believes that he can prevent The Messiah from returning and prevent his, Satan’s, head from eventually being crushed. Jesus came, for the Jewish people, in the first century AD as a suffering servant. He will return soon as a mighty King and Warrior.

My Jewish friend, as you ponder what I’ve written about in this post please remember that our God is a God of hope and blessing. He wants you to have eternal life. You can have that by accepting Jesus as your Lord and Messiah. Why not do that right now? No formula is needed. Just pray, out loud, and ask him to be your Lord and Savior today. He’ll do it.

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