My reply was to the effect of, "What were the apostles, then? Mexicans?"
Free Republic, home to a wild assortment of (many many) Roman Catholics, Mormons, Christians, atheists, and very varied variouses. The post in question is titled Messianic Jews: Just Plain Creepy?
I happen not to have much patience with some manifestations of Messianic Judaism (though very slightly more than Pastor Ed Balfour, a Christian Pastor converted from Orthodox Judaism [thanks to reader Chuck Bridgeland for the tip]). Those I have in mind, I find more self-servingly ostentatious than anything else. Some Jewish Christian (or Gentile) starts saying "Yeshua" and "Shaul" and (worse still) "G-d" and "haShem," goes to church on Saturday, and thinks he's special. Not to Jews, he isn't. Well, except "special" in a meshuggah way.
Can you imagine if you had a friend who did not accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, but who went on and on about their Christian faith and Christianity? What if "Christianity" was their core identity, deeply woven into every facet of their visible life, and one about which they spoke almost incessantly? What if your friend had, in many circles, made himself a veritable spokesman for Christianity - and yet he avowedly did not accept Jesus?Does he have a point?
...I have always been a Jew. By birth, by faith, by choice. ...Jews are Jews. We may disagree about almost everything else, but on messianic matters, we are in almost complete agreement. His name is not Jesus from Nazareth.
...Jews are the fragile, beautiful, brave, extraordinarily powerful guardians of monotheism. I believe we are here because G-d wants us to be here. I have often wondered, with all of our problems, whether the Jews would simply die off some day. But I never thought our name would be stolen from us.
Focus on that phrase: "someone who believed Jesus." I did not embrace a religious tradition. I did not change club memberships. It was about Jesus, and about God, and about me. I had come to know my sin, knew I did not know God on His terms, came to find Jesus credible, which means "worthy of belief." Jesus' character and life were a seamless fabric of the miraculous and the righteous, the true and the urgent.
Believing Jesus, I wanted — needed — to learn of Him. Start doing that, and it isn't long before you notice something: Jesus believed in the "Old Testament." All of it. Every jot and tittle, to Him, required fulfillment, was inerrant, conveyed literally-true statements about actual history, communicated God's moral imperatives, was infinitely superior to all human tradition, spoke of Him, and would condemn to Hell anyone who did not heed its Messianic testimony to Jesus.
Let's now fasten our minds on those last three: the Old Testament —
- Was infinitely superior to all human tradition
- Spoke of Jesus, and
- Would condemn to Hell anyone who did not heed its Messianic testimony to Jesus.
In the case of the Jew, it is ironic to me because this is exactly the scene that Jesus confronted. Though Judaism may not be dominated by people identified as Pharisees or Sadducees, still Jewish thought is dominated not by the Torah itself, but by traditional religious thought which (at best) may be 37 steps removed from the text of Scripture.
Unlike the teachers who would say "Rabbi X said this, but Rabbi Y says this," Jesus either went right back to the text itself, or He said "Truly, truly I tell you." He revered the Law as the Word of God, and held Himself to be the Prophet whose coming it predicted.
So Jesus had no patience for the traditional teaching of men which, by its convoluted change of "reasoning," resulted in an annulment of the Word itself (Mark 7:1-13). This was a clash He had again and again from the very beginning: the naked Word had become so buried beneath the barnacles of human thought that it was unrecognizable. It was that which led to His betrayal and lynching: His shattering refusal to honor the traditions of men.
This, by the way, is what renders the irony of RC and Orthoborgial drowning in tradition so particularly bitter. The Jews make no pretense of faith in Jesus. Those other two groups do make that pretense, a formal profession of faith in Him who so despised human traditional perversions of the Word, while themselves perpetuating precisely such traditions in His name.
But I digress.
UPDATE: I have since had the pleasure of giving two talks in a conference on Messiah in the Old Testament.
who does not heed its Messianic testimony to Jesus
Was this dire warning warranted by the OT text, or was it a wild bit of improvisation? The former is the truth. Hear Moses:
"The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers--it is to him you shall listen — 16 just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, 'Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.' 17 And the LORD said to me, 'They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him" (Deuteronomy 18:15-19)The question as to exactly when Deuteronomy 34:10 was written is tantalizing, because by that date this prophet had not arisen. The point is moot, however: no OT prophet is presented in terms equating him with the fulfillment of this prediction. The prophet Moses spoke of is the Messiah.
"You'll see," was the ominous response.
Though my dear parents were far from disciplinarians, "You'll see" was not what I wanted. It was open-ended. I wanted a concrete consequence, so I could do a cost-benefit analysis on my projected rebellion. Without that, my imagination was left to run wild.
So it is here. The OT leaves it open-ended but terrifying: "You will have Me to answer to," threatens the infinite-personal, inescapable, holy and righteous God who is a consuming fire. What will that mean? It will mean "Depart from me, I never knew you." Depart where? "To the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels" (conflating Matthw 7:23 and 25:41).
In the next and concluding post, I plan to introduce Mr. Rubber to Mr. Road.
[UPDATE: concluded here.]