Tag: Dr. Baruch Korman

Jewish Identity and the Torah Part 1 by Rabbi Baruch

Jewish Identity and the Torah

Being Jewish is a blessing that comes with a responsibility. In order to understand both the blessing and the responsibility one needs to study G-d’s call to Abraham in Genesis chapter 12. Abraham was born a gentile who HaShem called into a covenant and to whom He gave a special call. Although there are many aspects to this call, the most relevant one for this article is that G-d would establish, supernaturally, a new people. The important thing to remember is that this new people group had a purpose. This purpose is clearly revealed in many places throughout the Bible. In the passage dealing with Abraham’s call one reads,

“…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3

G-d wanted and still wants to use the people who would be established from Abraham and Sarah to bless each and every family upon the face of the earth. This new people group eventually became known as Israel. Today the individuals who make up Israel are called Jewish. Therefore Jewish individuals have a G-d given responsibility to bless gentiles. The question which needs to be answered is how does a Jewish individual fulfill this obligation? The answer in a general sense is to be a light unto the nations. What does this mean in practicality? This is where the Torah comes into this discussion.

The phrase “to be light to the nations” implies providing illumination, i.e. revelation of divine truth. Divine truth is synonymous to the word of G-d. Hence Jewish individuals have been uniquely called by HaShem to educate the world in regard to the Scripture. Rav Shaul echoes this when he says,

“What advantage then has Jewish individuals…mainly the word of G-d was entrusted to them.” Romans 3:1-2

Why would G-d entrust the word of G-d to Jewish people with the instruction to illuminate gentiles with it? For the purpose of gentiles embracing the word of G-d and applying it to their lives as well. This conclusion is so basic it is amazing that it escapes the consideration of so many people. Jewish identity is not based in culture or environment, but in divine revelation. This identity is not reserved for the Jewish people, but entrusted to them to be demonstrated and embraced by all the families of the earth. Let us review some of the most relevant biblical passages that speak to this issue.

In order to understand the subject of Jewish identity one must begin with Abraham. Abraham (Abram) was born a gentile and HaShem called him to respond to His covenant promises; that is, to exercise faith. It was faith that made Abram, Abraham or in other words a gentile into a Jew. This faith expresses a change in one’s life from following one’s own will, to now following HaShem’s will. Man’s will is rooted in the flesh while G-d’s will is rooted in the Spirit. This is why Abraham was called to be circumcised. Circumcision is a removal of skin from the body. What happens when skin is removed from the body? That piece of skin will die. It is not a coincidence that the one who performs the circumcision is required by Jewish law to bury the foreskin. Why? Because the commandment of circumcision teaches that faith which began Abraham “conversion” is ultimately for the purpose of bringing death to the flesh, i.e. the carnal / sinful nature.

Not only was Abraham circumcised but so, too, were all the male slaves in his house (see Gen. 17:23). Why was this? This was in order to show that Abraham was called to bring this faith, which causes the death of the flesh, to all those under his sphere of influence. The account of Passover is very similar in the fact that in order to observe the commandments of the festival one had to be circumcised (see Exodus 12:43-51). Once again one learns from the account of the Exodus from Egypt that not only the natural offspring of Abraham came out of Egypt, but there was also a mixed multitude with them (see Exodus 12:38). According to rabbinical sources those from Abraham’s literal offspring (600,000 Hebrew males) made up a minority of the total number of Hebrews who were in Egypt during this time. This minority was joined by a multitude of gentiles who were moved by divine revelation, i.e. the manifestation HaShem’s providence seen in the plagues, to enter into a covenant relationship with G-d via circumcision and partake of the Passover and receive redemption.

This mixed multitude was never mentioned again in the Bible. Why was this? This was because the mixed multitude was integrated into the Children of Israel as full members of the people of G-d. Although they were not all biological descendants of Abraham they all had one thing in common—they shared a common Passover experience. It was this same group, descendants of Abraham and the mixed multitude that arrived at Mt. Sinai as one body to receive the Torah. Did HaShem make any distinction between them? No, He made no distinction what so ever. 


Torah Identity

Chassidic Judaism teaches that the world was created for two things, Israel and the Torah. This is not the case! Israel was created supernaturally by G-d in order that through this people, the gentiles would be blessed by HaShem. Hence, Israel must also be defined by its relationship and responsibility to the gentiles. Unfortunately this truth has been lost by all expressions of Judaism today. One might raise the objection and ask, “what about Messianic Judaism”? The verdict is still out concerning this question, but there seems to be a shift within Messianic Judaism to the same error of traditional Judaism. It is for this reason that this brief article was written.

In regard to the second part of the Chassidic view that the world was created for Torah, one must ask the question, why was the Torah given? There are multiple reasons why the Torah was given, but we will only investigate one of them. The Torah reveals to the people of G-d His standards for living. In other words, the Torah reveals that which is right and that which is wrong in regard to one’s behavior. To what group of people was it given? If one responds that this question has already been answered, it is Israel. This answer is insufficient. Why? This is because HaShem did not want to give the Torah to the Children of Israel (including the mixed multitude) in their current state of being. This is seen in Exodus chapter 20.

In this passage, beginning in verse 18 the people who were at Mt. Sinai saw various supernatural activities, one of which was the mountain became engulfed in smoke.  Due to these occurrences, and what Moses would reveal in verse 20, namely that HaShem was approaching the people, the Children of Israel were very frightened.  In verse 19, they responded to Moses that he should speak with them and that they would listen, but they did not want G-d to address them directly because they feared that they would die.  Why would this be?  Remember the context for this section.  The people had just heard the Ten Commandments and understood two vital aspects:  the first is the Holiness of G-d and the second are His expectations for His people.  The people were convicted by their sinfulness and felt that if this Holy G-d drew near to them that they would die.  In verse 20, Moses states that this is not why G-d is drawing near to the people.  He is not coming to destroy but rather to cause a new reality to come upon the people.  This new reality consists of two things:  First is that His fear would always be before them.  This means that they would understand His priorities and what they should do.  The second thing Moses reveals is that G-d was going to transform them into a new condition where they could not sin.  Obviously, knowing the will of G-d and being unable to sin is what one should desire.  Why was G-d willing to do this?  Once again, context is the key.  He was giving them at Mt. Sinai the Torah and thereby teaching that man, in his natural state, cannot keep the Torah.

That which is most disappointing is what occurred in verse 21,

“And the people stood at a distance and Moses approached the fog, for G-d was there.”

This verse is seen as Israel’s rejection of what G-d wanted to do at Mt. Sinai. The transformation that HaShem wanted to bring upon Israel was not realized and Israel remained in a natural state. In this condition Israel could not keep the Torah.

People ask then why would G-d go ahead and give to them the Torah? The answer to this question is found in the end of the book of Joshua. In chapter 24 of Joshua, Joshua is approaching his death. He invites the people to renew the covenant that Moses made with the people, i.e. the Torah as a basis of having a relationship with the Living G-d.  After Joshua speaks to the people about their history from the days of Abraham to the present, he commands the people in verse 14,

“Now fear the L-rd and serve Him in purity and truth and remove the gods which your forefathers served on the other side of the river and in Egypt.  You are to serve HaShem.”

In verse 16 the people answered in the affirmative that they wanted to renew their covenant relationship with HaShem via the Torah.  It is most significant that Joshua tells the people, beginning in verse 19, that this is not a possibility.  Joshua is the only one who understood why HaShem had given the Torah. The reason was to show them that in their present condition that they could not please G-d and would fail in serving Him. They needed to be transformed. 


The Lubavicher rebbe once gave a teaching on a saying which he introduced to the people of Israel.  This saying that the rebbe taught is “Mashiach (Messiah) Now”.  In his teaching, he gave several examples of times where the Children of Israel should have beseeched HaShem to send the Messiah.  One of these times occurred in Joshua 24.  Joshua was teaching the people that the problem with a covenantal relationship with G-d, based upon the Torah, is not the Torah but the people.  This is why Joshua loudly protested the people’s enthusiasm to accept the terms of the Torah.  Joshua states in verse 19,

“And Joshua said to the people, ‘You are not able to serve the L-rd, for He is Holy, He is a jealous G-d, He will not forgive your transgressions and sins.'”

This verse presupposes the people’s inability to keep the Torah.  Joshua knew the people could not keep the covenant.  So why did he offer it to them?  In the words of the Lubavicher rebbe, so the people could say “We want Mashiach now”. Messiah does the work of redemption and brings about a new reality to those who receive Him through faith. Such individuals are transformed by this faith.

This is why Paul writes, in Romans 7:14, that the Torah is spiritual.  If one continues to read in this chapter, he will find that one, in his natural state, is condemned by the Torah. Paul says in verse 24,

“Woe is me, wretched man that I am, who will save me from this body of death.”

This verse makes it very clear that man, in his natural state, has no ability to obey the Torah.  In the next verse, Paul reveals the only hope for mankind.  He writes,

“Thanks be to G-d concerning our L-rd the Messiah Yeshua…” Romans 7:25

In the same way that G-d wanted to bring about a transformation of the Children of Israel at Mt. Sinai, so too is there a transformation through faith in Messiah Yeshua.  Ultimately, followers of Yeshua will not experience the total outcome of this transformation until we receive our new/glorified bodies, by means of the Holy Spirit, Whom every believer receives.  However it is through the Holy Spirit that every believer receives the potential to obey G-d and keep His Word.


It is important that one understands the patterns given within scripture.  All would agree that the Jewish nation was born by means of the Exodus from Egypt, i.e., the Passover.  Judaism teaches that Shavuot, the holiday which commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, should be viewed as a marriage ceremony between the Children of Israel and HaShem.  Hence, according to Judaism, the Jewish people are inherently linked to G-d as His people through these two events.

There are those who say that only those who are the physical offspring of these people have been called to embrace this heritage; i.e., a Jewish lifestyle rooted in the Torah.  However, it is not a coincidence that Messiah laid down His life on the 14th day of Nissan (Passover) and is called by Paul our Passover Lamb.  Nor is it a coincidence that the Holy Spirit was first poured out upon those who accepted Yeshua as their Passover Lamb on Shavuot. In the same way that Passover and Shavuot created the congregation of Israel from an Old Testament perspective, the death of Messiah on Passover and the giving of the Holy Spirit on Shavuot also create the New Testament people of G-d.


Today, within the Messianic movement, there is a growing belief that Jewish lifestyle should be reserved for those physical descendents of G-d’s Old Testament people, i.e., Jewish individuals alone. There are problems with this view. First it has already been stated that the “Jewish lifestyle” was one given to Jewish individuals for the specific purpose of demonstrating to the gentiles how G-d wants all people to behave. Second, those physical descendents are not able, in their natural state, to obey G-d. It is only the believers in Yeshua, who by means of the Holy Spirit can obey the righteousness of the Torah,

“…That the righteousness of the Torah should be fulfilled in us, who do not walk after the flesh, but rather the Spirit.”  Romans 8:4

This verse makes it clear that it is believers who are called and are the only ones who have been equipped by the Holy Spirit to embrace, demonstrate, and fulfill a biblical lifestyle. As Paul states in the verse from Romans chapter 8 this lifestyle is inherently linked to the Torah.

People talk today about Torah observance when in reality the Torah Law is not even in force today. The rabbis acknowledge this and state that it is rabbinical law which is incumbent upon Jewish individuals. They correctly point out that without a Temple that the Torah cannot be observed. So what does this mean to a follower of Messiah Yeshua? 


The believer, Jew and gentile alike, is called to apply the word of G-d to his life and fulfill the righteousness of the Torah, not in the oldness of the letter, but in the newness of the Spirit (see Romans 7:6). How does one do this? What are the implications of this theologically and in practicality? 


These questions will be the subject of the next article. 

Author: Dr. Baruch Korman

Jewish Identity and the Torah Part 2 by Rabbi Baruch

Jewish Identity and the Torah – Part 2

Part one finished with the idea that the Torah is not in force today. Therefore it is incorrect to speak about Torah observance in the sense that an individual can keep Torah law. I am not speaking about the impossibility of Torah observance in the same way that Joshua did as I spoke of in my first article; i.e. humanly impossible because of one’s sinful nature; but rather the impossibility today because of the fact there is no Temple.  The destruction of the Temple brought a monumental change to Judaism. In the same way that in Psalm 137 the statement appears, “How can we sing the L-rd’s song in a foreign land” one needs to recognize that it is impossible to keep the Torah without a Temple in Jerusalem.

Both Biblical and Rabbinical perspectives understand the Torah as a unit. This means that Torah is only observed when all of its commandments are potentially possible to be fulfilled. James also alludes to the Torah being a unit when he says,

“For whoever keeps the entire Torah, but stumbles in one (commandment), he is guilty of all.” James 2:10

Rabbinical Jewish Law says in regard to a Torah scroll, that it is only Kosher when all of its letters are correct. This means that if one letter is missing, or one letter written in a wrong place, then the entire Torah scroll is not valid.

Hence today because there is not a Temple in Jerusalem, the Torah cannot be observed in its totality and if not in totality then it becomes not in force. This should not be a surprise because the prophet Hosea wrote about the period of time when the Torah would not be in force, saying,

“For many days the Children of Israel will dwell without a king, without a government official, without a sacrifice, without a pillar, without an ephod, and without Teraphim. Afterwards the Children of Israel will return and seek the L-rd their G-d and David their King, and they will fear the L-rd and His goodness in the last days.” Hosea 3:4-5

These two verses are critical in understanding the time in which we are living. Hosea informs the reader that the Children of Israel will go through a long period without a king or a government. There will be no sacrifices offered nor will there be any remnants of the Temple, nor will there be any active Priesthood. However in the last days the Children of Israel will return to the land of Israel and seek the Lord. How? They will seek G-d by means of the Messiah. Notice that the text actually says David. This is of course a reference to the Son of David, i.e. Messiah. Why is this text so important? It is important because it reveals that since the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. that the Torah could not be observed. This is the basis for the shift away from the Priest and Levites and the leaders of Israel to the Rabbis. Now it is rabbinical law which is binding according to Judaism and not the Torah. Therefore, when one speaks about Torah observance today, the real allusion is to rabbinical law and not the Biblical Torah.  It is amazing to me that people find it hard to believe that the Rabbis teach that the Torah is not in force. Here is a classic example to illustrate this point.

According to the Torah if a Jewish individual knowingly and willfully transgresses the Sabbath day the punishment is death. However if a secular Jew today chooses not to follow rabbinical law  in regard to the Sabbath law, a rabbinical court cannot inflict any punishment on this individual whatsoever. It is most clear that Torah law and rabbinical law differ in many points.

A friend of mine asked me to read a couple articles in regard to Jewish and Gentile obligations to the Torah. The articles grapple with the question of if there is a difference between the obligations of a Jew to that of a Gentile in regard to the Torah. The fallacy of these articles is that they assume one can keep / observe the Torah today. As we learned from the prophet Hosea, G-d has providentially placed us in a time period where neither a Jew nor a Gentile can keep / observe the Torah. Some will read this and immediately think about the words of Yeshua where He says,

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, I have not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill.” Mt. 5:17

Is not this conclusive proof that Yeshua is not against the Torah? Absolutely, but most do not understand what He was intending in this verse. Yeshua was without sin, and in regard to the Torah commandments, every commandment that was pertinent to Him (some of the commandments were addressed to women, or kings, or priests, therefore not relevant to Him) He preformed perfectly. Hence Yeshua was the only One Who was Torah observant. When He laid down His life on the cross the Bible says that He Who knew no sin, became sin for us. That is, our sins were placed upon Him and His righteousness (Torah obedience) was placed upon us (believers in the Gospel). Hence every believer is declared righteous before G-d because of the sufficiency of Messiah’s work.

This declarative statement that the believer is righteous is known as a salvation experience. Believers are told to work out their salvation. This statement is speaking to the issue of sanctification. Sanctification is related to one’s behavior. This is really the issue at the heart of this article (Part 1 & 2). In other words, should our behavior include observing the Torah and is there a different answer to this question for a Jew compared to a Gentile?

The first part of this question has already been answered—no one today can keep / observe the Torah. However one needs to be careful. Just because one cannot keep the Torah does not mean that it has been done away with. We read in the Scripture that until heaven and earth pass away not one part of the Torah will be done away with (See Mt. 5:18). The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews says that the Torah is getting ready to vanish (see Hebrews 8:13) but it is clear that the Torah will not vanish away until the New Jerusalem is established. Please note that the New Jerusalem will not be established until after the Millennial Kingdom. It is also most significant that in the New Jerusalem there will not be a Temple (See Rev. 21:22). Proving the point where there is no Temple the Torah is not in force.

Even though this is the case today, the Torah does teach me about sin and righteousness; that is, that through the Torah commandments and all of Scripture for that matter, one can learn how G-d wants one to behave. Is this not Torah obedience? Not exactly, for this is why Paul was inspired to write to believers,

“But now we who are delivered from the Torah, being dead therein where were held; since now we serve in the newness of the Spirit (The Holy Spirit) and not in the oldness of the letter.” Roman 7:6

I ended the first part of this article with this verse because it accurately and succinctly states the position of a believer in regard to the Torah. One is not under any obligation to a law or a commandment. This is what Paul was saying when he wrote,

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not profitable. All things are lawful for me, but all things do not edify.” I Corinthians 10:23

Frequently people will respond and say does that mean I can do whatever I want? Does not such a view give people a license to sin? Notice that Paul says in this verse, “All things are lawful for me…” One needs to understand the unique position of a believer. The Bible is most clear that the punishment of sin, i.e. violation of a Torah commandment is death. Hence because every person is sinful we all deserve death.  The death that Messiah died he died for humanity. This is why Paul says in Romans chapter 6 that when Messiah died, so also the believer died. Hence through Messiah’s death, the believer has already received the punishment of the Torah and no longer bound to the Torah (for death frees an individual from the Torah). This truth is demonstrated in the fact that Jewish law forbids one to wear tzitziot (the fringes at the end of a four corner garment that relates to the commandments of the Torah – see Numbers 15:37-41) in a cemetery.

Even though the believer is free from the punishment of the Torah, one should not conclude that this will lead to ungodly behavior. The one who accepted Messiah did so because he wanted to be free from not only the punishment of sin but also from sin itself. Paul makes it clear in this chapter of Romans that the believer wants to now live his live unto the L-rd and serve Him. Paul expressly says the believer will want to use his body for the purpose of righteousness. (See Romans 6:1-18) Once again the true believer will want to live in a manner that fulfills the righteousness of the Torah, not according to the oldness of the letter, but in the newness of the Spirit. What does this mean? Yeshua reveals this in the Sermon on the Mount when He spoke concerning the true application of the Torah. Yeshua selected two examples to illustrate this point; murder and adultery. His disciples would understand that not only are murder and adultery wrong, but so also is having hate or lust in one’s heart. The goal of the Torah was for man to love the L-rd with all of his heart, soul and might and his neighbor as himself.  This is exactly what the believer is led to do by faith in Messiah, and what he is empowered to do by the Holy Spirit.

Micah the prophet stated this same goal in a different way in this well known verse,

“Declared to you o man what is good and what the L-rd seeks from you; that you do (execute) justice and love mercy and humbly walk with your G-d.” Micah 6:8

For the believer, there is no longer a divine punishment for violation of a Torah commandment per se, but when a person does not behave in accordance with the aforementioned goal of the Torah, then one is guilty of sin. A believer then should study all the commandments and the rest of Scripture and utilize the wisdom and admonitions contained therein having been endowed with the Holy Spirit to behave in a manner that fulfills the righteousness of the Torah. This is true not only for the Jew, but also for the Gentile.

Before I conclude the second part of this study I want to deal will an issue that is related in practice to what we have been discussing. This issue is the concern of some within in the Messianic community that there will be a loss of Jewish Identity if Gentiles adopt a lifestyle based on Jewish tradition.

I find this concern is baseless. Those Messianic leaders who describe Gentiles practicing Jewish traditions or even adopting a rabbinical observant lifestyle as a type of theological or spiritual holocaust is much to do about nothing. First I think the term holocaust should only be used in regard for the attempted extermination of the Jewish race during the World War II era that led to the tragic death of over six million Jewish individuals. Second, even though assimilation is a problem, one must define assimilation properly. It is not when a Jewish individual adopts a lifestyle devoid of rabbinical cultural norms, but when a Jewish person fails to embrace the righteousness that is contained in a personal relationship with Messiah Yeshua and embraces a lifestyle that is based in the principles of the world. To me it is just as problematic when a Gentile also rejects Yeshua and lives according to the ways of the world.

Related to this issue is the question, should a Jewish believer live differently than a Gentile believer? This will be the subject of the third and final part of our study.

Author: Dr. Baruch Korman

Jewish Identity and the Torah Part 3 by Rabbi Baruch

Jewish Identity and the Torah – Part 3

In this third and final article, dealing with the relationship between the Torah and Jewish Identity, I will respond to a growing perspective within Messianic Judaism that Gentiles are not under the same mandate as Jewish individuals in regard to the obligations of the Torah commandments. In regard to those who hold the point of view that there  is a difference between a Gentile believer’s obligations and that of a Jewish believer’s, I most strongly disagree.  In reading several articles dealing with this issue I find that there are two primary causes for those arriving at this errant view. The first is an improper credence given to norms and standard practices of believers historically.  This is to say because “Christianity” has not historically embraced the commandments of the Torah and most of the Church is Gentile, then it follows that there must not be a mandate for Gentiles in regard to the Torah.  The second is a faulty handling of key Biblical passages which relate to this issue.

As has been addressed in the previous two articles, there is no mandate today upon Jewish believers or non-believers in regard to the Torah commandments.  In the last article Hosea chapter three (verses 3-4) was cited as proof that the Bible predicted a time when the Torah would not be in force due to the lack of a Temple.  Once again the problem with those who promote Torah observance for the 613 Biblical commandments of the Torah is that nearly half are impossible to fulfill today because of the fact that there is no Temple. 

In examining the writings of several messianic leaders who have written to this issue, it would seem that at the heart of the matter is not so much a fidelity to each of the Torah commandments, but a concern whether Jewish identity will be lost if Gentiles attempt to observe the Torah.  The first critical point that one needs realize is that Jewish identity is not defined by Torah observance.  Would one question the Jewishness of Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob or for that matter any of the descendants of the twelve tribes who lived in the land of Goshen?  Yet they did not have the Torah. What about during a good portion of the time when the kings of Judah reigned in Jerusalem when the Torah had been literally lost, did the people of Judah lose their identity as Jews?  Today it is estimated that less than twenty percent of the world Jewry practice rabbinical law, yet does a secular Jew like comedian Jerry Seinfeld lose his identity as being Jewish?  The answer to all these question is no;  hence “observance” of the commandments is not what imparts a Jewish identity.

At the end of the book of Zechariah the reader is informed that Gentiles will come up to observe the feast of Tabernacles.  There are other Biblical passages as well as rabbinical writings that say that in the Millennial Kingdom all Gentiles will observe the Torah; therefore one must ask the question, “Does this mean that in the Kingdom that Gentiles will lose their identity as non- Jews?”  Once again the answer is certainly not, because it is the vast number of Gentiles who will come to faith in the G-d of Israel, embracing the Torah and Messiah Yeshua in the last days which will be a testimony to Israel’s faithfulness in the last days.

What is important to realize are the different groups who will make up the Millennial Kingdom.  The first group will be those Jews and Gentiles who come to faith in Messiah Yeshua before the Rapture.  These believers will receive a new body and will rule with Messiah during the thousand years.  The second group will be Jewish individuals that come to faith in Messiah Yeshua after the rapture, yet before the inauguration of the Kingdom.  This group will be leaders in the Kingdom.  The next group is the Gentiles who come to faith in Messiah Yeshua after the rapture, yet before the inauguration of the Kingdom.  Whereas the second group is the leaders in the Kingdom, the third group is the citizens.  The final group is those who will be born during the Millennial Kingdom.  The purpose of this article is of course not to enter into a discourse about the last days, but there is a very important point that can be derived from these facts.  Namely that in the Millennial Kingdom group one will be composed of Jews and Gentiles who have the same behavior, i.e. ruling with Messiah, yet their individual identity is not lost due to this common behavior.  Also, group two and three (Jews and Gentiles) will be practicing the Torah in the Millennial Kingdom and neither will lose their individual identity.

I want to strongly emphasize that Jewish individuals who accept Yeshua do not lose their identity as Jews, nor do Gentile believers who in some form embrace a “Torah obedient” lifestyle become Jewish.  In other words, a distinctive identity does not demand a distinctive set of practices or norms.  Ruth for example, embraced a Torah lifestyle, yet she was always known as a Moabite.  Uriah the Hittite, served in the Israelite army and spoke of the Ark of the Covenant (a reference to the commandments) yet retained his identity as a Hittite.

Another common mistake that individuals frequently make in regard to this issue is to fail to understand circumcision and what was implied by Paul during his frequent discussions involving the term.  In order to assist one in comprehending this issue it must be stated that simply because the Scripture mentions a position, this does not necessarily mean that the position is Biblical.  Such is the case with how some sects of Judaism saw circumcision.  During the latter Second Temple period, much of Judaism understood circumcision as relating to the Law of Moses; that is, that circumcision was a symbol or sign of one’s acceptance of the Torah.  Biblically this is incorrect. Circumcision relates to the Abrahamic Covenant which is established by faith, of which Messiah is the foundation.  Circumcision, as was stated in part 1 of this series, represents the death of the flesh.  One learns from the New Covenant that the Law arouses the desires of the flesh (See Romans 7:5) and reveals one’s sinful nature which is in opposition to the will of G-d.  Hence the Law, which is good, holy, and true, brings a death sentence upon the unregenerate man.  The point is that the view that the Law is an instrument of salvation is in error.  When Paul spoke negatively about circumcision it was in regard to those who had accepted the incorrect view that through circumcision, i.e. the acceptance of the Torah, one is saved.

This was the purpose of the Jerusalem Council in Acts chapter fifteen.  Most Christian commentaries are wrong when they assert that the debate was about whether Gentiles who accept Messiah Yeshua are obligated to keep the Torah.  If one simply reads the first verse of the chapter it clearly reveals the actual reason why this assembly took place.

“And certain men came down from Judah and taught the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the manner of Moses, you cannot be saved.'”

It was Peter who stood up and pointed out before the council that numerous uncircumcised Gentiles had believed the Gospel and then received the Holy Spirit which was evidence of their salvation experience.  Peter then stated that G-d,

“…makes no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”  Acts 15:9

Peter continues in regard to the obligation to keep the Torah (once again implied from the discussion concerning circumcision) and says,

“Now therefore why do you tempt G-d, putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples (context is Gentiles disciples) which neither our fathers (Jewish) nor we (Jewish believers) were able to bear.” Acts 15:10

It is very important to understand this verse as speaking not only to the Gentiles, but obviously to Jewish believers as well.  Many messianic leaders (First Fruits of Zion) interpret this verse as a proof text for exempting the Gentiles only from an obligation to keep the Torah.  This of course is incorrect when the verse points out that neither are Jewish individuals able to bear an obligation to keep the whole Torah.  If one wants to make the argument that Jewish believers by means of the Holy Spirit are able to be perfect like their Heavenly Father (See Matthew 5:48) well and fine, but would this not also apply to Gentile believers who have the same indwelling Holy Spirit?  Regardless, since there is no Temple today, as has been pointed out numerous times in our study, Judaism, in agreement with Hosea, acknowledges that the Torah is not in force in this present time.

Peter closes out his speech with the statement that,

“We believe that by means of the grace of the L-rd, Yeshua the Messiah, we shall be saved, even as they.” Acts 15:11

It is most interesting that Peter never deals with a lifestyle issue for believers, but deals with the means of salvation and strongly states the circumcision, i.e. the acceptance of the Torah, is not related to the means by which one is saved.  It is only after James, the leader of the Congregation of believers in Jerusalem and the head of the Jerusalem Council, states his agreement with Peter’s position that he then brings up a new but related subject.  In verse nineteen he states,

“Therefore this is my judgment, that we do not trouble those from among the Gentiles which are turning to G-d.”

It is very important for one to notice that the verb “turning” in regard to “the Gentiles turning to G-d”, is in the present tense (in the original Greek), although some English translations place it in the past.  This implies in the process of coming to faith.  The implication is this:  whereas there were those who wanted to add circumcision to faith in Messiah, i.e. the Gospel as the means of Salvation, James and the Council rejected this point.  However James did list a few things which are incumbent upon Gentiles who want to receive the Gospel.  This list appears in verse 20,

“But we write unto them (Gentiles) to abstain from the pollution of idols, sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.”

These four things were the basis for idolatry.  The point was this, because Gentiles came from a culture that had idolatry very prevalent within it, James wanted the Gentiles to know that acceptance of Yeshua meant a turning away from idolatry.  It was very simple for Gentiles who embraced a multiplicity of gods to add one more to their list and accept Yeshua.  This of course could not be tolerated and therefore the list in verse 20 speaks against such a tendency.  Hence this list does not represent a code of conduct for Gentile believers, but a minimum condition for sharing the Gospel.  It is very important to remember the context for the Jerusalem Council- does a Gentile have to be circumcised in order to be saved?  The answer is no!  However if a Gentile wants to accept Yeshua, but still maintains a desire to practice idolatry he is not a candidate for salvation.  He must be willing to turn from idolatry in order to accept Yeshua.  Here is a real example from my personal experience which illustrates the issue.

Once an individual who was practicing homosexuality wanted to accept the Gospel and asked if I would lead him in a prayer.  I had known this man for several months and told him this was great news, but wanted to make sure he understood that homosexuality was sin.  He responded that he did not agree.  After looking at several Biblical passages which clearly teach that such behavior is sinful, he said he did not care and would continue to live the lifestyle he wanted.  I did not pray with him.  Why not?  Because acceptance of the Gospel implies a desire to turn away from sin.  Had this individual acknowledged that homosexual behavior is sin, but he did not know if he could change, I would have prayed with him to receive Yeshua if he would ask Yeshua to help him turn away from this sin, and every sin. The point is the same for any type of sin and not just homosexuality.  A person is not ready to pray to receive Yeshua if he does not have a desire to turn away from sin and embrace the lifestyle that Scripture teaches.  One’s salvation is not dependent upon his performance of turning away from sin, nor one’s success in living a Biblical lifestyle, but one who does not possess a desire to walk in obedience is saying he wants to continue in sin, but be redeemed.  In other words, he wants salvation, but rejects regeneration.  Obviously such a view is incompatible with a true salvation experience.

This brings us to the next verse which is primary in arriving at the proper conclusion to the issue at hand.  James ends his decision by saying,

“For Moses from the ancient days is read in every city being read in the synagogues each Shabbat.”

This verse clearly says that Gentile believers will learn the Torah through their exposure to it in synagogue.  What is the reason that Gentile believers will learn the Torah?  The reason is the exact same reason that Jewish believers learn Torah, to apply it to one’s life.  Wait a second, if the Torah is not in force today then why learn it?  This question brings us to one of the most common errors made today by the believing community—that the concept that the Torah is not in force means that the Torah does not have a purpose today.  This is a serious error.  Let us understand that although the Torah is not and never was an instrument of salvation, it still has several important roles.

The believer, whether Jewish or Gentile, is admonished in the Scripture to study the word of G-d—this means all of Scripture.  Even though from an eternal judgment perspective the believer will not be condemned by the Torah, the commandments still reveal the standards of G-d.  Because of the lack of a Temple, which was designed by G-d for this allotment of time, much of the commandments cannot be performed today; however the wisdom that is contained in such commandments can and should still be learned and applied to one’s life.  What is most important for one to understand is that the character of Yeshua is Torah obedience.  The Scripture states that Yeshua never sinned, i.e. violated the Torah.  Hence when one walks in accordance with the righteousness that the Torah reveals, this one also manifests the character of Yeshua.  In other words, being like Yeshua is expressing the righteousness that the Torah manifests.

I strongly believe that Jewish individuals who accept Yeshua do not lose their Jewish Identity as Rabbis like to threaten, nor do Gentiles who accept Yeshua become Jews.  One very important aspect to the Gospel is that it brings two peoples together and although both a Jewish believer and a Gentile believer express the character of Yeshua, their physical description whether it be Jewish or Gentile is not diminished nor needs to be lost.  In fact, it is when the congregation of the L-rd is comprised of both Jews and Gentiles that one knows that it is meeting the expectation that Scripture teaches.  This means a congregation which is only comprised of Jewish individuals or of Gentiles is manifesting a problem.

In conclusion, the Gentile believer is called to study each Torah commandment like the Jewish believer and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to apply the Spirit of the Law to his life.  To those who are concerned that if Gentiles practice some of the Torah commandments and are thereby “infringing” upon the “Jewish identity” of a Jewish individual, I say your agenda is misplaced.  Jewish identity is not imparted by the Torah according to Jewish law.  One is born Jewish.  Traditionally once a Gentile wants to embrace the Torah and the G-d of Israel, Judaism says let him convert, i.e. become a Jew.  I take exception to this practice.  I believe that Gentiles who embrace the G-d of Israel and His word remain Gentiles and there should not be the perspective that only a Jewish person can embrace Torah.  I believe that when a Gentile embraces the G-d of Israel and His righteousness, the Jewish community does not need to panic and say he should convert, i.e. become a Jew, in order to maintain the position of Judaism that the Torah is strictly reserved for Jews only.  The separation between the Torah and Gentiles is so strong in Judaism that the famed champion of Jewish Law, Rambam, writes in his Mishneh Torah in the section entitled “Judges”, under the laws entitled “Kings” chapter 10 and paragraph 9,

“A gentile who engages in the Torah deserves death.”

My hope is that the primary objective of Messianic Judaism is not to preserve “Jewishness” but to bring the Jew first and also the Gentile into a personal relationship with the G-d of Israel, by means of Messiah Yeshua and teaching them to observe all things which Yeshua taught, realizing that Yeshua’s teaching did indeed deal with the proper application of Biblical commandments to one’s life.    

Author:  Dr. Baruch Korman 

Zechariah and the Messiah by Rabbi Baruch

The previous article discussed Israel’s mourning of the Messiah when He returned to deliver Israel from all the nations which attacked Jerusalem. There is something very important about this mourning which reveals a vital clue concerning the identity of Messiah. Zechariah 12:11 says,

On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be great as the mourning of Hadad-Rimmon in the valley of Megidon (Megiddo).”

What is the significance of this verse? The Talmud says in Messeket Moed Kattan 28b that two events are alluded to by this verse. The first is the death of Ahab at the hand of whom the Gamara calls Hadad-Rimmon (see I Kings 22) and the second is the death of Josiah, who was slain in the valley of Megiddo (see II Chronicles 35). What is important about this citation from the Talmud is that both references refer to two men, Ahab and Josiah who both made a tragic mistake which cost them their lives. Why does the Talmud place this verse with this interpretation within the context of Messiah coming? In order to show that Israel not recognizing Messiah, when He came the first time, was also a tragic error. Now when Messiah returns and Israel sees His wounds they will recognize His identity and will mourn His death which was not done by the nation when He laid down His life to make redemption on Passover nearly 2,000 years ago.

It is also most significant that in the book of Revelation that Megiddo (Armageddon) is mentioned as the place where Messiah will fight those who wish to attack Jerusalem in the last days. It is this battle for Jerusalem which is the subject of the first few verses of Zechariah 14. This chapter makes it very clear that every nation in the world will turn against the Jewish people and move to attack Jerusalem.

I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem for war and half of the city will be taken and the houses will be plundered and the women raped and half the city will go into exile, but the remainder of the people will not be cut off from the city.” Zech. 14:2

Even though Rambam says it is the work/role of Messiah ben David to fight this war Zechariah says it will be the L-rd Himself that will defend Israel.

And the L-rd will go out and will fight those nations as He wages war in the day of battle.” Zech. 14:3

The next verse speaks of His feet standing on the Mount of Olives. It is from this verse that one learns that when Messiah returns to Jerusalem He will come in the clouds of heaven and land on the Mount of Olives. Why does the text seem to go back
and forth one time speaking of the L-rd and the next time speaking of the Messiah? In order to show that G-d did indeed visit His people and redeem them in the person of Messiah Yeshua. When Messiah’s feet shall touch the Mount of Olives it will cause a cataclysmic event.

And His feet will stand on that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is east of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives will split half to the east and half to the west; a very great valley (will appear) and the mountain will be removed towards the north and towards the south.” Zech. 14:4

The purpose of this great valley is twofold. One is, verse 2 tells us, that half the residents of Jerusalem will go into exile and therefore this valley will provide an exit for them. In the book of Revelations we are told that during a time of persecution of the Jewish people in the last days that Jews will flee to the wilderness for safety to a place that the L-rd had prepared for them (see Rev. 12:6). Second reason is that Ezekiel the Prophet tells us that water will flow from under the Temple in the last
days towards the east and make its way to the Dead Sea at a place called En Gedi (see Ezk. 47). Scholars see the Mountain of Olives being split and the valley which will be created as providing the way for the water to flow to the Dead Sea. It is most interesting that if the water flows straight it would enter the Dead Sea at En Gedi and fulfill Ezekiel’s prophecy perfectly.

The next two verses speak about the uniqueness of this time.

And it shall come about on that day the light will not be clear or thick. It shall be a unique day, it shall be known (only) to the L-rd; not day and not night, and it shall come about in the evening- there will be light.” Zech. 14:6-7

What is the prophet trying to reveal with these verses? Simply that the presence of G-d will be returning to earth in a manner that will reflect the holiness that was present during creation. In verse 6 there is an emphasis on the concept of light. It is clear that the light that will be present is not ordinary light. In verse 7 the phrase “a unique day” is found. In the Hebrew it reads “one day”. This is the same expression that appears in Genesis 1:5 (the first day of creation) and in this section the main issue was light. The fact that the text says that this day is only known to the L-rd may be a reference to the time before man was created. Finally the reader is told that in the evening, the time when the sun sets that there will be light. This piece of information informs the reader that the sun is not the source of light to which this passage is referring. What then is the source of this light? G-d Himself.

Zechariah is showing that with the coming of Messiah the world will be returning to the former status when the presence of G-d was in this world in a unique way, the way G-d was in the world prior to the fall of man. In other words, Messiah’s coming will bring a restoration not just to the house of Israel, but to the entire world.

It has already been said that water will stream out from under the Temple and flow eastward to the Dead Sea (Ezk.47). In verse 8 Zechariah seems to also refer to this,

And it shall come about on that day that living water shall go out from Jerusalem; half to the eastern sea (Dead Sea) and half to the western sea- it shall be in summer and in winter.” Zech. 14:8

Ezekiel informs the reader that these waters will bring about three outcomes to all that it comes into contact with, healing, prosperity, and life. The end of Zechariah 14:8 says that this occurrence will be both in the summer and winter. Because rain only falls in the Middle East in the winter, the prophet is saying that there will no longer be seasons like we once knew. In other words there will be a total change in what we know to be normal in nature. The end of Ezekiel chapter 47 supports this by saying that each month trees will bear fruit, hence no more seasons. Once again the message to the reader is that with Messiah’s coming everything will change. Not only does Messiah come, but He will rule as the King over all the earth and bring about a unity and holiness that is reflected in the Name of the L-rd.

And the L-rd shall be King over all the earth on that day the L-rd shall be One and His Name One.” Zechariah 14:9

With the return of the Shekinah Glory to earth through the rule King Messiah, Israel will dwell in safety (see verse 11). Although Israel will turn to G-d and recognize her Redeemer, still many other nations will reject G-d’s plan of salvation and will continue to make war with the Jewish people. In these last days those nations will learn a harsh lesson. This lesson is that those who fight the Jewish people are actually fighting against G-d. HaShem will respond in a devastating manner to such nations.

This shall be the plague which the L-rd will strike upon all the nations which wage war against Jerusalem- and he who is standing on his feet his flesh shall melt and his eyes shall dissolve in their sockets and his tongue shall melt in his mouth.” Zech. 14:12

It is clear from this verse that no army will be able to defend itself from this plague. This is clearly a divine punishment upon those peoples and nations that refuse to acknowledge and accept Israel’s role in the last days. Even though a great number of individuals will die from every nation, there will be a remnant from these nations that come to faith in the Messiah and accept HaShem’s plan of salvation. Notice the change that will occur in these people. Instead of wanting to go up to Jerusalem to wage war, such individuals will want to go up to Jerusalem to worship King Messiah.

And it shall come about that all that is left from those nations that came to Jerusalem (to wage war) shall go up to Jerusalem each year to bow down before the King, the L-rd of Host and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.” Zech 14:16

As we all know, there are many festivals in Judaism. Why is it then that the Feast of Tabernacles is mentioned in this verse rather than some other holiday? The answer is found in the central theme of this holiday: dependence and trust upon the L-rd. Israel’s call as G-d’s chosen people is based in Israel’s call to demonstrate in action dependence and trust in G-d. Finally in the last days and especially in the Millennium Kingdom Israel will take her role of leadership among all the nations in the world and will lead others to follow her example and worship the King of Kings and the L-rd of L-rds.

The following verses make it very clear that no matter what one’s ethnicity or nationality may be, all people must respond to Messiah in the same manner, to trust and depend upon Him solely for one’s redemption and salvation. In one refuses to do so during Messiah’s rule, then G-d will punish him in two ways. First no rain will fall upon him. Rain is seen as a blessing in the Bible, so what verse 17 is saying is that G-d will not bless him. The next verse (18) says that G-d will also place upon such a rebel the very plague that he struck those nations that came up to Jerusalem for war. The chapter ends with examples of how the holiness of G-d will spread from the Temple area to all of Jerusalem and Judea. The last verse says,

“…and there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the L-rd of Hosts on that day.” Zech. 14:21b

This sentence teaches that although Gentiles do not become Jews, faithful Gentiles do become part of Israel. What does this mean? 3,500 years ago there were a group of nations that were opposed to G-d’s plan of bringing the Children of Israel into the land of Canaan. G-d destroyed these people. However during the last days many of the nations will respond to Israel’s leadership and will submit joyfully G-d’s plan in the last days. These nations/peoples will become part of G-d’s family and enjoy the same rights and privileges of the Jewish people who respond to G-d’s plan. In this verse the term “Canaanite” is used in a manner to refer to one who opposes and rebels against the will of G-d. Under Messiah’s rule, no such people will exist, but all (Jew and Gentile alike) will submit to Messiah’s righteous rule and be part of His family.

 

Author: Dr Baruch Korman

Zechariah and the King by Rabbi Baruch

The prophet Zechariah reveals a great deal about the person and the work of the Messiah. All too often Judaism takes a “wait and see” attitude concerning Messiah. That is, that Judaism would prefer to remain diligent in the belief that the Messiah is coming, but tends to refrain from offering too much information about Him. The result is most people who adhere to Judaism know very little about the identity of Messiah and what exactly He will accomplish and how He will bring these things about. Zechariah on the other hand offers much information about these issues and one should learn from his prophecy so as to be prepared for Messiah’s coming and not simply respond after the fact. It has already been discussed in a previous article that there is a debate whether the Messiah Who will bring about the establishment of the kingdom of G-d upon earth is from the dead; that is, lived before or whether He is from those who are alive and will reveal Himself as the Messiah by accomplishing the work of Messiah.

What exactly is the Messiah suppose to do? According to Rambam in Mishneh Torah Halachot M’lahchim Messiah is to do the following:

1. Return the kingdom to Israel and to the lineage of David.
2. Build the Temple in Jerusalem.
3. Gather the exiles and return them to the land of Israel.
4. Rule over the world and enforce Torah obedience.
5. Fight the wars of G-d, delivering the Jewish people from their enemies.

Zechariah speaks to all of these issues and reveals some vital information about the One who will accomplish these things.

The basic message of Zechariah is simple to discern—G-d will remember His covenant with Israel and redeem His people. It is significant that the name “Zechariah” means G-d remembers. In this article the twelfth chapter of Zechariah’s prophecy will serve as the primary text; however, other verses from this prophecy will be utilized in order to further one’s understanding of the person and work of the Messiah. The chapter opens up with the word “burden”. This word describes the judgment that HaShem will place upon the world. One must understand that there are two aspects to judgment. One is condemnation and the second is vindication. Hence G-d’s judgment will serve to condemn and destroy those who do not have a covenant relationship with Him, but will bring a great victory, and serve to redeem those who are in a covenant relationship with Him.

One cannot over emphasize the importance of a covenant relationship with G-d. Scripture declares that it was because of Israel’s covenant relationship with G-d that HaShem acted to redeem the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt.

And G-d heard their groaning and G-d remembered His covenant with Avraham, Yitzhak, and Yaacov.” Exodus 2:24

In the second half of verse one it says,

“…He stretches out the heavens and establishes the earth and forms the spirit of man in his midst.”

This sentence clearly speaks about creation of the world; however, what is important here is that it is not the first creation that is being referred to, but a new creation of the world, i.e. redemption. Verse two informs the reader that Jerusalem is foundational in G-d’s plan of bringing redemption to the world. Scripture reveals that G-d’s righteous rule through His king, Messiah will be established in the city of Jerusalem. Unfortunately man often opposes G-d’s plans and in the end of this age nothing will be different. Whereas verse two hints at man’s rebellion against G-d establishing His kingdom in Jerusalem, Zechariah clearly states that all the nations of the world will oppose Messiah and His redemption in the last days,

Behold the day of the L-rd is coming…and I (the L-rd) will gather all the nations against Jerusalem for war…” Zechariah 14: 1-2 (selected)

Verse two calls Jerusalem a “cup of poison”,

Behold I am setting Jerusalem a cup of poison to all the peoples around, and also concerning Judah will be in the siege for Jerusalem.”

There is actually another possible meaning for the Hebrew word translated “cup”. It can also mean a “threshold”. The point is that not only will those who attack Jerusalem be as those who drink poison, but attacking Jerusalem is like crossing a line which reveals one’s allegiance; that is, whether one is part of the family of G-d or an enemy to G-d and His people. The next verse describes Jerusalem as a heavy stone that will crush those who try to move it.

And it shall come about on that day that I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone to all the people, to all who burden her (Jerusalem); they will cut (themselves) and all the nations of the earth shall be gathered unto her (Jerusalem).” Zechariah 12:3

Not only will those nations who attack Jerusalem be crushed, but there is an awkward phrase that the nations will also be cut or possibly the intent of the phrase is to cut themselves. Although a different Hebrew word is used, there are instances where those who engage in idolatry actually cut themselves as part of their pagan practices in worshipping their false gods. There are also examples of one cutting his flesh as a sign of remorse or deep regret. This is similar to the practice in Judaism of Kriah- cutting or tearing one’s garment as sign of remorse or mourning as in the case of the death of certain relatives. Hence, Zechariah may be saying that those nations that attack Jerusalem in the last days are doing so fulfilling the will of false religions and eventually they will learn of the great mistake and have deep sorrow and remorse.

In describing the war that will take place for Jerusalem Zechariah reveals that G-d will intervene in a miraculous manner striking the horses with blindness and its riders with madness. Perhaps this alludes to causing the enemy’s military armament to malfunction and those who operate it to act irrationally. The verse also contains a most interesting statement,

On that day says the L-rd, I will strike every horse with madness and its rider with craziness and concerning the House of Judah I will open my eyes and every horse of the people (gentile nations) I will strike with blindness.” Zechariah 12:4

What is the significance of the phrase, “and concerning the House of Judah I (HaShem) will open my eyes”? Israel has been in exile since the destruction of the Temple and even though one can see G-d’s hand moving in the life of the Jewish people in establishing the modern state of Israel and providing victory in the War of Independence, The Six Days War, and Yom Kippur War; G-d’s will move in the last days to deliver the Jewish people, bringing redemption, and establishing His kingdom in a much greater way that it will be as though for the last 2000 plus years that G-d’s eyes were shut to the plight of His people.

Verses five through eight speak about G-d strengthening the Jewish people and Jerusalem returning to its former status. Although G-d does indeed make Israel as fire and her enemies as straw, G-d Himself will defend His people in a personal way.

And the generals of Judah will say in their hearts, the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the L-rd of Hosts their G-d encourage me. On that day I will make the generals of Judah as a basis of fire against the trees and as a torch of fire against sheaves; and they will devour to the right and to the left- all the peoples round and Jerusalem will sit once more in her place in Jerusalem. The L-rd will save the tents of Judah as in the former times so that the splendor of house of David and the inhabitant of Jerusalem shall not exceed Judah. On that day the L-rd will defend the inhabitant of Jerusalem and it shall be that the failure among them on that day (shall be) like David and the house of David (shall be) as G-d- as the Angel of L-rd before them.” Zechariah 12:5-8

It is most clear from the following verse that there is a multinational agreement that Jerusalem as the capital city of the Jewish people is unacceptable to the nations of the world. If one reads the second verse of chapter fourteen it speaks about the city being divided as does Revelation chapter eleven verse two. There are also similar statements about Jerusalem going through a period of intense persecution and suffering. But in the end G-d Himself will destroy all the nations who come against the Jewish people and attack Jerusalem.

And it shall come about on that day I (HaShem) will seek to destroy all the nations coming against Jerusalem.” Zechariah 12:9

The word which is translated “destroy” is a powerful word and denotes an utter annihilation. This supports what G-d told Avraham in Genesis chapter twelve,

I will bless those who bless you, but curse those who curse you…” Gen. 12:3

Obviously those nations who are coming to make war with Jerusalem are not doing so to bless the Jewish people nor are they following the will of G-d and therefore they will find themselves fighting against the Living G-d and ultimately being destroyed. While the nations are perishing, G-d is bringing about a significant spiritual change in the Jewish people. Verse ten tells the reader that HaShem will pour out His Spirit on a certain group of the Jewish people and reveal who the Gemara calls Messiah Ben Yoseph.

I will pour out upon the House of David and the inhabitant of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication and they will look upon Me whom they have pierced and lament concerning him as one laments concerning an only son and be bitter as the bitterness is for (the death) of a firstborn son.” Zechariah 12:10

Two groups of people are mentioned in this verse, the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Just who is being referred by these descriptions? The “house of David” refers to those who have faith in the promise of HaShem to send a redeemer in the last days. It is clear that the first part of this verse is describing the same event as Isaiah,

And a Redeemer shall come to Zion and to those who repent (from) sin of Jacob says the L-rd. And this is My covenant with them said the L-rd, My spirit (will be) upon you….” Isaiah 59:20-21

In the last days G-d will move in a unique and powerful manner pouring out His Spirit upon those who repent of sin. Zechariah say the “the Spirit of grace and supplication”, to what is he referring? The word translated grace is similar in meaning to the words “mercy” or “forgiveness”. There is however one important difference. The Hebrew word translated “grace” has a specific purpose attached to it. This purpose is to establish a bond or a relationship. Notice that Isaiah places the word “covenant” with in the context. This informs the reader that it is because of G-d’s desire to enter into a covenant relationship with the Jewish people that He is pouring His grace upon them. The Hebrew word translated “supplication” is derived from the same word as grace. Hence the text is saying that not only does G-d provide what is necessary to forgive the people of their sin (mercy) but He does so because of this great desire to have a covenant relationship them and even creates the desire within them (the spirit of supplication) to have such a relationship with Him.

Whereas the phrase “house of David” refers to those who have faith in a coming Messiah the term “the inhabitant of Jerusalem” speaks about those who will inherit the promises of G-d. The term “Jerusalem” being derived from two Hebrew words, the first meaning “to inherit” and the second “shalom” which speaks about the fulfillment of G-d’s will, which is to place upon His covenant people His blessings. The second half of this verse deals with the means by which these things are accomplished. The text says, “They will look upon Me…” to whom is the text referring? It is clear from the context that HaShem is speaking (the One who is pouring out His Spirit). It is most interesting that the consensus opinion among both Jewish and Christian commentators is that the text is referring to the Messiah.

It has already been discussed that Judaism speaks about two Messiahs, Messiah Ben David and Messiah Ben Yoseph. The Gemara in Meseket Sukah says that this one is Messiah Ben Yoseph (there is also an alternate view that the text is referring to man’s evil inclination). Rabbi Dosa says the lamenting is for the Messiah which descended from Yoseph who was killed previously (see meseket suka 52a).Such an interpretation poses a serious conflict for Judaism. It is clear from verse nine that HaShem is defeating those that are attacking Jerusalem and the Jewish people at the end of the age. Rambam’s view which is embraced by Judaism as a whole says it is the role of Messiah Ben David to fight the war at the end of this age and bring about the final redemption. Therefore it is problematic that it is Messiah Ben Yoseph that is being mentioned here according to the Gemara. The fact that the “house of David” is mentioned in this verse also serves to hint to Messiah Ben David. The reason that there is a desire among the rabbis to interpret the subject of the verse as Messiah Ben Yoseph is because he was stabbed / pierced. Once again both Jewish and Christian commentators see this as relating to Messiah’s (Jewish scholars say Messiah Ben Yoseph) death. The problem is that this one is bringing the victory to Israel in the last days (role of Messiah Ben David) is the one who had previously been and died and now is returning and bringing the final redemption. Rabbinical Judaism cannot reconcile this conflict. However there is a simple solution. As has been discussed in a previous article, there are not two Messiahs, but one. This one Messiah has two distinct roles which He will accomplish at two distinct times. The first role is to do the work of redemption and the second is to bring the actual results of the work of redemption to Israel and the world, i.e. the kingdom of G-d. Zechariah chapter three offers an interesting illustration in helping the reader to understand the nature of Messiah’s work of redemption.

In chapter three the prophet Zechariah has a vision of Yehoshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the L-rd and Satan standing on his right side to accuse him. Satan makes this accusation against Yehoshua because as high priest Yehoshua represents the entire people of Israel. It is most significant that Yehoshua is clothed with soiled garments. These soiled garments represent the sins of the Jewish people. HaShem responds by ordering that the soiled garments be removed from upon Yehoshua. This removal of the soiled garments represents the removal of the sins from the Jewish people. This is the work of redemption. Messiah has the responsibility as had already been discussed in the previous article to pay the price of redemption for the Jewish people and in fact all people, Jew and Gentile alike. Please note the end of the fourth verse of chapter three,

And He (HaShem) answered and said to the ones standing before him saying, ‘remove the soiled garments from upon him and clothe him with the festival garments”. Zechariah 3:4

The word which is translated as “festival garments” is derived from the Hebrew word which speaks of being released. In Modern Hebrew this word is related to the word for a corkscrew. Hence the idea is freedom from sin and the consequences thereof. It is most significant that verse eight mentions “My Servant (the) Branch“. All commentators see this phrase relating to the Messiah. In the next verse it is recorded,

“…I will remove the sin of that land in one day.” Zechariah 3:9b

The verse reveals that in one day HaShem will do the work necessary to redeem Israel. Furthermore the fact that the vision speaks of Yehoshua being clothed with soiled garments and then clean ones teaches a vicarious sacrifice. This is exactly the type of sacrifice the High Priest makes for Israel on the Day of Atonement. With this information clearly being revealed in this chapter it is now obvious to conclude the following about Messiah’s work of redemption. Messiah will make a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of Israel and in one day the work of redemption is achieved. Such a view is quite different from a common teaching of Judaism today that it is by doing good deeds that Israel will merit her own redemption. This was the teaching of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe who said that a certain number of good deeds would be done prior to Messiah being revealed and therefore encouraged people to do good deeds saying that “perhaps the good deed that you do will be the one that brings the final redemption.”

This third chapter of Zechariah teaches that it is not by merit that Israel will be redeemed, but by the sovereign plan of G-d, Who will one day simply give the command that Messiah should do the work of redemption. Now returning to chapter twelve and verse ten the reader notices another key piece of information. When Messiah appears, Who has been pierced / stabbed, it says that the people will lament for Him. In fact the verse tells the reader about the uniqueness of this lamentation,

“… and they will look upon Me whom they have pierced and lament concerning him as one laments concerning an only son and be bitter as the bitterness is for (the death) of a firstborn son.” Zechariah 12:10

Such mourning is significant. It is a clear reference to a thirty day mourning period. Daniel offers some key information to help one understand the significance of this period. In the next article we will investigate the relationship between Zechariah chapter fourteen and what Daniel says about the last days and learn how Messiah figures into these days.

 

Author: Dr Baruch Korman

Isaiah’s Messianic Picture by Rabbi Baruch

We have already seen in a previous article that the character of Messiah is expressed in the commandments of the Torah. In other words, Messiah will perfectly observe the Torah and be a living example of righteousness. We shall see (in the second section of this study) that this fact in inherently tied to His role as Redeemer. Although Messiah is from David’s lineage, Isaiah records that there is a divine aspect to Messiah. This aspect relates not only to His behavior, but also to His Identity. Isaiah uses the name Emanuel (Isaiah 7:14) not only to show a connection with G-d, but to proclaim that Messiah is actually G-d in a physical body. How is it possible for Almighty G-d to dwell in a human body? Those who ask this question make the incorrect assumption that if G-d enters into a human body, He ceases to be omnipresent. Such is not the case. The Bible records that G-d resided in the Temple (within the Holy of Holies) but He did not cease to be in the heavens. No one even ponders this. Scholars have rightly pointed out that the Temple (the House of G-d) had a unique status, but did not infringe upon the omnipresence of G-d. In this same manner, Messiah, Who is called not only Emanuel, but also the Mighty G-d, and Everlasting Father by Isaiah, has the status of being Divine. In no way does this concept attack the fact that G-d is One. No one has ever proposed a multiple aspect of G-d, because G-d dwelt in the Temple and in the heavens. Therefore, one should not attack the unity of G-d because Messiah is Divine.

Isaiah 7:14 speaks not of a miraculous birth, but a supernatural conception, i.e. the virgin birth. Why was it necessary for Messiah to enter into the world by means of a virgin conceiving a child by means of the Holy Spirit? Jeremiah chapter 22 offers an interesting answer. In this chapter, Jeremiah is speaking about Jehoiachin, king of Judah. This man was an evil ruler whom Jeremiah prophesied would not produce an heir that would sit upon the throne of David (Jeremiah 22:28-30) Nebuchadnezzar brought Jehoiachin to Babylon, together with the precious articles of the Temple and made Jehoiachin’s brother Zedekiah king (II Chronicles 36:10). Zedekiah was Judah’s last king. So no descendent of Jehoiachin has reigned upon David’s throne. But what about Israel’s next king; King Messiah? According to Jewish law, not just any descendent of David can be Messiah, but one in the royal lineage. This poses a serious problem for a messianic candidate. How is it possible to be of royal lineage and not be a descendent of Jehoiachin? The solution is that Messiah is from the royal lineage by name only (his legal son), but not by blood—hence the need for the virgin birth. This means that the child’s lineage (determined by the father) is royal, but was conceived without human seed, i.e. by means of the Holy Spirit. This is the sign that Isaiah’s prophecy demands (see Isaiah 7:14). This would also explain how the child could be called the Mighty G-d and Everlasting Father.

Notice in Isaiah chapters 9 and 10 that the prophecy of Isaiah 9:5-6 confirms a great military victory over Israel’s enemies as did the prophecies of Isaiah chapters 7 and 8.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful counselor, the Mighty G-d, the Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now and forevermore.  The zeal of the L-rd of Hosts will do this.

Isaiah 9:5-6

Although Israel will go through a difficult time of hardship and sorrow by means of intense persecution, in the end Israel will return to G-d through repentance. The period of judgment upon Israel will leave the once glorious nation, likened to a grand flourishing tree, as no more than a stump. But when Israel repents, a shoot will sprout forward from the stump (see Isaiah 11). There is no debate in Judaism that Isaiah chapter 11 is speaking of the Messiah. Nor is there any argument that Jeremiah 23:5 is also speaking about Messiah. Isn’t it interesting that after Jeremiah prophesies that none of Jehoiachin’s descendents will ever rule on the Davidic throne that Jeremiah calls Messiah the L-rd of Righteousness.

Behold, the days are coming, says the L-rd, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE L-RD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Jeremiah 23:5-6

In the passage immediately thereafter, Jeremiah speaks of the final Exodus (Redemption).

Therefore, behold, the days are coming, says the L-rd, that they shall no more say, The L-rd lives, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, the L-rd lives, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries where I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.

Jeremiah 23:7-8

Jeremiah reveals that it is the Messiah, whose work of redemption will bring about our (His people’s) righteousness.

What are some of the character traits of Messiah? What are some of the outcomes of redemption? These issues will be delved into in the next article revealing the relationship between Isaiah chapters 11 and 12.

Author: Dr. Baruch Korman

The Passover that Changed the World Part 4 by Rabbi Baruch

Conflict #15 Are there inconsistencies in the women’s departure from the tomb as they went to inform the disciples?

All four Gospels tell of the women, after receiving the angelic command to go and tell the disciples, that the women departed to fulfill this command. However, Matthew reveals that it is on the way to inform the disciples that the women met the risen Yeshua. Mark and Luke say nothing of this encounter. John only focuses on Mary Magdalene’s experience. There is no problem if a piece of information is omitted. Such an occurrence does not represent a conflict. The problem is that Mark’s Gospel states,

kai exelqousai efugon apo tou mnhmeiou, eicen gar autaV tromoV kai ekstasiV: kai oudeni ouden eipan, efobounto gar.

“And after coming out, they fled from the tomb, for fear and amazement seized them: and nothing to no one they spoke, for they were afraid.” Mk.16:8

This verse does seem to contradict the rest of the Gospels, but only if one makes an assumption that the women upon arriving back to their residences remain silent. This assumption contradicts what the other Gospels reveal and common sense. There is a way to interpret this verse which removes all inconsistencies.

Is it possible that this verse is not speaking about the women in regard to their behavior upon arriving back to their residences, but only describing their behavior as they were rushing to do exactly what the angelic proclamation had instructed them to do? That is, the women who were seized fear and amazement did not say a thing to each other as they rushed to tell the disciples. Mark’s purpose is not to inform the reader that the women remained silent, but to reveal emotional condition due to what they had witnessed.

It could very well be that after traveling some distance as Matthew reveals, that the women did in fact encounter Yeshua, Who confirmed the words of the angel and also told them to tell the disciples. Mark ignores this, not because it did not happen. Rather he is led to inform the reader that the first appearance of Yeshua was not to the group of women who departed the tomb seized with fear and amazement, but to Mary Magdalene as John’s Gospel writes. Hence all Gospels can be reconciled to each other.

Conflict #16 Is Mary Magdalene permitted to touch Yeshua?

This conflict arises because Yeshua clearly commands Mary not to touch Him (see Jn.20:17), while in Matthew’s account the women do in fact touch Yeshua. The problem is that Yeshua seems to have no problem with the women clinching His feet and does not instruct to stop (see Mt.28:9). This apparent conflict is most easy to explain. It has already been stated in this study several times that the Gospels do not reveal one event in regard to the women visiting the tomb that morning but many. It is clear that Yeshua appeared first to Mary Magdalene and after that to the women who Matthew says “held Him by the feet and worshipped Him” (Mt.28:9).

Hence time elapsed from first appearance with Mary Magdalene and the second with the women. It is clear from the context that this time may have only been a few minutes, but this would have been enough time for Yeshua to accomplish various activities. If one fully reads the verse in which Yeshua commands Mary not to touch Him, then one would find that a reason was given why Mary should not do this.

legei auth ihsouV, mh mou aptou, oupw gar anabebhka proV ton patera…

“Yeshua says to her, ‘Do not touch me, for I have not ascended to the Father…”Jn.20:17a

This statement clearly implies that after Yeshua ascended to the Father the prohibition would be removed. Therefore when Yeshua appeared to the women, He must have already ascended to the Father and had returned. *

* Please note: this ascension is not referring to Yeshua’s final ascension at the end of forty days. In regard to His final ascension a different Greek word is used, anefereto.

This is supported by the fact that there were other instances where not only did people touch Yeshua, He invited them to do so (see Jn.20:27, Lk.24:39).

Those who attack the New Testament witness based on this issue (and many like it), fail to allow that time can alter prohibitions and even do away with them altogether.

For example, a police officer tells an individual that he is forbidden to drive a car because he has no license. This individual obtains a license later that same day and the same officer upon hearing this information tells the individual to drive safely. Is it legitimate for one to say the officer’s statements an unexplainable conflict? Of course not! However those who attack the credibility of the New Testament do so, without allowing for the possibility that events could have transpired that reconcile to two opposing conflicts.

The remaining conflicts involve the resurrection appearance of Yeshua.

Conflict #17 Unto whom does Yeshua appear first?

Mark’s Gospel explicitly states that Yeshua appeared first to Mary Magdalene (see Mk.16:9). There is nothing in John’s Gospel to contradict this. Matthew’s Gospels records both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to the tomb that morning and it is while the women are responding to the angelic command to go and tell the disciples that they encounter Yeshua. Therefore, there are those who see a conflict because John clearly writes that Mary Magdalene was at the tomb when she met Yeshua and Matthew has the women in the midst of their journey to tell the disciples.

Two observations must stated, first there is no reason to assume that when Matthew speaks of the women encounter Yeshua on their way from the tomb to tell the disciples that Mary Magdalene had not already met Yeshua previously. The account in Matthew and Mark is similar and Mark tells the reader that Mary’s experience was indeed separate from that of the other women.

Rabbi Singer writes in regard to this,

Mark’s story does not indicate where this appearance takes place. It is quite clear, however that it occurs sometime after Mary fled the tomb. (16:8-9)

Rabbi Singer makes this comment because if he did not say that Mark alludes to a different location then Matthew, Mark and John would pose no difficulty at all. The problem is that although he makes this bold statement, “It is quite clear,…” he does not provide any reason to support it.

The text Rabbi Singer quotes is inserted into the account by Mark in order to inform the reader that the women who encountered the angel and rushed to tell the disciples were not the ones who first encountered Yeshua. Mark gives no additional information about Mary Magdalene’s experience that is, when or where. Therefore Rabbi Singer’s statement is without foundation.

Thus far this study has not commented on Luke’s account in regard to this issue. Once again Rabbi Singer attacks the Gospels as presenting information which are contradictory. This time Rabbi Singer does offer support for his claim. He states that whereas Matthew, Mark, and John have Mary Magdalene as the one who encountered Yeshua first, Luke’s Gospel has Cleopas and the another individual meeting Yeshua first (see Lk.24:13, 18).

Rabbi Singer also states,

Contradicting Mark’s resurrection tale, Luke asserts (24:34) that when the two followers who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus returned to Jerusalem and told the eleven about their encounter, the disciples declared ‘It is true!’, whereas Mark insist that when the two reported their encounter, the disciples did not believe!-Mark16:13

(see page 95)

Does Luke’s account really represent a conflict? No. Luke does not state that it was the two followers who first met Yeshua. In fact whereas the other accounts have Yeshua appearing to the women early in the morning, Luke records that Yeshua appeared to the two travelers much later in the day.

“And they drew near unto the village, where they were going, and He (Yeshua) made it as though He would have gone further. But they constrained Him saying, “Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent…” Lk.24:28-29

Luke does not have Yeshua revealing His identity to the men until they ate the evening meal.

It is not reasonable to conclude that this was in fact the first encounter that anyone had with the risen Messiah. Whereas the other Gospels record their encounter very early in the morning, Luke records his some twelve hours later. Luke simply chooses not to record what the other three Gospels do, rather he focuses on an account to which only Mark briefly alludes. It is within Mark’s brief statement about the two travelers Rabbi Singer finds another conflict.

Rabbi Singer claims that in Luke’s account the disciples believed the two’s report, while he states that in Mark the disciple did not believe.

Rabbi Singer travels throughout the world speaking to large groups of people, he has a radio show and one can find him in newspaper columns even in Israel. He is always referred to as an expert on the New Testament and is the one that many other rabbis turn to in order to discourage Jewish individuals from accepting the claims of the New Testament. Although Rabbi Singer is called a New Testament “expert”, he fails to disclose that he often attribute statements incorrectly.

If one checks out what is actually recorded in the Gospels in regard to this issue, Rabbi Singer’s claim is not only without foundation, but is the opposite of what is recorded. He states that in Luke’s account that “the disciples declared ‘It is true!”

The problem is that no such statement is found in Luke’s Gospel. Notice that Rabbi Singer gives no citation as where such a statement can be found. Even if one gives Rabbi Singer the benefit of the doubt and allows this statement (It is true!) to be a general statement summarizing Lk.24:32, “And they said, one to the other, Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the scriptures?”

The problem is that this verse is speaking about the two travelers and the citation that Rabbi Singer provides as evidence of a conflict is about the eleven disciples (Mk.16:13).

There is no conflict if one Gospel account says that the two individuals who were traveling to Emmaus believed after Yeshua appeared to them, and the other Gospel account in speaking about the eleven disciples who were told by these two travelers about their experience with the risen Messiah did not believe.

Hence there is no conflict in regard to whom Yeshua appeared first.

Conflict #18 Inconsistencies about the Post-Resurrection appearances of Yeshua

Does the New Testament state conflicting accounts of the post-resurrection appearances of Yeshua? The answer is clearly no. Then why do many people attack the New Testament citing there are conflicts in regard to the number of times Yeshua appeared, what He said to those He appeared to, and the order of these appearances?

The answer is simple, a belief that the New Testament presents events chronologically and all four Gospels must reveal the same information. That is, if one writer is inspired to include additional information and events, while omitting other events this represents a conflict. It is interesting to note that the rules of evidence in a court of law has no problem with such testimony and does not discredit those who provide such accounts. As has been presented in this study, the Gospel writers did not set out to write an all inclusive historical account of the events of Yeshua’s life.

Rabbi Singer and those who share his comments need to consider what John writes,

“And there are many other things which Yeshua did, the which, if every one should be written, I (John) suppose that even the world itself could not contain the book that should be written. Amen” Jn.21:25

It is with this verse that the four Gospels are concluded. John’s statement has great hermeneutical value. In summarizing the Person and Work of Yeshua, John states that many things were omitted by the Gospel writers. In the previous verse John labels the Gospel accounts as testimony not historical narrative. Testimony is different in many ways to a historical narrative. While a historical narrative does have chronological concerns, testimony is compilation of one or more individuals who testify to what was seen. Perception is a key consideration. Although the Gospels contain testimony and

is able to withstand any form of criticism, it should not be merely considered as testimony in the sense of a deposition.

It must be strongly emphasized that the primary concern of the New Testament is revelation. That is, the revealing of spiritual truth that the man of G-d is fully equipped to know G-d and serve Him properly.

In returning to the issue of Yeshua’s post-resurrection appearances the following guidelines must be presented.

– Do the Gospel accounts ever state that they are revealing the order of His appearances?

– Do the Gospel accounts ever state that there is a precise number of appearances?

The answer to these questions are no. This being the case, can one then state without knowing the exact order and number that there is a conflict in where these appearances took place? Once again the answer is no. The reason for this is that the reader cannot be sure that the same appearance is being referred to by more than one Gospel writer.

Post-Resurrection Appearances

Matthew:

The Gospel of Matthew records two post-resurrection appearances * .

The first is as the women are on the way to tell the disciples and encounter Yeshua (see Mt.28:9-10).

The second is after the eleven disciples departed from Jerusalem and entered into the Galilee. They met Yeshua at a mountain that He had appointed for them to meet Him (see Mt.28:16-20).

* Please note that Matthew concludes the second appearance with words that Yeshua may have said at His ascension. It is common for Scripture to be used in a different context than it appeared originally. Matthew places this authentic statement of Yeshua at the conclusion of Yeshua appearance in Galilee. This does not necessary mean that Yeshua said these words at this time. Rather it was after the Galilee appearance that Matthew was inspired to conclude his Gospel. In doing so the Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to leave his readers with the some of Yeshua’s final instructions for His disciples. Hence these words may reveal a third post-resurrection appearance within Matthew’s Gospel.

Mark:

The Gospel of Mark records four post-resurrection appearances.

The first is when the reader is informed about Mary Magdalene’s experience (see Mk.16:9).

The second is when Mark mentions the two travelers, most likely the Emmaus Road appearance (see Mk.16:12-13).

The third is when Yeshua scolds the eleven for their unbelief and hardness of heart (see Mk.16:14).

The fourth is when Yeshua appeared to them and then ascended into the heavens (see Mk.16:19).

Luke:

The Gospel of Luke records three post-resurrection appearances.

The first is the Emmaus Road appearance (see Lk.24:13-35).

The second is while the two individuals whom Yeshua had appeared to on the Emmaus Road were explaining to the disciples what had happened to them (see Lk.24:36-48).

The third is when He instructed them and then ascended from Bethany (Lk.24:50-52).

John:

The Gospel of John records four post-resurrection appearances.

The first is when Mary Magdalene meets Yeshua early in the garden (see Jn.20:14-17).

The second is still on the first day of the week, but in the evening when the disciples were behind lock doors and Yeshua appeared (see Jn.20:19-23). Please note that Thomas was not present at this appearance.

The third is eight days after the second appearance. Thomas is with the rest of the disciples and Yeshua invites Thomas to examine His hands and His side as proof that He has risen (see Jn.20:26-29).

The fourth is set in Galilee on the Sea of Tiberias. The entire twenty-first chapter of John is dedicated to this appearance.

Acts:

Luke continues his account of Yeshua in the book of Acts. He writes,

“To whom (the apostles) He (Yeshua) showed Himself alive after His suffering, by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of G-d.” Acts 1:3

Luke also writes about Yeshua’s ascension in to heaven (see Acts 1:4-11).

Paul:

The Apostle Paul also provides a brief list of post-resurrection appearances,

“And that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve. After that, He was seen by more than five-hundred men at one time; of whom most are still alive today, but some are fallen asleep (dead). After that, He was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen by me also, as one born out of due time.” 1Cor.15:5-8.

Inconsistencies about the Post-Resurrection appearances of Yeshua:

Is there a problem in the number of disciples who saw Yeshua after His resurrection?

-Matthew says that Yeshua appeared to the eleven disciples in Galilee (see Mt.28:16).

-Mark says the Yeshua appeared to the eleven disciples (see Mk.16:14). This appearance most likely occurred in the Galilee or in Jerusalem. The text does not specify. Mark also tells of another appearance when Yeshua ascended into the heavens (see Mark 16:19). The text is not clear the number of disciples who were present.

-Luke says the Yeshua appeared to the eleven disciples while in Jerusalem (see Lk.24:33). Luke also records a latter appearance which took place in Bethany on the day Yeshua ascended into the heavens (see Lk.24:50-51). There is no way of knowing how many disciples were present.

-John says that Yeshua appeared to the disciples three times. One of those times Thomas was not present. This fact would mean that the most disciples that could have been present on Yeshua’s first appearance * with His disciples ten.

Many see the fact that only ten disciples being present when Matthew, Mark, and Luke record eleven as an inconsistency. This is not the case.

* This is the first appearance that John records.

When Matthew speaks of the eleven disciples he is referring to an appearance which took place in the Galilee,

“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galelee…” Mt.28:16

When Mark speaks of the eleven disciples he is referring to an appearance which the text is unclear as to when it took place (see Mk.16:14). Therefore there is no reason to assume that this is the same appearance as the one which John has only ten disciples present.

When Luke writes of the eleven disciples it is when the two travelers returned to Jerusalem and began to tell how Yeshua appeared to them (see Lk.24:33). It is during that evening that Yeshua appears to them. The point which must be stressed is the possibility that Thomas was present when the two travelers arrived, but sometime later departed before Yeshua appeared to them. There is textual support for this view in John’s account of this event.

When John states that Thomas was not present he qualifies the time period when Thomas was not there.

qwmaV de eiV ek twn dwdeka, o legomenoV didumoV, ouk hn met autwn ote hlqen ihsouV.

“But Thomas one of the twelve, the one called Didumos, he was not with them when Yeshua came.” Jn.20:24

One must ask why John emphasizes the fact the Thomas was not there when Yeshua came ouk hn met autwn ote hlqen ihsouV ? The reason is simple, for when the Gospel writers (Mark and John) begin their narrative of this event Thomas was present,

“Then the same day at evening, being the first (day) of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled…” Jn.20:19

John clues the reader into the fact that when Yeshua appeared Thomas was not with them. This is the reason for the Greek word ote (when) and why John adds the phrase “when Yeshua came”. If Thomas was not there at all that evening John could have simply written,

But Thomas one of the twelve, the one called Didumos, was not with them .

G-d inspired every word included in Holy Scripture. There are no words which do not serve a purpose. This being the case, John was inspired to write this verse (Jn.24:20) in this manner in order to remove any conflict between the recorded number of disciples present when Yeshua appeared that evening.

Many have pointed out another inconsistency related to the number of disciples to which Yeshua appeared. Paul writes in 1Cor.15.5,

“And that He was seen of Cephas, then by the twelve.”

How could Yeshua appear to the twelve disciples the critics ask? Skeptics of the validity of the New Testament mock Paul by asking whether Paul knew that Judas had committed suicide (see Mt.27:5 and Acts 1:18)?

Once again this is another example of individuals attacking a book to which they are not that familiar. Long before Paul every became a follower of Yeshua the eleven disciples selected by lot Matthias (see Acts 1:26),

“And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”

Matthias was selected before the first Pentecost, i.e. within fifty days after the resurrection. Another incorrect assumption that critics make is that Paul in 1Cor.15:5 is stating that Yeshua had to appear to the “twelve” at one time. This is not the case. As long as Yeshua during his forty days was seen by Matthias it is a correct statement for Paul to make. Paul writes in the next verse, 1Cor.15:6 that five hundred men saw Him at one time. It is not possible that Matthias was present in that number? Maybe all twelve disciples were at that appearance? For critics to pose 1Cor.15:5 as a “serious inconsistency” as many do (Rabbi Singer being one, page 95 of his Study Guide) demonstrates a serious deficiency in basic New Testament content.

It is well established fact that before should attempt to interpret the Word of G-d, one should have a strong understanding of its content.

The final inconsistency that this study will examine in regard to the post-resurrection appearances of Yeshua relates to when the Holy Spirit was received by the disciples?

Critics cite Luke in the book of Acts (Acts 2:1-4) who states it was on Shavuot (Pentecost) that the Holy Spirit was given, while John seems to say that the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon the disciples on the evening following Yeshua’s resurrection (see Jn.20:22).

These separate events had two distinct purposes. The occurrence in John was not the giving of the Holy Spirit upon all who believe in Him. This is what took place in Acts chapter two. In John Yeshua was commissioning His disciples not as disciples any longer, but they had graduated becoming the ones He now ordained to continue His ministry. Yeshua came to reconcile man to G-d. His death provided the propitiation for sins (see 1Jn.2:2). This is why immediately after breathing the Holy Spirit upon them, Yeshua said in the next verse,

“Whomever sins you forgive, they are forgiven unto them; and whomever sins you retain, they are retained.” Jn.20:23

Hence, the event recorded in John 20:22 is similar to when the prophet anointed to new king and pour oil upon his head and the spirit came upon him. John is revealing that the fact that the disciples received the Holy Spirit first is proof they had been called to this position in the same way the descending of the Holy Spirit upon the kings, showed their selection as Israel’s leader.

In summary of the eighteenth conflict, there is not any testimony in regard to the post-resurrection appearances of Yeshua revealed in the Scripture which cannot be reasonably explained.

In conclusion after nearly two thousand years of criticism, the Gospel witness of the New Testament has stood the attacks of it critics. One can be assured that trusting in the revelation of both the Old and New Testaments is G-d’s complete and final written revelation to man.

The author of this brief study is of the utmost conviction that the words which John was inspired to conclude the Book of Revelation are also most appropriate for all of Scripture,

For I testify unto every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that were written in this book:

And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

He which testifies these things says, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

 

The grace of our Lord Messiah Jesus be with you all. Amen .” Rev. 22:18-21

 

Author: Dr Baruch Korman

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