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Jewish Objections Answered - Why Has Christianity Treated the Jewish People So Poorly? PDF Print E-mail

If Jesus Is the Jewish Messiah, Why Has Christianity Treated the Jewish People So Poorly?

Jewish New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine writes, "[Neither] Jesus, Paul nor the New Testament is anti-Semitic."[1] She's right! It's illogical to think that a movement which was comprised originally of only Jewish Jesus-followers could be antisemitic.

Historically, some followers of Jesus have combined the anti-Jewish sentiments of the times in which they lived with their understanding of religion. This was especially true during the early days of the institutional church and throughout the Middle Ages. In some cases, these instances of antisemitism were theologically driven by Christian groups who believed that the Church had replaced the Jewish people in the plan of God.

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But the Apostle Paul, a disciple of the great Jewish teacher Gamliel, said this: "I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew...." (Romans 11:1-2)

Just because some of Yeshua's followers abused His teachings does not mean that Jesus Himself and His early disciples were antisemitic.

There are many Christian groups today that have repented of antisemitism and view this disparaging of the Jewish people as sin. They have recognised that the New Testament is a pro-Jewish collection of works by Jewish authors writing about the Jewish Messiah!

Jonathan Mann


[1] Amy-Jill Levine, The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus, (New York, NY: HarperOne, 2006), 87.

 
Jewish Objections Answered - Why Did God Allow the Holocaust? PDF Print E-mail

Many of us find the horror and scope of the Holocaust inconceivable, even though we know it happened. Humankind's capacity for cruelty is hard to grasp; harder still to imagine being subjected to it. Where was God? How could God allow this? Does God even exist? These are very difficult and agonising questions. But let's attempt to shine a light of clarity on this issue. If someone told you every day, "I love you," but they were forced to do this, would that be real love? No. True expressions of love come from an active choice to love. However, because we have this freedom to love, we also have the freedom and opportunity to hate and do evil, often with horrible results.

The Holocaust is a prime example of the evil humanity is capable of perpetrating. We may not know the reasons why God allowed this. Yet God shared the suffering of His chosen people. He was not distant.

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We believe that the God of Israel entered this world and experienced the most painful death imaginable, by crucifixion. Yet He also rose from the dead. Consequently, as philosopher John Lennox said, "God has not remained distant from our human suffering but has become part of it." We can trust God not only because He has experienced human anguish, but also because He gives us hope of eternal life through His resurrection.

One cannot equate the cross where Yeshua suffered for our sins with the death camps like Auschwitz. Yet the Messiah, destined to die and fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah chapter 53, understood the anguish of human suffering at a level very few of us, other than Holocaust victims, could imagine. His suffering does not make the Holocaust more palatable, but it helps us to see that God might understand our anguish a little more than we thought.

By Jonathan Mann and Bruce Kleinberg


 Additional Comments

Where was the Messiah Yeshua during the Holocaust? If He was indeed the Messiah then why did evil run rampant and why didn't He save His chosen people? These are questions that are difficult to answer, but there is one verse in the New Testament that helps us understand the relationship between Yeshua and His people. The verse is one of the shortest in the entire Bible and is as follows:

"Jesus wept." (John 11:35)

He wept because of the death of His friend Lazarus and because He loved His fellow Jewish people. But, this is not the only occasion where Jesus wept for the Jewish people.

In the Gospel of Luke, we read the following passage,

"When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it." (Luke 19:41)

This time He wept because He knew that, in the near future, the Romans would destroy the city of Jerusalem. The One so many of us claim is the promised Messiah of Israel loves His people. According to the New Testament, He will one day return to reign as King of Israel, destroy the enemies of the Jewish people, and judge those who tried to destroy the Jewish people throughout the centuries (Revelation 19:15, Zechariah 14:1-5).

This might not answer the entire question as to why He allowed the suffering of the Holocaust. Jewish people have tried for decades to figure out where God was during the Holocaust. Again, we do not fully understand the reasons why the Lord allowed His chosen people to suffer, but we do know that He loves His people and those who persecuted the Jewish people will one day be held accountable before our Jewish Messianic judge.

Dr. Mitch Glaser, A Messianic Jew from Brooklyn, New York

 
Jewish Objections Answered - "Jewish People Do Not Believe in Three Gods PDF Print E-mail

Of course we do not believe in three gods! That belief would be very un-Jewish and in no uncertain terms should be called idolatry! The Torah (Five Books of Moses) clearly states in the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4) that there is only one God. However, there have been Jewish scholars from earlier generations who did not see a problem with God being understood as three-in-one.

For example, Jewish Theological Seminary's Benjamin Sommer writes, "No Jew sensitive to Judaism's own classical sources, however, can fault the theological model Christianity employs when it avows belief in a God who has an earthly body as well as a Holy Spirit manifestation, for that model...is a perfectly Jewish one."[1]

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This is an astonishing statement, but the evidence in the Hebrew Scriptures and ancient Jewish tradition supports the idea. As Messianic Jews, we affirm that the New Testament reveals the mystery: God is three-in-one! Certainly this is beyond our ability to truly comprehend, but as the prophet Isaiah writes,

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," declares the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)

More importantly, the Bible uses the word echad, translated as "one" in the great Shema prayer, as a way to indicate a composite unity. Another example of composite unity is when God created Adam and Eve, the first husband and wife. The Bible describes their union in the following way,

"For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24)

The "oneness" of the first couple was described as a composite unity. The term used is echad, the same Hebrew word used in Deuteronomy 6:4. This does not prove the triune nature of God, but challenges the idea that the term was always used to indicate singularity without some type of unity among equals.

By Jonathan Mann, a Messianic Jew from Atlanta, Georgia


[1] Benjamin D. Sommer, The Bodies of God and the World of Ancient Israel, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 135.

 
Essential Truths Accompanying Salvation PDF Print E-mail

See-the-bible-through-jewish-eyes

Isaiah 54-57

In chapters 54-57, Isaiah examines several essential truths accompanying Messiah’s atonement for all humanity. These wonderful revelations enable us to rightly grasp the extent to which the Lord calls each believer into an ever-deepening relationship of covenant love.

ISRAEL ELEVATED TO THE PLACE OF WORLDWIDE BLESSING - ISAIAH 54

Messiah’s redemption, accomplished in Isaiah 53, now has application, first, to the nation of Israel, then to the individual believer. God’s relationship with Israel is unique; no other nation has experienced a similar covenantal relationship with God. Israel’s dwelling is compared to a tent that is being enlarged (Isa. 54:2).

Living in a tent signifies Israel’s pilgrim journey on earth. God’s severe judgment on Israel is viewed as “but for a moment” (Isa. 54:7), compared to the glory that is to come afterward. Many Gentiles will be surprised to discover that Israel will occupy a leading role among the nations of the world according to Isaiah’s predictions (Isa. 54:3).

AN APPEAL TO ALL PEOPLE TO COME TO GOD FOR SALVATION - ISAIAH 55

God’s word is full of gracious appeals. The only requisite is a burning thirst (Isa. 55:1; Jn. 7:37; Rev. 22:17). Here is a general appeal to the entire earth (Isa. 55:1-7). Messiah promised that the one who drinks the water He gives will never thirst again (Jn. 4:14).

The appeal stresses the truth that salvation cannot be purchased, but received only by God’s grace (Isa. 55:1-2; Eph. 2:8-9). Many people are not aware of God’s grace, seeking to earn or pay for that which will never satisfy (Isa. 55:1-2). Such are exhorted to “listen carefully” to God’s promise of a “new, everlasting covenant” presented in Isaiah 55:3 and stressed by the writer of Hebrews (Heb. 10:16-18).

MORAL OBLIGATIONS IN THE LIGHT OF GOD’S REDEMPTION - ISAIAH 56

Whether the person is Jewish or Gentile, the exhortations of chapter 56 toward justice and morality apply to all who seek to serve the one true God. Salvation always brings with it the obligation of godly living.

The calling of the Gentiles (Isa. 56:6) in that future day emphasizes a note of universality. While there is no Temple today, one is reminded that the Lord cleansed the Temple twice in His ministry on earth. Isaiah 56 tells of a universal worship center to be called, “...a house of prayer for all people” (Isa. 56:7; Mt. 21:13).

A CONTRAST OF THE WICKED AND JUST MAN - ISAIAH 57

“The wicked are like the troubled sea…there is no peace, says my God, to the wicked” (Isa 57:20-21). Terrestrial kings and rulers are frequently susceptible to pride and arrogance, but the great Sovereign of heaven dwells with the humble believer (Isa. 57:15).

The contrite and lowly spirit of God’s children stands in antithesis to the apostate and proud attitude of the wicked, who must repent to avoid facing an eternity of separation from our loving Creator.

CONCLUSION

The pronouncement of peace
by Isaiah to those far and near (Isa. 57:19) sounds identical to the teaching of Ephesians 2:14 concerning the fact that Messiah made peace by His atoning work. He preached peace to the near (Israel) and the far (Gentiles) and broke down the “dividing wall” between them (Eph. 2:14).

Have you found peace with God?

 
Coming closer to God in faraway lands PDF Print E-mail

Earlier in March, Rita and volunteer helper Sally, visited Far East Russia on a mission trip, with the main aim to conduct a seminar to teach God's Word. The six-session teaching seminar was entitled Walking in the Light of Yeshua.

Many miracle healings followed the teaching of God's Word, and prayer:

  • One sister was healed of a left blind eye
  • Another had a back condition for 12 years with limited movement. She jumped out of her seat bent over and started to dance.
  • One man said he was taken to heaven during worship and heard angels singing.
  • Broken hearts were healed.
  • One young man had suffered from fear and epilepsy. He'd been physically abused by his father. During worship he said he was healed, and it was like a warm blanket was over him.
  • At a service for 100 children in an orphanage in Birobidzhan, 40 asked Yeshua in to their hearts.

Rita and Sally experienced God's favour with travel arrangements too: an airport closed due to poor weather opened up for their flight to land, and on another occasion their train pulled into a platform that it had never come into before, saving them a 20-minute walk.

Please pray for people in Russia as the cost of living has doubled and continues to spiral. People need prayer to stand firm and be bold in their faith as the government restricts funding from overseas to orphanages and churches.

Rita will return to Far East Russia in July to run two camps for families and children.

 
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