Reply to Question 1
As a Jew, I'm amazed that you were able to leap over emotion to the truth! I am a bit puzzled, however. Since you obviously still view Jesus as the Messiah, but agree that he didn't fulfill Isaiah's prophecies and also agree that the law is still binding (contrary to "Paul the Liar"), then I ask what did Jesus accomplish to you? If the law is still binding, then he obviously didn't atone for our sins, because if he had done so, then faith over works would apply as Paul has said. I guess I don't understand why after figuring it all out properly, you didn't make it the entire way and convert to Judaism. Suggested reading: "Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism" by Dennis Prager/Joseph Telushkin. Also see Rabbi Singers web site.
Thank you so much for your question Mr. Schoenblum. It is the most comprehensive, and direct to the point question I have received to date. To try and answer it as quickly and concisely as you asked it will be difficult at best. I will have to cover much ground which will amount to a short overview of the main points I am in the process of making in my book, "Yeshua/Jesus and Judaism vs. Paul and Christianity". Much of it remains to be written, but in the end I will better establish the following points that I will give here in answer to your question.
To start, I would first like to address a statement of
assumption you made. You said, "I guess I don't understand why after figuring it
all out properly, you didn't make it the entire way and convert to Judaism."
You've been mistaken in assuming this because I have converted to Judaism. The
fact that Judaism (Moses observant) is far superior to Christianity is an obvious premise of mine that is
evident even in the title of my book. I have renounced Christianity as a title or label
that I will ever again take or posses for myself. If anyone asks me of what religion I am,
I tell them that I am Jewish by faith, or a proselyte to Judaism. At times I even wish I
had not been circumcised at birth as a matter of custom so I could have the opportunity to
demonstrate how serious I am about this.
If by "convert" you mean gain the official recognition of some Jewish organization, you are right. I have not been rubber-stamped "Official Jewish Convert" by any branch of modern Judaism. Which one would I apply for? Like Christianity, there are multiple factions of Judaism that refuse to give recognition to others. The recognition I crave first and foremost is from above. The favorable opinion (if I might call it that) of YHWH, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, is the only opinion that really matters. He is the Righteous Judge and He knows my heart and my ways. I know that my endeavor to live by His Laws as laid out in the Tanakh will not go unnoticed.
But I am more inclined to believe (based on your question) that you probably mean I can't possibly be Jewish by faith and at the same time believe that Yeshua is the Messiah. This seems to be one tenant that most branches of Judaism agree on and it is not hard to understand why. Christianity is anti-Judaism. It is not reformed Judaism, but the anti-thesis of the Law which is Judaism. The problem is the assumption by most Christians and Jews that Yeshua is the father of Christianity. He is not... Paul was. Unlike Paul, Yeshua's message was pro-Moses (Judaism) through and through. One classic example is Mat. 5:17 where he said;
"Do not think that I came to destroy* (annul, abrogate, or render vain) the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy* but to fulfill** (give official sanction to). For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all (heaven and earth's time) is fulfilled*** (completed). Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
* "destroy" 2647 Strong's
** "fulfill" 4137 Strong's
*** "fulfilled" 1096 Strong's
It continues to baffle me how it is that Christianity can
take a statement like this, stand it on its head, and try to make it say the very thing it
was obviously designed to prevent... the rejection of the Law.
Yeshua also commanded his disciples...
"The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do..." Matt.23:1,2
Then later he said;
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations... teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you..." Matt.28:19,20
These are but the highlights of Yeshua's pro-Moses, obviously Jewish teaching. I will be expounding even more than I already have on the difference between Yeshua's and Paul's message in my book. Many Jewish leaders also recognize that Yeshua's message was perfectly pro-Judaism. The day before I received your registry in my guestbook I received an e-mail from a Mr. Lipitz, which contained this statement;
"Interesting thesis. I remember quite vividly my colorful but mainstream Rabbi in Baltimore (Rebbi Kaplan, now about 95 and kicking) saying in sermon that Jews don't have a disagreement with Jesus, almost none whatsoever, but rather with Paul."
Paul is the father of anti-Semitic Gentile Christianity (a somewhat redundant label). The fact that his message is anti-Semitic is also obvious and will be dealt with in my book. Paul's teachings are what fueled the despicable Christian anti-Semitism that has been displayed throughout Christian history. Since Yeshua is mistakenly understood to be the father of Christianity, the tendency for many Jews is to put the blame on Him. Christianity has been a downright deplorable representative of Yeshua.
Having said this, I'd like to get more directly to your question;
"Since you obviously still view Jesus as the Messiah, but agree that he didn't fulfill Isaiah's prophecies and also agree that the law is still binding (contrary to "Paul the Liar"), then I ask what did Jesus accomplish to you? If the law is still binding, then he obviously didn't atone for our sins, because if he had done so, then faith over works would apply as Paul has said."
The question I'll focus on is, what did Yeshua
accomplish? A significant part of another chapter will be dedicated to answering this question in my
book. To condense the answer for now I offer the following.
Yeshua himself said quite clearly why he was sent in the very familiar (but little understood) passage of John 3:16-18.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that (for this reason) whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. He who believes in him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God"
There are a couple of things I would like to address from this passage. The first is the question of why he came. Yeshua said it was so that believers would not perish but have ever lasting life. It is obvious that Yeshua could not have been referring to everlasting life for these physical bodies. No one who heard Yeshua speak these words is alive today in their physical bodies. Therefore I draw the conclusion that he did not come for the purpose of delivering our physical bodies from death. This may seem like an overly simple or even trite deduction at first, but it is very important to notice a difference. There is a connection to believing 'in the name' which I will get to in a minute. Yeshua came to provide deliverance from death, (eternal, total separation from God) after death. Or in other words, to provide life after death. This life is not for these bodies but for new spirit bodies after death. Judaism for the most part has always believed in this spirit life after death. The Tanakh contains many references to this life after death. May I make a bold assertion here? Spirit atones for spirit, as flesh may atone for flesh. Yeshua's sacrifice was a temporary spiritual death (total separation from God) that atoned for our spirits. Yeshua even makes the same distinction between spirit and flesh earlier in verse 6.
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
Another assertion of mine is... Nothing has changed for us in the flesh. The flesh still needs atoning for! How this ties in with the continuing validity of the Law, and the many prophecies of burnt offerings being accepted during the Messianic age yet to come should be apparent.
How this all connects to believing 'in the name' is the key. I don't like to use the name "Jesus" much at all anymore. His real name, as spoken by those who walked with him, was probably pronounced "Yahushua" or "Y'shua" for short. I have settled on "Yeshua" because it is the spelling that Messianic Jews have settled on. This name, as I am sure you are aware of, is the combining of two Hebrew words. One is the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, (YHWH), and the other is "shua" which is a cry for deliverance. Assertion... Yeshua's name denotes a concept. If you as a Jew believe that YHWH will save you from eternal death, I maintain that you are at least as much a believer in "Yahu-shua" and saved, as any Christian who posses the name "Jesus" in spite of the fact that you do not recognize him as Messiah. Your faith is no different than the faith that saved all those who lived before Yeshua came. It is Christianity's deplorable representation of the Messiah to his own people (thanks in part to Paul) that is largely responsible for the Jew's rejection of him personally. This we will have to answer for. I include myself because I used to call myself a Christian. My endeavors on this web site are an attempt to undo some of the damage.
If you have read my chapter, 'What's at Stake', you know that I deduce from the book of Revelation that there will be a new heavens and a new earth after this one passes away. On the new earth will be the New Jerusalem to which only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life will have access. These are the Law abiding citizens of the kingdom. Outside the city will be those who were saved from eternal death but were lawless and therefore will be kept at a distance from God. As I see it there are basically two groups, Christians and Jews. I believe that Christians will comprise the great bulk of those who are saved but kept outside the city. These will be those who echo the prophetic words of Yeshua who said;
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice law-less-ness!" Matt.7:21-2
On the other hand, observant Jews who did the will of the Father will undoubtedly fare much better on judgment day than most Christians. In my opinion, this leaves you as an observant Jew in a win win position. We both believe that the Messianic age is coming and probably sometime soon. I still believe Yeshua is the Messiah and that he will return to fulfill all the kingly and priestly prophecies concerning the Messiah that were not fulfilled by him at his first coming. Considering the lie Christianity has been to the Jews concerning Yeshua, I don't believe for a second that God will hold you or any other Jew accountable for rejecting a lie. Therefore, I also believe you are somewhat safe (eternally speaking) in taking a wait-and-see approach as to who the Messiah is. At the same time I believe there is much to be gained in the here-and-now for those Jews who do recognize Yeshua as Messiah, which brings me to another issue.
There is between Judaism and Christianity a small group known
as "Messianic Jews". Of this group there is an even smaller group who call
themselves "observant Messianic Jews". I'm sure you are familiar with some of
the various Messianic web sites, some of which are listed on my links page. The majority of Messianic
Jews appear to fall in the more non-observant category and are for all practical
purposes little more than Christians with Jewish backgrounds. This is a bitter sweet
picture for me. It is wonderful to see Jews recognize their Messiah. But then to see them
become Christianized, (Paulinated as I call it) and turn their back on God's Laws is a
Then there is this interesting and novel group of "observant Messianic Jews". These dear people are in my humble estimation the closest to the truth of all the branches of Judaism and Christianity. The problem here though is that like the more non-observant Messianics, they continue to embrace Paul. They focus on the handful of pro-torah quotes that Paul made and appear to be blind to all his anti-Law and anti-Semitic statements. The fact that Paul made both kinds of statements and sounds like someone who is fence-sitting shouldn't surprise us when he can be quoted as saying these words:
"...to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law. that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men...' 1Cor. 9:20-22
The end result is that Christians will forever focus on
Paul's anti-Law quotes and ignore the pro-Law statements, and the observant Messianics
will do just the opposite and never the twain shall meet. Christianity will never turn to
the Laws of God as long as Paul is given any credibility.
What I see happening is the observant Messianics are desperately trying to maintain some credibility with the more non-observant Messianics who themselves have an umbilical cord attached directly to Christianity that they refuse to severe.
I went and found Rabbi Singer's web site as you suggested and
found it quite enlightening and in agreement with much of what I believe. The only major
disagreement I have with him is obvious. It is his rejection of Yeshua
as the Messiah. I
see his arguments against Yeshua as shooting from the hip at ghostly shadows because he
knows Christianity is in major error. But then I'm sure he assumes Yeshua
is the father of
Christianity as I mentioned above. I will address the objections to Yeshua
Messiah at a different location later. Rabbi Singer's stand against Jews converting and
becoming Christianized (i.e. turning their back on Moses) I fully support, and I offer a
to his web site for those who are interested in what he has to say about this subject. The
last thing that a Jew needs is Christianity, and as a Gentile I am here to shout this
truth to the world from the top of my computer and web site.
A short synopsis of my message is this.
To the Christians I say,
You have been fooled. You have been lulled into thinking far too highly of yourselves. You may have eternal life waiting for you, but if you think you are going to walk the streets of gold you are probably in for a big disappointment. That right is reserved for the Law abiding citizens of the kingdom who do "the will of the Father".
To the Messianics I say,
To the observant Messianics I say,
Ditch Paul. You have no need for him. It will be nearly impossible for you to draw your non-observant brothers (let alone Christians) back to "the will of the Father" as long as you continue to give Paul any credibility.
And to the observant Jews...
You are more precious to YHWH than the last two thousand years of history may have led you to think. Your Messiah is coming, and I believe soon. The last thing you need is to be converted to, or sanctioned by, any form of Christianity. But please consider the possibility that your Messiah is indeed Yeshua. At the very least, please don't completely reject the possibility but take a wait-and-see approach.
Paul was a Jew who turned his back on his own people and took
the truth of Yeshua away from them. It would be a great honor for me if I, as a Gentile, can have even a small part in
returning the Messiah to his rightful people.
Shalom in YHWH,