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Friday, February 19, 2021

What the Regression to Judaism Gets Right and Wrong

A Dangerous Movement

On this blog, I have covered the emergence of the use of "Yeshua" (the Anglicized rendering of the Hebrew name for "Jesus"). We noted that while there is nothing wrong with this use, it is not particularly biblical or more correct than any other rendering of the Lord's earthly name.

I quote from one of these studies, a Judaizer I encountered in 2016:

As one writer chastised us in a group, “Yahushua Ha maschiach is the only way , truth , and life in the Father Yahuwah!” He went on to argue, “jzeus [sic] christ [sic] is not the messiah !!!!!!!” Exclamation points in the original.

Do you see the pride screaming through? Do you see the obsession with semantics over, ironically, Anglicized words? 

This sort of argument is not only destructive, it is a condemnation of the Holy Spirit and the chosen vessels who gave us the books of what we refer to as The New Testament (the Greek Canon). In a related bit of irony, the writers of the gospels and epistles often preferred to use the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Canon, in their books. 

We  also noted there are a number of people in scripture who share the name "Yeshua" (Hebrew and Greek canons). As notd above, the Holy Spirit has inspired the writers of the Greek texts to use the Greek rendering (ιησους [ee-ay-sooce]). 

There is also the matter of pronouns. That is, pronouns are used of all sorts in scripture, but, as we know, it is context that gives us the reference. Thus, as with pronouns, The Lord knows to whom we refer in our hearts when we say "Jesus" or "Yeshua" or "Joshua" or "ιησους " etc. And even then, to which  "Jesus" we are referring. Scripture says there is "another Jesus" (2 Cor 11) that Satan and false teachers teach. The Lord warned many would "come in my name" (Matt 24:5), yet be false. It is not just the name, it is the object of the name in the heart of the user.

While there is an innocent side to the sudden ubiquitous usage of the earthly name "Yeshua," there is a dark, sinister side lurking below. We have seen elements of this in our 3-part look at the booklet, "Who is a Jew" and in other studies on the Hebrew movement.

Who is a Jew?

We pause here to distinguish those who do accept and teach the finished work of the Savior and the free gift of Life gained by grace alone, with those factions which seek to combine grace and Law for Life. While we disagree strongly on any move towards slavery to the Law or false pride in assumed obedience, we still accept, as brothers and sisters in the Lord, those who teach an all-sufficient salvation in Christ's work alone. 

With that said, and without softening in the least previous warnings, I do want to show how even a misguided movement can get some things right.

We know the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches get the Trinity right while making horrific errors on so many other matters (especially on the gift of resurrection life itself). So as we recognize a correct doctrine which may help some see the truths of Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, we certainly are not endorsing an entire movement. In fact, I can see essentially no good in any Hebrew/Jewish movement in the current age.

The concept the Judaizes get right: Paul was a Torah-Observant Jew

Let us revisit Paul's visit to James in Jerusalem. 

“You see, brother [Paul], how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.”
-Acts 21:20-25

Paul is accused by the Jewish believers (Christians) in Jerusalem of telling Jews living among the Gentiles (specifically) they no longer had to keep the Law (note: he's not accused of teaching this to all Jewish believers). This is the Acts Age. And we note that Paul does not argue that any believing Jew should not keep the (non-sacrificial) law. Paul goes out of his way to prove to the Jewish believers that he practices and teaches that he and Jewish believers should continue to practice elements of the Law (including circumcision). We looked at the circumcision of Timothy during the Acts Age in a previous post.

But just because this was a practice then, does not mean it is a practice for Jewish believers today.

Paul is quick to note that the grafted-in Gentiles as part of God's plan to make Israel jealous, do not have to keep the Law but "that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality" (cp Acts 15). Gentiles were grafted into Israel's blessings (Rom 11), not into the free gift of Life. They were grafted in to Israel promises having to do with the land and the earthly Kingdom, not into a future resurrection. The Jew was still "first" in the Acts Age. And Gentiles alone were warned they could be "cut off" from those blessings (Rom 11). This cutting off, also, has nothing to do with the gift of Life.

The Gift of Eternal Resurrection Life has ALWAYS been by grace alone.

So, Paul was "Torah-observant" in the Acts Age. And Gentiles were only temporarily grafted-in to the root of Israel for the sake of making her jealous. We refer again to Peter's offer in Acts 3 that if ISRAEL repented the Lord would return to restore all things. We refer again to the instruction the 12 had from the Lord concerning the restoration of the kingdom to Israel in Acts 1. 

Paul, late into the Book of Acts, gives witness to the promises made to the fathers (this was the Lord's earthly ministry as well, Rom 15:8) and to "the hope of Israel." Paul went about in the Acts Age, "witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come." This changed in Paul's Post-Acts ministry.

Preaching the earthly Kingdom, the coming of the King, the blessings and promises to the people of Israel is the setting of the Book of Acts. The Acts was a continuation of the offer of the Kingdom by the King while he was on earth. The Lord was rejected, but he forgave Israel on the cross and gave her another 35 years to repent (the Acts Age). She failed.

Israel will one day come to the Lord (in the age to come), but after the 35 year trial period, the Lord revealed through Paul alone the current age. The current Dispensation. The current Stewardship. This current age was hidden from "before the overthrow of the ages." It was not known. We are in the parenthesis. This age is from before the Law, before Adam, before all other ages. It's hope is "in the far above the heavens" and is not of the earth (as are Israel's Kingdom and blessings). 

This is why we do not observe "earthly ordinances" such as feasts (including the Lord's Supper, which is Passover), Sabbaths, cleansings (water baptisms) or the like. These have the appearance of humility and obedience, but it is a "false humility" and the perceived obedience will fail the flesh. These are works for another hope, another blessing, another age. There is no reward in them.

In this current parenthesis (and scripture has a number of these parentheses), all are Gentiles. The middle wall has come down. There is no call for being "Torah-Observant." And whereas that  was commendable in a previous age, it is condemnable in this age. 

Men and women, while believing they are pleasing God by pretending they actually keep things like the Sabbath, are losing reward. They are running the race according to the wrong rules. It's as though they are building an ark for a a flood that is not coming, in an age with no Nephilim. Is building an ark biblical? Yes, But for another age. It brings no reward for "obedience" in this age.

I do not stand in judgment of those who believe they are observing the Torah. That is the Lord's purview. What I am doing is warning them of the calling of this age to perhaps rescue some and to warn those tempted by the lure of false pride and outward appearance to be taken in by their doctrines. Some who are taken in will fall into slavery and fear, others into pride. Worst case scenario, some will deny the finality of the work of Christ from the cross to the resurrection.

We recently looked at related topics:

In our most recent study, we looked at the two possible destinies of the Christian. We are either headed for Perfection (Maturity) or Perdition (Waste and Loss). We can only achieve maturity if we run the race according to the rules of the calling to which we have been called. If not, if we try to run by the rules of another calling, we may find ourselves "disqualified" from prizes, crowns, rewards, etc.

Please consider two multi-part studies on the Christian Life: