What is the advantage of being Jewish?

Romans 3:1, What advantage then has the  Jew? There were several advantages to being a religious Jew in the first century.

  • A Jew had a head start on the non-Jews in that they knew (and hopefully were living) Torah. The same might be said of some religious Jews today. Most of the modern non-Jews who are currently returning to a more Hebraic orientation to their faith have to start at the ground level learning about Torah. They have to learn the most elementary basics about Sabbath, the biblical dietary laws, the biblical feasts and what it means to live a Torah lifestyle and to understand the Bible through a Hebraic contextual lens. This point is illustrated by the fact that pastors of most Messianic or Hebrew Roots congregations spend hours teaching their congregations these things every Sabbath, and may even have to spend hours on the phone during the week answering many basic questions about Torah theology and lifestyle. The Torah-observant Jews of Paul’s day did not need to be coached in the basics of the Torah-law of Elohim, for they already had a YHVH-consciousness and a fear of YHVH that most paganized non-Jews would not have had. 
  • Furthermore, most Jews would not have to unlearn a myriad pagan practices that Gentiles of that day, and Christians of this day have to unlearn in order to become Torah compliant.
  • Additionally, Jews of that day did not have to learn how to think Hebraically or how to understand biblical Hebrew terminologies. Gentiles did. 

The main problem that the Jews of Paul’s day had to deal with was racial pride and prejudice against non-Jews, and self -righteousness because they viewed themselves as the elect or chosen people of YHVH and the possessors of Torah. This same problem ethnic arrogance exists among many Jews to this day who operate in both rabbinic and Christians circles. This is why Paul had to deal with endemic Jewish racial, cultural and spiritual pride in the previous chapter.


Why We Don’t Follow Rabbinic Tradition

Matthew 15:2, Tradition of the elders. These were Jewish traditions or legal regulations not found in the Torah, may of which violated the letter and spirit of the Torah as Yeshua goes on to teach in the next few verses.

Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? (Matt 15:2)

Many folks coming to the Hebraic roots of the Christian faith stumble have the same question. They figure that, since the Christian church purports to be anti-Torah and since the Jews purport to be pro-Torah, we need to follow the Jews, since, ostensibly, they have been faithful to the Torah for all these millennia and we can learn from them and need to follow their example. 

On the surface, this seems like a reasonable proposition. The problem is that as one digs below the surface veneer and gets to the truth of the matter, neither of these propositions is correct. In fact, the Jews have veered from the Torah as much as the Christians by their non-biblical traditions. Perhaps, in fact, the Christians are better off than the Jews. At least they have the basic gospel message, and they, while claiming to be antiTorah actually follow much of the Torah (which they call the moral law). They just stumble over the dietary laws, the Sabbath and the biblical feasts and a few other minor Torah laws. These are the facts.

Now to the question about why we don’t follow rabbinic tradition lock, stock and barrel, or hook, line and sinker, as they say. Please give me chapter and verse in Scripture that states that Yeshua affirmed ALL Jewish tradition? On the contrary, he told the Jewish Continue reading


What is Moses’ seat and should we follow the modern rabbinic Jews?

The seat of Moses in the Chorazin in Israel (bibleplaces.com/chorazin/)

The seat of Moses in the Chorazin in Israel (bibleplaces.com/chorazin/)

Yesterday, a well-meaning reader of this blog posted a question in the comments section. He wondered why I didn’t come to the “higher level” spiritually by following the oral traditions of the modern-day Jews who are the spiritual descendants of the ancient Pharisees of Yeshua’s day. As supposed proof that we should, he quoted Matthew 23:2 and 3 where Yeshua declares that because the  Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat, we will come to a higher level in our spiritual walk do whatever they tell us to do. (My short answer to this questions is this: If they haven’t discovered the most obvious truth that Yeshua is the Messiah, then…well, I’ll let you guess what the rest of my response would be.)

This is, in fact, a fair question, and is one that many who are leaving churchianity find themselves asking when they begin to explore the Hebraic roots of their faith.

Here is my long response.

Matthew 23:2, Moses seat. Here Yeshua is speaking against the leaven of the Pharisees and their non-biblical traditions and doctrines of men. They had omitted the weightier matters of the Torah. Moses’ seat in Matt 23:2 is easily misunderstood today when we don’t have all the facts. Because the Pharisees sit in Moses seat, Yeshua told his disciples to observe whatever they tell you to observe. The problem is that most people have no idea what Yeshua was really saying here. “Moses’ seat” was a colloquial expression that was understood by his listeners of that day, but the meaning is lost to most who read this passage today. Moses’ seat refers to a literal throne-like chair that sat in Jewish synagogues (where the Pharisees were the officiants) from which the religious leaders would make judgments concerning spiritual and civil matters. (One can type in “Moses’ seat” into an internet search engine and find actual photos of these seats that have discovered in ancient Jewish synagogues.) In a modern church, it would be like the pastors and board of elders making decisions for the church body they minister over. These leaders do not have the authority, however, to change the word or law of Elohim—only to administer it. Even the pope has a throne from which he makes rulings for the Roman Catholic Church.

Matthew 23:3, Whatever they tell you. The discussion that follows is in response to the idea that because the Pharisees (and the modern rabbinic Jews who are their spiritual descendants) sit in Moses’ seat, we should do whatever they tell us to do including following their traditions and oral law. Some even have embraced the idea that following rabbinic Judaism is to walk a higher spiritual road (because they ostensibly understand and observe the Torah. What is the truth of the matter and what is Yeshua really saying in this passage?

Admittedly, there is much we can learn from our Jewish brothers. If you have read my Torah study guides and commentaries and my hundreds of teachings, you would know that I draw heavily from the wisdom of the Jewish sages. My approach is very multi-faceted and my learning is very broad. In my mind, and in the mind of Yeshua and apostles (as we shall point out below) the sun does not rise and set on the Jewish sages. Moreover, the Judaism of today is not that of Yeshua’s era. It is true that the rabbinates of today are the direct Continue reading


Don’t be cast into outer darkness!

Candle, Candle Light, Background

Matthew 8:12, Children/Sons of the kingdom. This is a Hebraism or biblical metaphor for the Jewish people. They are the ones who were first presented with the gospel message, but most of them rejected it. The sons of the kingdom will be cast into outer darkness because they didn’t accept Yeshua the Messiah, who is the light of the world (John 1:9; 8:12). It’s rather ironic to be cast into darkness for not accepting the light. Unrepentant sinners prefer darkness over the light because their deeds are evil (John 3:19), so in the end they get what they really want.

Outer darkness. (Also Matt 22:13; 25:30.) Ancient banquets were held at night in brilliantly lit rooms, and anyone excluded from the feast was cast outside into outer darkness. In his teachings, Yeshua’s uses this term as a metaphor for judgment in reference to those who will be excluded from his kingdom. In the oriental mind, in the days before street lights, it was a dreadful thing to be found outside, late at night with only a lamp or simply a small clay lamp of that day that put out a tiny, dim flame (Manners and Customs, pp. 62–63). This speaks of the fear that those Yeshua will reject will experience.


What’s In a Name and How It Points to Messiah

The Scriptures are full of wonderful details and puzzle pieces that when fit together form the glorious picture of YHVH’s gospel plan of salvation. The following story is yet another example of this.

Genesis 38:29, Pharez [Heb. Peretz]. This name means “breach” or breaking through by pressing forward.” It is from the root word meaning “breach, gap, bursting forth, outburst; broken wall.” Yeshua is from this branch of Judah. Peretz received his name because of the violent nature of his birth. He was born before his twin brother, Zerah. The Peretz family line was the more prominent of the Peretz-Zerah family lines.

Matthew Henry in his commentary notes that it’s a wonder that of all the tribes Yeshua should proceed from this one considering its incestuous origins and YHVH’s displeasure over such sin. Yet Henry goes on to say that YHVH chooses human instruments not because of their merits, but out of grace, and that Yeshua came into the world to save sinners, even the chief of sinners, including those of his own family. Moreover, the worthiness of the Messiah wasn’t to be found in any meritorious moral qualities of his ancestors, but in himself alone. It is a wonder that the Jews boast at all about their lineage in light of its incestuous origins. As Jeremiah warns, a man should not glory in anything they are or have done but only that “he understands and knows me, that I am YHVH which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth, for in these things I delight” (Jer 9:23–24).

The inclusion of the accounts of Judah, Tamar, Pharez and Zerah further confirm the divine origin of the Scriptures. It is the generally accepted tradition in both Jewish and Christian circles and the opinion of conservative biblical scholars that Moses wrote the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Genesis 38 gives important background information about the founding of the tribe of Judah and, more importantly, about the origins of the Messiah who was born out of this tribe. Other than a couple of oblique prophecies, there is no overt indication in the Torah that the Messiah, the Redeemer of Israel, would could come from the tribe of Judah, yet Moses included the inglorious details of the founding of this tribal family therein for no apparent reason. Those of us looking back in history at the Messiah’s birth can see how Genesis 38 fits perfectly into the overall biblical redemption story, but those in times past looking forward to the Messiah would have likely been hard pressed to see this. From our vantage point, this is yet another proof of the hand of the Divine Providence in the writing of the Scriptures.