Yom Rvi'i, 26 Shevat 5777 — יוֹם רְבִיעִי כו שְׁבָט ה' תשעז Wednesday, 22 February 2017
"Judaism Is Not Jewish"

The title of this message is "Judaism Is Not Jewish". Judaism Is Not Jewish is also the title of a book by Baruch Maoz, which has been reviewed by a friend of Garrett's, Richard Harvey ( http://www.banneroftruth.org/pages/articles/article_detail.php?490). According to Garrett, Richard Harvey is one of the leading Messianic scholars of our time.

That book review intrigued me and I decided to buy the book and read it myself, which I am in the process of doing.

Certainly the title of the book, Judaism Is Not Jewish, and using the same title for this message could lend itself to misunderstandings. But, in the least, it is evocative and I am hopeful the message itself will open up understanding rather than diminish it.

However, when approaching this kind of topic, I feel it is important to understand that a backlash could ensue. Thus, I would like to begin with a qualification, one in which Baruch actually addresses well in one his chapters.

In his chapter, titled "Is it important for Jews in Messiah to remain Jews?" this is what Baruch says,

It most definitely is, although we have no right to condemn any who choose to opt out of the Jewish nation, intermingle with the Gentiles and lose their Jewish identity, at least not on religious grounds, even though the loss of any Jew to the nation is painful.

On the other hand, we should unhesitatingly reject the opinion of those who, on purported biblical grounds, deny the right of Jews to remain such in Messiah, or who have themselves chosen that option for purportedly biblical reasons.

The Embarrassing Historical Facts

This has been the position of the church for almost two millenia. The church insisted that Jews who believe in Jesus are 'no longer Jewish'. The Fourth Century Confession of Faith of the church of Constantinople requires professed Jewish converts to declare: 'I do here and now renounce every rite and observance of the Jewish religion, detesting all its former days I kept and held'. In other public statements, Jewish converts were required to affirm, 'I altogether... shun all intercourse with other Jews and [will] have the circle of my friends only among honest Christians', 'Nor [will I] associate with the cursed Jews who remain unbaptised'. They were called upon to promise that they would never return 'to the vomit of my former error or associate with the wicked Jews. In every respect I will lead the Christian life and associate with Christians'. As far as the family members are concerned, 'we will not on any pretext, either ourselves or our descendants, choose wives from among our own race, but in the case of both sexes we will always link ourselves with Christians'. Such stringent, unchristian language bespeaks an antagonism that must be thoroughly cleansed from the church. It also serves to insist that there is a contradiction between being Jewish and believeing in the Jewish Messiah.

He goes on to say,

Any insistence upon discontinuity between Jewish identity and faith in Jesus inherently implies a discontinuity between the Old Testament and the new. In other words, the claim that loyalty to Jesus requires a rejection of one's Jewish identity is to imply that Jesus is not the Messiah promised to Israel. If he is not Israel's Messiah, he is no Messiah at all, for no other Messiah is spoken of in either the Old or New Testament!

There are no biblical grounds to require or encourage Jews to reject their national identity in order to serve God. That is why Rausch was so right to quote Fanny Peltz, a Jewish Christian, who stated that 'in accepting Jesus, I was not giving up anything Jewish!' (Rausch, p. 87). But, please note, we are speaking here of Jewishness as a national identity. When we speak of a religious identity, we must admit that we are Christians because Judaism is not biblical while the true message of Christianity is.

The rabbis claim that a change of religion necessarily leads to a loss of national identity, and the majority of our people have bought in to that theory. But it is wrong, and it is contrary to the rabbis' own Halacha (religious dictum), which states, 'Af al pi shechatah - yisrael hu' ('although he has sinned, he still belongs to Israel'). We need to challenge the rabbinic tyranny over our people, not submit to it.

Baruch's book is actually a critique of the Messianic Movement. Baruch begins his discourse first by explaining that Judaism, over the last 2,000 years, has evolved from a biblical based institution to a religion founded upon the writings and principles of rabbis. As such it has abandoned Biblical prophecy and Scriptural guidance. It is, thus, a religion of men and not of God.

An excerpt from a CWI Herald (Christian Witness To Israel) article, titled Judaism Today, should help to emphasize that point:

Everything changed for Jewish religion when the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. This is illustrated in the ancient rabbinic volume "Sayings of the Fathers" [Pirke Avot]. We are told that Simon the Just, who lived prior to the destruction of the Temple, "used to say: By three things is the world sustained: by the Law, by the [Temple-] service, and by deeds of loving kindess". Former Chief Rabbi Dr Joseph Hertz comments that "the temple service" originally meant the "Sacrificial cult of the Temple".

After the destruction of the Temple, Judaism had to come to terms with the fact that one of the sustaining pillars of the world - sacrifice - had been removed. So, in the same chapter of Sayings of the Fathers, we read that Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel who lived in the second century taught that the world is sustained "by truth, by judgement, and by peace".

[Rabbinic Judaism has, thus, followed that initial error ever since!]

Though Judaism is often described as the oldest established religion, predating Christianity by some 1,500 years, this idea rests on the false assumption that Judaism today is a continuation of the religion of the Old Testament. Nicholas de Lange, in his book Judaism, says, "There is not longer a widely accepted yardstick against which any particular belief or practice, any sect or ideology, can be measured. There are many different expressions of Judaism, each claiming authenticity for itself but not recognised as definitively authentic by the others."

...

In Jews and Christians: the Myth of a Common Tradition Jewish author Jacob Neusner admits that modern Judaism is not based on the Bible alone: "Christianity is the religion of the Bible ... Judaism is the religion of ... the Talmud".

Judaism has added to the Scripture a body of tradition which is accorded equal authority with the Word of God. Christianity alone accepts the Bible as the final authority in matters of faith and practice

....

When the Mishnah says that "Moses received the Law from Sinai and commited it to Joshua, and Joshua to the elders..." it is not referring to the ten commandments but to the "Oral tradition", an unwritten explanation of "the meaning enshrined in the Text, as expounded and unfolded by the interpretation of successive generations of Sages who made its implicit Divine teachings explicit".

This is the same backdrop to which, I believe, Baruch Maoz intended to view modern Judaism.

What does this have to do with us who are involved in Messianic Judaism?

Quite a bit, actually!

There is a modern heresy, among Messianic Jews today, which seeks to supplant the freedom we have in Messiah with the restrictions and obedience of, and to, Orthodox rabbinical dictum!

One of its basic tenets is that, as Jews, we must remain Jews and not assimilate into the Gentile Christian culture (not a bad thought, actually!). But, it takes that presumption and then follows a train of thought which says, "what is the standard we can use to determine what is Jewish?" Their logic causes them to conclude that what the world recognizes as Jewish is actually Orthodox or Hasidic Judaism! Thus, they "dive in" to an orthodox or Hasidic type of Judaism and claim it for themselves. The inevitable result is that they end up following the dictates of the rabbis, and move farther and farther away from the teachings of Yeshua and of the Apostles, indeed the core teachings of the New Testament. If anything, they end up paying lip-service to the Messiah but heart-service to the rabbis!

This is similar to the heresy that the Apostle Paul dealt with in the book of Galatians. First of all, some of these Messianic Jews insist that their version of Messianic Judaism is what all Messianic Jews MUST follow. They encourage Jewish Christians to leave their churches and join their Messianic "synagogues". Adherence to modern rabbinic practices and Old Testament ceremonial laws are often emphasized to the point of exclusion of Messiah Yeshua! Some are teaching that it is a sin for Jewish Christians NOT to keep kosher.

What Paul particularly addressed, in Galatians, is their turning away from the truth of the Good News, the truth of the New Covenant, which is the fulfillment of the promise of God to Abraham. His point is that the promise of God to Abraham is the promise that God intends for us. It is, in fact, that which is fulfilled in Messiah Yeshua - essentially the New Covenant promised by Ezekiel (Ch 36:24-27) and to Jeremiah (Ch 31:31ff), among others!

From Acts 11:2-3, it is quite clear that many of the early Jewish believers did not understand the implications of the God's New Covenant either:

2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him,

3 saying, "You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!"

In spite of 2000 years of history, many of those who have claimed inheritance with the Messiah are still confused about the New Covenant promise. As Paul implies, the Law of Moses was intended only as interim covenant, and in fact was added because of transgressions:

Galatians 3:17-19

17 And this I say, that the Torah, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in the Messiah, that it should make the promise of no effect.

18 For if the inheritance is of the Torah, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

19 What purpose then does the Torah serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.

To repeat from verse 19, "What purpose then does the Torah serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come whom the promise was made;..."

In the current heresy of orthodoxy, the Messianic Jews' insistence that they are following Torah is nothing more than a subterfuge, a ruse. In reality, they are following a form of rabbinic Judaism, which ought to be challenged, not embraced.

Along the same lines, Baruch Maoz challenges the evangelical Church to renew its recognition of the Bible, not rabbinic Judaism, as the roots of its faith. Likewise, some Gentile Christians join the Messianic Movement, believing that they have found the roots of their faith. This is a tragedy that is exacerbated by the orthodox Messianic Jewish heresy.

Essentially, the error of today's orthodox Messianic Judaism is the same we find in the book of Galatians. Thus, I will end by reading Chapter 3:

Galatians 3

(from "May Your Name Be Inscribed in the BOOK of LIFE a Messianic Jewish Version of the New Covenant Scriptures", Thomas Nelson, Inc. Publishers 1979. Footnotes - Scripture References - follow text)

1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Yeshua ha Mashiach has been clearly portrayed among you as crucified?

2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Torah or by hearing with faith?

3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

4 Have you suffered so many things in vain-if indeed it was in vain?

5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you-does He do it by the works of the Torah, or by hearing with faith?

6 Just as Abraham "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."[1]

7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.

8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith, preached the good news to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations will be blessed."[2]

9 so then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

10 for as many as are of the works of the Torah are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the Torah, to do them."[3]

11 But that no one is justified by the Torah in the sight of God is evident, for "The just shall live by faith."[4]

12 And the Torah is not of faith, but "The man who does them shall live by them."[5]

13 The Messiah has redeemed us from the curse of the Torah, having become a curse for us; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"[6] -

14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Messiah Yeshua, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.[7]

15 Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it.

16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed,"[8] who is the Messiah.

17 And this I say, that the Torah, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in the Messiah, that it should make the promise of no effect.

18 For if the inheritance is of the Torah, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

19 What purpose then does the Torah serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.

20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.

21 Is the Torah then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a Torah given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the Torah.

22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin,[9] that the promise by faith in Yeshua ha Mashiach might be given to those who believe.

23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the Torah, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.

24 Therefore the Torah was our schoolmaster to bring us to the Messiah, that we might be justified by faith.

25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

26 for you are all sons of God by faith in Messiah Yeshua.

27 For as many of you as have been immersed into Messiah have put on Messiah.

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.

29 And if you are Messiah's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Footnotes (in Galatians 3)

1.From Verse 3:6, Genesis 15:6

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

2. From verse 3:8, Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:1812:3

I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

18: 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.

22: 18 and through your offspring [2] all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."

3. From verse 3:10, Deuteronomy 27:26

"Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out." Then all the people shall say, "Amen!"

4. From verse 3:11, Habakkuk. 2:4

"See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright- but the righteous will live by his faith [or faithfulness]

5. From verse 3:12, Leviticus 18:5

Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD .

6. From verse 3:13, Deuteronomy 21:23

you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.

7. From verse 3:14, Ezekiel 36:25-2725

Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

8. From verse 3:16, Genesis 12:7; 13:15; 22:18; 24:7

12: 7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring [or seed] I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

13: 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring [or seed] forever.

22:18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.

24: 7 "The LORD , the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father's household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, 'To your offspring [or seed] I will give this land'-he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there.

9. From verse 3:22, Psalms 14:1-31

1 The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.

2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.

3 All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.


Impromptu Question and Answer discussion directed by Garrett Smith after delivery of above message:

Smith - "I feel that the things that Robert was talking about was pretty important, and actually, fairly controversial.

I thought it would be of value just to make sure that you guys got some of his main points and you want some clarification on any of them.

Were you able to grasp the main thrust of his argument?

It was fairly important. He was saying, A) there is a big difference between Jewish-ness and Judaism; that Judaism at its heart is not being part of the Jewish nation, it's a religion that is basically Talmudic, and not necessarily based on the Bible.

Therefore, as a Messianic Jew today, your Jewish identity is not staked in ... the classic error we make ... is that we think in order to be Jewish - and, we are part of the Jewish nation - I'm a Jewish believer now, is now - to then, 'I must obey Judaism and the rabbinic interpretation of the Scripture'.

That's Baruch's Maoz's main point; he says, "No that's a flaw!" You know that's a wrong way to look at this thing. And even the church often times, he was saying, the evangelical churches there, are saying, "in order to get to the roots of my faith I must go by way of Judaism". As opposed to, like, cutting down to where Yeshua was - in the Jewish - at that point, I gotta go through rabbinic Judaism.

He's saying, "No, that's through a flawed view of the Scripture." It's a very radical thing. That's why I'm saying I think it's an important thing, ... I hope you're catching this stuff because it's controversial. And I think it is an error that a lot of folks make. That is why I was wondering if anyone had any questions, if everyone was clear on some of this."

Question from audience (inaudible on tape)

Pill - "The thing is this, Rav Shaul, the Apostle Paul, ... was speaking about foods you eat, ... that no food in and of itself is unclean."

Smith - "The idea is, from a Biblical standpoint, actually to eat kosher or not to eat kosher, both are ok. Jewish believers may want to eat kosher - that's fine. But the idea is that you may choose to eat kosher or may not to, or that you ought to. 'In order to be a Jewish believer you must now follow kosher rules, you must follow the rabbinic tradition'.

And that's what we're saying is an error taught. I think it's ok for Jewish believers to eat kosher. I'm saying why as being an option, that you have freedom not to or to if you choose to do so."

Pill - "And also it's not just kosher, it's with every other part of life. It has to do with the freedom.

Now, you remember the quote from Acts 11, that Peter, when he came back to Jerusalem, the Jewish believers confronted him and they said, How dare you - I'm paraphrasing - how dare you eat with gentiles. Well, Peter recognized - maybe before he went to, he was at Simon the tanners house and went off to the centurions place - before all that, he probably would have felt the same way. But God showed him something different.

What we see in the early New Testament is a progression of understanding. Not that things had actually changed radically. Yeshua even spoke to the disciples and he said, do you not also understand this? You know, He was with them for three years, and he said when he died he was going to start revealing things to them. And so it took time, over time. And one of the tragedies is that Jews were asking non Jews that became believers, they were wanting to force them to become circumcised. And Paul says circumcision or uncircumcision in regards to faith means nothing. And it doesn't, but if you take on the yoke of circumcision, then you need to take on the rest of the law, right?"

Smith - "Yea, it's also interesting to put the other side in. Richard Harvey's critique of this book, in a lot of his thoughts, he would say, But in a sense, Judaism and Jewish-ness have become interlocked in a way."

Pill - "Correct!"

Smith - "You can't so neatly separate them out. We're coming here, expressing our Jewish-ness. We're coming here, we're reading the Shema and the Barchu, which are traditional prayers developed through the lens of rabbinic Judaism. And, so, in many ways, you can't escape it. We're still going to celebrate our holidays and we're still going to do things in the way rabbinic Judaism is done. But still the 'why' to do it is the critical aspect.

Is it because you have to or because you choose to do it? And that's a huge difference as to the New Testament and the New Covenant is: You choose to do it, you may do it."

Question (inaudible)

Pill - "The key is that it's minor. The major thing is to understand and know Yeshua as Lord. If you constantly remember what sacrifice was made, if you do that, then all these other things aren't going to make a lot of difference."

Smith - "The 'may or have to' argument has come out of an incorrect understanding. ... The reason we have this 'may or have to' problem is because there's a wrong understanding."

Question - ... what does God delight in ...?

Pill - "He delights in a pure heart. ... We wouldn't deny that we keep these things ourselves, right, ... but not forcing ..."


You can locate some of the sources in the message through the following websites:

Book Review of Judaism Is Not Jewish by Richard Harvey with a response by Baruch Maoz:

http://www.banneroftruth.org/pages/articles/article_detail.php?490

Christian Witness To Israel

http://www.cwi.org.uk

Grace and Truth Bulletin (Baruch Maoz is pastor of Grace and Truth Christian Congregation in Israel)

http://www.graceandtruthbulletin.org/english/index.htm

Richard Harvey's Website:

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/richard.harvey5/index.htm