What is His Name?

What is His Name?

What is God's Name? How is God's Name pronounced?

Exodus 3:13 Then Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is His Name?' what shall I say to them?"

What is God’s ‘Name’? What shall we say? It is used over 6,800 times in the Holy Scriptures. God has many important titles and God does have 'a name' and His Name is important. In many English speaking translations of the Scriptures, the translators used the word “LORD”, in place of where God's personal powerful holy name is written. Using or speaking God's name is not a mandatory mandate, a necessity or an absolute requirement. If all you know, is - Heavenly Father, then you are good to go. We don't have to absolutely know the exact way His Name is to be pronounced. We do not have to learn Hebrew and call Him by His Hebrew Name or He won't listen to us. It is not about rigid name requirements, but about faith and a loving relationship. It is not about having to address God by His Name or He does not hear you or He does not answer you. God is bigger and better and beyond our human standards and human ideas. Beware of teachings that make God's Name and the "correct" or the "mandantory" pronunciation of the Name, an absolute critical pivital priority and focal point. Scripture tells us that Abraham, the father of the faith, did not know or call God by His Name, but only knew Him as, Almighty God or El Shaddai.

On the flip side of the coin, if we are intereted in God's Name and would like to learn what it is and possibly how, more or less, it is pronounced, there is nothing wrong with that. Knowing and using God's Name can be a great blessing. 'Using God’s Name is not forbidden in the Scriptures. There are ideas and teachings out there that basically forbid speaking or using God's personal name, as though as if it is a bad thing to do. The idea of not using His Name is usually rooted in superstition and fear or tradition. When we see God's Name over and over and over again within the context of the Holy Scriptures, it was used, spoken and declared. Within the Scriptures, it does not indicate anyone anywhere at anytime every not using God's Name because it was forbiden or too holy or unknown or unpronouncable or too complicated.

If you have a Bible that uses, LORD, that is normally the substitute word or title that was placed in various and most translations, where God's Name - HaShem - Yud-heh-vav-heh should have been. When you see "LORD", you could pretend that it is an acronym for, “Living Omnipresent Ruler Divine”. Some, like to say, “The Eternal” or "The Almighty" or "The Divine" instead of Lord or some other reverent respectful title. There are many many different opinions as to how God’s name is to be pronounced and so rather than pronounce it wrong, some believe it is best not to try and pronounce it at all. When we look at what God spoke to Mosheh (Moses), when Mosheh asked what God’s Name was (Exodus 3), it helps us to understand that name and possibly how to pronounce it. God said, “I am that I am” or “I will be that I will be”. In the original Hebrew it sounded something like, “eyeh asher eyeh”. This word “eh-yeh” (heh-yud-heh) (היה) (heh-vav-heh) (הוה) is the root or heart of God’s Name. Depending on how this word is used in sentence structure, it has many different sounds; such as: hayah, yeh-hee, yee-yeh, veheyeh, etc (and many more).

HaShem - Yud-heh-vav-heh, YHVH - This word/name means “to be” or “to exist”. When God first told Moses, “I AM”, He was saying, “I will be” or “I will exist”, but then as God continues to speak to Mosheh, God, then declares His Name as “He will be” or “He will exist”. (God now changes direction from first person, “eh-yeh” hyha to third person hwhy. When this happens, the letter, yod, is placed at the beginning of the word and the word changes sounds. There are many ideas about how this name is supposed to be pronounced. Some say “The Name”, pronunciation was lost over time and no one knows for sure. Some say that it is not really a name, but more of a title. Some say that this name or title is literally impossible to pronounce. Some pronounce His name as: Jehovah, Yahweh, Yahawah, Yahuah, Yahoveh, Yehovah, or Yeewheh. and so on and so forth. Normally, in most Jewish cultures and practice, His Name is regarded as so Sacred and Holy, that no one dares speak it, but uses titles only, such as, HaShem, Adonai, Ado-shem, etc. His name means, “He will be”. He will be forever and ever and ever. He will rule and reign as King for everlasting in Heavenly Jerusalem. He will be merciful forever and ever. The Almighty YHVH, He will be, king forever. Yes Heaven, the Kingdom of Heaven and it's King, will be forever. He will be!!! As His name is declared, it is a powerful declaration of the Eternal Everlasting Kingdom of Heaven, and the Eternal Everlasting Eloheem King of Heaven, and His Eternal Everlasting Reign! This,YHVH, Yud-heh-vav-heh is Eloheem's personal name. The letters that make up God's Name are declared as: Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh. Sometimes in the Scriptures, God's name is only written with the 'yud' and the 'heh' and most agree, is pronounced, “Yah” or "Yuh". The Hebrew word, “SHEM”, does mean 'name', but also can mean, 'character, power, reputation, report, mark, memorial, monument, authority, fame, and glory'. God's Name is important, but knowing Him personally, is much more important than knowing exactly how to say His name. Knowing His Name is good, but more so, know His character and authority. Know Him!

What is His Name? Is God's Name, "Yahweh"? One of the most popular ways of saying God’s name is “Yahweh”. I used to listen to some teachers and singers that spoke and sang His name as this way and I started to pronounce His name this way also.

After much prayer and seeking YHVH, specifically, about His Name, I believe, He spoke to me twice and told me not to pronounce His name in this way. After studying Hebrew and how Hebrew words and grammar work, I began to see some important things. After some more study, I found that, “Yahweh” is not a pronunciation that fits into the proper Hebrew grammar. There are even some that say that the name, Yahweh was the name of a pagan deity. There are many theories and suppositions out there; however, none seem to relate to proper Hebrew Grammar. So, His Name is probably not pronounced as Yahweh.

What is His Name? Is God's Name, "Yehovah"? There are other groups out there that believe the Tetragrammaton was/should be pronounced as Yehovah/Yehowah, based upon the notion that the Karaite Ba’al ha-Masorah, Aharon ben-Mosheh ben-‘Asher, would not have in good conscious defiled the Miq’ra. This might very well be the case, but this does not account for the various places within the Aleppo Codex where the Tetragrammaton is written with different pronunciations (Y’howah is used 29 times | Yehwih is used 304 times | Yehowih is used once at Judges 16:28 | Y’howih is used 23 times | Y’hwih is used 207 times | Y’hwah is used 6,268 times). Then, again, maybe the name has different pronunciations at different locations due to the language used in those locations, but this still would not account for the “Yehovah” pronunciation stance on the subject as being correct.

What is His Name? Is God's Name, "Yahuah"? There are some that get there pronunciation from the Hebrew word for Judah, being hdwhy Y’hudah, because it has all of the letters in God’s name and one extra letter, the dalet. So if you remove the dalet letter, you get something that sounds like, Yahuah. If we take that same kind of logic and we take the name ‘Marc’ and remove the “r”, to make ‘Mac’ or ‘Mack’, would that work? No, it would not. It would sound more like muck. If we took, Paul and removed the ‘a’ to try and write pull, it would not work. If we remove the ‘u’, from Paul to try and make ‘pal’, it would not work. Y’hudah is a completely different word from God’s Name, YHVH. So, His Name is probably not pronouced as Yahuah.

Sometimes you might see God’s Name written as YHVH and sometimes you might see it as YHWH. Many believe that the letter vav, used to have more of a ‘w’ sound, but both are representitives of the same Name.

The verb HaWaH (הוה) which is Aramaic in origin, is the root of the YHWH construction. This word is used throughout the Aramic text of the Sacred Scriptures. And in like manner as its Hebrew counterpart HaYaH (היה) is utilized in the Hebrew Texts of the Sacred Scriptures.

God’s Holy Name, YHWH, Yud-heh-vav-heh, is never used in any Aramaic portion of Scriptures. There is a good reason too. This construction would be confused with a common Aramaic verb, and may lose its intended meaning. In the Hebrew portions of Scripture, the HaYaH (היה) verb is used, and YHWH never is conjugated in the 3rd imperfect form YiHYeH. Neither will you ever find the HaWaH (הוה) verb ever conjugated into the 3rd imperfect YHWH in any Aramaic Text. The closest we have are the 2nd imperfect, which can be seen in Daniel and Ezra.

As mentioned before, Yahweh is an impossible construction, as it is based upon Theodoret’s IABE. Gesinius suggests that this indicates a hiphil conjugation. However, the hwh, (הוה), HaVaH or HaWaH verb does not conjugate in the hiphil. Neither can Greek be a reliable source for the proper pronunciation of this name, as Greek does not contain the consonants required to produce this conjugation. So, how is this Name pronounced? As you search, you will find that there are many ideas and theories as to how this name was pronounced.

When we utilize Aramaic/Hebrew grammar to analyze the name YHWH, it will become apparent how easily the pronunciation is found. The initial “Y” is the preformative of the 3rd imperfect, plural and singular masculine. The final “H” is a mater lectionis, a vowel letter, and is not part of the original root. What is left is the “HW”. This shows YHWH is from “HWH”.

In Aramaic, all weak/hollow verbs of the II-W/III-H forms lose the final root consonant “H”, and in conjugations, and “alef” is suffixed to the verb. Hence in Aramaic, the 3rd imperfect of HWH would be יהוא YHWA. It is pronounced as YeHeWei. The 3rd imperfect does not appear in the Aramaic Texts of the Sacred Scriptures.

HWH - hwh - is not specifically Hebrew, and hence it is not used widely in the Hebrew Text. The Hebrew counterpart of the Aramaic HWH is - hyh - HYH. In the Hebrew portions you see the same use of the Hebrew HYH as you do of the Aramaic HWH in the Aramaic portions.

In Hebrew, the rule to the weak/hollow verbs of the II-W/II-H class are the same as the Aramaic, except the final “H” is not changed to “A” but remains “H”. Hence in Hebrew, the Aramaic YHWA becomes YHWH. In either language the rules of pronunciation states the vowels in the first two letters are seghol and hateph seghol . In Aramaic the final vowel is a Tsere Alef, and in the Hebrew it is a Seghol Hey. Hence in Hebrew, God’s Holy Name, YHWH, is pronounced as Yeh-heh-weh.

It is important to note, the pronunciation of the Name was not lost, it was suppressed. The current vowels for, YHWH in Scripture are not the original vowels, but are from Adonai and Elohim respectively, depending on where YHWH, is situated in the Text. Many say that the vowels which are currently used on the YHWH of the Masoretic Text cannot possibly be the vowels of Adonai or Elohim. This is simply not true, and many who claim this, play upon the ignorance of the English only readers when it comes to the rules to Hebrew Grammar. If anyone claims that the vowels are actually supposed to be there, and are not transpositions, they would have to explain why there are so many variations to how they are placed? Once you understand the grammar behind the vowel placement, you will understand why the Yod in most cases has a vocal shewa, and not a hateph patach.

What is being done by many commentators and speculators is only a few vowels are being randomly chosen from the MT to produce a pronunciation which was never intended, nor is based upon any grammatical form or rules. The fact that Adonai has the hateph pathach, and Elohim has the hateph seghol, while YHWH normally employs the vocal shewa, is in line with the rules to Hebrew vowels and syllabification. The rule to vowel preference and syllabification demand that hateph (reduced) vowels such as hateph pathach and hateph seghol are used with gutturals in the propretonic position, while the vocal shewa is used in consonants other than gutturals in the propretonic position. There are only a few clear places this rule is violated by the MT, and in those cases, YHWH follows Adonai directly. What we ultimately must conclude, is that the meaning of Exodus 3:15 is the 3rd imperfect form of (הוה) - hwh - HaWaH, used in the Hebrew text to avoid the confusion which would naturally arise if YiHYeH were used to represent the 3rd imperfect of EHYeH. The pronunciation is naturally, and inevitably YeHeWeH (Yeh-heh-weh).

God’s Holy Name was revealed to us in Exodus 3 as a verb and this 1st person verb of (היה) HYH was changed to the 3rd person YHWH in Exodus 3:15. Doesn’t it make sense that when Mosheh was speaking to YHWH, that YHWH would respond to his request for a name in the 1st person, yet when Mosheh was instructed to speak to the people, he was instructed to speak to them concerning YHWH in the third?

There are many who claim knowledge of Hebrew Grammar, and do a very good job explaining the grammatical principles behind verbal conjugations; however, when discussing God’s Name, they always throw out these grammatical principles. God’s Holy Name, pronounced as Yeh-heh-weh, is how the qal imperfect 3rd masculine singular of הוה HWH is pronounced according to the Hebrew rules to verb conjugation.

The Aramaic הוה/הוי HWH/HWY is the equivalent to the Hebrew היה HYH, which is the verbal root to the famous - EHYeH, no one argues against this. In this same passage, the Name is given as YHWH, which proves the link between the היה HYH and הוה HWH. Since YHWH Himself gave us this link, then we should not ignore it. Hence it is very simple to show how the Name is pronounced via the Hebrew Verb conjugation of HWH, and further through the Aramaic verb conjugation which can be seen clearly in the Sacred Scriptures in the Aramaic portions of Daniel and Ezra.

YHWH, Yud-heh-vav-heh, wanted us to know His Name, and evidently it was no secret as to its pronunciation all the way to the time of Simon the Just, in who’s time this pronunciation began to be suppressed. The easiest way, is for everyone to follow the grammatical rules, which will be uniform anywhere in the Hebrew speaking world.The pronunciation was never lost, only suppressed.

Different angles are considered and followed in trying to determine the correct pronunciation of God’s Name, such as God’s Name, “YHWH”, consist of four letters, which are also four vowels. Some believe the ancient Hebrew letters all had automatic sounds associated with them. The word IEUE emphasizes the, "four vowels" Josephus (the 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian—of priestly descent) specifically stated were engraved upon the high priest's golden crown, in his work the Wars of the Jews (Book 5, Chapter 5, Section 7). He said, "A mitre also of fine linen encompassed his [the high priest's] head, which was tied by a blue ribbon, about which there was another golden crown, in which was engraven the sacred name [of God]: it consists of four vowels."

Some say that the ancient Hebrew actually had five fixed vowel-letters. These gave rise to the Jewish letters named aleph, heh, yod, ayin and vav—but also to the English vowel-letters A, E, I, O and U. English is actually a Semitic language: it's alphabet is most similar to the ancient Hebrew alphabet out of all alphabets in use today. Moreover over 90% of English words have Hebrew origins.

These ancient Hebrew vowel-letters were sometimes found between (as well as: before, or after) two (true) consonant-letters in the ancient Hebrew language. However, when the vowel-letters were not present, a default "ah" sound (said as in the Queen's English) was used. By using this simple system the ancient Hebrew language was extremely concise. It gave a lot of information clearly and in a few words; it was brief but comprehensive. It was in fact, the most efficient and portable language known in the history of mankind. With this idea of ancient Hebrew, God’s Holy Name, written as YHWH or YHVH or IEUE is transcribed (that is, pronounced) as [eeh-eh-ooh-eh / yee-eh-oo-eh or yehuweh or Yeheweh] in the (modern) English.

If you have access, you can look up in good Hebrew dictionaries, the Hebrew verb (הוה) – hwh – HVH. And in the third person masculine you will find the pronunciation to be “yeheveh”. Some would say that Hebrew ‘Names’ do not have to follow grammar or verb rules. Well, if that be the case, then God’s Holy Name would truly be a mystery. It could be a great variety of possible pronuciations, but it is very probable that the pronouciation does follow the grammer and verb protocal. This pronounciation for God's Name, 'Yeheveh' is not an absolute definite, but is a definite possibiliy.

Yeheveh or Yeh-heh-veh - This pronounciation of God's Name is similar to saying, 'Yes Heaven'. Yes Heaven, but no "s" (sound), because there is no satan, sin or sorrow in heaven, and no "n" (sound), because heaven has no end. ~ Ye(s) Heave(n) ~ God has no end. He is eternal.

God’s Holy Awesome Name, YHVH, Yud-heh-vav-heh, means, ‘He shall be’, or ‘He shall become’ and speaks of eternity. The four letters that make up the name - mean, ‘Hand ~ Behold ~ Nail ~ Behold’. The Name points to grace and mercy. The Name points us to sacrificial love. The Name points us to Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah and the wonderful good news of salvation. ‘He shall be’ / ‘He shall become’ speaks to us about future and eternal existence. In Isaiah 12, it declares - Hinei El Yeshua-ti! Behold God is my Salvation! I trust and am not afraid! For Yah Y-H-V-H is my strength and my song! And He has become my Yeshuah! Yeshua, means, salvation, healing, deliverance, and wholeness.

1Timothy 3:16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. The great mystery and revelation of the name YHVH is manifest and found in Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah.

article by carl e jones

The Pronunciation of YHVH

The Pronunciation of YHVH

Article by Jacob Metz

The pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton has been hotly debated for the last two centuries. Many linguists, scholars, and theologians have tackled this topic with less than unanimous agreement on the pronunciation. For the most part, these great men have promoted pronunciations that were based upon, what they deemed, Theophoric name present in the Bible, upon the historical evidence of earlier scholars and theologians who were witnesses living closer in time to the ancient Israelite peoples of Canaan, or upon perceived scribal errors contained in the Masoretic Text─ even upon claims of revealed knowledge. None have attempted a purely grammatical approach to the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton. There are several factors which can be used to deduce the true pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton. There is textual evidence in the Bible which can be used to gain insights into the true pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton. There is the fact that the verb root of the Tetragrammaton is an Aramaic verb and not a Hebrew verb. The use of the Tetragrammaton is restricted to the Hebrew portions and does not appear in any of the Aramaic portions of scripture. The use of the Lamed prefix in the book of Daniel is exclusively for the verb HaWaH הוה and can show the actual conjugation of the verb root of the Tetragrammaton as a Pa’al 3rd masculine singular of havah (הוה). The Tetragrammaton is the name used in reference to the four letters used to write the name of God in the Hebrew text of the Bible. In Hebrew, these letters are written as (יהוה), which would be YHWH in English letters. This name was utilized some 6,823 times in the Hebrew text of the Bible (Brown-Driver-Briggs 217). The Tetragrammaton was pronounced by the Hebrew people in all areas of religious devotion, social contracts, greetings and possibly curses, from the High Priest, to the humble servant. The pronunciation began to decline after the ban was ordered by Antiochus IV Epiphanes around 168 BCE (Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashannah 18b). Finally, this pronunciation ceased due to the permanent ban by Abba Saul c. 150 CE (Nehemia Gordon, pg. 4). As a result of this ban, the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton is presumed to be lost. The true pronunciation has always been considered of prime importance. As early as the fourth century CE, this Tetragrammaton was being pondered by the Greek Church. In his commentary on Exodus, Theodoret of Cyrus said the correct pronunciation was forbidden among the Jews who subsequently “pronounced it as IAO, but the Samaritans pronounced the name as IABE” (Theodoret, Questions on Exodus, XV). This has given rise to many interpretations surrounding the Tetragammaton’s pronunciation: the two most prevalent follows. The Anglicized Jehovah is considered to be an 1100 CE invention based upon earlier texts of magical incantations (The Harvard Theological Review 318). This pronunciation was used in many Latin publications between 1200 and 1300 CE (Sir Godfrey Driver paragraph 7). In 1516, Peter Galatin, suggested the Tetragrammaton was often pronounced by Pope Leo X, to whom he was penitentiary. According to Galatin, the Pope approved the pronunciation as JeHoVaH (De Arcanus Catholicae Veritatis, folio XLII). This was then promoted by Gilbert Genebrard (c. 1537-97 CE), a French Benedictine exegete and also the professor of Hebrew at the College Royal in Paris (Lang 207). By 1530, the Tetragrammaton passed into the English Bible translations as Iehouah, which was first used by William Tyndale (Tyndale, 1530, Tyndale Bible, Gen. 15:2). Today, this version of the Tetragrammaton is being hailed as the true and correct pronunciation by many Karaites, howbeit, corrected to be more Hebrew sounding as Yehowah/Yehovah (Melech ben Ya’aqov, 2010). The influence of Karaites, such as Nehemia Gordon, has also led to the proclamation of Yehovah as the true pronunciation among the Christian movements (Johnson, 2010). One of the most famous pronunciations of the Tetragrammaton is Yahweh. This name was promoted at large by Wilhelm Gesenius (Gesenius 337). Gesenius is regarded as one of the most influential Hebrew scholars of the 19th century; he published this opinion in his Lexicon which was widely used in Universities at the time and even late into the 20th century. Oddly, in his entry for YHWH (יהוה), he explains that he based his Yahweh pronunciation on the works of early commentators such as Theodoret rather than any sound rules of grammar. Nevertheless, this pronunciation was soon preferred and adopted by university elites worldwide. The fact of the matter is, the Yahweh pronunciation, which is so prominent among the academic elites, is but a guess which requires a re-examination from a more reliable source: namely, the Masoretic Text itself. One of the greatest hurdles which one must confront is whether or not the Tetragrammaton is a verb or a noun. This is not so easy to solve. On the one hand, the Tetragrammaton is derived from a pa'al 1st and 3rd imperfect conjugation (Exodus 3, 14-15). On the other hand, the Tetragrammaton is used in construct forms and appears with inseparable prepositions and very much resembles a noun. There are places where the YHWH is preceded by the emphatic 1st personal pronoun, Anoki, which seems a bit strange, because, if the Tetragrammaton were a verb, it would mean "I am He Is/Shall Be". However, the usage of the emphatic personal pronoun along with a 3rd imperfect verb is also found in the early Semitic languages, such as Ugaritic, for monarchs. Looking at some of the constructions, such as Anoki YHWH eloheikha “I am He Is/Shall Be Your Deity” (Exodus 20, 2), the Tetragrammaton seems easily understandable as I am He Who Shall Be Your Deity. However, there are places where the emphatic personal pronoun Anoki is used with verbs, mainly participles, for instance in Exodus 34, 10, Anoki Kareith berith “I am cutting a covenant;” this pronoun is never used with a 3rd imperfect form, but with participles and 1st perfect forms. Research has shown that the proper inflection for the 3rd imperfect conjugation of HWH in the books of Ezra and Daniel; YeHeWeA/H is how the 3rd imperfect would be conjugated as is demonstrated by the Masorete scribes in the pointing of this verb in the books of Ezra and Daniel (see Daniel 2,20 and 4, 22; Ezra 4, 12). In addition, it has been discovered that when a name was formed upon a 3rd imperfect verb conjugation, the only change (from verb to noun) is in the final syllable. The final syllable, especially in the Lamed-He verbs, receives a Qamets as opposed to the Seghol-He which is common for the final syllable in Lamed-He verbs for example, the verb yishweh is changed to Yishwah in 1 Chronicles 7, 30 and the verb yishpeh is changed to Yishpah in 1 Chronicles 8, 16. Even in the Lamed-Guttural verbs, the normal Pathach is changed to a Qamets when forming a noun from the 3rd imperfect as is the case for the verb yiftach (with Pathach) in Deuteronomy 28, 12 is changed to Yiftach (with Qamets) when it is used as a noun in Judges 11, 3. This demonstrates that if the Tetragrammaton were a noun, as opposed to a verb, then the final syllable would of necessity have a Qamets which is the norm for every other noun form based upon the 3rd imperfect in the Masoretic Text. Now the question arises, "What about the other vowels in the Tetragrammaton if it were a noun built upon the 3rd imperfect?" If it is assumed that the Tetragrammaton is a noun based upon the 3rd imperfect form, then the next question is, "How are the preceding syllables inflected?" As it was explained earlier, if the Tetragrammaton is a noun, then the only changes would be in the final syllable as is demonstrated by other nouns derived from an imperfect 3rd. The syllabification of Hebrew words which is used by the Masoretic Tradition is as follows: A) Short vowels prefer an open accented or a closed unaccented syllable, B) Long vowels, changeable or unchangeable, prefer closed accented, or open pre-tonic syllables, C) Hateph vowels prefer the pro-pre-tonic syllables containing the gutturals, D) Vocal Shewa prefers the pro-pre-tonic syllables containing consonants other than gutturals. There is, however, another matter to consider; the presence of the gutturals Alef (א), He (ה), Chet (ח), Ayin (ע), and Resh (ר), as one of the stem radicals (the letters of the root), forces a change in the inflection that a syllable will take and also the vowels which will be used in the syllable containing the guttural. The rule to Pe-Gutturals states that pa'al imperfect verbs which end in a Holem, begin with a Pathach or Qamets, while Pe-Gutturals which end in a Pathach begin with a Seghol (Introduction to Biblical Hebrew, Kennedy, page 146; Gesenius Hebrew Grammar, section 62-65); the verb ya’amodיַעֲמֹד follows this rule, however this isn’t the case for HaWaH. According to Gesenius and Kennedy, all Pe-Aspirants/Lamed-He verbs will also begin with Seghol. This is why, even though Gesenius suggests the YaHWeH pronunciation (due to the Greek witnesses), he admits the actual conjugation of HWH, in the imperfect 3rd, is YeHeWeH (Gesenius' Hebrew Lexicon page 247). An over-simplification of these rules are: 1) Gutturals prefer an "a" class vowel before and after, 2) Pa'al Imperfect Dynamic verbs prefer an "a" class vowel in the imperfect preformative prefix instead of the normal Hireq of the imperfect preformative prefix (yi), 3) Pa'al Imperfect Stative verbs prefer a Seghol in the imperfect preformative prefix instead of the normal Hireq of the imperfect preformative prefix (yi), 4) The Hebrew verbs HYH (היה) and CHYH (חיה) are exceptions to these rules where the (yi) prefix is retained in the imperfect and the Pe-Guttural initial stem radical retains the silent Shewa. Based on these rules, the 3rd imperfect stative verb HWH (הוה) becomes YeHeWeH (יֶהֱוֶה) when conjugated. This is demonstrated to be the case in the Aramaic conjugation of the 3rd imperfect of HWH (הוה) found in Daniel and Ezra. If, as explained above, the only difference between the 3rd imperfect verb and nouns which are built upon them is the change in the final syllable, then the explanation for how the Tetragrammaton would be inflected as a noun built upon the 3rd imperfect of HWH (הוה) would be YeHeWaH (יֶהֱוָה) as all the evidence of the Masoretic pointing demonstrates. The conjugation of the Hebrew HWH (הוה), then, as a verb in the 3rd imperfect is YeHeWeH (יֶהֱוֶה), while the inflection as a noun would be YeHeWaH (יֶהֱוָה). It has been suggested by some etymologists, that the Tetragrammaton may have the vowels which are found in names such as Yeroham (יְרֹחָם) 1 Samuel 1,1. Yeroham is built upon the noun form of a pu'al conjugation: yeruham (יְרֻחַם). The evident changes in the pu'al derived noun is the Holem and Qamets as opposed to the Qibbuts-Pathach in the verb. This inflection would seem very strange for the Tetragrammaton because this conjugation is passive and would give the meaning of YeHoWaH as (He Was Made to Be); this would demand that the deity of Israel had a beginning. The vowels of YHWH, which are utilized in the Bible, are specifically used to represent the Tetragrammaton as to be pronounced as either Adonai or Elohim. When YHWH stands alone, the vowels of Adonai are transposed upon the Tetragrammaton. When, however, the Tetragrammaton precedes or follows Adonai, the vowels of Elohim are transposed upon the Tetragrammaton. This is proven by the different vowels which are found upon the Tetragrammaton, as well as the usage of these vowels in relation to how near YHWH is to Adonai. In the Bible, the following vowels are used in connection with YHWH: יְהֹוָה (Y'howah) used a total of 29 times, יֱהוִה (Yehwih) used a total of 304 times; יֱהֹוִה (Yehowih) used only once in Judges 16:28; יְהֹוִה (Y'howih) used a total of 23 times, יְהוִה (Y'hwih) used a total of 207 times, and יְהוָה (Y'hwah) used a total of 6, 268 times In a search performed of the Bible for words which had a He-Waw-Hireq combination. It was found that, in the entire Bible, the only word which used the He-Waw-Hireq (הוִ) was the Tetragrammaton YHWH. In every instance, the Tetragrammaton was either preceded by, or followed by Adonai. There was one instance in which proved extremely interesting; in Psalm 68, 21, the Tetragrammaton has not only a conjunction, but an inseparable preposition and is written weleiHWiH (וְלֵיוִה). This is interesting, because in this instance, the Tetragrammaton precedes Adonai. Naturally, this would mean that YHWH would carry the vowels of Elohim. The presence of the inseparable preposition L' (לְ) with the Tsere demonstrates that this was the case. In Hebrew grammar, there is a special rule for prefixing inseparable prepositions to Elohim; instead of the normal vocal Shewa, which the prepositions normally take, when they are prefixed to Elohim, the preposition takes a Tsere and the Aleph is quiescent. The similar is the case when prefixing a preposition to Adonai only, in that case, the preposition normally takes a Pathach as opposed to the vocal Shewa. When, however, the inseparable prepositions M (מְ), SH (שְׁ), and the article H (הָ) are used, the Aleph of Adonai is not quiescent, but is audible-that is, the aleph is pronounced. This is seen in every case that a preposition is prefixed to YHWH when the Tetragrammaton stands alone; the preposition always takes a Pathach with the Yodh having no pointing which indicates the quiescent nature of the Aleph except in those places where the M (מְ), SH (שְׁ), and the H (הָ) are used (Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar § 102) . In those cases, the Yodh of YHWH takes a vocal shewa which indicates the vocal nature of the Aleph in Adonai. Places in the Bible where this is demonstrated are: Genesis 47, 18 where it reads MeiAdonai (מֵֽאֲדֹנִ֔י) and Genesis 18, 14 where it reads MeiYeHWaH (מֵיְהוָ֖ה); Psalm 144, 15 where it reads SheYaHWaH (שֶׁיֲהוָ֥ה); and Psalm 136, 3 where the article is used and it reads HaAdonim (הָאֲדֹנִ֑ים). Another rule for inseparable prepositions, as well as the conjunction Waw, concerns the prefixing of these prepositions to a word which has a vocal Shewa as the first radical, for instance Yehudah. When, in these cases, an inseparable preposition is prefixed to these words, the prefix takes a Hireq and the Yodh is assimilated to the Hireq. This means that the vocal Shewa is never pronounced. When a preposition is prefixed to Yehudah, for instance L' (לְ), it becomes LiHudah and not LiYehudah. This is never the case with YHWH; in every instance, the preposition takes a Pathach. This provides proof positive that the vowels used by the Masoretic Text on YHWH were the vowels of Adonai and Elohim transposed upon the YHWH and that these vowels do not, in any way, represent any possible pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton as it appears in the Masoretic Text. This shows that the Masoretes were simply abiding by the rabbinical ordinance in an attempt to prevent the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton by anyone reading the Bible. What this means is that the vowels of YHWH, as is presently found in the Masoretic Text, cannot represent the Tetragrammaton as a noun which would conform to the Hebrew rules of noun syllabification. The reason that the Tetragrammaton appears in construct forms and with prepositions, and etc. is because the Tetragrammaton represents the words Adonai and Elohim. In those places where YHWH is used in the construct, for instance YHWH Tsevaoth, YHWH always takes a Qamets in the final syllable; this represented, to the reader, that YHWH was to be pronounced as Adonai and so the reader would read Adonei Tseva'oth (אֲדֹנֵי צְבָאֹות). A great example of this is found in 1 Samuel 1,3 where the phrase is prefixed with a preposition; true to the Masoretic Text tradition of the use of inseparable prefixes with YHWH, there is a Pathach on the preposition which identifies the YHWH is indeed to be read as Adonai. The result is that, in this place, the phrase is to be read as Ladonei Tsevaoth (לַאדֹנֵי צְבָאֹות); the Pathach naturally causes the Aleph to become quiescent. Based upon this information, it is entirely plausible that the phrase originally could have been YeHeWeH Elohei Tsevaoth (יֶהֱוֶה אֱלֹהֵי צְבָאֹות) as it is found in places such as Psalm 89, 9. The Tetragrammaton first appears in the Biblical text in Genesis 2:4. From this point, the Tetragrammaton is given various vowels─all of which seem, at first glance, to be random. As explained earlier, the various vowel patterns, as they are found in the Westminster Leningrad Codex and the number of occurrences, are: יֱהֹוִה (1), יֱהוִה (2), יְהֹוִה (29), יְהֹוָה (39), יְהוִה (266), and יְהוָה (5,253) totaling 5,590 occurrences of the Tetragrammaton with 5 vowels and 6 vowel patterns (Leningrad Codex). The only answer for the variation of these vowel patterns is that the vowels as listed in the Hebrew Text are not the original vowels for the Tetragrammaton. According to the Rabbis, though the Tetragrammaton was written as YHWH (יהוה), it was to be read as Adonai אדני (Babylonian Talmud, Chapter 3, page 50). It has already been demonstrated that the Tetragrammaton is indeed supplied with the vowels of Adonai in those places it stands alone or is not is a close position to another Adonai in the text. In those places where the Tetragrammaton followed Adonai in the text, or was in close proximity to Adonai, it was supplied with the vowels of Elohim (אלהים). In all cases, the holem was the constant, as this vowel appears in both Adonai and Elohim in the second syllable. It could reasonably be argued that the Tetragrammaton does not contain the vowels of Adonai or Elohim, because the first vowel is, in the majority of cases, a vocal shewa. This is easily overcome by the fact that in Adonai and Elohim the first letter is an Alef (א). According to convention, the gutturals in the propretonic position take a hatef vowel and the non-guttural letters in the propretonic position take a vocal shewa (Pratico, Pelt, 2001). The meaning of the Tetragrammaton is explained in the Hebrew text as EHYeH asher EHYeH אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה (Bible, Exodus 3,14). This is not the name of God, but the meaning of His name. In the next clause, He commands Moses to tell the Israelites “EHYeH אֶהְיֶה sent me” (ibid.). That EHYeH is the 1st imperfect singular of the stative verb HaYaH הָיָה , there is no doubt. The real problem to the pronunciation comes with the following verse. In this place, the 1st imperfect stative verb אֶהְיֶה is changed to יהוה (ibid. 3,15). This is beyond doubt an imperfect verb. The initial Yodhh, then, is the prefix for the imperfect 3rd. The final seghol He is a vowel letter and is not part of the root. What is left is HW הו , which clearly identifies the root as HaWaH הָוָה . HaWaH is the Aramaic stative verb and is used in much the same way as the HaYaH is used in Hebrew. That HaWaH is not essentially Hebrew is made clear by the limited occurrences in the Hebrew text. In the pa’al 3rd imperfect, this verb is used exclusively for the Tetragrammaton of the Israelite’s deity, the only exception being Ecclesiastes 11,3. On the other hand, this verb is never used for the deity of Israel in any of the Aramaic portions of the Bible. The inseparable prepositions, which are attached to the Tetragrammaton, are a tell-tale sign that the vowels upon the Tetragrammaton are not the original vowels; they indicate very precisely the opposite. In all cases in which the Tetragrammaton carries an inseparable preposition, the vowel patterns are for the pronunciation of either Adonai or Elohim. If YeHoWaH were the true pronunciation, which would be based upon only one vowel pattern found for the Tetragammaton, the prepositions would always take a hireq─ in every case; the hireq is used with these prepositions when preceding a Yodhh with a vocal shewa. The Leningrad Codex demonstrates that this was never the case, such as the following example found in Deuteronomy 29,28: הַ֨נִּסְתָּרֹ֔ת לַיהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵ֑ינוּ hanistaroth laYHWaH eloheinu. This makes it clear that the scribes trans-positioned the vowels of Adonai onto the Tetragrammaton. In this passage the Lamed was prefix with the Patach; this would only happen if the Tetragrammaton was to be pronounced as Adonai─ which was the rule when the Tetragrammaton was in close proximity to Elohim. If it were to be pronounced with a vocal shewa, then the Lamed prefix would take a hireq. However, it was to be pronounced as patach before a hateph patach (the vowel which is upon the Aleph in Adonai), so the Lamed naturally takes the patach. A great example of how the Lamed prefixed to Adonai takes a patach vowel is Genesis 18, 30 which reads: וַ֠יֹּאמֶר אַל־ןָ֞א יִ֤חַר לַֽאדֹנָי֙ wayomer al-na yihar lAdonai. Another example is found in Deuteronomy 33,7 of the Leningrad Codex how a Lamed prefix upon a word containing a vocal shewa in the Yodh of the first syllable. In this case, it is Yehudah. The verse reads: וְזֹ֣את לִֽיהוּדָה֮ wezoth lihudah ; here the Lamed has a hireq while the Yodh quiesces. This would be the same case for the Tetragrammaton if it had a vocal shewa upon the Yodh in the first syllable. However, the Lamed prefixing the Tetragrammaton in the Text never carries a hireq, which shows the Yodh was never pronounced, with vocal shewa or otherwise. The next example is Psalm 68,20 וְלֵיהוִ֥ה אֲדֹנָ֑י weleYHWiH Adonai. In this verse, the Lamed prefix of the Tetragrammaton takes a tsere, which is the case when the Tetragrammaton was to be pronounced as Elohim. It is so in this case because the Tetragrammaton is in close proximity to Adonai in the Text. Normally, the Lamed prefix would take a seghol when it precedes a hateph seghol (the vowel which is used on the Aleph of Elohim), however, there is a special rule when Lamed is prefixed to Elohim─ in this case, it would always take a tsere and not a seghol. It should be noticed, in addition, that the vowels of the Tetragrammaton have the vowels of Elohim. When Elohim was prefixed with Lamed, as the Tetragrammaton is, then Elohim would be vocalized with Lamed tsere, holem, and hireq which is evidenced by Genesis 17,7 לִהְיֹ֤ות לְךָ֙ לֵֽאלֹהִ֔ים lihyoth lekha leilohim. All these examples clearly show how the scribes trans-positioned the vowels of Adonai and Elohim upon the Tetragrammaton in the Hebrew Text. There are five vowels used in 6 vowel patterns by the scribes; none were meant to be the true vowels of the Tetragrammaton, but are trans-positioned vowels. Anytime the vowel pattern demonstrates a qamets in the final syllable it is to be pronounced Adonai; while anytime it demonstrates a hireq in the final syllable it is to be pronounced Elohim. It is for this reason, that using any vocalization of the Tetragrammaton based upon the current vowel patterns found in the Masoretic Text is incorrect. These vocalizations are false patterns which were used only to aid the reader as to which way the Tetragrammaton was to be pronounced. Based upon the meaning given to the Tetragrammaton by God in Exodus 3:14, the Tetragrammaton is a verb. Knowing the root of the Tetragrammaton, it is clear to see that there is no difference in meaning or function from HaYaH. Both are stative verbs in the imperfect conjugation. In acknowledgement of this, the conjugation of HaWaH in the 3rd imperfect should naturally be valid. When a guttural closes an unstressed syllable, the preceding vowel will be seghol in place of the hireq, and the vowel after the guttural would take a hateph in the place where a non-guttural would take a shewa. Since the vowel preceding the guttural would be seghol, in place of hireq, then the hateph must be hateph seghol. Hence you would have YeHeWeH יֶהֱוֶה instead of YiHWeH יִהְוֶה . (Muraoka, 2011, pg. 79), also the Stative verbs prefer seghol/hateph-seghol, while the dynamic verbs prefer pathach/hateph-pathach (Cook, Holmstedt, 2007, pg. 113). In the case of HaYaH היה and ChaYaH חיה , these verbs have an irregular pattern as compared to other I-Guttural verbs, therefore, the hireq is retained (Bickell, 1877, page 92 section 123). There is also the word of Gesenius, who influenced so many with his proposition of YaHWeH. He writes in his lexicon, under the entry for the Hebrew הָוָה , as well as that of the Aramaic/Chaldee HaWaH הֲוָה, that the imperfect form would be YeHeWeH יֶהֱוֶה (Gesenius, 1846, pg. 219). Yet he rejects the sound rules of grammar for a pronunciation which is never attested in any of the Semitic languages in which HaWaH is employed and where YHWH was not held as a divine Tetragrammaton (Beitzel, 1980, pg. 18). Aside from the lexicographers of Biblical Hebrew, there is the Biblical text itself, which is a witness delivered to us by the Masoretic scribes. When the Aramaic portions of the Bible were being recorded, the lack of another stative verb presented a problem for them. The scribes knew there was a ban upon the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton─evidently the pe’al 3rd imperfect of HaWaH (הֲוָה) ─which grammatically would conjugate as YeHeWeiA יֶהֱוֵא in the Aramaic. This pronunciation is almost indistinguishable from the Hebrew conjugation YeHeWeH יֶהֱוֶה . The spelling variation itself poses no real difference in meaning as the final Tsere-Alef in Aramaic is a vowel letter much like the Seghol-He in the Hebrew. In the only place in the Hebrew text where the pa’al 3rd imperfect of HaWaH is employed, the verb is apocopated from YeHeWeH יֶהֱוֶה and spelled YeHuA יְהוּא (Gesenius, 1865, pg. 219). The solution the Masoretic scribes settled upon was to invent a new pe’al 3rd imperfect prefix for the verb HaWaH הֲוָה . In the place of the pre-formative Yodh, which is normally employed in the 3rd imperfect, the scribes substituted a Lamed seghol; the normal YeHeWeiA יֶהֱוֵא then becomes LeHeWeiA לֶהֱוֵא (Bible, Daniel 4:45). This Lamed prefix is an invention specifically for the HaWaH stative verb in the 3rd imperfect (Gesenius, 1865, pg. 219; Greenspahn, 2007, pgs. 79, 119). Though the Lamed prefix is attested in Rabbinic Aramaic, as well as later dialects such as Syriac and Mandaic, in Biblical Aramaic, it is exclusive for the verb HaWaH (Greenspahn, 2007, pg. 119). The Masoretic scribes knew that the stative verb HaWaH, as used in Daniel, would need to be pronounced, because in these places, the verb did not represent the Tetragrammaton. The verb would have been vocalized by many readers of the Aramaic portion which would cause them to violate the ban by default. As a solution, they needed to change only the prefix which gave the verb a different inflection, thereby, preventing anyone from violating the ban on the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton. In the Hebrew portions, it was sufficient to use the Aramaic YHWH in place of the Hebrew YHYH, as HWH is not a Hebrew verb and is rarely seen in the Hebrew text. However, the verb HYH does not exist in the Biblical Aramaic, so the scribes were forced to invent the Lamed prefix. The great Hebrew scholars Gesenius, Muraoka, Bickell and their associates show with reason the rules which govern the conjugation of HaWaH as YeHeWeH. The great lexicographers have followed suite (Davies, 1879, pg. 160; Harkavy, 1914, pg. 119; Lee, 1840, pg. 151; Riggs, 1858, pg. 129). The Aramaic text of Daniel shows unequivocally that the conjugation of the stative verb HaWaH is YeHeWeA/H (יֶהֱוֵא/ה) the Hebrew equivalent being YeHeWeH (יֶהֱוֶה). The grammatical rules are the only solution to what the possibilities are in regard the true pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton. It has been clearly demonstrated that the current vowels upon the Tetragrammaton are not the proper vowels for it, but are transposed form Adonai and Elohim. Further, it has been explained how Biblical names which were built upon a 3rd imperfect pa’al changed inflection only in the last syllable, this is especially clear of the Lamed-He verbs. According to the inflections provided by the Masoretes, there are two possibilities for the Tetragrammaton; one possibility is the Tetragrammaton is a noun, the other possibility is that it is a verb. As a noun, following the pattern of nouns found in the Masoretic Text, the Tetragrammaton would be YeHeWaH (יֶהֱוָה); as a verb, it will be conjugated according to the pattern found in the Aramaic portions of Ezra and Daniel as YeHeWeA/H (יֶהֱוֵא/ה). In light of this research, it is the opinion of the author that the pronunciation of YHWH has never been lost, only discouraged and prohibited.

Article by Jacob Metz

Jacob Metz is a Karaite Jew and is not affiliated with Baruch HaShem or Messianic Judaism

Unrecognized Meditation

Unrecognized Mediation:

A False Hope

Rabbi Michael Wolf and Rabbi Larry Feldman

An Official Position Paper of the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues ©2009 International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture is quoted from the New King James Translation (Thomas Nelson, inc.), 1982

Lately certain Messianic Jewish leaders have proposed theological answers to questions about the spiritual condition of traditional (non-Messianic) Jews. These answers have been extremely controversial within the Messianic Movement and beyond. Chief among these is a concept called Unrecognized Mediation. Is this concept Biblical? Are there dangers associated with this teaching, and if so what are they?

Unrecognized Mediation is a theological concept stating that some unspecified number of traditional Jewish people are saved by Yeshua and walking in that salvation without knowing it or having a conscious personal relationship with the Messiah. They have never consciously received Him by faith. Though we do not believe this concept is consistent with scriptural teaching, there are a few reasons why in our view some people choose to believe this teaching. We will mention perhaps the key one here. We in the Messianic Jewish movement believe in God’s ongoing work in His people Israel. We recognize, along with Paul, that “God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew” (Romans 11:2). This certainly means that He is still dealing with Jewish hearts, preparing them to hear and respond to the Good News. However, when we look at the distorted message the Jewish community has historically received from a Church that has taught it has replaced Israel, we might ask how such a community could be expected to respond to the Gospel message that is often preached from this anti-Jewish perspective. It is also important to note that the message has historically included an unscriptural obligation to abandon all things Jewish. Unrecognized Mediation: A False Hope  An Official Position Paper of the IAMCS The Case for Unrecognized Mediation Mark Kinzer uses Paul’s teaching in verses like Romans 11:25 about the partial hardness or blindness of Israel (as well as other verses) to make the case that “Israel’s no to Yeshua can properly be viewed as a form of participation in Yeshua”.1 In simplified terms, when commanded to reject the commandments and their Jewish identity by those who tried to convert them, the Jewish people chose instead to obey God as they understood Him. Therefore, in Mark’s view, they were embracing an unrecognized Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel. Mark recognizes that Paul never clearly states this in the Biblical text. Instead, he sees in these verses “Paul’s hints [emphasis ours] on the mysterious Christological significance of Israel’s no to Yeshua in the light of the church’s history of supersessionism, anti-Judaism, and violent persecution”.2 He builds his case throughout the book Post Missionary Messianic Judaism. Though all of the elements of his case are not listed here, the points above are sufficient to help explain the concept of Unrecognized Mediation (also called Implicit Faith). But is Mark actually saying that individual Jewish people who have not consciously embraced Yeshua are presently saved by Him implicitly? Or is he just presenting a picture of God’s ongoing hand on the Jewish community? Though he does not state this outright in this book, his comments in other writings seem to point in the former direction. In an editorial letter published in the Jews For Jesus Fall 2003 Havurah newsletter Kinzer states, “I do believe that the Abrahamic covenant offers Jewish people access to God in and through Yeshua. That does not mean that all Jews, by virtue of being Jews, have a right relationship with God. It does mean that God’s favor still rests upon Israel, and He makes a way for humble and faithful members of His people to enter His presence through the unrecognized mediation of Israel’s Messiah” (emphasis ours).3 Unrecognized Mediation Contradicts the Scriptural Need for New Birth It may be tempting to embrace a teaching like this in order to answer difficult questions about those who have gone on (or are alive today) who may have never heard a clear gospel message or have had a negative experience with Christians. However, when we are dealing with an eternal God, finding an answer that contradicts His Word is unacceptable and causes Unrecognized Mediation: A False Hope  more problems than it supposedly solves. Does Kinzer’s answer contradict God’s Word to us? We believe it does. One teaching that Unrecognized Mediation contradicts is the concept of the New Birth. Scripture teaches that a conscious encounter with and receiving of Messiah is necessary for salvation. Yeshua states, “Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”4 We have known of cases where Jewish people have had this encounter in the last days, minutes, or even seconds of life. Sometimes someone is sharing with them and they receive. Other times there is a supernatural revelation which occurs while they are alone. Often God brings to memory something that was shared with the individual months or even years before. This underscores the importance of sharing our faith. The well known Biblical account of the thief who was executed next to Yeshua comes to mind. He had probably heard Yeshua’s words and seen his acts. Now in the last minutes of life he responds.5 The Scripture also seems to indicate that if a person is walking in the light they have, God will then reveal more light for them to respond to. Psalm 50:23 states, “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.” In Mark 12:34, Yeshua tells a young man who agrees with Him about the two greatest commandments, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” However, in every one of these examples there is or there is yet to be a conscious response to Yeshua as Messiah. Because God can reveal Himself to someone even as they leave this world, we cannot judge for sure whether someone who has died is in Heaven or not. But we do know that a person who does not believe in Yeshua or who denies Him at the present time has not experienced this rebirth and is not presently saved. And so, the presence of conscious faith is crucial. Paul deals with this extensively in Romans and bases his whole argument for “salvation by faith” on Avram’s conscious faith response to God in Genesis 15:6—“And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” This concept is the very foundation of Paul’s theology. In fact, Isaiah many years earlier agrees that volitional belief in this Messianic cornerstone is foundational—“Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes (emphasis ours) will not act hastily.”6  An Official Position Paper of the IAMCS Unrecognized Mediation Contradicts the Scriptural Need for the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit A corollary to this need for a rebirth is the necessity for the indwelling Ruach HaKodesh, or Holy Spirit. Again in Romans, Paul declares, “But you, you do not identify with your old nature but with the Spirit—provided the Spirit of God is living inside you, for anyone who doesn’t have the Spirit of the Messiah doesn’t belong to Him (emphasis ours).”7 A person who does not believe in Yeshua cannot have the Spirit of God dwelling in their spirit. Acknowledgement of Yeshua’s reality and Lordship is directly connected with the presence of the indwelling Spirit. “Therefore, I want to make it clear to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says, ‘Yeshua is cursed!’ and no one can say, ‘Yeshua is Lord,’ except by the Ruach Hakodesh.”8 These texts together make it clear that the presence of the Ruach Hakodesh in one’s spirit is directly related to whether one is presently saved. Belief in Yeshua and the Requirement of Personal Choice To clarify our Biblical position further, two basic concepts relate to our discussion. The first is the issue of believing in Yeshua for salvation, and the second is the matter of whether or not a personal choice is required. First, the Bible shows a person cannot believe in God the Father without believing in His Son. These two beliefs go together. When we use the word believe, Biblical belief means intimate personal knowledge. It is not possible to separate the two as many non-messianic Jewish people would say, “We believe in God but not the Son.” This is not possible. In his writings, John makes this abundantly clear. In John 5:17 he says Yeshua and the Father are working until now, and the implication is they are working together. In chapter 5:22-23, he says all judgment has been given to the Son so all may honor the Son even as they honor the Father, and that those who do not honor the Son do not honor the Father Who sent Him. He continues this idea in 5:36-38 where he states that Yeshua came to do and accomplish the work God gave Him to do. He further states that the Father bears witness to Yeshua and that those who do not do the same have neither heard God’s voice nor have Him abiding in them. This is because they do not believe in Yeshua whom God sent. In John 8:18, 19, he states that God bears witness to the Son; and those who do not acknowledge Him neither know Yeshua nor the Father, for if they knew Yeshua they would know the Unrecognized Mediation: A False Hope  Father also. Once more, these two beliefs go together and cannot be separated. John goes further and says in 5:42 that if God was a person’s Father, that person would love Yeshua. The second concept, that one can be saved and be going to heaven without a personal choice in Yeshua in this lifetime, is also foreign to biblical teaching. Both sides of this discussion agree that to believe in Yeshua will give eternal life. The Scriptures also make this clear. John 1:12 states that all who receive Yeshua are given the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. Also the much quoted John 3:16 states: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Indeed the Scriptures are filled with verses like these. But what about those who do not believe? Can they experience salvation and get to heaven? As much as we would like to say “yes” for many of our family and loved ones, the Scriptures do not give us that option. In John 6:28-29 the Jewish leaders posed a question to Yeshua. They asked Him what one must do to do the works of God. In reality they were asking what we need to do to please God, or what we must do to earn favor or merit with God, so that God will accept us into His presence now and in eternity. Yeshua answers this by saying the only work one can do to be saved and go to heaven is to believe on Himself whom God has sent. John says that this is God’s commandment that we believe in His Son, Yeshua the Messiah (I John 3:23). In John 6:53, he states that in order to have life we must partake of Yeshua. In other words one must believe and receive Him as one’s Messiah and Savior. 1 John 5:11-13 states: “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” (Emphasis ours) Two last sections in the book of John seem to answer our question fully. They tell us that those who do not believe in Yeshua in this life are lost in their sins, and sin is what condemns us and separates us from God (Isa. 59:1-2; Rom. 3:23) for all eternity. John also goes further to say that before we believe, we already stand judged and condemned because we  An Official Position Paper of the IAMCS have not believed in the Son of God. Not much has to be said about these passages. We will quote them and let them stand on their own. “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” John 8:24 “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.” John 3:17, 18 “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36 It should be mentioned that God can certainly hear the prayers of a person who does not yet have the rebirth and the indwelling Spirit. He can act on that person’s behalf. Yeshua can mediate or intercede for that person’s salvation and welfare before the throne of God and apart from their knowledge. In addition, as Mark Kinzer himself has pointed out in a recent e-mail, “whatever God does in the world...[Including] whenever God blesses Israel, He does so through Yeshua and in the Spirit”. We would certainly agree with this. But that does not mean that a person can “enter into His presence through [an] unrecognized mediation”9 and stand in the place of the spiritually redeemed. There is only one way to do that, and Paul declares it in Romans 5:1-2. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord [Yeshua HaMashiach], through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Emphasis ours) Dangers of the Unrecognized Mediation Concept So what dangers might accompany this concept of Unrecognized Mediation? For one thing, it gives us a false notion of spiritual safety concerning our brethren in the traditional Jewish community. According to this teaching, significant numbers of “good” Jews may be walking in such a way as to be under the protection of this Unrecognized Mediation. One possible consequence of this teaching is a lack of urgency in communicating the Unrecognized Mediation: A False Hope  Good News to them. Another consequence may be a certain prayerlessness for Jewish salvation. Paul’s intercessory heart for this very result is expressed boldly in Romans 10:1. “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” His prayer is based on the understanding that in their present state, non-Messianic Jews are indeed not in a spiritually safe place. Finally, creating a theological concept that is not taught in Scripture, and is in fact contrary to the clear Biblical teaching of the importance of volitional faith, erodes the foundations of Messianic Jewish Theology. From passages in the Tanach like Isaiah 28:16 (quoted above) and 53:10 (“...When you make His soul an offering for sin”) to passages in the New Covenant like Romans 10:9 (“...that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Yeshua and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”), the Biblical evidence for a conscious faith encounter as a key part of the individual’s salvation experience is indeed foundational. Endnotes 1. Mark S. Kinzer, Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism; Redefining Christian Engagement with the Jewish People (Brazos Press, 2005), 223 2. Ibid., 225 3. Mark S. Kinzer, Havurah Newsletter 6:3 (Jews For Jesus, Fall 2003) 4. John 3:3 5. Luke 23:39-43 6. Isaiah 28:16 7. David Stern, The Complete Jewish Bible (Jewish New Testament Publications, inc.,1998), Romans 8:9 8. Ibid., 1 Corinthians 12:3 9. Kinzer ss IAMCS / MJAA Statement of Faith WE BELIEVE: That the BIBLE, consisting of the Tenach (Holy Scriptures) and the later writings commonly known as the B’rit Hadasha (New Covenant), is the only infallible and authoritative word of God. We recognize its divine inspiration, and accept its teachings as our final authority in all matters of faith and practice (Deut. 6:4-9; Prov. 3:1-6; Ps. 119:89, 105; Isa. 48:12-16; Rom. 8:14- 17; II Tim. 2:15, 3:16-17). GOD - We believe that the Shema, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4), teaches that God is Echad, as so declared: a united one, a composite unity, eternally existent in plural oneness [Gen. 1:1 (Elohim: God); Gen. 1:26 “Let us make man in our image”; Gen. 2:24 Adam & Eve were created to be as one flesh (basar echad)], that He is a personal God who created us ( Gen. 1 & 2), and that He exists forever in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as mentioned in Romans 8:14-17 (Father, Spirit, and Messiah - Son) and Matt. 28:18-20 (immersing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). GOD THE FATHER (Abba) - John 6:27b; I Cor 1:3; Gal. 1:1; Rev. 3:5, 21; Jer. 3:4, 19; 31:9; Mal. 1:6; Matt. 6:9, 32; Luke 10:21-22; John 1:14; 4:23; 5:17-26; 6:28-46; Rom. 8:14-15. GOD THE SON (HaBen) God does have a Son [Ps. 2; Prov. 30:4-6 (cf. Heb. 1); Luke 12:35-37; John 1:29-34, 49; 3:14-18]. The Son, called Yeshua (Jesus), meaning salvation, came to this world born of a virgin [Isa. 7:14 (cf. Luke 1:30-35)]. The Son is God (Deity), and is worshipped as God, having existed eternally [Ps. 110:1 (cf. Heb. 1:13); Isa. 9:6-7; Matt. 28:18-20; Phil. 2:5-11; Col. 1:15-19; Rev. 3:21 (Heb. 1 - worshipped by angels); Rev. 4:8, 5:5-14]. This One is the promised Mashiach (Messiah) of Israel [ Is. 9:6-7; 11:1; Dan. 9 (esp. verses 20-26); Isa. 53; John 1:17, 40-41, 45, 49; Mark 8:29]. He is the root and offspring of David, the bright and morning star (Num. 24:17; Rev. 22:16). He is our Passover, the Lamb of God ( I Cor. 5:7; Rev. 5; John 1:29). GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT (Ruach HaKodesh) Introduced in Gen. 1:2b. In the Tenach, the Spirit of God came upon individuals during the times of our forefathers, like Moses, David (see II Sam. 23:1-3), and the Prophets, for the specific purposes. In the New Covenant, the Messiah, Yeshua, promised His disciples that “the Comforter” would come to them after He was gone, described as the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17, 26), who was with them and would be in them. Yeshua further declared that the Spirit of Truth, would guide us into all truth and would glorify Him - the Messiah - not Himself (John 16:13-15). He empowers us (Acts 1:8). He seals us [Eph. 1:13; 4:30 (see NIV and Jewish New Testatment versions)]. If we have not the Spirit, we are not His (Rom. 8:9). He leads us and teaches us (Rom. 8:14-17). His indwelling enables us to live a godly life. Acts 2:38 says, “Repent, be immersed, and receive the Holy Spirit.” MAN Created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27), but: through disobedience, man fell from his first state and became separated from God (Gen. 2:17; 3:22-24). Therefore, according to the Scriptures, all men are born with a sinful nature (Ps. 14:1-3; 49:7; 53:13; Isa. 64:6; Rom. 3:9-12, 23; 5:12). I. II. A. B. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. C. 1. 2. 3. III. A. B. Man’s only hope for redemption (salvation) is through the atonement made by the Messiah (Lev. 17:11; Isa. 53; Dan. 9:24-26; I Cor. 15:22; Heb. 9:11-14, 28; John 1:12, 3:36), resulting in regeneration by the Holy Spirit (Tit. 3:5), which is the new birth (John 3:3-8). For by grace we are saved through faith, it is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9). RESURRECTION AND JUDGMENT We believe in the resurrection of both the redeemed and the lost: the former to everlasting life and the latter to eternal separation from God, a state of everlasting punishment (Job 14:14; 19:25-27; Dan. 12:2-3; John 3:36; 11:25-26; Rev. 20:5-6, 10-15; 21:7-8). THE MESSIAH - The Redeemer. The Scriptures promised two “comings” of the Messiah: First coming Promised in Dan. 9:24-26. Its purpose was to make an atonement for sin (Dan. 9:24-26; Isa. 53; Rom. 3:21-31; Heb. 9-10; John 3:16-17). Second coming Promised coming in the air to receive the believers to Himself (I Thess. 4:13-18; John 14:1-6; I Cor. 15:51-57). Messiah’s return to the earth. The Redeemer shall come to Zion (Isa. 59:20-21; Zech. 14:4). Israel’s spiritual redemption (Zech. 12:8-13:1; Rom. 11:25-27; Heb. 9:28; Jer. 31:31-40; the New Covenant). Israel’s national restoration is to recover the remnant of His people Israel from the four corners of the earth, and restore the Davidic Kingdom (Isa. 11 - to reestablish the throne and kingdom of David, which will last forever) [Isa. 9:6-7 (cf. Luke 1:30-33); Jer. 23:3-8]. ISRAEL IN PROPHECY We believe in God’s end-time plan for the nation of Israel and for the world. A central part of Messianic Judaism is the belief in the physical and spiritual restoration of Israel, as taught in the Scriptures. The greatest miracle of our day has been the re-establishment or rebirth of the State of Israel according to prophecy (Ezek. 34:11-31; 36-39; Hos. 3; Amos 9:11-15; Zech. 12-14; Isa. 11; 43; 54; 60-62; 66; Rom. 11:1-34) (see also Scriptures under V. THE MESSIAH). MESSIANIC JUDAISM We recognize that Jewish people (physical descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, whether through the mother’s or the father’s blood-line) who place their faith in Israel’s Messiah, Yeshua, continue to be Jewish according to the Scriptures (Rom. 2:28- 29). Gentiles who place their faith in Yeshua, are “grafted into” the Jewish olive tree of faith (Rom. 11:17-25) becoming spiritual sons and daughters of Abraham (Gal. 3:28-29). We observe and celebrate the Jewish Holy Days given by God to Israel, with their fulfillment in and through the Messiah Yeshua. We believe that true “Biblical Judaism,” the faith of first century believers, which we seek to practice, acknowledges the continuity of faith in the one true God, revealed throughout the Scriptures, and ultimately manifested in God’s Son, Yeshua the Messiah. We believe that salvation has always been “by faith,” and that works of law, or righteous acts, have never saved anyone (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 2-6; Eph. 2:8-9; Heb. 11:6, 39). We acknowledge that the New Covenant body of believers is composed of both Jews and Gentiles who have received Yeshua the Messiah as the Promised Redeemer. The “middle wall of partition” has been broken down and now we worship the God of Israel together (I Cor. 12:13; Eph. 2:13-14). C. IV. V. A. 1. 2. B. 1. 2. a. b. c. VI. VII. A. B. C. Published by the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues www.iamcs.org • 1-866-IAMCS-NOW

One Law, Two Sticks

One Law, Two Sticks:

A Critical Look at the Hebrew Roots Movement

from IAMCS Positional Papers

I. Introduction: Preface: We, as Messianic Jewish leaders, have become increasingly concerned that there are a growing number of individuals and groups today promoting the idea that all the world’s believers in the Messiah - Jewish and Gentile alike - ought to be keeping the Torah, particularly the Shabbat, the feasts, and kosher diet. The doctrine which is the subject of this paper has been around since the day of the Apostles, in different forms, but today it has come to be known as “One Law One People” or just “One Law,” for short. It insists upon Gentile Torah observance universally. Most of those who teach it, also promote false theories about Israel identity as well. Recently, some of the more prominent One Law teachers have banded together and begun using the label “Hebrew Roots” to describe themselves as a movement. This nomenclature is regrettable from our point of view, since it causes confusion. Obviously, the roots of the biblical faith are Jewish. Thankfully, many non-Jewish believers worldwide recognize the fact that their faith is rooted in a Jewish Messiah, Jewish Apostles, and a Jewish gospel. We note that many precious, well-meaning Gentile believers are drawn to Messianic Judaism because they wish to connect with Israel; they want to understand the Bible in historical context, or they simply have a desire to enrich their faith by acquiring a more Jewish understanding of the Lord. Therefore, we wish to be clear up front that not everyone who uses the label “Hebrew Roots” is necessarily part of that “Hebrew Roots” camp which is the cause for our concern. Since we don’t invent the names for these movements, we are resigned to have to use the names and labels which they apply to themselves. One Law Doctrine: One Law doctrine is based on the idea that everybody everywhere ought to be keeping the Torah given to the Jews at Sinai. In their view, the law wasn’t intended just for Israel, but for everyone. Moreover, neither the coming of Messiah, nor the atonement provided in the New Covenant changes anything in terms of what they see as the universal human need to relate to God through the laws of Moses. Accordingly, One Law teachers, as embodied today in the Hebrew Roots movement, are highly critical of what they see as the historical error of the Gentile church in not keeping the laws which God gave to Moses and Israel at Mount Sinai. Of particular concern to them seem to be the laws pertaining to Shabbat and festival observance, as well as the 1 dietary laws. Those Gentile Christians who don’t necessarily see the need to follow such laws are considered as “pagans.” One Law doctrine holds that the true “Hebrew roots” of the faith are to be found in keeping the laws of Moses given at Mt. Sinai. Their mission, as it seems, is to promote observance of the law as the means of restoring the body of Messiah to the supposed true Hebrew roots of the faith, which are to be found in the Sinai covenant. This mission takes on particular urgency in the end-times. One Law proponents advocate, therefore, the urgent need for all Gentile believers to depart from “paganism,” and to return in zeal to the “true Hebrew roots” of their faith, which is supposedly to be found in the legal observance of Torah. In recent years, they have bombarded the internet with their teachings. Some of them are very savvy when it comes to this. The Issue: Followers of “One Law One People” insist that everybody ought to be keeping the Torah. Since everybody does not keep the Torah, they typically see their Torah observance as some kind of evidence of their chosen-ness. Not only does this breed a sense of legalistic pride, but there are deeper concerns. Almost inevitably, “One Law One People” teaching is associated with the idea that people who keep the Torah given to Israel actually ARE Israel. This idea is usually advanced by myths about the “lost tribes.” The followers of “One Law” typically begin to identify Israel in Bible prophecy as somehow pertaining to them. Most of them think of themselves as belonging to the northern kingdom of Israel, as represented in the prophecy of the two “sticks” referenced in Ezekiel 37. Thus, they see Torah observance as their duty as members of the people Israel. The question of Israel identity always seems to be related to this doctrine of One Law. Thus, not only is it wrong on its face, theologically, but it is deeply and intimately intertwined with replacement theology. Obsession with the Torah, and with Israel identity, has caused many Hebrew roots groups to take on the external look and feel of being Jewish. In Hebrew roots conferences and in local congregational groups, for example, it is commonplace to hold meetings on Shabbat and during the Levitical feasts. In their meetings, they typically employ traditional articles of Jewish worship like davidic dancing, Jewish liturgical prayers, and shofarblowing. It is common for people to be wearing kippot and tzitzit, using Hebrew slogans on their banners, displaying the magen David, and even processing Torahs. 2 We don’t disagree generally with the use of Jewish symbolism and expression by nonJews. However, such usage by legalistic, non-Jewish groups, many of whom think they are the true Israelites, and who are often critical and divisive toward the Gentile church, can cause much offense and/or confusion in both the Jewish and Christian community. Both the Jewish and Christian communities may not be able to see the distinction between the Messianic Jewish community and the Hebrew Roots camp. Due to their external appearance, and the imitation of Jewish expression, there is potential that the practices and beliefs of these Hebrew Roots groups could wrongfully be attributed to Messianic Jews. Our Purpose in This Paper: By issuing this paper, we wish to identify and describe One Law theology and the related Hebrew Roots movement, both historically and today, and to give an informed opinion as to the errors as well as the inherent dangers of it. We in the messianic Jewish movement also wish to make clear the fact that we are opposed to One Law theology, and to any doctrine which advocates, as One Law does, the idea that New Covenant faith among the Gentiles is to be fulfilled by embracing the Sinai covenant. We do not seek the fulfillment of God’s plan for the salvation of Israel through the Sinai Covenant, but rather, through the gospel. If our own Jewish people have not been reconciled unto God by the Sinai covenant, then this must also certainly be true for the Gentiles, who were not given the Sinai covenant to begin with. While many aspects of Torah are found in messianic Judaism as a unique expression of our Jewish faith in the Messiah, we do not believe that the Gentile church, or Gentile Christians universally, are called to the same expression as us. In fact, it is the unity of Jew and Gentile in Messiah, in spite of our cultural diversity, which glorifies God in the body of the Lord, via the one new man. (Eph. 2:15). In our view, therefore, it is wrong to admonish Gentile believers universally to think that they need to observe the Torah. It is clear, furthermore, that the Apostles dealt with this precise question of Gentile Torah observance and answered it on point in Acts 15. All of this will be discussed further in this paper. At this point, we wish to be clear about our purpose and our heart’s intent: In what we say in this paper, we are not in any way speaking against the many precious Gentiles who fellowship in messianic synagogues in response to a call from the Lord. Many non-Jews come into the messianic Jewish fold with the desire of knowing the Lord through the Jewishness of the scriptures, and in the ancient way of life, which was Yeshua’s own culture and heritage, as preserved in the life of the Jewish people. We, in Messianic Judaism, have always welcomed and encouraged non-Jews to fellowship with us, to celebrate Messiah together, and help us restore Israel to faith in Yeshua. Our concern is with those who advocate legalism. 3 II. Definitions What do they mean by “Torah”? In addressing the errors of One Law theology, it will be necessary to frequently refer to the term “Torah.” At times, this can be rather ambiguous, as the term “Torah” (law), of course, has different meanings depending on context. For example, there is not just the law given at Sinai. But there is the law which tells us how God created mankind and the universe in Genesis. There are the testimonies in the Torah of how Joseph was reunited with his brothers, how God fought with Israel against the Canaanites, how Aaron’s rod budded, or how God split the Red Sea through Moses. Even when we talk about the actual legal part of Torah, there are 613 commandments. Many have to do with the service of the Temple. Generically, the term “Torah” is often thought of as a set of laws providing a moral code for right living. Although there are such commandments in the Torah, the moral law is a very limited part of Torah, and is not a good basis for understanding what Torah is. While the Torah does contain certain moral laws given to Israel, it was not in fact, given in order to be the ultimate moral statement and standard of God to humanity for ethics and basic right v. wrong living. The Torah does not purport to be such a statement. While there clearly are universal moral laws in the Torah, there are many aspects of the Torah that have nothing to do with morality, and which therefore are not intended to be universal. For example, the commandment to Israel to wear tzitzit (Num. 15:38), or to be circumcised (Lev. 12:3). The Torah does not approach being an exhaustive, all-encompassing, moral code. In fact, Paul’s assertion in Romans 2:14 states: “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law.” The scripture acknowledges that there is at least a basic sense and assertion of morality in all of the world’s cultures. Most societies eschew murder, stealing, adultery, rape, abuse of the weak and helpless, et cetera. There is a moral sense in the conscience of man that to some extent parallels that of scripture, but is able to discern right and wrong even in spite of never having read or heard the Torah which God gave to Israel. The gift of the Torah to the Jewish people at Sinai, therefore, was not revelatory in the sense of the moral aspect of it. Noah was an “ish tzadik” or “righteous man” (See Gen. 6:9); and Abraham obeyed God’s statutes and commandments (Gen. 26:5), even long before the law at Sinai was even given. 4 Torah is not a revelation of morality. Nor is the moral aspect of it unique in any way. A basic understanding of moral law is already embedded by God in the understanding of mankind. God did not appear to Israel at Sinai to present a moral code. God gave the law at Sinai, creating a unique nation. There are things given in the Torah which are unique to Israel. Above all, the actual revelation at Sinai was not the law, but rather, the lawgiver. In fact, God not only gave the law at Sinai, but God revealed Himself unto the people Israel. (See Ex. 19 and 20). The Jews from the most ancient times have understood this. Hence, the controversy over “Torah observance,” as engendered by One Law teachers, does not involve questions of defining moral and ethical commandments. No one would argue whether moral laws, such as those found in Torah or anywhere else, are universal in application. Of course, prohibitions against murder, sexual immorality, theft, coveting, etc., are universal. Morality, as expressed in the Torah, is universal. It is incumbent upon all mankind to be moral. But one need not learn morality from the Jewish Torah in order to be moral. Morality as a standard is not the unique revelation of the Torah. In the context of “One Law” theology, the “One Law” teachers have established a presence on the internet, where they often publish condemnations of the Gentile church for its alleged failure to keep “Torah.” The implication is that failing to “keep the Torah” is a moral failure, which renders the Gentile church either unrighteous, unholy, or both, in the eyes of God. If in fact we were talking about breaching moral laws, then such accusations might hold water. However, that is not the case. In fact, there are three major areas of the Torah in which the “One Law” teachers seem to feel that the Gentile church is at fault for failing to obey God: 1) The Sabbath, 2) the Levitical feasts, and 3) the dietary laws. To a lesser extent, some would also find fault in Gentile believers who do not obey ceremonial laws such as circumcision and wearing tzitzit (fringes). These Torah commands, which do not pertain to issues of morality, are the main focal point of the “One Law” controversy. Why these? We note that the commandments in Torah which tend to be the main topic of controversy with One Law teachers are the laws which stand out as being uniquely identified with Israel. Not only the church today, but all civilized cultures, even going back to Egypt and Rome have had laws against murder and theft, but only the Jews have had laws pertaining to Yom Kippur or Passover. Thus, the issue is not with laws that are clearly universal, but with those that are Israel-specific. “One Law” as Replacement Theology: The idea behind “One Law” theology, whether stated or implied, is that he who keeps the law given to Israel, therefore IS Israel. Accordingly, “One Law” theology is simply a 5 form of replacement theology. By keeping the laws which are specific to Israel, one thereby presumes to be Israel. This incorrect desire to “keep Torah” in order to become Israel is a deception that dates back to the time of the Apostles. (1 Tim. 1:4, Titus 3:9). III. History and Background: “One Law” doctrine of the 21st century has been greatly popularized in recent years by the emergence of the Hebrew Roots movement. But it is important to point out that the Hebrew Roots movement and its accompanying legalistic doctrine is not something new. We find in Paul’s warning to Timothy, that in their time, too, there were Hebrew roots teachers who taught myths about Jewish genealogy and sought to promote themselves as expert Torah teachers, even though they had no idea what they were talking about. (1 Tim. 1:4-8). Paul describes the doctrine of such teachers as “meaningless talk.” He further describes them: “They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” (1 Tim. 1:8) In order to understand and explain the errors of the Hebrew Roots camp of today, it is necessary to consider its historical predecessors. While the whole matter can be traced back to the day of the Apostles, for our purposes here, we will go back to the 19th century, and mention a few key religious movements in America which are most clearly the parents and grandparents of the modern Hebrew Roots movement. This will include the Millerite and Sabbatarian movements of the 19th century. From that came forth the 20th century Sacred Name movement, and the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), of Herbert W. Armstrong. The Millerites – Origins of legalisitic, end-time fanaticism : William Miller was a Baptist lay preacher who began preaching in the 1830’s that the return of the Messiah was imminent. Up until that time, there was little teaching or discussion about the return of the Messiah or end-time prophecy in American churches. Most Christians never thought about the idea of Messiah literally coming back to set up a Kingdom and reign on earth. What we know and believe to be biblical fact today regarding the Lord’s return was not being preached in America’s churches. With the rise of new mediums of communication, like the high speed printing press, and the telegraph, a free marketplace of religious expression arose, independent of the mainstream church. This allowed for biblical expression that might otherwise not have been taught in church, but it also opened the door to fanaticism. Miller not only insisted that Messiah would return to earth to set up a Kingdom, but he insisted that such return was imminent, and even narrowed it down to a date certain in 1844. Based on a combination of the Karaite Jewish calendar and the 2300 days of 6 Daniel (Dan. 8:14), Miller and his followers were expecting the Messiah to return specifically on Yom Kippur, Oct. 22nd, 1844. In 1840, Miller’s end-time prophetic doctrine was transformed from being an obscure, local teaching to a national religious movement known as the “Millerite” movement. It was also referred to as “Adventism,” since it was characterized by a certain obsession with the idea that the Messiah would return to earth a second time. The impetus for this change occurred mainly due to the help of Miller’s alliance with a Boston Pastor who was an able and experienced publisher. Miller’s magazine, Sign of the Times, soon began appearing in major cities all over America and Canada. During the 1840’s alone, millions of copies were distributed. The fanaticism created by the Millerites spread all the way to Great Britain and Australia. We note that Miller’s Adventist theology was one of the first national religious movements in America to effectively make use of the mass media in widely disseminating fanatical beliefs based on a false interpretation of prophecy. Adventists and Sabbatarianism: Thousands of Millerite followers were literally waiting in the fields to see the Lord return on Oct. 22nd , 1844. When it did not occur, this resulted in what came to be known as the “Great Disappointment,” in which countless Millerites were discouraged and disillusioned. Though the Lord did not return on schedule, the fanaticism created by the Millerites continued, and it found a new outlet of expression. In the aftermath, many Millerite leaders began to proclaim that it was necessary for Christians to start keeping the Sabbath to be prepared for the final return of the Lord. Not the Sunday Sabbath, but the Sabbath of Israel. The hook for the Sabbatarian idea is the belief that there is an end-time crisis at hand, in which a great controversy is brewing over God’s concern with mankind not keeping the Sabbath. As it is presented, the implication is that those who keep the Sabbath of Israel, ARE Israel. And those who do not, are outside of the covenant people. They are under condemnation for their unbelief and disobedience to God. Accordingly, it should be understood that there is a strong connection between Sabbatarianism and Adventism. Those who insist upon the need to keep the Sabbath (and other laws), will typically motivate their followers thru fanaticism, obsession, and false claims related to end-time prophecy. In the wake of the fanaticism created by the Millerites, many people were already primed and ready to accept the idea that God was separating the “true Israel” from the rest of humanity over the issue of Sabbath-keeping. The acceptance of this belief gave rise to 7 the Sabbatarian church movement of the latter part of the 19th century, which is based in a form of “One Law” theology and more closely resembles the modern Hebrew Roots movement in terms of its belief that Gentiles must keep the law of Moses to please God. Seventh Day Adventist Church: One Millerite who became a key advocate of the need to keep the Sabbath was Ellen White, one of the founders of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) church. White wrote: “I saw that the holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers; and that the Sabbath is the great question to unite the hearts of God’s dear, waiting saints.” 1 The SDA church today, which continues to preach Sabbath observance as the mark of a true christian, boasts a membership of over 16 million members worldwide. Under “fundamental beliefs,” it states the following on its website: “(The Sabbath) is a symbol of our redemption in Christ, a sign of our sanctification, a token of our allegiance, and a foretaste of our eternal future in God's kingdom. The Sabbath is God's perpetual sign of His eternal covenant between Him and His people.” 2 Since SDA sees Sabbath-keeping as a sign of both salvation and of holiness, it further considers itself to be the “covenant people.” Consequently, SDA has no vision whatsoever for the salvation of Jewish people or the birth of the Jewish State. It sees the State of Israel today as if it is in no way connected to anything in scripture. For example, in a major SDA publication, entitled “How Should Christians view Israel,” it states: “The 1948 establishment of the State of Israel, an outgrowth of the Nazi Holocaust in which 6 million Jews were killed, is viewed by Adventists as a political, not a prophetic event.” 3 It should be understood that those who would compel Gentile Christians to keep the Sabbath, and other such laws given specifically to Israel at Sinai, will typically assign 8 Ellen G. White, Early Writings, p. 33, : www.gilead.net/egw/books2/earlywritings/ewindex.html 1 http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/index.html 2 Mark Kellner, “How Should Christians view Israel?” (2007), http://www.adventistreview.org/article/ 3 1456/archives/issue-2007-1531/how-should-christians-view-israel unto themselves the identity of being the “chosen people.” This is necessary in order to provide their followers with a motive to think it necessary to keep the law. Their “chosen-ness” is thus confirmed by their presumed keeping of the commandments of God. Accordingly, they will challenge the true identity of Israel, and replace it, theologically, with themselves. Hence, in this skewed, legalistic approach to the prophetic scriptures, Israel has nothing to do with the Jewish people, but it has everything to do with Gentiles observing laws that were once given to the Jews. The Jews, of course, broke those laws, and incurred God’s wrath. Therefore, the Jews are replaced by one more worthy to be God’s nation. Thus, Israel is no longer the Jewish nation, but rather, it is an end-time remnant of Gentile Sabbath-keepers. These Sabbatarian Christians are the true “Israel of God.” Or so they seem to think. In this Sabbatarian model, we see not only a poor understanding of prophecy but obvious replacement theology too. For the unfortunate gentile christian who is deceived by Sabbatarian teaching, the message comes across loud and clear: Salvation is not only by grace through faith, but also by the law; for the sign of the true gentile believer is seen in the keeping of the Sabbath. By the 20th century, and still today, SDA grew to become the largest Adventist/ Sabbatarian denomination in America, and in the world, spreading their beliefs and practices among Christians in every country. But there were many others that arose in 4 the wake of the Millerite fiasco of 1844, which did not accept the prophetic claims of Ellen White, and instead, founded their own Sabbatarian groups. Most non-SDA Adventist/Sabbatarian groups, which rejected Ellen White, came to be known as “Church of God”, in one form or another. Two of the “Church of God” denominations which 5 shall be discussed in this paper are “Church of God (Seventh Day), and also the “Worldwide Church of God.” The impact of SDA and related Sabbatarian groups through the late 19th and early 20th century, particularly in America, was quite significant. The widespread promotion of the idea of Gentile Torah observance set the stage for what was to come later. Sacred Namers: By the early 20th century, many Sabbaterean Christians began to concern themselves not only with keeping the Sabbath, but also with the Lord’s name. A new movement thus 9 J. Gordon Melton, Encyclopedia of Protestantism, Infobase Publishing, (Jan. 1, 2005), p. 478 4 Richard Nickels, History of the Seventh Day Church of God, Giving and Sharing Publications, (1999), pp. 5 11-12. emerged within Sabbatarianism that came to known as the “Sacred name” movement. It arose particularly during the 1930’s. Based on the premise that true Christians must return to their Hebrew roots by keeping the law, Sacred-namers insisted that it was necessary to keep not only the 4th commandment (the Sabbath), but also the 3rd commandment (You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain). In their view, the mainstream church was in error, and out of favor with God, not only in regard to their non-observance of the Sabbath, but also because they pray to God in the wrong name. The problem with praying to God by His so-called “sacred name,” was that nobody was really quite sure what it was. Some said it was “Jehovah,” while others decided it was “Yahweh,” and there were other forms as well. Some Sacred-namers also advocated keeping the feasts of Lev. 23. The unifying factor among them was this abiding concern over using the “correct” Hebrew name of the Lord. Origins of the Sacred Name Movement: Although there were various contributing persons, the rise of the Sacred Name movement seems to have emerged largely out the efforts of key pioneer, Clarence Orvil Dodd. 6 Dodd was an elder in a particular Church of God Sabbatarian church known as Church of God (Seventh Day). The Church of God (Seventh Day) was one of the major Millerite/ Sabbatarian churches that arose during the 1850’s, after “the Great Disappointment”. Church of God (Seventh Day) actually arose at the same time as the SDA church, but remained separate from SDA because its leaders rejected the writings of Ellen White.7 The Church of God (Seventh Day) made its mark on the Adventist/Sabbatarian movement beginning in 1863 when it began publication of its official magazine called Hope of Israel. The same is known today as Bible Advocate. (See: http://baonline.org). A colleague of Dodd’s in the Church of God (Seventh Day) was one Herbert W. Armstrong. Both Dodd and Armstrong were dis-fellowshipped from the Church of God 10 J. Gordon Melton, The Encyclopedia of American Religions, McGrath Publishing Company, (1978), p. 6 476. Richard Nickels, History of the Seventh Day Church of God, Giving and Sharing Publications, (1999), pp. 7 10-12. (Seventh Day) based on their dispute with the church over doctrinal issues, although for different reasons. In Dodd’s case, the dispute was over the issue of the feasts of Lev. 23. 8 Many Sabbatarian churches, including SDA, in spite of their insistence on keeping the Sabbath, did not believe it was necessary to keep the feasts of Lev. 23. But for a growing body of Sabbatarians in the 1930’s, keeping the Sabbath wasn’t enough. Now they wanted to keep the feasts too. Dodd was one of them. In 1937, Dodd began publishing a magazine called “The Faith,” in which he advocated not only use of the Sacred name, but also keeping of the feasts of Lev. 23. His ideas were widely published through the magazine. It has been said that no single force in spreading the Sacred Name movement was as important as The Faith magazine. 9 Also important in advancing the movement was publication of the Sacred Name bible, by Angelo “A.B.” Traina. A disciple of Dodd, Traina published Sacred Name editions of the scriptures. First, Traina published the Holy Name New Testament in 1950, and then the Holy Name Bible in 1962. These bibles were a major contribution to spreading the Sacred name doctrine and legalistic mindset. Other sacred name groups which shared the same theology, such as the Assemblies of Yahweh, began to organize and help Dodd to promote the Sacred-name movement. Problems with Sacred-name Beliefs: Sacred-namers claim that it is wrong for people to pray in the “pagan” Greek-influenced name of “Jesus” or “the Lord.” They insist upon using the “correct” Hebrew name. As previously mentioned, they do not agree universally on what that name should be. However, most Sacred-namers generally claim it is “Yahweh” as the presumed Hebrew name of the Lord in the Old Testament. They add to that, the name “Yahshua” as the supposed Hebrew name for “Jesus.” This interpretation continues today even though in both cases their Hebrew is wrong. Yet, Sacred-namers stubbornly insist upon the need to use these two names, staking their claim based on the third commandment: "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain." Ex. 20:7. 11 Sacred Name Movement History, Yahweh’s Assembly in Yahshua (2008) p. 1, available at: http:// 8 www.sacrednamemovement.org J. Gordon Melton, The Encyclopedia of American Religions, McGrath Publishing Company, (1978), p. 9 476. The correct way to pronounce the tetragrammaton (יהוה ,(remains a mystery even to Jewish scholars to this day. There are varying ideas about how to pronounce the name, what it may mean, or if it is even meant perhaps to be an acronym. The reality is that nobody knows. Yet, if anyone did know, it would likely be the Jewish people. In fact, among the millions of indigenous, Hebrew-speaking Jews, both in Israel and in the diaspora, no one knows definitively how to pronounce the name. Among the Jewish people, therefore, the common accepted practice is to say “Adonai,” which means “Lord,” rather than build a theology of speculation on how to pronounce the tetragrammaton. The error of the Sacred-namers is far more serious than simple ignorance and misconstruction of the Hebrew language. The gist of the sacred name movement was to stake their claim upon the use of the name as evidence of their being “chosen.” Sacred-namers suggest that people who use the “true name” are part of the true Apostolic congregation, in fact, a continuation of the tradition of the first century congregation. Their mission, therefore, was to restore the body to its true roots, as it once was in the day of the Apostles, as if the mystery of the Holy Spirit, and the power in which the Apostles ministered the gospel, was connected to their knowledge and use of the true Hebrew “sacred name.” Sacred-namers insist not only upon use of the name “Yahweh,” but they further insist that one must also use the Messiah’s correct Hebrew name, which according to them is Yahshua (יהשע .(This is another error. It was obviously created to try and conform to a theology, that “YAHshua” is the son of “YAHweh.” However, the name “Yahshua” (יהשע (makes no sense linguistically in Hebrew. Nor is such a name anywhere to be found in the Old Testament. Hebrew version New Testaments, created for the purpose of reaching Hebrew-speaking Jews with the gospel, typically use the name “Yeshua” (ישוע .(Thousands of Hebrewspeaking Messianic Jews are living today in Israel who pray in the name of Yeshua (not Yahshua). Before them, Hebrew-speaking missionaries and Jewish Christians living in the land used the name “Yeshua,” as it is written in Hebrew New Testaments. Of course, there are no known original books of the New Testament written in Hebrew. All Hebrew versions of the New Testament are translated from the Greek. However, the correct Hebrew translation of the Greek “Iesus” is not a mystery. It is well-established by Jewish and Christian scholars, historians, and linguists that the correct Hebrew name of the Messiah was “Yeshua” (ישוע ,(which means “Salvation” or “He saves.” If you read a Hebrew New Testament, the name of the Lord as written therein is Yeshua (ישוע .(Simply put, “Yahshua” is a fabrication popularized in the 20th century by the Sacred-namers. 12 Unfortunately, a number of Hebrew roots adherents to this day still use the name “Yahshua,” with insistence that it is the correct Hebrew name of Jesus. It is another example of a false theology being popularized through the use of mass media in the modern era of communications. The Sacred-name errors were widely published not only by Dodd’s magazine The Faith, but also in a host of different Sacred Name version Bibles that have been in circulation since the 1950’s. The error of the Sacred-namers was not simply a linguistic one. The bigger error of the Sacred Name movement, and its successors who follow their traditions today, is in its legalistic insistence that using a little Hebrew is somehow going to improve a person’s relationship with God. Using Hebrew is not indicative of a person’s chosen-ness, nor does it increase righteousness, holiness, or intimacy with God. The fact that they use incorrect Hebrew only serves to highlight the error, and exposes the inaccurate nature of the Sacred Name movement. Herbert W. Armstrong: As previously mentioned, one of the early disciples of the Church of God (Seventh Day) was Herbert W. Armstrong, who came into it at the prodding of his wife in the late 1920’s. Like Dodd, Armstrong identified not only with the Sabbath, but with the idea of keeping the feasts. Armstrong began his Worldwide Church of God (WCG) in 1934, after being dis-fellowshipped from the Church of God Seventh Day. The reason that Armstrong was kicked out was because he had become a proponent of a controversial doctrine which at the time was known as “British Israelism.” An explanation of that doctrine is as follows: British/Anglo-Israelism: “British Israelism,” also known as “Anglo-Israelism,” is the theological belief that the Anglo-Saxon and associated cultures of northwestern Europe, and in particular Great Britain, are the actual racial descendants of the tribes of Israel. Thus, by extension, North Americans, including both the U.S. and Canadians, are supposedly composed of the same descendants of the ancient Israelites. The theology is based on the myth that the 10 northern tribes of Israel wandered into the lands in northwestern Europe and settled there, after being exiled by the Assyrians in the 8th century B.C.. Though there is zero historical, archeological, biblical or any other kind of evidence in support, the theory became quite popular in the 18th and 19th century, as Great Britain became the leading world power. For many of its proponents, the theory has had a broader application to include not just England, but the people of Germany, who have an historic blood kinship with the British. Others expand it to include most of Protestant northwestern Europe, including the 13 Netherlands and Scandanavia as part of the presumed Anglo-Israelite fold. The great national successes of Britain and Germany as leaders of post-Industrial Revolution Europe in the 19th and early 20th century, was often heralded as a kind of confirmation that the people of northwestern Europe were in fact of Israelite descent, and therefore the chosen people of God, destined to rule the earth. False doctrine based upon genealogical myths is nothing new. Paul apparently dealt with similar myths in his day. He warned Timothy to take care to teach no doctrine rooted in genealogical speculation: Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith. (1 Tim. 1:4). Anglo-Israelism is not only based on genealogical myth and false prophecy, but it is also a kind of replacement theology that is heavily-laced with racism and, in particular, antiSemitism. Anglo-Israelism in the extreme cases is the driving vision of certain antiJewish hate groups such as the ultra-right wing “Christian Identity” movement in America. Christian Identity is a neo-Nazi and white supremacist movement, basing its dogma on classic Anglo-Israelite theory. The Christian Identity movement is listed as a dangerous, anti-Semitic hate group on the website of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADL says the following about the Christian Identity movement: “Christian Identity is a religious ideology popular in extreme right-wing circles. Adherents believe that whites of European descent can be traced back to the "Lost Tribes of Israel." Many consider Jews to be the Satanic offspring of Eve and the Serpent, while non-whites are "mud peoples" created before Adam and Eve. Its virulent racist and antiSemitic beliefs are usually accompanied by extreme anti-government sentiments. Despite its small size, Christian Identity influences virtually all white supremacist and extreme anti-government movements. It has also informed criminal behavior ranging from hate crimes to acts of terrorism.” 10 In its more subtle, mainstream forms, Anglo-Israelism tones down the rhetoric against the Jews. It maintains the claim that the tribes of Israel can be traced to European descent, however, it concedes that the Jews are the descendants of at least one of the twelve tribes, that being Judah. However, mainstream Anglo-Israelism maintains that the fault for rejecting the Messiah is squarely upon “Judah” (the Jews). Of course, the 10 northern tribes of Israel had nothing to do with it, since they were living in Europe at the time, and were not present when Messiah came. Furthermore, in Anglo Israelism, it is Jewish Judah who still remain blind to the Messiah today, and are in need of salvation, while the 10 northern tribes are the true Christian church of our day. 14 10 http://archive.adl.org/learn/ext_us/Christian_Identity.asp?xpicked=4&item=Christian_ID Worldwide Church of God (WCG) of Herbert W. Armstrong: By the 1930’s, many Gentile Christians in America were ready to embrace Herbert W. Armstrong’s Anglo-Israelite message. Armstrong, who first called his church the “Radio Church of God,” later changed to “Worldwide Church of God,” made full use of the mass media available to him, especially including radio, but also TV and print journalism, to get his message out there loud and clear. And the message was: It is time for American Christians to reclaim their “birthright” as natural-born Israelites. The subtext of this message was that it was therefore necessary for “Israel” to return to the law of the Sinai covenant as the mark of the true church. Accordingly, Anglo-Israelism is necessarily connected, and inevitably intertwined, with “One Law” theology. Though Armstrong did not become an advocate of the use of the “Sacred Name,” he taught the same basic core theology as them, namely, that Gentile Christians need to return to their roots by observing the biblical laws of the Torah. For in Armstrong’s world, the true Gentile believer is to consider himself physically descended from Israel. Not just grafted into the olive tree by faith. Not just the seed of Abraham by faith in the Messiah. But, rather, they are the actual, physical descendants of Israel. And if Israel, then they must live as Israel – by the Torah. Armstrong even claimed that his Torah-keeping Anglo-Israelite followers were the true heirs of the land of Israel. For example, just one month after the State of Israel declared independence and was in the midst of the war for its survival, Armstrong wrote in his June 1948 edition of his magazine The Plain Truth: “The dying Jacob passed the birthright, and possession of Palestine on through the tribes of EPHRAIM and MANASSEH, sons of Joseph (Gen.48:4-5, 15-16). He names HIS NAME (Israel) on them - Ephraim and Manasseh. It is their descendants today, the American and British people, therefore, who are truly the national Israel. The Jews come from Judah, and belonged to the nation Judah, not the nation Israel . . . the Jews want (the land of Palestine) because they come from Jacob but through JUDAH. Yet it belongs to none of them by divine right. It belongs to Great Britain and America, into whose hands God placed it, but who have been so valiantly trying to get rid of it.” 11 Thus, after the holocaust, as Jews poured into the land of Israel, WCG followers saw this event not as a fulfillment of divine will according to Bible prophecy, but rather, some kind of deception. Armstrong’s followers had the idea that the right to possess the land of Israel belonged not to the Jews, but to the Gentile nations of Britain and America, under the banner of Ephraim. They were urged to observe the Sabbath, the feasts, and the biblical dietary laws, as a condition of fulfilling the right to be heirs to the land. This is 15 Herbert W. Armstrong, Plain Truth, Vol XIII, No 02, June 1948, page 8. 11 exactly on all fours with what is currently still being taught today in much of the Hebrew Roots movement by proponents of “One Law” theology. In both Sacred Name churches and Armstrong’s WCG, observance of three major aspects of the Torah was emphasized: the Sabbath, the feasts, and the dietary laws. Keeping those three biblical commandments of the Torah seems to have been a kind of mark of distinction from other Gentile Christians who are, in their minds, still under the “pagan” influence of the church because they meet on Sundays, don’t keep the feasts which God gave to the Jews at Sinai, and because they eat “unclean” foods. The controversy over whether Gentile believers should feel compelled to keep the Sabbath, the feasts, and the dietary laws is the exact same controversy that Paul, as the Apostle to the Gentiles, addressed with the Colossians: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.” (Col. 2:16). From Paul’s day, to the Sacred Namers and the WCG, right up to today, we find these Hebrew roots groups “judging” over the exact issues that Paul warned not to judge. Armstrong’s ministry was also characterized by an obsession concerning end-time prophecy. This kind of fanaticism is typical of legalistic groups who seem to think they are separated, chosen, or on a higher plane of holiness with God on account of their observance of the Sabbath, etc. The eschatological views of legalistic groups such as Armstrong’s, often seem to be rooted in the fact that they see their legal observance as somehow indicative of their “chosen-ness” among all others in the end of times. In the wake of the fanaticism, Armstrong declared himself to be a prophet of the Lord, and also God’s true apostle. This hearkens back to Miller and to Ellen White. The Hebrew roots version of end-time prophecy, as presented by Armstrong, replaces the Jews with Torah observant Gentiles. Thus, all scripture concerning Israel’s prophetic rebirth is applied to Gentiles that keep the law. Instead of the Jews returning to the land, and instead of the salvation of Jewish people as a sign of the end-time (See, e.g., Ez. 39:27), the Hebrew roots message is that the Lord is preparing the way for His return by restoring Gentile believers to observance of the law. Only then will a “bride” be made ready to be redeemed by the Lord. By the 1970’s, Armstrong’s use of television enabled him to publish his messages to millions of people worldwide. Armstrong’s broad influence greatly contributed to setting the stage for the kind of legalistic thinking we see today in the modern Hebrew Roots movement. Armstrong’s version of the Hebrew roots “true church” message spread more than any other because he made English-speaking white protestants believe that they 16 were the physical descendants of Israel, and therefore entitled to inherit the land of Israel as a matter of race. All they needed to do to perfect their claim was to observe the law. Hence, by the latter part of the 20th century, the stage was set for a great apostasy in the Gentile church as people embraced the lie that their great hope for deliverance from the upcoming tribulation and final judgment of mankind rests not in their faith in Messiah, but rather, in keeping the Sabbath, festivals and dietary laws of the Torah. This is what Sacred Namers, Armstrong, and their modern day Hebrew Roots successor preach. It is not the gospel handed down by the Apostles. It is a different “gospel.” It should be noted that after Armstrong’s death in 1986, his Worldwide Church of God repudiated all of Armstrong’s teachings, including Anglo-Israelism, Sabbath and feast observance, etc. What was essentially a religious cult for over 50 years, continues 12 today under the name “Grace Communion International” (GCI), under former elders and former associates of Herbert W. Armstrong, who repented of his teachings. Their own words tell so much about what is wrong with that which we are describing herein: “We have worked hard to inform our members about where we went wrong — and we say “we” honestly, for the current leaders of the church once believed and taught these erroneous doctrines. We have criticized other Christians as false, deceived, children of the devil. We have much to apologize for. We are profoundly sorry that we verbally persecuted Christians and created dissention and disunity in the body of Christ. We seek forgiveness and reconciliation.” 13 This move, no doubt, came at great cost to the organization, in terms of loss of members and finances. The GCI nevertheless continued to renounce and repudiate Armstrong’s core teachings, and removed all of his writings from publication by the church. In fact, GCI has moved into line theologically with mainstream evangelical Christianity, and has even become a member of the National Association of Evangelicals. As of 2009, GCI is reported to have 42,000 members in 900 congregations in about 90 countries.14 IV. The Post-Armstrong era: The Two-House of Israel Movement After Herbert W. Armstrong passed away in 1986, and with his church having repudiated British Israelism and Torah observance, and having characterized its former founder and Senior Pastor as a cult leader, a great void was formed. The countless masses of people influenced by over 50 years of Armstrong’s messages were now looking for new leadership and direction. The barn door was left wide open for others to step into the 17 http://www.gci.org/prophecy/usb 12 http://www.gci.org/aboutus/history 13 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWAtvE1xiRk 14 void left by Armstrong’s departure. Thus, a new cast of characters quickly arose on the scene, to carry the baton of Anglo-Israelism through the 1990’s and into the 21st century. From British Israelism to Messianic Israelism - a Change of Name: After Armstrong’s passing, instead of “British Israelism,” which was the term favored by Armstrong, the teachers and followers of British Israelite doctrine in the post-Armstrong era began to use a different name to express their vision. Considering the stigma attached to all things associated with Herbert W. Armstrong, this new name may have arisen out of a desire to avoid such associations. Certainly, the doctrinal beliefs did not change. Consequently, beginning in the late 90’s, instead of “British Israelism” or “Anglo Israelism,” most folks who followed British Israelite doctrinal beliefs in the postArmstrong era, began using the name “Messianic Israel” and/or “Messianic Israelites” to describe themselves. That name seems to have been coined by Batya Wooten who, as a writer of books, preached in essence the same doctrine as Armstrong in terms of the identity of the northern tribes of Israel. Wooten had a profound impact on carrying British Israelism through the 1990’s and into the 21st century. Another major proponent was Marshall “Moshe” Koniuchowsky. Both Wooten and Koniuchowsky will be discussed further below. Followers of British Israelism after Armstrong also became known as “Ephraimites,” or, as we generally refer to them, the “Two House” movement. The Two-house Movement: In spite of the best efforts of some Two-housers to deny it, there can be no doubt of the direct historic link between the Two-house movement and Herbert W. Armstrong. It is a different name, but it is essentially the same foundation of false theories about the identity of Israel, together with the legalistic message concerning the need to keep the law. In our official position paper entitled, The Ephraimite Error, released by the International Messianic Jewish Alliance (IMJA) in 2000, endorsed and published by the MJAA, IAMCS, and UMJC, Dr. Kay Silberling Smith examined the writings of Batya Wooten in exhaustive fashion, and exposed the errors as well as the connections to Herbert W. Armstrong and British Israelism. Dr. Silberling Smith concisely and accurately 15 describes the Two-house movement as follows: 18 Kay Silberling Smith, Ph.D., The Ephraimite Error, 2000, available at: www.mjaa.org/site/DocServer/ 15 EphraimiteError.pdf “Proponents of this (Two-house) movement contend that members of the “born-again” segment of the Christian church are, in fact, actual blood descendants of the biblical Israelites who were dispersed as a result of the Assyrian invasion of the ancient kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C.E. The movement’s proponents further argue that these dispersed “Israelites,” or “Ephraimites,” whose identities have remained undisclosed even to themselves until recent times, primarily settled in areas now recognized as largely populated by AngloSaxons. At times they argue that all Anglo-Saxons, and even all of humanity, are descended from these lost Ephraimites. At other times, that only born-again Christians can claim descent. In either case, Christians from Anglo-Saxon lands, such as Great Britain, Australia, Canada, and the United States, can feel assured that they are most likely direct blood descendants of the ancient people of Ephraim.”16 We do not at this time, by any means, intend to revisit, nor rehash the theological issues which have already been addressed in The Ephraimite Error. However, there are a few developments with the Two-house movement that have occurred since 2000, which need to be mentioned herein. While Armstrong made use of mass communications available through radio and TV, the Two-housers today are extremely savvy at promoting themselves through the internet. Quite recently, internet TV and video has become the main vehicle of expression for Two-housers. Other than the name change, and the use of different media for promotional purposes, the Two-housers continue today where Armstrong left off. In spite of slight stylistic differences, and other subtleties, the Two-housers espouse the same British Israelite doctrine as Armstrong, claiming that the Gentile believers are actually the physical descendants of the ten northern tribes of Israel. Sacred Name meets the Two-Housers: Two-house groups are also well-known for use of the “sacred name.” Among Twohousers, the common language is “Yahshua” and “Yahweh.” For Two-housers, the issue of the “sacred name” is part of its repertoire of complaints against the mainstream evangelical church. Many Two-housers see the evangelical church as “pagan” because, among other reasons, it uses the “Greco-Roman” names of “Jesus” and “Lord.” Moreover, the Two-housers insistence upon using the name “Yahshua,” instead of the correct Hebrew “Yeshua,” has often been used as a way for the Two-housers to distinguish themselves from Messianic Jews. Apparently, because they pray in the true “Sacred-name,” they assume to have more favor with God then we do. 19 Ibid, p.1 16 The Sacred-name issue is just one of many issues about which the Two-housers find fault with us. The main reason, however, is because we don’t recognize their core theory, specifically, their claim to be the physical descendants of Israel. A Strange kind of “Zionism”: Zionism is one of the great ideals of the Jewish people. Few things in the Jewish mind and heart are as sacred as the belief in the basic right of the Jewish people to return to Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel). This dream of the Jewish people, which came at great cost, is at last being realized today, as post-holocaust Jewry has returned to the land. Two-housers have a warped view of Zionism. As proponents of “One Law One People” theology, they presume to be under a calling to observe the law given to Israel at Sinai. Keeping the law, they believe, serves as confirmation of their identity as Israelites. But, moreover, they presume an even greater incentive to keep the law. For Two-housers, keeping the law of Moses not only proves that they are the true Israel, but they seem to think it confirms a “biblical” right to possess the land which God promised to Israel. Hence, for Two-housers, as it was for their predecessor, Herbert W. Armstrong, the modern miracle of the Jewish State is not something to be celebrated. Zionism is redefined as pertaining not to just the Jews, but to the Gentile “Israelites” as well. Thus, the imperative of keeping the law is in every way connected to this absurdly skewed misunderstanding of Zionism, which seems to think that Gentile believers have the same relationship to Eretz Yisrael and even the same inherent right to possess and live in the land as do the Jewish people. This doctrine is not only strange, but it is also anti-Semitic. In the official paper entitled, The Ephraimite Error, released by the IMJA, MJAA, IAMCS and UMJC in 2000, Dr. Kay Silberling Smith quite accurately characterizes the Two-House movement’s concept of Zionism, as follows: “It is now incumbent upon these members of Ephraim, they argue, to accept their birthright and live as members of Israel. They urge Gentile Christians to keep the Torah in obedience to the Hebrew scriptures, to strive to re-educate Jews and other Christians about their new “latter day prophecy,” and to work toward the repatriation of the land of Israel by their own number.” 17 The bottom line is this: The ultimate goal of “One Law One People” theology, as embodied today in the Two-house movement, is replacing the Jewish people as Israel. With Two-housers, replacement theology goes so far as even to the extent of possessing the land. 20 Ibid. 17 Thankfully, there are millions of Christians in the world today who feel they have a biblical calling to bless the State of Israel. This Christian love shown to Israel is a powerful witness of the gospel to Jewish people. Because of it, thousands of Jews are turning to Messiah Yeshua. However, needless to say, a Gentile group which claims it has some kind of biblical right of its own to possess the ancient Jewish homeland, is not a blessing to Israel. Such a claim is not well-received by Jews. It is nothing but an offense to Israel. Pioneering the Two-House Movement: Wooten, Koniuchowsky and the MIA In the late 1990’s, Batya Wooten and Moshe Koniuchowsky were the key pioneers of the organized, mainstream post-Armstrong form of British Israelism. There were others who were involved, but we can’t possibly address all of them in this paper. A few key players will therefore be discussed herein. The core of the Two-house movement began with its organization, by Wooten and Koniuchowsky, into a body which they called the Messianic Israel Alliance (MIA). This occurred in about 1998. At that time, Batya Wooten, along with her husband Angus Wooten, were closely allied with Koniuchowsky. Working together, both the Wootens and Koniuchowsky were co-founders of the MIA. The name obviously sounded a lot like the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America. The MIA was an umbrella organization for a network of Two-house congregations. Through the use of the emerging forum of the internet, the MIA quickly made a splash and became the leading voice for Two-housers at that time. Its rhetoric against the Messianic Jewish movement, and against established organizations such as the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America, as well as the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations, was often quite vitriolic. Wooten wrote and published books addressing the topic of Israel’s identity with a foundation clearly based in British Israel theology. Her writings, with the help of Koniuchowsky, greatly helped to inspire and organize the Two-house movement during the 1990’s. In The Ephraimite Error, it was mainly the teachings of Wooten and Koniuchowsky which were examined and refuted. In spite of their refusals to admit it, their teachings regarding the identity of Israel were practically identical to Armstrong’s, as described by Dr. Kay Silberling Smith: “The parallels between their (Wooten and Koniuchowsky’s) teachings and those of Anglo-Israelism are uncanny”18 21 Ibid, p. 24. 18 “Both Wooten and Koniuchowsky share many theories with traditional AngloIsraelite teachings, although they acknowledge no dependence upon them.”19 Dr. Silberling Smith also quite accurately described the teachings of Wooten and Koniuchowsky as anti-Semitic, and a form of replacement theology. 20 The errors of Two-house theology have been fully addressed on behalf of the Messianic Jewish movement in Dr. Silberling Smith’s excellent paper. The Ephraimite Error addresses and exposes a multitude of errors with the Two-house theology. For a full discussion of those errors we would refer the reader to that paper. We reiterate, there is no need to further address and delineate those theological errors in this paper, nor is it our intent to do so in this paper. Ralph Messer: At the time that Wooten and Koniuchowsky were founding and forming the MIA, another key figure in the Two-house movement, who was closely allied with them, was Ralph Messer. In an article critical of Messer, which was published by Batya and Angus Wooten via the Messianic Israelite Alliance website, they describe the relationship with Messer as follows: “As for the MIA and Messer, when we were forming the Alliance in 1999, we invited him to speak at some of our early conferences. As a pastor, Messer offered to help us. Being a fledgling organization, we were happy to receive an offer of help. But, in our opinion, he soon began to try to take over the MIA. When it became apparent that we were not going to yield to his ways, he left and took whoever he could with him. We have not had a relationship with Ralph Messer since 2002.”21 Aside from being a Two-house teacher, who apparently is ostracized by his own colleagues in the Two-house movement, Ralph Messer is also widely-known for bizarre religious showmanship that has caused great offense to Jewish people. One of Messer’s best-known tactics is a ceremony in which he uses a Torah scroll to wrap a fallen church leader as a symbol of redemption. 22 Ibid, p. 25. 19 Ibid, pp. 30-31 20 Angus and Batya Wooten, Jewish Leaders Offended by Ralph Messer’s Ceremony, (Messianic Israelite 21 Alliance, 2012). Available at: http://www.messianicisrael.com/m/index.php? option=com_content&view=article&id=1921:offended&catid=13&Itemid=35 Most widely known of Messer’s Torah-wrapping ceremonies was the one which he performed upon Bishop Eddie Long of Atlanta. The ceremony was heralded by Messer as not only a sign of Long’s restoration, but also a kind of “coronation” of Long. As media outlets reported the story, it quickly circulated across the internet, causing an outcry from Jewish leaders. Many Jewish leaders, who are not familiar with the antics 22 of the Two-house movement, at first believed that Messer, who claims to be a “Rabbi,” was somehow connected to Messianic Judaism. In response, the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA) and Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC) collaborated in issuing a joint statement condemning Messer’s antics. 23 Koniuchowsky: By 2002, the Wootens had a falling out not only with Messer, but also with their close ally and MIA co-founder, Koniuchowsky. After the break up with Koniuchowsky, the MIA continued under the Wootens. Meanwhile, Koniuchowsky went on his own path. In 2003, Koniuchowsky formed a new alliance with another controversial character in the Two-house movement, James Trimm. Since the break-up with Batya Wooten, Koniuchowsky and his followers were no longer calling themselves “Messianic Israelites.” Instead, together with Trimm, they became the “Nazarene Yisraelites.” Koniuchowsky also made another change. Originally a user of the so-called sacred names of “Yahshua” and “Yahweh,” Koniuchowsky switched to the new sacred names: “Yahushua” and “Yahuwah.” At the time that The Ephraimite Error was published as a position paper of the IMJA, MJAA, IAMCS, and UMJC in 2000, Marshall “Moshe” Koniuchowsky was the most vocal of the Two-house leaders. For several years, his bombastic rantings over the internet made him somewhat of a comical figure. His brash, confrontational style caused him to be considered as the mouthpiece of the Two-house movement during the time that he was allied with Wooten. The RAMYK: Like Herbert W. Armstrong, Koniuchowsky has begun calling himself “the Apostle.” He also uses an acronym for himself - the RAMYK (Rabbi Apostle Moshe Yoseph 23 Associated Press, Jewish Leaders Offended by Ga. Preacher’s Ceremony, Feb. 2nd, 2012. Available at: 22 http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/02/02/jewish-leaders-offended-by-ga-preachers-ceremony/ Joel Chernoff, Paul Liberman, Russ Resnik, et al., UMJC and MJAA respond to Messer Video, (Feb. 3rd , 23 2012), available at: http://www.mjaa.org/site/News2? page=NewsArticle&id=7533&security=1&news_iv_ctrl=1581 Koniuchowsky). Moreover, Koniuchowsky has authored a book entitled The Rebirth of Yisraelite Marriage – Sexual Freedom of Torah. The subtitle promises that the book will “turn generational hangups into spiritual truths.” As one might imagine from the title of the book by the “RAMYK,” Koniuchowsky plainly advocates polygamous marriage as the sacred way of life for true believers living by the Torah.24 In addition to his book, Koniuchowsky also advocates polygamy in voluminous papers he has published on his website. This advocacy of polygamy apparently has resulted in a 25 split from his “Nazarene Yisraelite” comrade, James Trimm. Trimm responds to Koniuchwosky in a 2008 article entitled Wolf in the Fold: “Over the last week we have been flooded with emails, many from persons who had, until now, studied under the teaching ministry of Moshe K. (Koniuchowsky). The common denominator of these emails is that they were all shocked and dismayed by Moshe K’s recent actions and teaching. Just this last week, Moshe K. sent out an email soliciting single women to match into polygamous marriages. And all of this is being done in the names of “Messianic” and “Nazarene” … … My friends, fear not! The “Nazarene” movement will endure this latest trial… … In seeking to promote polygamy, Moshe K. has only succeeded in relegating himself and his ministry to the position of “obscure polygamist cult” and thus to a position of irrelevancy to the movement… … This last week Moshe K. announced an “Emancipation Proclamation of Plural Families” with the following BYSW “Rabbis” overseeing the proclamation: Rabbis’ Jenkins, Nolan, Altaf, Aguilar, Thompson and Koniuchowsky and then soliciting “single women” for these polygamous marriages.”26 By all appearances, Koniuchowsky’s work has degenerated into what would be considered an outright cult by most standards. None of this, however, should come as much of a surprise, considering the same patterns seen now in Koniuchowsky were already established in the forebearer of the Two-house movement, Herbert W. Armstrong. 24 Koniuchowsky, The Rebirth of Yisraelite Marriage – Sexual Freedom of Torah, A manual that will turn 24 generational hangups into spiritual truths, by the RAMYK-Apostle to Yisrael Moshe Yoseph Koniuchowsky, 2010. The book can be accessed for free in pdf at: http://www.yourarmstoisraelglobal.com/the-rebirth-ofyisraelite-marriage.html http://www.yourarmstoisraelglobal.com/scriptural-marriages.html 25 James Trimm, Wolf in the Fold, (July 20, 2008). 26 Eddie Chumney: One key figure in the Two-house movement beginning in the late 90’s was Eddie Chumney. Though he does not appear to be a formal affiliate with the MIA, Chumney has been a regular speaker at their events. On his own behalf, Eddie Chumney has used the internet to broadly publish his writings, proclaiming the Two-house theology. He has thus succeeded to become a major voice in the Two-house movement, somewhat independently of the MIA. Chumney has published voluminous materials, including articles, books, as well as videos espousing the Two-house doctrine, most of which can be found on his website at: www.hebroots.com. Even though he calls his ministry “Hebraic Heritage Ministries,” and even though the terminology “Hebrew Roots” is found all over Chumney’s website and materials, Chumney’s teachings are heavily focused on Two-house theology. He is unmistakably, and unabashedly, dedicated to preaching and promoting Two-house theology. Other Twohouse teachers have also leaned on Eddie Chumney to promote their work and make their voice known in the Two-house movement. In fact, Chumney uses his website to promote not only himself and his own materials, but several other teachers and their materials. These are individuals who apparently are worthy, in Chumney’s view, of being promoted on his Two-house website. As of the date of this writing, featured on Chumney’s website as fellow teachers are: Monte Judah, Bill Cloud, Rico Cortes, Brad Scott, and Avi Ben Mordechai. Monte Judah: Monte Judah is another figure who has made his mark as a key teacher of Two-house theology and a major voice in the Two-house movement. In 2003, Eddie Chumney teamed up with Monte Judah, in an effort to defend Two-house teaching. As a result, Chumney and Judah published a letter that attempted to explain the basic tenets of Twohouse theology as being biblical: “Monte Judah of Lion and Lamb Ministries, and Eddie Chumney, of Hebraic Heritage Ministries International, actively teach that Yeshua / Jesus, the Messiah, died on the tree (John 10:14-17, 11:49-52) to redeem and restore both houses of Israel (Ephraim and Judah).”27 Monte Judah has definitely made his mark as a vocal teacher of Two-house theology, and has quite a significant following via his Lion and Lamb Ministries. Monte Judah has also become known for his controversial teaching which proclaims that the book of Hebrews is not the word of God. In his 2005 ministry newsletter, Monte Judah proclaims: 25 Monte Judah and Eddie Chumney, Report to the Body of Messiah, (2003), available on Eddie Chumney’s 27 website at: www.hebroots.org/twohousemeeting.htm Why do we believe that the book of Hebrews is the authoritative Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and inerrant? It appears that the answer is primarily because it is already printed in the Bible, it speaks for the Messiah, and because of the Paradigm. As presently printed in our Bibles, the book of Hebrews in a side-by-side comparison does not accurately reflect the Law of Moses. It appears to misrepresent Hebrew definitions and concepts by willfully substituting Greek definitions and concepts. 28 On Sept. 9th, 2005, Monte Judah reportedly gave this statement in one of his teachings, aired publicly over the internet, in regard to the book of Hebrews: “The book of Hebrews is written against every messianic believer there is. If you’re a messianic believer, the book of Hebrews is intentionally your enemy and against you . . . We’ve been bullied into this. This is false teaching. Passed off as the word of God.”29 Why the attack on the book of Hebrews? Monte Judah, like all Two-house leaders, is a “One Law One People” teacher. They advocate that all people, Jew and Gentile alike, should equally be keeping the Torah. The attack on the book of Hebrews is necessitated by the fact that it is a portion of scripture which totally contradicts “One Law One People” teaching. In fact, the book of Hebrews is a book specifically telling the Jewish people to seek righteousness through the Son of God and not through the Sinai covenant. It presents the Messiah as the Great High Priest, not descended from the Aaronic order, but associated with David, who is not designated a Priest according to the Law of Moses, but according to the order of Melchizedek. As it says in Hebrews 7:11-12: “If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.” Hebrews presents a way in which not only the Jewish people, but all people, may come to God. It is not through the law given at Sinai, but rather, it is through the Messiah, whose blood cleanses from sin, a Messiah who “ever lives to make intercession” (Heb. 7:25). He is the mediator of “a better covenant, which was established upon better promises” (Heb. 8:6). He did not come to bring people under the Sinai covenant, as the “One Law” teachers say, but rather, He came to pay the penalties of our sins, and thereby to reconcile people unto God. The book of Hebrews is clear: The New Covenant is not like the covenant made previously at Sinai. The book of Hebrews thus presents peculiar problems for those who advocate, in one form or another, adherence to the Sinai 26 Monte Judah, The Paradigm of Hebrews, Yavoh Magazine, Nov. 2005. Available at: http://lionlamb.net/ 28 v3/YAVOHArchives/Volume11/11 Boaz Michael, Answering the Questions regarding the Epistle of Hebrews, A Response to Monte Judah’s 29 Questions of Canonicity, First Fruits of Zion, Oct. 5th, 2005. Covenant. In any case, we wish to make it clear that Monte Judah’s rejection of the book of Hebrews is wrong. Needless to say, in our view, Hebrews is in fact the inerrant, authoritative word of God. From 2007 – 2013, Monte Judah has organized an annual Feast of Tabernacles conference, held in Chandler, Oklahoma, in which the following persons have been regular speakers at the event: Rico Cortes and Eddie Chumney. 30 Recorded teachings of both Cortes and Chumney are featured on Monte Judah’s website at www.lionlamb.net in the link called “messianic marketplace.” These two seem to be Judah’s closest associates in the Two-house movement, at least in terms of participating in events sponsored by him. Brad Scott also has appeared as a speaker at Judah’s 2011 Tabernacles event, and his messages are also available on Judah’s website. Scott Diffenderfer: The MIA after Koniuchowsky: Considering the vast amount of in-fighting and division within the Two-house camp, it is not so easy to keep up with who’s who among them, nor what they are teaching from day to day. However, soon after the split with Koniuchwosky, the Wootens brought in Scott Diffenderfer. Diffenderfer was soon identified by the MIA as their “Executive Director” and “CEO,” as well as a member of what they called the “Shepherd’s Council,” which operated as sort of a steering committee of the organization. He also was the publisher of a magazine which he called “Messianic Home Magazine,” which featured articles written by the Wootens, and other key Two-house teachers, including Diffenderfer himself. 31 Diffenderfer’s commitment to Two-house doctrine goes back to the 1990’s. Scott Diffenderfer was the founder of a Hebraic roots fellowship in the Nashville area in 1994, which uses the name “LAMB” (Lighthouse Assembly of Messianic Believers). Here is an excerpt from one of Diffenderfer’s articles from 1998: “What a joyful time it will be as YHWH’s redeemed people come into the fullness of who they are. As the House of Judah (Jews) and the House of Ephraim (former Gentiles) unite through the power of our Torah observant Messiah Yahshua. They will come running out 27 Available at Judah’s website at: https://lionlamb.net/cgi-bin/lion/search.html? 30 fi=products&st=db&sp=results_b&co=1&sf=category&se=MP3- Events&op=rm&nu=0&sf=prod_group&se=Audio%20Sets&op=&nu=0&ml=50&tf=description&to=r See, an archive of articles published by Messianic Home Magazine at: http:// 31 messianichome.com/alpha.htm of the Churches and Synagogues looking for a better way. A way that is unencumbered by the doctrines of man. A way that leads to the Father... Yahshua and His Torah.”32 The fact that Diffenderfer is a teacher of Two-house doctrine is well-established by his teachings and by his long history of leadership and involvement with the MIA. Along with Diffenderfer, other key MIA staff members were Daniel Botkin, who was a member of the “Shepherd’s Council;” and Ed Harris, the “Director of Community Relations.” In 2012, Diffenderfer split off from the MIA, leaving the Wootens to carry on the MIA without him. Diffenderfer created his own organization, which he calls “Messianic Covenant Community.” The name provides no hint of being Two-house in theology. This is a new trend among the Two-house movement, to use names and labels that don’t sound Two-house at all. By no means has there been a renouncing of the Two-house doctrine. Ed Harris and Daniel Botkin, who were Diffenderfer’s co-workers in the MIA, both of whom have a long history of teaching Two-house doctrine, have joined Diffenderfer in his new endeavor as the “Messianic Covenant Community.” The website lists Diffenderfer as the President and Elder; Ed Harris as Vice President of Community Relations; and Daniel Botkin as an Elder. 33 Moreover, Diffenderfer is currently listed as the “Director” of an organization called “B’nai Ephraim” (children of Ephraim). The mission and vision of B’nai Ephraim is classic Two-house: “B’nai Ephraim International (BEI) serves as a global advocate and educational resource for the sons of Ephraim, descendants of the ancient tribes of Israel…” “… to achieve global presence as the premier advocate and resource center for education and community for the returning sons of Ephraim, once dispersed to the nations but now nearing the end of their biblical punishment of exile from Israel… “We believe that ultimately, this will lead to the foretold restoration of both kingdoms, Judah and Ephraim/Israel, back into the reunited House of Israel as the end of the age approaches.”34 28 Scott Diffenderfer, Redeemed Israel, Messianic Home Magazine, Fall, 1998, available at: http:// 32 messianichome.com/articles/1998/fall/redeemedisrael.htm See, www.messianiccovenant.com/homepage/our-leadership 33 See, www.bnaiephraim.com/about-us 34 We note that B’nai Ephraim was initially a vision of the MIA, which it referred to as “the intial steps toward Ephraim’s nationhood.” B’nai Ephraim lists as its President, Hale 35 Harris, who was the General Secretary of the MIA during Diffenderfer’s reign as CEO. Like Diffenderfer, and the others mentioned, Hale Harris also seems to have left the MIA at this point and is no longer listed as an officer. Another Name Change – the End of the MIA : With the departure of Diffenderfer and many other key staff members of the MIA, in 2013, Batya and Angus Wooten changed the name of the Messianic Israel Alliance to the “Redeemed Israel Alliance.” Though the name has changed, the preaching of Two-house doctrine clearly has not. 36 Now that the Wootens are no longer the “Messianic Israel Alliance,” certain questions naturally arise. What is the reason for this name change? As Batya and Angus explain it in an article posted on the homepage of their website: “Now is the time for a change in the Messianic Israel Alliance – it is time for a new name that will better depict our renewed call and purpose. We are changing our name to the Alliance of Redeemed Israel – because we feel a need to refocus on our Divine Redeemer.” 37 Notwithstanding the allusion to a “new call and purpose,” the article then goes on to explain how this change somehow is connected to “Ephraim’s jealousy of Judah.” They claim that Ephraim is destined in the last days to be delivered of this jealousy when he at last “sees the truth of his own Israelite roots.” As far as the Wootens and their name 38 changes, it’s plain to see: New name, same rhetoric. 29 Batya Wooten, Celebrating Ten Years of Restoration, The Herald, July-Aug 2008, Messianic Israel 35 Alliance, available at: http://www.messianicisrael.com/m/pdfs/herald/08julyaug.pdf 36 See, www.redeemedisrael.com See, www.messianicisrael.com/m/ 37 Ibid. 38 V. The Hebrew Roots Movement “One Law” Carries On: In most recent years, with the MIA having split apart and reformed, a new movement has arisen out of the Two-house movement, which carries on the “One Law One People” tradition. This new movement calls itself “Hebrew Roots.” What has happened is that Two-house leaders seem to have made the decision to soften the emphasis on the Two-house message. Indeed, in many cases, it seems, they even try to deny or conceal their identity as Two-house teachers. Though not disavowing or renouncing the Two-house doctrine by any means, they are keeping it on the “down low,” presumably in an effort to avoid the great controversy often associated with that teaching, which was the subject of Herbert W. Armstrong’s ministry. Accordingly, it is commonplace today for Two-house leaders to use names and descriptions which do not specifically designate them as Two-house. Whereas, in years past, the architects of the Two-house movement used descriptive names for what they believe such as “Messianic Israelite,” Ephraimite, and even “Two-houses of Israel,” now these same pioneers are specifically avoiding such overt names and labels. They have found a more subtle way to appeal to the same crowd. Today, Two-housers are moving and operating under the broader label which they have dubbed: “Hebrew Roots.” Whatever names and labels they use, there can be no mistake about it: Hebrew Roots teachers are mainly Two-housers. There has not been an ideological change, it is merely a change of strategy for promoting the same beliefs in regard to Israel identity and the need to keep the law. The Hebrew Roots Message: The essential, unifying message of the Hebrew Roots movement is the mistaken belief that all people everywhere – Jew and Gentile alike - should be keeping the law of Moses. This overarching message of “One Law One People” finds perfect favor among those who have an agenda concerning Israel identity issues. This is why the core leadership of the Hebrew Roots movement was formed by, and is occupied by, Two-house teachers. The Hebrew roots movement of the 21st century is the culmination of years of erroneous teaching concerning Israel’s identity, combined with the “One Law” creed, that Torah observance is mandatory for the Gentiles. It is propelled by the common misconception that one law was given at Mt. Sinai for all people, and that the law is the way for people to be reconciled unto God. It holds that all people everywhere should be keeping the Torah. The idea, whether stated or implied, is that if a person keeps Torah, then this confirms their identity as Israelites. 30 A Gospel of Law, an Angry God: Hebrew Roots teaching suggests that the only hope for the Gentile believer is to get out of the church, and start keeping the Sabbath, the Levitical feasts, and eating kosher along with other Sabbaterean Hebrew Roots “believers.” This kind of legalistic message is necessarily connected to a mistaken belief about the identity of Israel. It presumes that the Jews are either not descendants of Israel at all, or that Jews are a people who constitute just one tribe among Israel. In either case, therefore, the only way we can know if a person is Israel or not, is if they are keeping the Torah. Hence, by keeping the law, a person proves that they are Israel. This is the Hebrew Roots premise. Furthermore, as opposed to the gospel of scripture which proclaims the good news of forgiveness of sin, the Hebrew Roots message is a gospel of law; to wit, that man is to be reconciled unto God not by faith in God, but by keeping the Law of Moses. Accordingly, no person can hope to be in a healthy relationship with God unless he or she is keeping the weekly Sabbath, the appointed feasts, and the dietary laws. The scriptures testify otherwise. (Col. 2:16). In Hebrew Roots, the message is that God is supposedly angry at the Gentile church because they have not kept His law. As if, in their skewed view of the coming judgment, God is going to judge the world, not just because of inhumanity, wickedness, injustice, violence and immorality; but, rather, because the world is eating the wrong foods, and because humans are failing to gather on the correct appointed days. From the Hebrew Roots perspective, God is presented not as a loving and forgiving God who gave His only Son to die for the sins of all people. But rather, an intolerant God, who rejects all Gentile cultures, and only loves His own Hebraic culture. As if there is no way that a person can be in good standing with God as a Gentile. As if a Gentile must become culturally Jewish in order to come into the fullness of a healthy relationship with God. The Hebrew Roots message to the Gentiles is that the reason Messiah died on the tree was not to deliver the Gentile from sin, but to deliver the Gentile from being a Gentile. As if being a Gentile would somehow be unacceptable to God. The gospel message therefore, for the Hebrew Roots enthusiast, is that God has sent His son into the world in order to conform people to the image of a Jew. After all, Yeshua is Jewish, so all people must be like Him – not just in character, but in culture. He won’t have it any other way, or so they say in Hebrew Roots. In our view, this is entirely wrong. It is the very antithesis of the gospel. In Messianic Judaism, we believe God loves all people. We believe God accepts people from every tribe and tongue, and that He loves people as they are, and without regard to 31 their culture. While we do welcome all people in messianic synagogues, we do not believe that everybody needs to be in a messianic synagogue, or that everybody needs to become a Messianic Jew, or become culturally Jewish, in order to please God. Nor do we see the Messianic Jewish movement as the model for all. Hebrew Roots and “One Law”: In Hebrew Roots, whether one is considered physically descended from Israel or not, there is a presumed duty upon every “true believer” in the Messiah, to observe Torah. And if one keeps Torah, then this verifies a person’s “chosen-ness,” and that means, he or she is an Israelite. In this manner, the Jews are not Israel, but rather, the Jewish people are replaced by a remnant of end-time Torah-keeping Gentiles. Any way you slice it, this is none other than replacement theology. As in the days of the Millerites, and 19th century Sabbaterean Christianity, the Hebrew Roots movement is fueled by an obsession with end-time events concerning Israel. Much of the teaching has to do with prophecies concerning Israel in the end-time. The most popular Hebrew Roots teachers are often held out as people who have answers regarding end-time prophecy due to some exceptional knowledge or skill they possess, which enables them to reveal “mysteries” that the average Christian Pastor could never see, on account of his non-Hebraic, Greco-Roman orientation. This exceptional skill or knowledge, which is often grossly exaggerated, could be in regard to Hebrew language; Jewish liturgy, Talmud or mystical studies; training from an orthodox Rabbi; lots of trips to Israel; or some special study having to do with the secrets of the Temple. Although Hebrew Roots groups are characterized by a certain fanaticism about Jewish stuff, they have little to no interest in Jewish people. Their “vision” is not for Jewish people to come to Messiah, but rather, to push Torah on the Gentiles. They employ Jewish cultural expression in the Hebrew Roots movement merely as a mask to bolster their claim that they are in fact Israel – which is the premise of what they believe. As has been previously discussed, oftentimes Hebrew Roots has elements that seem antiSemitic. This can be very subtle. How can people obsessed with Jewish things actually be prejudiced against Jews? What happens is that people who think they are Israel, see actual Jews as the threat to their core beliefs. What stands between them and their “rightful” claim to be Israelites is the Jews. Therefore, though we embrace them as brothers in the Messiah, they reject us, finding fault in us, for not acknowledging them specifically as Israel. Hebrew Roots is rooted in legalisitic, end-time Sabbatareanism, and British Israelism. The spirit of Hebrew roots, as well as the actual meaning of their doctrine, is simply to replace Israel. That is what “One Law One People” doctrine is ultimately all about, and 32 this is why Two-house and British Israel believers are necessarily associated with “One Law”. The Two-House Connection: In the so-called “Hebrew Roots” movement, most of the key figures are in fact Twohouse teachers with a long established history of preaching that doctrine. Some of them seem to want to conceal the fact that they are Two-house teachers. But their presence is overwhelming and unmistakable. There are a few leaders who are not Two-house teachers, but they are definitely the exception. We will discuss a few of the key players to show definitively how the Hebrew Roots movement is a legalistic, “One Law” movement which grew out of the Two-house movement, and which is both organized and led by Two-house teachers. Key Players: The Hebrew Roots movement of today consists of various popular teachers. It is not possible to discuss all of them. But there are a few of the key players in the Hebrew Roots movement of today that have made their presence known. Some of them have already been discussed herein in the section on Two House leaders – Batya and Angus Wooten, Moshe Koniuchowsky, Ralph Messer, Eddie Chumney, Monte Judah, Scott Diffenderfer, Ed Harris, Daniel Botkin, and Hale Harris. All of these are in one way or another now using the label “Hebrew Roots” to describe themselves. None of them are any more using the once popular moniker of their movement: “Messianic Israelite.” It is not to be found in their ministry names or in any of their current literature. But, rest assured, Hebrew Roots is in essence a new name for an old song. Thus many of the lead characters are the same. However, new characters have also arisen, and new organizations. Some of the people and organizations which form the mainstream of the Hebrew Roots movement will be discussed as follows: Hebraic Roots Network: If one is looking to find the teachings of many key leaders in the Hebrew Roots movement of today, the easiest way to do that is to connect with the Hebraic Roots Network (HRN), which is found online at their website: www.hebraicrootsnetwork.com. HRN was founded in 2011. It is designed to be an internet TV site, where many of the popular Hebrew Roots teachers have networked together in order to broadcast their “shows” over internet TV. It features nearly 24/7 live-streaming of video programs, as well as programs on demand, which are recorded by these popular Hebrew Roots 33 teachers. The “shows” can be viewed online just like watching television. Many of the videos seem to be produced specifically for HRN. For example, one of the most prominently featured teachers on HRN is well-known Twohouse teacher, Eddie Chumney. The website features “The Eddie Chumney Show.” Another popular show promoted on HRN is “The Bill Cloud Show.” For each of the shows, the website offers quite a smorgasbord of teachings available on demand or for purchase on DVD. As of the date of this writing, the following are currently listed under the “Teachers” link on the Hebraic roots network website, which means their teachings are being aired by HRN, and their materials are being promoted and sold on the website: Eddie Chumney, Bill Cloud, David Rives, Mordecai Silver, Richard Rives, Brad Scott, Daniel Botkin, Ed Harris, Holissa Alewine, Diana Dye, Rico Cortes, Tony Robinson, and Valerie Moody. A brief bio is provided for each of the listed teachers by simply clicking on their name. Under the “Products” link, HRN also provides for each of the featured Hebrew Roots teachers to make available their teaching materials for purchase. This includes CD’s, DVD’s, books and other items. In addition to the listed teachers, there are other teachers who are not necessarily producing videos to be aired on HRN, but whose materials are nonetheless promoted and made available, including Scott Diffenderfer. In fact, Diffenderfer was one of the founding “teachers” involved in the organization of HRN at the outset in 2011. Most of the “teachers” whose shows are aired over the Hebraic Roots Network are wellknown figures from the Two-house movement, with a substantial, established history as teachers of the Two-houses of Israel doctrine. Eddie Chumney, for example, has been discussed already at length. We have also discussed Diffenderfer, Botkin and Harris, who are now promoted as “Hebrew Roots” teachers by HRN, and all of whom have a significant history as former officers of the Messianic Israel Alliance, and years of serving as co-laborers with Batya Wooten in the promotion of the Two-houses of Israel doctrine through the MIA. It is not possible to evaluate and discuss every one of the individuals listed as “teachers” on HRN. Some of them will be discussed further below, though certainly not all of them. We note first, however, that nowhere on the HRN is there any mention of Two-house teachings or anything associated with it. This clearly seems to be deceptive on the part of HRN. In spite of all the Two-house teachers on board with HRN, there is no mention of the controversial doctrine which they actually teach, and have been teaching for many 34 years. Even Eddie Chumney, nowhere in his bio is there a mention of the Two-house doctrine which he regularly teaches. It is difficult to imagine that this is an unintentional oversight. The only exception to be found is in the bio of Michael “Mordecai” Silver. Silver’s bio tells the story of how he came to be a teacher of Two-house theology. It says of Silver: “… several years back he came across the teaching of the two houses of Israel. Finally he saw some of the truth that (had) been hidden away and entered into a new phase in his spiritual walk as part of Judah and as part of Israel. God has been blessing the congregation and drawing in those who are becoming part of those who are one in Messiah and Torah observant. Mordecai views the two house teaching as that, a Biblical teaching, that speaks to the equality of all Believers in Messiah and Torah.” Other than this blurb about Silver, none of the other bios make any mention of the Twohouses of Israel doctrine or movement in spite of strong affiliations, if not overt teachings, associated with many, if not all, of the HRN teachers. (That is not to say that there has been any renunciation or repudiation of the Two-house doctrine by any of the individuals in question). Revive Conference: Another key feature of the Hebraic Roots Network website is that it promotes an annual Hebrew Roots conference called “Revive.” Since the launching of HRN in 2011, the Revive conference has quickly become an important venue for Hebrew Roots followers. In fact, it is the annual main event for Hebrew Roots at this time. Many of the more prominent advocates of Two-house / Hebrew Roots teachings are at the “Revive” conference. Most of them are the same persons which are featured teachers promoted on the HRN website. For example, the line up of speakers for the “Revive” 2012 and 2013 conferences has included as follows: Eddie Chumney, Scott Diffenderfer, Bill Cloud, Brad Scott, Daniel Botkin, Ed Harris, Holissa Alewine, Rico Cortes, Tony Robinson, and Valerie Moody. Essentially, it is the same cast as those appearing on the Hebraic Roots Network. There are a few key figures in the Revive conference who are not listed on HRN. One of them is an individual named Ephraim Judah, who is a family member of Monte Judah, and is on staff with his ministry. Ephraim Judah is the director of youth ministry for Revive conferences. There are certain key worship leaders at the Revive conference who have been regulars in providing the worship in the events of the Hebrew Roots movement. Lenny and Varda Harris have led worship at Revive conferences. The Harris’ are well-known Two- 35 housers, as reflected by the subject matter of their music, which is heavily Two-house, not to mention their years of appearing at major events sponsored by the MIA. Other key worship leaders at the “Revive” conferences include Steve Manning, who is currently the worship director for Scott Diffenderfer’s Messianic Covenant Community. An emerging figure is Mason Clover, who was a producer and performer, along with Lenny and Varda Harris and Steve Manning, on an album recorded live at Batya Wooten’s 2009 MIA conference, and has become quite a regular appearing at Revive conferences and at major Hebrew Roots gatherings over the last couple of years. Like the Harris’, over many years, both Manning and Clover have regularly made appearances as worship leaders at Two-house conferences of the Messianic Israel Alliance, organized by Batya Wooten and Scott Diffenderfer. Now they have become key worship leaders at these “Revive” conferences being organized under the new label, “Hebrew Roots.” Many of the teachings, activities and events occurring at the “Revive” conferences are filmed and made available for purchase on HRN’s website. Much of it is also plastered all over the internet video sites, including on YouTube. The first Revive conference was held in Jacksonville, Fl. from June 29th – July 1st, 2012. The second was in Dallas, Texas, from June 21st – June 23rd, 2013. Another conference is currently scheduled for June 27th – June 29th, 2014. Torah Services: Video footage of a “Torah service” held at Revive 2012, is a pretty good example of what the Hebrew Roots movement is about. When a Torah is displayed and processed in a non-Jewish setting, from our point of view, this raises a “yellow flag” of concern. For one thing, it can be a cause of great offense to Jewish people. The Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll), which is typically dressed in elaborate covers and decorated with jewels, symbolizes the age-old struggle of the Jewish people to stand committed to Jewish ideals and Jewish calling, even in the face of generations of suffering and persecution. Obviously, the Bible as a whole has meaning and purpose for all people. But the Sefer Torah is a very Jewish symbol that is unique and has been cherished and guarded for generations by people who risked their lives to do so. Processing the Sefer Torah inappropriately, for the wrong reasons, and/or in the wrong context, or even by people who don’t really know what they are doing, can be a source of re-opening wounds for the Jewish people. Ralph Messer’s vulgar misuse of a Torah scroll is a good example of the kind of offense that can be caused in the minds of Jewish people in the mainstream. So why is this being done? What is the message here except to say: “You are Israel!” Furthermore, from a scriptural point of view, there are other warnings that come to mind, such as 1 Tim. 1:7: “They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” By way of comparison, Torah services have a special place in the history and tradition of the Jewish people and that is why they are to be commonly found in Messianic Judaism. In our own Messianic Synagogues and Messianic Jewish conferences, we continue to use much Jewish tradition which comes from the synagogue. We know that the Jewish community often objects to this, but we do it for one simple reason – because we are Jews. We train children to learn Jewish religious customs and we train them to have bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies, not because we believe everybody should be doing the same, but simply because we are Jewish and it is part of our heritage and culture as Jews. In Messianic Judaism, we have no aversion or objection to Gentiles being involved in Torah services or in Jewish liturgical services. But when these things occur in the setting of a Messianic Synagogue it is an entirely different matter. A messianic synagogue consists of both Jews and Gentiles together in Messiah. Messianic Judaism is a Jewish movement, a messianic synagogue is Jewish, and the revival of Israel, is a Jewish revival. Both Jew and Gentile understand, in messianic Judaism, God is using us together, as One New Man, as a joint witness, in a Jewish context. Together we are a light and witness to the Jewish community, to publish the gospel to the Jewish people. That is the calling from God in Messianic Judaism. There is no agenda among us to see the rest of the world’s believers holding Torah services or otherwise worshipping and behaving as Jews. It is what we do because it is who we are. The “Revive” conference, on the other hand, is not a Jewish event. Hebrew Roots is not a Jewish movement. Therefore, when a Torah service is held in that context, in a Gentile organization, and a Gentile worship setting, certain natural questions arise: Why are they doing this? Why are they processing Torahs? Why, in a non-Jewish setting, are they performing the cherished religious traditions of Jewish people? Why are they doing things which are historically done by Jews in the synagogue? Why are they saying Hebrew liturgical prayers for which the people have no traditional relationship? The natural answer is: Because they think themselves to be Israel. And that is exactly what is going on in Hebrew Roots. The message is: “You are Israel.” It is nothing more than a continuation of the Two-house creed. People are being told to keep the law, because, after all, they are the chosen remnant; they are indeed the people Israel. 37 Rico Cortes, Torah Reader: The Torah service at Revive 2012 and 2013 was led by Rico Cortes. As mentioned previously, Cortes was a regular speaker at conferences sponsored by Monte Judah, going back to 2007. He has also been a key speaker at conferences held by the Messianic Israel Alliance. Rico Cortes’ bio, listed on HRN’s website, heralds him as a Torah teacher, and a person with certain expertise on the hidden truths of the Temple, and the services in the Temple. Cortes is also held out as a person knowledgeable in Jewish liturgical worship and practices. In addition to being Two-house in ideology, he also is clearly a “One Law One People” advocate. The bio states: “Rico Cortes will challenge you to keep the Commandments that Yeshua/Jesus kept. He specializes in uncovering spiritual truths hidden within the Holy Temple and the services that took place there. His knowledge of the Tabernacle, Holy Temple, priests and procedures combine to bring an incredible prophetic message to us today regarding how we are to reverently approach and be true servants of our Creator YHVH! … Rico's vision is to see all who believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob return to the Torah and to be a set apart people who serve our Creator as He has instructed. He travels around the globe sharing the hidden truths that he has uncovered, encouraging believers in the Messiah to keep the Commandments that Yeshua (Jesus) kept.”39 Before processing the Torah at the “Revive” 2012 Torah service, Cortes apparently finds it necessary to address the question – “Why are we doing this?” In other words, why is a traditional Jewish Torah service being held in a non-Jewish event, hosted by a non-Jewish organization? Good question. Cortes then explains why Jewish liturgical prayers such as the Amidah are important for all people to recite. Cortes makes reference to the Jewish people as “Judah.” Before processing the Torah, Cortes says: “I am going to do my best to try to entice you to understand why we do what we do. Are we trying to learn from our brother, Judah? Absolutely. Because he took from the essence from the Temple and he basically encapsulated it in a little prayerbook, that if you don’t have any concentration or meditation on the words, it means nothing. In Hebrew it’s called “kavanah.” But if you put your heart and your soul and your mind and everything that you have into a prayer or a protocol or a blueprint of how to approach, how to praise, how to exalt, how to uplift, how to handle yourself in the presence of the King of the universe, ladies and gentlemen. Now today, you will have the opportunity, that as one out of seven billion people on the face of the earth, you are a remnant that the Father has 38 http://www.hebraicrootsnetwork.com/teachers/rico-cortes 39 called from among the nations to lift, to uphold, to exalt, to praise, to worship, to revere, to exalt the name of the living Elohim.”40 Obviously, Cortes wants the people to believe that they are the end-time remnant of Gentile Torah keepers, members of the northern tribes of Israel, soon to be united with their “brother Judah.” Aside from the Two-houses of Israel message, what Cortes and his colleagues are doing is problematic in other ways as well. It is symptomatic of what is wrong in the Hebrew Roots movement. It is a movement based on pretense and supposition about Israel identity. It is led by teachers who assume they are Israel, and teach others to believe likewise, even though they aren’t Jewish. Hebrew Roots is founded, built, and programmed by Two-house leaders who, whether they admit it or not, are teachers of replacement theology. We note that after the procession of the Torah, the main speaker at the Revive 2012 Torah service was Bill Cloud. In June 2013, in Dallas, Texas, a similar Torah service was held at “Revive” 2013, led by Rico Cortes, with Tony Robinson as the speaker. Bill Cloud was the Friday evening speaker at that 2013 conference. Another “Revive” conference is currently scheduled for June 2014, in Jacksonville. MIA Conferences: Beginning in 1999, Batya Wooten and her colleagues in the Messianic Israel Alliance (a/ k/a Redeemed Israel Alliance) have been organizing Two-house conferences. These MIA summer conferences have been the main event for Two-housers and have served as a platform for Wooten and colleagues to promote the Two-house ideology. The MIA conferences typically have featured most of the same speakers that are now speaking at “Revive” Conferences and are listed as “teachers” on the Hebrew Roots Network. These same so-called Hebrew Roots teachers have been the regular speakers at Wooten’s MIA conferences for many years. Wooten and Diffenderfer have advertised the MIA conferences in various ways, including their own monthly MIA newsletter called “The Herald.” Although these MIA annual conferences go back to 1999, and although there are regional and other specially organized conferences of the MIA, we will only go back as far as 2009, and will only discuss the annual summer conference which has been the main MIA event. We will list some, but not all, of the prominent speakers which are regular speakers for each of these MIA conferences, as advertised by “The Herald”: 39 Rico Cortes, Revive Conference 2012, Torah Service, at video timecode 00:30. Available at: http:// 40 www.youtube.com/watch?v=mX855srWJTM 2009, MIA Tenth Anniversary conference, Orlando, Fl., Sept. 4th - 7th : - Speakers: Bill Cloud, Brad Scott, Daniel Botkin, Scott Diffenderfer, Ed Harris, Angus and Batya Wooten. 41 2010: Maryville College, Knoxville, Tn., July 26 - Aug. 1. - Speakers: Bill Cloud, Brad Scott, Holissa Alewine, Rico Cortes, Daniel Botkin, Scott Diffenderfer, Ed Harris, Angus and Batya Wooten 42 2011: Maryville College, Knoxville, Tn., June 28th – July 4th Speakers: Bill Cloud, Brad Scott, Holissa Alewine, Scott Diffenderfer, Ed Harris, Angus and Batya Wooten 43 By the year of 2012, the MIA did not hold any more conferences because the organization ceased to exist. The Messianic Israel Alliance that year changed its name to the “Redeemed Israel Alliance.” This name change coincided with the advent of HRN, the departure of Diffenderfer and others from the MIA, and the first “Revive” conference held in 2012. Under the new name, Wooten has held two conferences in Orlando, one in 2012 and another in 2013. These events have actually featured onsite DNA testing, conducted by Dr. Alex and Georgina Perdomo. This is presumably to try and prove biological connection to the people Israel. Wooten’s 2012 and 2013 conferences have not featured the usual speakers, who are now appearing on HRN and in the “Revive” conferences. Has Wooten’s organization been trumped in popularity by the Hebraic Roots Network? Has the “Revive” conference surpassed Wooten’s annual gatherings as the main event for Two-housers / Hebrew Roots enthusiasts? It would appear so. The only HRN “teacher” to appear at Wooten’s 2013 40 The Messianic Israel Alliance Herald, April, 2009, available at: www.messianicisrael.com/m/pdfs/herald/ 41 09april.pdf The Messianic Israel Alliance Herald, July, 2010, available at: http://www.messianicisrael.com/pdfs/ 42 herald/10july.pdf The Messianic Israel Alliance Herald, Jan. 2011, available at: http://www.messianicisrael.com/m/pdfs/ 43 herald/11jan.pdf Redeemed Israel Alliance conference, held during Labor Day weekend in Orlando, was Bill Cloud. 44 Bill Cloud: One of the most, if not the most, popular of the Hebrew Roots teachers currently is Bill Cloud. He is not only a featured teacher on HRN, but he seems to make his presence known at every major gathering billed under the title of Hebrew Roots or Two-houses of Israel. Cloud calls his ministry “Shoreshim” (Roots). The idea is that he is bringing people back to their Hebrew Roots. Cloud, who hails from south Georgia, claims to have studied under a Rabbi, through which Cloud claims to have become an expert on Hebrew language. Whether or not Cloud has actual expertise in Hebrew language is indeed arguable. He is known, however, for using a few key words and phrases in Hebrew in order to build upon in his teachings. Cloud’s claim to have “prolific” Hebrew skills, is a major part of Cloud’s teaching style in terms of understanding prophecy. He holds himself out as a revealer of prophetic mysteries in the Bible, which the average English-speaking Christian wouldn’t be able to see on his own, due to lack of Hebrew skills. His bio on HRN, which is posted verbatim on his own website as well, states: “Bill began studying Hebrew under the tutelage of a local rabbi and has since become quite prolific at reading and writing the Holy Tongue. He has spent many hours studying, not only the Hebrew text, but the Hebraic roots of Christianity as well. This research has been rewarded with a keen insight into Biblical Judaism and its relationship to Christianity. This interest is tied to Bill’s desire to unlock the deep secrets of the Word of God and to teach them, along with our Hebraic roots, to believers in Messiah. Furthermore, this insight has allowed Bill to better understand the prophetic element of Scripture. As a result of this study, Bill has developed a variety of media resources dealing with prophetic themes as well as teachings related to our lost Hebraic heritage.”45 As far as what Bill Cloud believes and teaches, one of the popular episodes of the Bill Cloud Show currently promoted and made available for purchase on DVD at the HRN website, and also at Bill Cloud’s own ministry website, www.shoreshim.org, is a two-part 41 http://www.redeemedisrael.com/events-2/ 44 At HRN website: http://www.hebraicrootsnetwork.com/teachers/bill-cloud , also at Shoreshim 45 Ministries website: http://billcloud.org/about-bill teaching called The Joseph Factor. This video consists of about 80 min. of teaching 46 from Bill Cloud, and provides a good example of what Bill Cloud is about. In The Joseph Factor teaching part I, Bill Cloud addresses the meaning of Gen. 48:19, in which Jacob blesses the two sons of Joseph. That verse is typically a key subject matter in Two-house teachings. It is also typical to do what Cloud does here, which is to try 47 and connect that verse to Paul’s words concerning the salvation of Israel in Rom. 11:25-26. Cloud says: “And he places his right hand on Ephraim’s head, and he says, and in you, Ephraim, shall be the multitude of nations. The Hebrew phrase is ‘m’lo hagoyim’, and it, what that means, ‘m’lo’ – completion or fullness. ‘Hagoyim’ – the nations, or the Gentiles. In other words, it’s the same phrasing that Paul uses in Romans 11. He says, in essence, that in you shall be the fullness of the Gentiles. In other words, when you who have come to Israel looking like pagans, if you will, those of you who have been outside of this family, but who now have been adopted in this family, when you come into the realization that you are part of this family, and consequently should begin to act like part of this family, and you begin to understand that, and how did we come into this family? Because the Messiah made it possible. When you begin to see the fullness of these things, then, it says, that’s the completion of the Gentiles, that’s that fullness of the Gentiles, that is the key that leads to all Israel being saved.”48 So, according to Cloud, Ephraim becoming a multitude does not refer to the Jewish people multiplying, it refers to Gentile believers being the descendants of Israel. This is the premise of British Israelism and Two-houses of Israel theology. Cloud continues, making clear his view that Joseph in prophecy is the Gentiles, and Judah is the Jews: “You and I who are believers in Messiah, perhaps some of us are coming into trying to understand the Hebraic roots of our faith, perhaps asking why is it that just now I am beginning to see these things. Why is it that I didn’t see these things 42 At HRN website: http://www.hebraicrootsnetwork.com/shop/teachings/bill-cloud , and at Bill Cloud’s 46 website: http://www.goestores.com/catalog.aspx? storename=shoreshimministries&DeptID=243301&ItemID=10053419&detail=1 Kay Silberling Smith, Ph.D., The Ephraimite Error, p. 2, www.mjaa.org/site/DocServer/ 47 EphraimiteError.pdf Bill Cloud, the Joseph Factor part I, Time code 35:25 - 36:31, available at: http://www.youtube.com/ 48 watch?v=Yv53zui4o5A long ago, or why is it that generations before me didn’t see these things? Because ultimately ladies and gentlemen, it’s all part of God’s plan. Because there has to be a Joseph. There has to be a Joseph whose Hebraic identity is concealed, for such a time as this. And what is the purpose of it all? So that all Israel might be saved. Because there is coming a day when Joseph - who I believe represents the body of Messiah at large. And Judah - the Jewish people at large. There is coming a day when these two trees, these two groups, are gonna be reconciled and are going to become one, and thus, all Israel shall be saved.” 49 Cloud’s teaching here is classic Two-house teaching. The whole context of Romans 11 is about the salvation of the Jewish people. It foretells how the gospel will go to the whole Gentile world, and Israel will be provoked to jealousy. If the Gentiles coming to faith are actually Israel, then is Israel to provoke Israel? Obviously not. The whole world will hear the gospel, and as Gentiles come to faith, at an appointed time, the Lord will turn his face back to Israel. The Jews brought the gospel to the world, yet, blindness has come upon Israel until the designated time, in which that blindness shall be removed. Messianic Judaism is the living truth and the fulfillment of that scriptural promise of the salvation of Jewish people found in Romans 11. Yet, Cloud’s teaching here tows the party-line for the Two-house movement: He teaches that the salvation of “Israel” spoken of by Paul in Romans 11 is not about Jewish salvation, but it is about the restoration of the houses of Judah and Joseph (Ephraim). He suggests that the salvation of Israel can only occur when the house “Joseph” (Ephraim) at last realizes its hidden identity among the nations where they have become a “multitude,” not as Jews, but as Gentiles. Only then can Israel be saved. So, it isn’t about the Jewish people coming to Messiah, it is about Gentiles discovering that they are Israel. This is Two-house doctrine. The hope of the Gentiles is in discovering at last what has otherwise been “hidden” – that they are Israelites. And having discovered it, as Cloud says, they must stop being pagan and start “behaving” as Israelites, which means keeping the law. In part 2 of The Joseph Factor, Bill Cloud elaborates on his view that Americans are actually the house of Joseph: “I’m going to suggest to you that the reason that you and I, and Americans, enjoy so much luxury, so much wealth, is not for the sake of the wealth itself, it’s not because we’re Americans. It’s because all these different nations, this multicolored coat, is congregated, by and large, in this country, and God is blessing Joseph, because Joseph has a role to play as it relates to our brethren, who are 43 Ibid, time code 38:00 – 39:00. 49 living in the land of Canaan, and who, along with all of us, are one day going to be threatened with something that is going to originate in the deserts of Saudi Arabia.” 50 So, America is Joseph? How can Gentile believers in America constitute the northern kingdom of Israel? This teaching is straight off the pages of Herbert W. Armstrong and British Israelism. But Bill Cloud builds on it. He continues with his claim that America is Joseph, citing a verse from the book of Obadiah which says: “And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD has spoken it.” (Obadiah v. 18) So according to Cloud, American Gentile believers are actually the “house of Joseph,” which will ultimately consume the “house of Esau” on behalf of all of Jacob. He continues: “And so who is God going to use primarily to bring about the destruction of the house of Esau? According to His word, the house of Joseph. Now who is the house of Joseph? If we put all these things together, ladies and gentleman, that we’ve been discussing, I have to come to this conclusion, the house of Joseph is referring to people like you and me. And if I’m correct, if the largest portion of Joseph is living in this nation, perhaps this is an allusion to the United States.”51 As Cloud continues, as further evidence for his claim of America as Joseph, Cloud turns to his Hebrew skills. He claims that the Hebrew word “busha” (bet, vav, shin, hey) found in Obadiah v. 10, which is translated into English as “shame,” is in fact a prophetic allusion to America. Cloud claims that since the masculine form of “busha,” is “bush,” that this word is a prophetic allusion to President Bush. He offers this to make the point that America is the house of Joseph in prophecy, which is destined, according to Cloud, to destroy Israel’s enemy, the house of Esau. Of course, all of this reeks of British 52 Israelism and Two-house theology. 44 Bill Cloud, the Joseph Factor part II, Time code 32:20 - 32:60, available at: http://www.youtube.com/ 50 watch?v=InNCeS4tXmM Ibid, at timecode: 36:15 – 36:44 51 Ibid, at timecode: 37:55 – 38:48 52 Cloud wraps up part 2 of the Joseph Factor with a summation that hammers his point home. According to Cloud, American Gentile believers, being the house of Joseph, can look forward to the promise of being united with the Jews in the land: “You and I have been hidden among the nations. You and I, we’ve been hidden so well, we didn’t even know we were hidden. The reason we were, is so that somebody would come looking for us. And by that I mean our brethren who live in the land of Canaan, because one day there is going to be this restoration of all things that Peter describes in Acts chapter three. There one day is going to be this great reconciliation where these two become one, in the land.”53 Jim Staley: Though Jim Staley is not one of the teachers promoted by HRN, he has made his presence known through the internet, and is clearly one of the most prominent Hebrew Roots teachers at present. Staley’s ministry, headquartered in St. Charles, Missouri, he calls “Passion for Truth Ministries.” Staley has organized Hebrew Roots conferences of 54 his own, which he called “Final Return” in 2010, and “Final Restoration” in 2011. These events have featured as speakers some of the usual Hebrew roots teachers, including: Bill Cloud, Rico Cortes, and Tony Robinson. 55 In addition to using livestream internet videos to promote himself, Staley is quite savvy at marketing his recorded teachings through DVD’s and CD’s. Staley’s website is replete with materials carrying the “One Law” and Two-house message, authored by both Staley and others whom he promotes. Staley makes clear in most of his teachings that he believes every Gentile believer ought to consider it their obligation to keep Torah, especially the Shabbat, the feasts, and the dietary laws. Not only is Staley an avid “One Law” teacher, but he is also a Two-houser. We note that similar to the current trend of most Hebrew Roots teachers, Staley does not describe himself or his ministry with any labels that might indicate his Two-house doctrinal beliefs. However, even a cursory glance at some of his teaching materials indicates quite plainly that he is in fact a devoted Two-house teacher. 45 Ibid, at timecode: 38:52 - 39:21 53 54 See Staley’s website at: www.passionfortruth.com 55 Promo for conference available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EWjUe4McNw The best example of what Staley teaches is found in one of his popular DVD teachings called “Identity Crisis – Discovering Your True Identity.” Having been produced in 56 2011, as of the date of this writing, Staley’s website lists the Identity Crisis DVD under the subheading “number one teaching.” Hence, it’s pretty clear that “Identity Crisis” quite vividly represents the heart of what Staley and his ministry stand for. The teaching is 120 minutes long, so this short review is not intended to be a full rebuttal by any means. In any case, there is nothing new in it that hasn’t already been addressed in The Ephraimite Error. Staley in essence has made his mark by preaching the same points that Batya Wooten has written, the difference being that it’s a different medium. What Wooten put in books, Staley is preaching in front of the camera, as Herbert W. Armstrong did. For our purposes here, we will review a short portion of the Identity Crisis DVD, not as a full rebuttal, but simply to reference it, and record it herein, as proof positive of what Staley believes and teaches. Staley is undeniably a part of the Hebrew Roots crowd which in fact is an extension of the Two-houses of Israel movement. While the entire Two-house position is anti-Semitic in nature, many of the Hebrew Roots teachers have tried to tone down the anti-Semitic rhetoric that inheres in the Two-house position. Not so with Staley. Jim Staley, in particular, stands out as one who comes across, quite unabashedly, as anti-Jewish. The promo on the jacket of the DVD states: “For two thousand years we have all been taught that Israel is the Jewish people and the Jewish people are Israel. This misunderstanding has crippled our ability to truly glean from the scriptures all that was originally intended.” As the promo makes clear, the entire “Identity Crisis” teaching is about the identity of Gentile believers as Israel. It is typical Two-house teaching. Staley, who delivers the entire message standing at a pulpit flanked by two tall banners – one of Judah, the other of Ephraim - begins by listing what he claims are “myths” about the Jewish people. Two of those “common myths” according to Staley are: - The Jewish people were the chosen people in the Old Testament - The Torah and the law was given to the Jews57 These are actually “myths” about the Jews. According to Staley, another misconception is that the Jews were the people at Mt. Sinai. Staley says: 46 56 Jim Staley, Identity Crisis, available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTx5tjNQEvw Ibid, at time code 8:44. 57 “How many tribes were at the base of Mt. Sinai when the commandments were given? All twelve tribes. Next question, logical to be asked, is how many were Jewish? One tribe. One tribe was Jewish, which begs the question, where are the other ones? Because if they were given to all of Israel, all the twelve tribes, then they can’t possibly be Jewish, or that’s just not fair. The Jewish people cannot own the holidays. They’re just one tribe.”58 True to form as a Two-house teacher, Staley makes a big deal about the reference in Genesis 48:19 to Ephraim as a “multitude of nations.” He argues just like Bill Cloud, and Batya Wooten, and all other Two-house teachers, that the Hebrew from that verse, “m’lo hagoyim,” actually means “fullness of the Gentiles,” and therefore it is a reference not to the Jews, but to the Gentile believers. Staley says: “So the ten tribes were taken into captivity and disbursed all across Assyria, over time they assimilated into the nations and became exactly what the prophecy said of Ephraim, the m’lo hagoyim, the fullness of the nations, they became as Gentiles.”59 The “m’lo hagoyim” teaching, which cites Gen. 48:19 as supposed evidence that the Gentiles are physical descendants of the ten northern tribes, is classic Two-house. Whether British Israelite, Herbert W. Armstrong, Batya Wooten, or Jim Staley, the teaching is the same. As expected, Staley goes on to try and connect it to Romans 11:26, which, according to their view is a reference to the salvation of the Gentile descendants of Israel. “That blindness in part has happened to Israel, speaking of the local Israel of that day, in context, the only Israel that existed, the house of Judah, until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. I told you I would come back to this verse. Do you think that Paul is just making this up by some stroke of genius? He’s quoting from the Tanakh. The blessing that went on Ephraim. The fullness of the house of, excuse me, the fullness of the Gentiles. This is what he’s talking about. The northern kingdom coming home. Until they all come home. This is what he’s talking about. Continuing, and so all Israel will be saved. How many, like me, have always thought at some point all those Jewish people will finally understand, and they’ll all get saved? Cause we’ve defined Israel as the Jewish people. But the reality is that it’s all Israel, ladies and gentleman, all twelve tribes will eventually come 47 Ibid, at time code 9:32 – 10:08 58 Ibid, at time code 28:00 – 28:15. 59 back, that’s what he’s talking about. (applause). When the fullness of the Gentiles comes home, that’s when all Israel will be saved.” 60 Like most every other major figures in the Hebrew Roots movement, obviously Staley is a Two-house teacher, whose message to the Gentile believer is loud and clear: You are the true Israel. Therefore, you should be keeping the Torah. Michael Rood: Of all the figures currently operating under the label of “Hebrew Roots”, Michael Rood is in a class of his own. Although Rood does not presently appear to be connected with any of the major figures or events in the Hebrew Roots movement, yet he has made quite a significant impact on the Hebrew Roots movement on his own behalf. He has done this mainly through the use of the internet. In particular, he has used video and internet television. Based in Charlotte, N.C., Rood’s teachings are currently aired, promoted, and marketed through his website at: www.aroodawakening.tv. Similar to the Hebraic Roots Network, Rood also uses a 24/7 internet TV site of his own which he calls “Messianic TV.” That site, which is linked to his main website, is found at www.messianic.tv . Michael Rood’s preaching appeals to the typical Sabbaterean Christian in America. Sporting a long, white beard, Rood commonly dresses in robes and head pieces which resemble the garments of Israelite priests in Temple times. The way he dresses, though comical indeed, does not appear to be in jest. It is very much a part of the character which Rood has created for himself. He has cast himself into the role of a doomsday prophet, who has come to decry the sins of the Gentile church in America. To be a Moses or Elijah, one must look and act the part, and Michael Rood does exactly that. Nearly all of Rood’s teachings, which he often refers to as “A Rood Awakening,” are about end-time prophecy. His teachings seem to always focus upon inevitable thermonuclear war with Russia, impending judgment upon America, the anti-christ, economic collapse, the beast of Revelation, global conspiracies, the New World Order, etc.. These are all topics of interest to believers today, and many preachers, at times, delve into the same. But in Rood’s case, end-time prophecy provides the basis for his urging Gentiles to believe there is a need for them to be keeping the law of Moses, in order to escape God’s wrath. In particular, the feasts, the Sabbath, and the dietary laws are promoted by Rood - because God is angry with the “pagan” church, which has failed to keep these things. Rood’s style of playing on people’s fears concerning real issues such as nuclear war, terrorism, Arab-Israeli conflicts, recession, and global politics, as a backdrop for promoting legalism, is highly reminiscent of Herbert W. Armstrong. 48 Ibid, at time code: 50:36 - 51:41 60 Rood makes lots of trips to Israel, and many of his videos are shot on location there. He clearly endeavors to produce his videos in a way which associates himself with the land of Israel, and which implies to his followers that he is an Israelite, and so too are they if only they follow his teachings. Rood insists upon a Karaite version of the biblical calendar which he calls the “Astronomically and Agriculturally Corrected Biblical Hebrew Calendar. Rood makes a big issue about the correct calendar being connected to the ripening of the barley harvest in the Spring. He suggests that those who keep Passover at the “wrong” time, following the mainstream, modern Jewish calendar, are not keeping the commandments of God concerning appointed feast days. Rood’s impact upon the Hebrew Roots movement is quite significant, as is his name recognition all over the internet. Unfortunately for the messianic Jewish movement, Rood often refers to himself as a “Rabbi” or even a “Messianic Rabbi,” though he is not Jewish by birth, and has absolutely zero history with Messianic Judaism. Although Rood has mainly used video to make himself known, he has also written books which document his teachings. One of Michael Rood’s key writings is a book called, The Mystery of Iniquity. This book is in essence the Michael Rood manifesto. It documents the bulk of what he teaches concerning end-time prophecy. The Mystery of Iniquity is promoted for sale on his website as of this date. One of the issues Rood presents in that 61 book is his theory of Israel identity. He refers to the end-time remnant of 144,000 from each tribe of Israel, as described in Revelation 7. Who are these 144,000? According to Rood: “These are not 144,000 Jews. The tribe of Judah comprises only one twelfth of those who will be sealed by God. There are 11 other tribes, ten of which have been lost since the carrying away of the northern tribes by Shalmanessar the Assyrian Emperor. That carrying away and dispersal helped to fulfill the prophecy of God to Abraham that from his loins would come many nations. The prophecy of Israel over his twelve sons was also expedited by this dispersion. The lost tribes of Israel have been traced all over northern Asia and Europe. Modern archaeological finds in Europe show the migration of the Hebrew people throughout the continent. Many of the royal families of Europe can still trace their roots back to their forefather, Israel. The ten lost tribes of Israel may not have 49 Michael Rood, The Mystery of Iniquity, Bridge-Logos (2001) 61 much, if any, pure blood left in their families. The vast majority of them do not even know who they are. Yet!”62 It’s plain to see from his book that Michael Rood is a believer and teacher of Two-house theology. The claims about the Royal families of Europe and the supposed “modern archeological finds” about Israelite tribes settling in Europe are unmistakable evidence of Rood’s British Israel ideology. Rood’s orientation in British Israelism is further delineated as he drones on about Britain and America: “When one analyzes the prophecies that were spoken over Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Mannaseh, there are only two nations that fulfill any of these prophecies. In fact, those two nations fulfill every prophecy concerning the promises to those tribes in the last days. The two nations are Great Britain and the United States. When one realizes that the Oracles (Words) of God were committed to his people Israel, one can understand why the Bible houses of England and America have published over 90% of all the Bibles in the world. The promises of God have been fulfilled right under the noses of those who do not even know their ancient origins.”63 When one reads these words in his book, there can be no doubt that Michael Rood is a proponent of British Israel / Two House theology. Another example of what Rood teaches is a teaching he calls “Israel, Judaism and Christianity: Apostasy in the Church, and the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.” Here we get a pretty good idea of what Rood is about. In this video, Rood discusses his belief that the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7) is an historical event, still yet to come, which ultimately causes both Jew and Gentile to return to the land of Israel. Rood begins the video by appearing in costume at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem. Then he cuts to Yad Vashem (one can only wonder how he got permission to film there), where he claims that Islamic nations which hate the Jews are going to start a thermonuclear war, which will destroy the world’s economy, and then, this will somehow result in “Israel” at last returning to the land. Rood says: Jeremiah speaks of the day when the Lord God will bring Israel back into the land that he gave unto our fathers. Even though the nation of Israel was born in one day, May 15th, 1948, in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, the multitude of the dispersed Israelites has not even considered returning to the land. Zachariah said 50 Ibid, p. 213. Note – an earlier edition, pdf version of this book is available at : http://markswatson.com/ 62 moi.pdf , p. 128. Ibid. 63 (quoting Zech. 1:17) that because of prosperity, the tribes would be dispersed for an extended period. But the time of Jacob’s trouble will put an end to that prosperity, and force the return of the dispersed sons of Israel. 64 Rood then continues, with a background of still photos depicting graphic holocaust images. He cuts from one image to the next, explaining how the atrocities which the Nazis committed against the Jews in Europe were actually done in fulfillment of God’s word in Jer. 16:16, regarding fishers and hunters, which he claims were the Nazis. The video goes on to show an array of holocaust images: As we see Hitler and the Nazis, scenes of Jewish businesses destroyed, and pathetic figures of Jews in the death camps, etc., a caption suddenly appears at the bottom of the screen which says: “please consider donating at michaelrood.tv”. Then, as we see scenes of the crematoriums, and piles of starved Jewish bodies being tossed into mass graves, Rood explains why all this had to happen. He says: In the end, the modern state of Israel was born out of the labor pains of Judah’s great tribulation….65 Hence, the suffering of the Jews in the holocaust, which resulted in the Jews returning to the land of Israel as a consequence, was an event involving only the one tribe of Judah? Not the rest of Israel? Ok, so where was the rest of Israel, who apparently escaped suffering in the holocaust? Like nearly every other Two-house teacher who operates under the label “Hebrew Roots,” Rood teaches that the Jews are Judah, and the Gentiles are Israel. In this skewed view, it was the Judah alone, the “Jewish tribe,” which suffered the holocaust. The rest of Israel was living in the cushy empires of America or England, unaware of their descent from the lost tribes – but soon to rediscover their heritage as Israelites. In fact, according to Rood, Judah is going to have to go through yet another holocaust before being reunited to the Gentile Israelites. Yes, says Rood, the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble” (Jer. 30:7), as if the holocaust wasn’t enough, is coming again, but to Judah’s consolation, this time it will happen to all Israel. Rood continues: 51 Michael Rood, Israel, Judaism and Christianity: Apostasy in the Church, and the Time of Jacob’s 64 Trouble, at timecode : 3:07-3:43. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=CWZeEnuHHPQ&list=PL3Oc6f4BdE5D4seUz-6EOtL7EPVCHDXB6 Also available at : http://natzrim.blogspot.com/2010/12/time-of-jacobs-trouble.html Ibid, at timecode: 4:32 – 4:39. 65 …in the last days it will not be just the time of Judah’s trouble, but all of Israel will be tried in the crucible of tribulation, in the time of Jacob’s trouble. And just as in days of long past, all of Israel will be saved by the hand of the Almighty.”66 Rood’s teaching resonates of all the same theories which are typical of Two-house teachers who claim that the only way “all Israel will be saved” (from Romans 11:26), is when the Gentile believers reconnect with their heritage by keeping the law. Only then will they be reunited to their “brother Judah.” But in Rood’s case, it will take global thermonuclear war to at last cause Gentile believers to wake up to their Israelite descent and come back to their Hebrew Roots. The ones who follow Rood’s teachings are ahead of the gang, and getting a jump on the preparations. Christian Zionism – True Friends of Israel: As mentioned in the introductory comments of this paper, it is unfortunate that the label “Hebrew Roots” has been used by proponents of the “One Law” message. We wish to make it clear that “Hebrew Roots,” “Hebraic Roots,” “Jewish Roots,” and similar labels do not always mean what is meant by “One Law” proponents. We wish to make this clear because it is not our intent to discourage any believer in Yeshua from searching out and discovering the Jewish character and culture of the Lord. Hebrew Roots is not to be confused with the growing number of Christians in the world today who have a sincere heart for Israel. Though not really an organized movement, there is a modern-day phenomenon of Gentile Christians who love Israel, often-referred to as “Christian Zionism.” This is a work of the Lord. Whatever it is to be called, there is in fact a biblical, prophetic, Spirit-led response happening today among millions of Gentile Christians worldwide who see Israel’s restoration as a promise of God. These are Christians who believe in the right of Jewish people to possess the land of Israel, and who believe in promoting the salvation of the Jewish people. These are Christians who love Israel and want to see Jewish people come to know Yeshua. Many go on tours to Israel, visit Messianic Synagogues, join in prayer for the peace of Jerusalem, and encourage their respective national political leaders to stand with Israel. Individually, many Christians who support Zionism also seek to enrich their own personal faith by learning the culturally Jewish roots of Christianity. Such Christians, even though planted firmly in evangelical churches, are great friends of Messianic Judaism, and faithful supporters of Messianic Jewish ministries. 52 Ibid, at 4:39-4:56 66 By comparison to what calls itself “Hebrew Roots,” Christian Zionism has no agenda to bring anyone under the law, nor cause division in the church. The agenda is to enrich the Gentile Christian’s understanding of the Jewish Messiah, and to unite the body into a common bond of support in order to advance the salvation and restoration of Israel. We note also that some Gentile believers identify with Messianic Jews, and see their congregational home in a messianic synagogue, which we welcome and encourage. These precious brethren who come to us from among the masses of Gentile believers in the world are the exception, not the rule. We do not see Messianic Judaism as the final destiny for all believers in Messiah. We are not the model for the whole world to follow. We are simply who we are in the Body because of the unique calling. Among the masses of Gentile believers in the world, though many are devoted friends of Israel, most do not belong to a Messianic Synagogue, nor do they identify with the calling of Messianic Jews to orient our lives in a Jewish expression of faith in Messiah. Nor do we believe that they necessarily should. Indeed, many Christians who love Israel simply see their home in the evangelical church. They do not think it necessary to become Torah observant in order to perfect any calling they may have to connect with Israel. Many Christians see God’s biblical plan for Israel, and therefore support Messianic Jewish ministries, but they do not necessarily identify the messianic synagogue as a congregational home for themselves and their families. They are perfectly content to be Gentile Christians, serving God as Gentiles, in a Gentile Christian setting. They are confident in who they are, and feel they have the freedom to be whom God created them to be in the Lord. We agree. By comparison, the Hebrew Roots movement is full of criticism toward non-Torah keeping Gentiles, and demonstrates little to no desire to see Jews come to know Messiah. Rather, their “Israel-obsession” is driven by the common idea, whether stated or implied, that they ARE Israel. The idea is based on replacing the Jews as the true Israel, through the keeping of the law given at Sinai. VI. “One Law” Theology and First Fruits of Zion FFOZ: First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ). FFOZ is a publishing ministry, which has developed a significant network of customers who purchase their materials through the internet. The organization’s founder is Boaz Michael, who started FFOZ in 1992. From the outset, Michael has used FFOZ to mass distribute books, CD’s, DVD’s, newsletters, study programs for children and adults, and other materials. FFOZ sees itself mainly as an outreach to Gentiles that have an interest in learning the Torah. At times FFOZ has worked in harmony with the Messianic Jewish movement. 53 However, from about 2003 – 2009, FFOZ was a major promoter of “One Law One People” teachings. We note that FFOZ was not a promoter of Two-house doctrine, not directly, anyway. FFOZ was a proponent of “One Law One People” teachings which advocate Gentile Torah observance. That approach, as we have seen, almost inevitably results in promoting Two-house beliefs, even if unintended. In any case, to the credit of FFOZ, after initially promoting and publishing “One Law” teachings on a wide scale, leadership at FFOZ had a change of heart. This change came in 2009, after witnessing the fruit of “One Law” teaching. Consequently, under Boaz Michael’s leadership, FFOZ eventually rejected and recanted “One Law” theology. Therefore, it is an interesting and persuasive case study indeed to review what happened with FFOZ, and examine how and why Boaz Michael came to the conclusion, based on personal experience, that “One Law One People” theology is erroneous. It is our hope that there will be other groups that recant and renounce both “One Law”, and the related Two-house theology as well. It should also be mentioned that Boaz Michael and FFOZ as a ministry, as of the date of this writing, have formally reconciled and re-established a relationship of good standing within the Messianic Jewish movement, including with both the MJAA and UMJC. As far as what led to the recantation, the following is what we know based on FFOZ’s own reports: FFOZ and Tim Hegg: In about 2003, FFOZ became allied with outspoken “One Law” advocate Tim Hegg. Although Hegg is no longer much of a voice today, during the time that he was allied with FFOZ, he was given a broad platform to publish his “One Law” teachings. In 2003, as FFOZ started broadly publishing Hegg’s materials, almost immediately FFOZ met the resistance of Messianic Jewish leadership, who voiced strong objections to “One Law” theology. The Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC) published a paper which confronted Hegg’s teachings and refuted “One Law” theology.67 Tim Hegg’s teachings so strongly stressed the need for Gentiles to observe the Torah, that it often sounded as if Hegg actually equates Torah observance to the gospel itself. To give an example of Hegg’s teaching, Hegg argues based on a comparison of two 54 Daniel Juster and Russ Resnik, One Law Movements, 2005. Available at: http://www.mjstudies.com/ 67 storage/Juster_Resnik_One_Law_Movements.pdf scriptures, Mat. 5:20 and Mat. 28:19-20 that the purpose of the Great Commission was to bring Torah to the Gentiles. The two scriptures Hegg refers to are as follows: 68 “For I say unto you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Mat. 5:20. And: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.” Mat. 28:19-20. Putting those two scriptures together, Hegg arrives at the following analysis: “The phrase ‘teaching them to observe all that I commanded you’ makes it clear that Yeshua’s teaching in Matt. 5:17-20 was to form a core aspect of the curriculum the disciples were commissioned to teach the Gentiles.” Thus, according to Hegg, the Great Commission is to bring the world into Torah observance. This is the major error of the “One Law” teachers. They preach a “gospel” of obedience to law, the very antithesis of the true gospel. The Break with Hegg: From about 2003 – 2009, FFOZ published the message of “One Law” far and wide. Then, in its Summer 2009 edition of its quarterly publication called Messiah Journal, FFOZ suddenly announced its formal recantation of “One Law” theology in an article entitled One Law and the Messianic Gentile. This effectively ended the working 69 relationship between FFOZ and Hegg. In its Summer, 2009 magazine, Messiah Journal, in an article written by Boaz Michael and D. Thomas Lancaster, FFOZ tells the story of what went wrong with “One Law” theology. After years of publishing Hegg and mass distributing “One Law” materials, FFOZ soon began to take notice of not only the theological problems with “One Law” teachings but the real-time mess which they had created. As Michael and Lancaster describe it: 55 Tim Hegg, An Assessment of Divine Invitation Teaching (Aug. 2009), p.6, available at: http:// 68 www.torahresource.com/EnglishArticles/DivineInvitation_Response.pdf Boaz Michael and D. Thomas Lancaster, One Law and the Messianic Gentile (Summer 2009), pp. 46-70. 69 “Not only do the One-Law Torah observant Gentiles find it difficult to maintain relationships with other Christians, they also find it virtually impossible to maintain relationship with one another.”70 One of the key claims that “One Law” teachers often make is that Torah Observance will bring about the final unity between Jew and Gentile. But in fact, what happens is precisely the opposite. The fruit of “One Law” teaching, as mass-promoted by FFOZ and Tim Hegg, was further described by Michael and Lancaster as follows: “The result is a state of anarchy disguised under the name of Law. Congregations split over calendar arguments. People are embittered toward one another. Close friends are separated. Communities shrink . . . there are no other Messianic believers in the area with whom they can sustain a relationship. The program is not working . . . they reject Judaism and Jewish tradition, and they reject Christianity and Christian tradition. As romantic as such a hyper-protestant, sola scritura purity may sound, it breeds arrogance and is unsustainable.” 71 Going back to the days of the early Sabbatereans and the Millerites, it is well-proven by now that those who teach there is some urgent need for Gentile Torah observance always seems to breed a spirit of arrogance, legalism, and basic weirdness. In that regard, today’s Hebrew roots movement is no exception. Gentile Torah Observance, Our View: Paul circumcised Timothy, whose mother was Jewish, (Acts 16:3); but did not circumcise Titus, who was Greek. (Gal. 2:3). Paul saw that circumcision was right and good for the Jewish believer in Yeshua, but made no sense for the Gentile. The fact is, Paul did not see the Torah as having the same application to Gentiles as to Jews under the New Covenant. Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles. If One Law One People had any doctrinal validity, Paul would have been the one to preach it. He preached no such thing. We do not believe the Gentile church is called necessarily to observe Shabbat, the Levitical feasts, the laws of kashrut, and other Mosaic laws that are specific to Israel. We don’t forbid anyone from doing those things, but we do not fault the church for not keeping them. Nor do we believe in urging Gentile believers worldwide to observe commandments other than the ones the Apostles commanded in Acts 15. Indeed the Apostles in Acts 15 dealt with the issue of Gentile Torah observance squarely on point. As Peter said to the “One Law” proponents of his day in Acts 15:10: “Why do you test God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the (Gentile) disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” 56 Boaz Michael and D. Thomas Lancaster, One Law and the Messianic Gentile, (Summer 2009) p. 52. 70 Ibid. 71 When it comes to the issue of Gentile Torah observance, our approach is simply to follow the advice of the Apostles. They determined not to put a yoke of law upon the Gentiles. Neither would we. And like the Apostles, we would oppose those who do. Acts 15 and the Jerusalem Council: The controversy over Gentile Torah observance in our time is exactly the same one addressed by the Apostles. As Paul preached the gospel among the Gentiles, certain men were insisting that the Gentiles must be instructed to keep the law. For this very reason, “It was determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others should go up to Jerusalem unto the Apostles and Elders about this question.” (Acts 15:2) When they came to Jerusalem, and declared all the wonderful things that God was doing among the Gentiles, there were certain Jews who were believers in Yeshua, who were Pharisees, that rose up saying: “It is necessary to circumcise them and command them to keep the law of Moses,” (Acts 15:5). Peter was the first to dispute the point, having already seen how God poured out His Spirit upon non-Torah observant Gentiles. (Acts 10:44-45). For the Apostles, though the laws of Moses were an important part of their Jewish way of life, they knew that the power of the gospel was not based in legal observance, it was based upon faith in the Messiah, and was as equally available to the uncircumcised Gentile as to the circumcised Jew. This at first seemed to contradict the law given at Sinai. Yet, the Apostles were quite clear on answering the question brought before them. The Gentiles need not be instructed to be circumcised, nor do they need to be instructed to keep the law of Moses. They determined that “we trouble them not which from among the Gentiles are turned unto God” (Acts 15:19). As today’s Messianic Jewish leaders, we fully agree. It is not our calling to bring the Gentile world into Torah observance. As the Apostles said later, referring to their own decision recorded in Acts 15: “As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, except that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.” (Acts 21:25) The decision which the Apostles made as recorded in the scriptures is perfectly applicable to the issue of Gentile Torah observance today. And we choose to honor and abide by it. 57 VII. Conclusion: Messianic Judaism has a unique calling of God as witnesses to the Jewish people, and the Torah occupies an important place among us. While we recognize there are many doctrinal errors made historically by the church in terms of its views on Israel and the Torah, we do not believe that the Gentile church is called to live by the same Jewish expression of faith as we are. Our hope is that the Gentile church, and Gentile believers everywhere, will see their calling to bless Israel, pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and help messianic Jews to reach the Jewish people with the good news. Thankfully, this is already happening to some extent. The power of the One New Man is not in our relationship to the law, and not in our observance of ordinances or statutes; but, rather, in the fellowship that we enjoy as both Jew and Gentile, cleansed by the blood of Messiah, and immersed by One Spirit into the same body. Together we are the “seed of Abraham” by faith in the one God, and joint heirs of a Kingdom that will never fade. Blessings to you in the name of Yeshua (Jesus) our Messiah.

Law and Commandments

~ Law & Commandments ~

Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. Matthew 5:18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Matthew 5:19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

These Bible verses are used often in Messianic and Hebrew Roots type congregations. But sometimes these beautiful Scriptures are misinterpreted, misunderstood and misused. Well then, what is Yeshua (Jesus) talking about here in Matthew chapter 5? It is a misunderstood passage by some and if one goes to a “works focused” group, then they may stress this passage as a necessity to keep the Torah, the Law and the Commandments, but is that the point that our Messiah is trying to make here?

Is Messiah saying to us that we have to be very extremely orthodox good boys and girls and have to absolute 100 percent keep every single commandment in order to go to Heaven? For some, that seems to be the understanding, interpretation, theology and doctrine. But how good is good enough? Some would say and teach that in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, one must obey all of the Torah, the Law and the Commandments. But, is that correct doctrine? Is that the point that Messiah is trying to make? Is Messiah saying that believing in Him is not enough? Is Messiah saying that in order to really be saved one has to believe in Him and to observe Torah? Is that the gospel or is that a false gospel?

Do not think that I have come to abolish (loosen, disintegrate, demolish, to halt for the night, dissolve, overthrow, throw down) the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill (satisfy, finish, accomplish, complete, end, expire, fully preach, perfect, supply) them.

Wow, there is a lot being said here, but basically Yeshua (Jesus) is saying that He came as the entire complete package deal. He came as the fulfillment of everything that is written within the Torah, the Law and the Prophets. Heaven and Earth will not pass until this is seen, revealed and manifest.

Yeshua (Jesus) says, Luke_24:44 Then He said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms MUST be fulfilled." As we think about what Messiah said here, it sounds like the fulfillment mentioned in Matthew 5, has already been done and accomplished. But, Yeshua (Jesus) said, “until heaven and earth pass away”, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Has heaven and earth passed away some would ask? Well, not yet, as far as we know. But, the real question is, ‘has He come, to whom the Torah and the Law points to?’ But, has Messiah come and provided atonement and salvation for us? Absolutely! This was the point being make, that - all is accomplished in Messiah. The point was that Messiah had come! Heaven and earth is not the point, but was to add strength and power to the point.

The point being make was, UNTIL all is accomplished, or UNTIL Messiah came into being, or UNTIL Messiah is revealed.

Galatians_3:19 Why then the Law? It was added because of transgressions, UNTIL the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.

Here in Galatians, it tells us that the Law was put in place, UNTIL – Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah, the promised one, was to come.

Galatians_3:23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the Law, imprisoned UNTIL the coming faith would be revealed. Galatians_3:24 So then, the Law was our guardian UNTIL Messiah (Christ) came, in order that we might be justified by faith.

Hebrews_9:10 (the first covenant, the mosaic covenant, the Law system) but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed UNTIL the time of reformation.

Hopefully you see that in these Scriptures, God is saying that there is something different concerning ‘righteousness’ that is to happen after Messiah. The Law and the Commandments were put into place, UNTIL Messiah came. Before Messiah, folks were to try and keep everything in the Law. Righteousness, as folks knew it, was “by the Law”. Folks were to try to satisfy ‘every’ command. No excuses and no compromises. Even the smallest of the smallest most insignificant instructions were to be followed and obeyed. But now - after Yeshua (Jesus) has come and accomplished and fulfilled, that (Law & Commandments) is not our focus. Our focus is Him. But now, He is our righteousness. Romans_3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the Law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — Notice, that the Righteousness required was “witnessed” by the Law and the Prophets, but ‘was and is apart from’ the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. The Scribes and Pharisees were some of the most religious, pious, devout and set apart people of that time. But a person’s righteousness had to exceed way beyond even that high standard, if one wanted to make the grade, qualify and be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Yeshua (Jesus) was saying that you had to be extremely good and righteous, but even that would not be enough.

Romans_10:3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. Philippians_3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the Law, but that which comes through faith in Messiah, the righteousness from Elohim (God) that depends on faith —

Real righteousness or God’s righteousness does not come about and will not come about by our weak human efforts to try and keep the Torah, the Law and the Commandments, but comes about by our faith and trust in the resurrected Lord and Savior Jesus, Yeshua the Messiah, whom the Torah, Law and Prophets point to. Be warned and beware of ideas, doctrines, and groups that demand, push and insist on Torah and Law obedience in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. That is not what Yeshua (Jesus) was saying and that is not what we should be believing or saying.

In Matthew 5, Yeshua (Jesus) is talking about the Righteousness of God that comes about through faith. On the other hand, that does not come to mean that those who are righteous by faith just live however that feel like it. True righteousness, produces righteous fruit, actions and lifestyles. Here in this Matthew 5 passage, Yeshua (Jesus) goes on to describe what true righteousness looks like.

Matthew 5:48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Heaven demands complete entire 100 percent, holy righteous perfection! When one finally realizes and understands that cannot be obtained in the flesh, then they can release faith and trust in Yeshua, Jesus Messiah and obtain it in Him. Then, as a result, they can live out that righteousness and bear good fruit because of who they are in Messiah. We are to walk, live, be lead by and empowered with Messiah, the Love of God and the Holy Spirit of God. We can also follow the Scriptures, the Torah, the Law and the Prophets, not to obtain righteousness, but as a reminder and reflection of righteousness.

So in conclusion, Matthew 5 - is not really referring us to a bunch of religious do’s and don’ts, but is really pointing us to something much greater, that being Messiah. The Torah, the Law, the Commandments and the Prophets are not fulfilled in us. All is fulfilled in Him. Everything in the Torah, the Law and the Prophets points us to Him. The Torah, the Law, the Commandments, and the Prophets are wonderful, beautiful, incredible and awesome, but they reveal and point us to someone much much more wonderful, beautiful, incredible and awesome, that being, Yeshua HaMoshiach, our Salvation, Jesus the Messiah. We are complete and righteous in Him. If we are not righteous, holy and complete in Him, then we never will be. No amount of our sweaty, stinky, fleshly efforts at Torah, Law and commandment keeping is ever going to be enough. Rest in Him and let your faith and trust be in Him, Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah.

by carl e jones

At the cross

At the Cross

At the cross, at the cross of Messiah, the Anointed One, great glorious things transpired. At the cross, Messiah died, so we could live. At the cross, Messiah took our sin, so we could take His righteousness. At the cross, evil principalities and powers were defeated. At the cross, everything was paid in full. It is finished.

1Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those being lost, but to us being saved, it is the power of God. The cross displayed the Power of God on our behalf. All our wrong doings, all our sins, all our transgressions, and all our iniquities were nailed to the cross. They have no power over the believer in Yeshua. The wages of sin is death and the debt was paid for us at the cross. There is no more debt for the believer. The Law of God and the Love of God met each other at the cross. The Law and it’s demands, all fulfilled at the cross. The wrath and anger of the Almighty poured out at the cross. The Mercy, Grace and Love of God displayed, at the cross.

The cross, a crossroad of life and death, a display of law and love. Galatians 5:11 And I, brothers, if I yet proclaim circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the offense of the Cross has ceased. Paul was being persecuted for preaching the Cross. He was not proclaiming or preaching the need to be circumcised or the need to align with the Law of God. He was not preaching the need to be good or the need to do righteous things in order to become righteous. He was not proclaiming the need to become Jewish. He was proclaiming Yeshua and Him crucified. Paul was proclaiming something that brought offense. It was and is an offensive message about a simple faith and trust in something that took place at the cross. Paul preached about obtaining righteousness by faith in the cross. Paul preached about a faith in the cross salvation message, not a faith in the flesh, works based salvation message.

The Message of the Cross, is about a death that we could not die and a debt that we could not pay. The Message of the Cross, is about our absolute hopelessness and utter despair. It is about our sin and the wrath of God displayed against it. The Message of the Cross, is about Yeshua (Jesus) and how, He took upon Himself sin, wrath, debt and death. The Message of the Cross is one of absolute surrender and trust toward MessiahYeshua (Jesus). The Message of the Cross is about surrender, sacrifice and salvation. The Message of the Cross is about redemption, righteousness and reconciliation.

Galatians 6:12 As many as desire to look well in the flesh, these compel you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Messiah. Galatians 6:13 For they themselves, having been circumcised, do not even keep the Law, but they desire you to be circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. Galatians 6:14 But may it never be for me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Yeshua (Jesus) Messiah, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:15 For in Messiah Yeshua neither circumcision has any strength, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

Paul preached the cross. He was not concerned with outward display of Law keeping or outward display of certain practices that would make him look more righteous or Jewish or religious in the flesh. He only boasted of what Yeshua (Jesus) did at the cross. Paul also considered himself, by the power of the cross, to be crucified, himself, dead to the world and dead to the flesh. The Cross and it’s message is one of death and life. Circumcision nor uncircumcision has no strength. The Message of the Cross, is about the weakness and helplessness of man and the almighty power and help of the holy eternal gracious merciful God.

Philippians 3:18 (For many are walking, of whom I have told you often and now tell you even weeping, as the enemies of the cross of Messiah; Philippians 3:19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, those who mind earthly things.) Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which also we are looking for the Savior, the Lord Yeshua Messiah, Paul talked about many people that were enemies of the cross. These people were concerned with earthly things and outward appearance. We should have no trust in the flesh. Enemies of the cross, are those that trust in themselves rather than trust in the cross. Enemies of the cross, are those that are focused on their works and not the work of the cross. An enemy of the cross likes to boast and brag about what they are doing and accomplishing and not about what Messiah has already accomplished. Enemies of the Cross are concerned with outward law-based works, self justification and righteous appearance.

There are some that focus and fight over the shape of the cross, thinking that somehow that is a vital critical pivotal issue. Whether the cross of Messiah was a “T” shape, a “Y” shape, a “X” shape, or just whatever shape, it does not matter. Don’t miss out on the message and power of the cross, because of dumb dog doctrine. Philippians 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision party. Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision who worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) and have no confidence in the flesh; Philippians 3:4 though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other thinks that he has reason to trust in the flesh, I more. Philippians 3:5 I was circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews. As regards the Law, I was a Pharisee; Philippians 3:6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness in the Law, blameless. Philippians 3:7 But whatever things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Messiah. Philippians 3:8 But no, rather, I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Messiah Philippians 3:9 and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness, which is of the Law, but through the faith of Messiah, the righteousness of God by faith.

At the cross, everything changed. Things that are of fleshly gain, need to be counted as loss for Messiah. We should have no confidence in the flesh, but consider the flesh crucified at the cross. We have absolutely no righteousness of our own, which is of the Law, but the only righteousness that counts is that which is through faith in Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah nd what He did at the cross. Paul said he counted fleshly religious-based righteousness as dung.

Colossians 2:14 blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:15 Having stripped rulers and authorities, He made a show of them publicly, triumphing over them in it. There are many different opinions as to what exactly was nailed to the cross and what that means. Some say that the man-made Jewish traditions were nailed and done away with, some say that the ceremonial laws were nailed and done away with, others say that our sins were nailed, and others say that the law was nailed. At the cross, the law system, the law of sin and death, sin, all of the curses, punishments, judgments, and death demanded and required by the law system was paid in full by Yeshua and nailed and declared done, fulfilled and completed. As this was done, it removed and stripped and rendered powerless the evil demonic rulers and authorities.

At the cross, freedom was paid. At the cross, sin was defeated. At the cross, Salvation was displayed. At the cross, surrendered and trusting in Yeshua (Jesus), everyone, Jew and Gentile, can become forgiven, cleansed, atoned, justified, and righteous.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Messiah, and I live; yet no longer I, but Messiah lives in me. And that life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith toward the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself on my behalf.

Many years ago, as I first stepped into a Messianic Synagogue and one of the very first things that was said to me was, do not say "cross" and do not wear any kind of "cross". As though as, that was going to help anything. How sad that some would turn from the message of the cross. How sad that some become enemies of the cross. Now, we should not be 'worshiping" or praying to crosses, but do not go to extremes and say that the cross is bad. The cross is not evil, but represents a powerful message. If we are ashamed of the message of the cross, we are in trouble.

article by carl e jones

What is Torah?

What is Torah?

What is Torah? Torah is a Hebrew word that means teaching. Normally, Torah is defined as, the first five books of the Bible.

Torah is a Hebrew word that is defined as a precept, which is a rule to regulate some behavior. Torah is defined as a statute, which is a written law, rule or command. In most English Bible translations, the Hebrew word, Torah is written as LAW. We could think of the LAW as an acronym for “Length And Weight” or “Letters And Words”. The Torah deals with many different things (lengths and weights) (letters and words) teaching us many different things.

The Torah teaches us what is right and wrong. The law (torah) is the knowledge of sin. Some like to think of the Torah as guidelines, teachings, instructions and directions. Some declare that, “Yeshua is the Torah”. Well Yeshua/Jesus is more than just a precept or a statute. The Torah is a shadow picture of Yeshua. Yeshua never declared Himself to be “Torah”. The Torah teaches us about and points us to Messiah, but is not Messiah. Messiah is more than just written words. He is the Living Word of God. Yeshua is God. He was God manifest in the flesh. He is the Living Word of God, but Scripture never declares Him to be law (torah). He is above torah. He made the torah. The Law is Great, but Yeshua is much much greater.

Romans 3:20 because by the works of the Law (Torah), no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law (Torah) is the knowledge of sin.

Galatians 3:21 Is the Law (Torah) then against the promises of God? Let it not be said! For if a law had been given which could have given life, indeed righteousness would have been out of Law (Torah). Galatians 3:22 But the Scripture shut up all under sin, so that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMoshiyach) might be given to those who believe. Galatians 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under Law (Torah), having been shut up to the faith about to be revealed. Galatians 3:24 So that the Law (Torah) has become a trainer of us until Messiah, that we might be justified by faith. Galatians 3:25 But faith coming, we are no longer under a trainer.

Here in Galatians it makes a difference between Law (Torah) and Christ (Messiah). It also speaks of Torah as being a trainer until we come to faith in Messiah Yeshua. Again, making a difference between Yeshua and Torah, not one in the same.

The Torah is a profound prophetic picture of Messiah.

Torah is a great wonderful thing to practice. We can not practice all of it, but there are many Torah based principles that we can apply to our lives.

Romans 7:12 So indeed the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.

The Torah is amazing and incredible. The Torah is good to read, study, learn and understand. The Torah gives us great insight and understanding of Messiah and His work. Living or practicing some of the instructions within the Torah, can be good, but can be bad, depending on one’s understanding, motive, and trust. We do not want to get caught up in legalistic self righteousness. We, as born-again believers in Messiah Yeshua, are righteous by faith in Messiah and in Him alone. Living after the Torah does not make us righteous - or more righteous, but is a reflection and witness of righteousness. We are made right with God through faith in Messiah and not our works or efforts of Torah keeping. Torah observance does not replace Messiah. Torah is a shadow picture of Messiah.

The Bible, God Word’s - the Holy Scriptures are made up of 66 books. All of these books could be considered teaching, instruction or "Torah". The Torah can be defined different ways. One way is that it (torah) is the first 5 books of the Bible. Another way of defining “torah”, is that which we mentioned in the beginning; a precept, statute, rule, law, teaching or instructions about something. The term “torah” appears to be a word for ‘precept’. It is used a little over 200 times in the Hebrew Scriptures. Some say that the Torah was a word that came to mean, the first 4 books of the Bible and then Deuteronomy was a repeat or second telling of the Torah or Law. But, most prefer to say that “torah” is the first 5 books of the Bible. Also the term, torah or law, is at times, used in reference to the Law of Moses or the Mosaic Covenant law system.

So, when you hear the word, "Torah", being used, it is good to clarify what definition of Torah they are referring to.

by carl e jones

Under the Law?

Under the Law?

Are we under the Law or under Grace? What is the difference? Wow! Great question and thank you for asking. Let’s find out. The word “under” means  under, underneath, below, beneath, inferior, and under the power, authority and dominion of something or someone The word “law” means  regulation, principle, instruction, rules, guidelines, punishments, and consequences The word “grace” means  acceptable, benefit, favor, mercy, love, gift, joy liberality, pleasure, thanksgiving

As we read the following Scriptures, let’s consider carefully and prayerfully what is being said and what these words mean. In the writings of the New Testament, when it refers to “the law”, many times, in context, it is talking about “the law system” or “the law contract”. There are different opinions and perspectives on this matter. Some think that the New Testament writings about “law” are talking about the entire “Torah” and others think they are talking about traditions and customs associated with the Torah. Some think these Scriptures are talking only about ceremonial laws and others think they are talking about sacrificial and ritual laws. After much study on the topic, I have come to believe that most of the time, these New Testament Scriptures concerning, “law”, are talking about the old covenant sacrificial law system of sin and death. It is very important for us to read the Scriptures in the context of their setting and very important that our understanding lines up with the rest of the Scriptures.

I recently came across an article by a Messianic group that was teaching that there are several - seven "separate" or "different" Laws. ( 1.The Law of God, 2. The Law of Sin, 3. The Law of Sin and Death, 4. The Law of the Spirit of Life, 5. The Law of Faith, 6. The Law of Righteousness, 7. The Law of Christ) But, is that correct teaching? No, this is not correct. The first 3 are all one-in-the-same and the last 4 are all one-in-the-same. They are just different ways of saying the same thing. Or we could say that they are different parts to the same law system. The first system, The Law of God shows us sin, we are guilty and in need of salvation, sin is punishable by death, which is all part of the same old covenant system. The second system, the Law of Christ is about us receiving, Salvation, the Holy Spirit, Life and Righteousness by Faith, which is the new covenant system. Beware of many messianic type ministries that post teachings that stress and push people to follow Torah. Learning and following some parts of the Torah is wonderful, but the Torah is not going to save anyone. Some ministries are saying that on the day of judgment, God will reject you because you don't follow Torah. Many ministries like this, don't really proclaim the true gospel and don't point people to Messiah. Instead they are pointing people to Torah. Nothing wrong with following the Law of God and Torah, but if that is where our focus and faith is, then we are missing it. If our faith does not rest completely in Messiah and in His completed work for us, then we are missing it. We will be rejected by God on the day of judgment, if we reject Messiah. I myself love, study and follow many parts of the Torah. I eat kosher, honor Shabbat, honor the feast days, etc. But does that mean I am better and more righteous than those believers in Messiah that worship on Sunday and eat pork? Many messianics would answer, yes. But that would mean that righteousness is by the works of the law. At the heart of many messianic type ministries, that is what they are saying, "Righteousness is only obtained by the works of the law"! They are saying that righteousness is not found in Messiah, but in Messiah and Torah. Beware, because that is false doctrine.

Philippians 3:9 and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Messiah, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- Many of these type of ministries seem to be religious, radical and zealous - Rom 10:2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. Rom 10:3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. Rom 10:4 For Messiah is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Romans_3:19 But we know that whatever things the Law says, it says to those who are under the Law; so that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may be under judgment before God, Here in Romans 3:19, Scripture tells us that the Law or “law system” was put into place to shut us up and to close our mouths before the Eternal Almighty Holy God. This verse is saying that ‘everything’ and ‘whatever’ the law says; it is saying it for the purpose of putting us in our place. This verse is telling us that the law is like a great judge that puts and or places the whole world, everyone everywhere as guilty and in need of salvation. To be “under the law” or “law system” (law contract, Mosaic covenant, the old sacrificial law system of sin and death), means to be under judgment. If you are ‘not saved’, then basically you are “under the law” and under the law’s judgment. To be “under the law” means to be under your righteousness and “under sin” condemned to die. It means to be righteous by your fleshly works and efforts. “Under the law” basically means, to be guilty and subject to rightful legal consequences.

Romans_6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law, but under grace. Here in Romans 6:14, Scripture tells us that, we (born-again believers) are not under the Law’s dominion and power system, but we are under the authority and privilege of God’s favor and love. Sin has power and dominion over a person, if they are under the law. But if they are free from the law and under grace, then sin has no power over them. To be “under grace” means to be under God’s righteousness through the work of Messiah. It means to be righteous with God’s righteousness. It means to be free from sin and sin’s authority, power and dominion.

Romans_6:15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under Law, but under grace? Let it not be! Being under “grace” does not mean that we do whatever we want and live any way we want to. It means that the “Law System” that condemns us to death does not have authority over us. All have sinned and come short of God’s glory, with or without “law”. Sin is a heart issue and sin is coming short of the Glory of God. Grace is God’s forgiveness, power, love and Spirit empowering and enabling us to live righteous, godly and holy. Being “under grace” is not a free license to sin and do whatever we want. But it is being free from sin and its power. Being “under grace” means living holier and more righteous than anyone trying to live “under the law”. 1Corinthians 15:56 Death gets its power to hurt from sin, and sin gets its power from the Law. The law is the knowledge and awareness of sin. Sin is more than just breaking rules. Sin is a heart condition, which rules or laws cannot fix or change. The law is an indicator and identifier of what is already there. The law does not and cannot change it, but simply reveals it and magnifies it. Sin gets its power from the Law. The law identifies us for who we are and what we deserve. The law also points us to Messiah. The law is like a road sign that tells us where we are at and where we need to go. The law is like a thermometer that reveals our temperature. The law is like a mirror that shows us what we look like. Not “under the law”, means not being under sin and not being under sin, means not being under death.

Galatians_3:10 For as many as are out of works of the Law, these are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the Book of the Law, to do them." Let us listen very carefully to what this verse is saying to us. The Law or “Law System” requires us to do certain things and requires us to do them “completely”, “entirely” and “perfectly”, that means no “half-way doing things” and requires us to do them “continually” or suffer the consequence of curses, punishment, judgment and death. The Law is not bad, but we are bad and being under the Law’s dominion, means, that we are pronounced guilty, worthy of death and desperately in need of help, mercy and forgiveness (grace). The Law is holy, righteous and good. The Law (law system, law contract) is a package deal, which includes blessings, rewards, rules, regulations, rituals, ceremonial washings, punishments, judgments, offerings and sacrifices. If we put ourselves under the law and the system of the law, we can’t pick and choose what we want out of it. It is a whole package deal. Absolutely entirely everything and every part of the law are required by you, all of the time. If we don’t do all that the law requires all of the time, then we are breaking the law. James 2:10 For whoever shall keep the whole Law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. Galatians_3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under Law, having been shut up to the faith about to be revealed. We are “under the law”, under God’s judgment, cursed, condemned and guilty, UNTIL we release faith in Messiah and then we become ‘under grace’.

Galatians_4:21 Tell me, those desiring to be under Law, do you not hear the Law? Here in Galatians 4:21, Scripture is asking, why would an individual want to be under judgment and under Law, which pronounces us guilty and worthy of death? It is asking, don’t you understand?

In 2nd Corinthians, it refers to the law system as “the ministry of death” and “the ministry of condemnation”. On the other hand, it refers to the new grace system as, “the ministry of the Spirit”,”the ministry of righteousness”, and “the ministry of reconciliation”. John_1:17 For the Law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Yeshua Moshiach (Jesus Christ). It is very important for us to understand the law and its purpose and it is very important for us to understand grace and its power. The Law will not empower us to be holy, but grace will. The law will not forgive us and deliver us from sin and the sin nature, but grace will. The Law will not give us life, but grace will. The law will not change our motive, heart, nature and actions, but grace will. To believe, to receive, and to live in God’s love is grace which produces life. To know, to work, and to live in God’s law shows us our sin which produces death. Life does not come from the law, but comes from love. True relationship does not come from law, but comes from love. Some would ask, well then, how am I supposed to live? Well, you are not! To live is Christ and to die is gain. You are to die! It is not about us. It is all about Him! We are to allow Christ in us, the hope of glory, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to live. The law has no power to make us holy. “Under Grace”, we are free from the mandatory requirement to keep “all of the law”. But on the flip side, we are free to keep, enjoy and follow some of the instructions within the law, as much as we want.

Within the law (law system) there are many great words of wisdom and instructions from our Majestic Maker about life and how to live it. Following some of those words or the heart, wisdom and basic general idea of those words can be a wonderful great blessing, when we do so with proper prospective, in the sphere of love and grace with humility, submissiveness, worship and servitude. But we have to understand what the Scriptures tell us from the beginning to the end. We don’t want to become self righteous, judgmental, legalistic, placing our faith, trust and confidence in the law and in ‘our works’. As we follow, live and practice some of the instructions from within the old law system, we need not do it in the old law system mentality and motive, but with the new system mentality and motive.

When one is about to play some kind of sport, you follow the rules and guidelines for that particular sport. When one is about to operate an important machine or use some kind of computer program, there are rules and guidelines as to how to do that. When one learns how to drive a vehicle, there are rules and guidelines as to how to do that. When we look at the rules, guidelines and laws of the Mosaic Covenant and the Messianic Covenant, they are both like different programs and different vehicles. We have to have the right guidelines for the right system in order for things to function at their best.

2 Corinthians 3:6 who also has made us able ministers of the new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit makes alive.

Romans 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sin worked in our members through the law to bring forth fruit to death. Rom 7:6 But now we having been set free from the Law, having died to that in which we were held, so that we serve in newness of spirit and not in oldness of the letter. The Law is beautiful and serves a beautiful purpose, but we are told to serve God in the newness of Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

To love God and to love people meets the heart of the law. To receive God’s love and Holy Spirit, then to love God and to love people fulfills the point and purpose of every part of the law and the prophets. Following the law or some of the instructions within the law system without love and without faith is vain and unprofitable. 1Timothy 1:5 But the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned, The Love of God fulfills the law and that is it, nothing added to it, no efforts of our own added to it. Scripture does not say that Love fulfills the law, only when and or if we try to do all of the law. It does not say that Love fulfills the law, only when and if we do our best to try to obey all of the commandments in the law. The law and its strong high demands are only met by us as we put faith in Yeshua (Jesus) and receive God’s love and then, continue to live in that faith and love.

Romans 3:31 Do we then make the law of none effect through faith? God forbid: nay, we establish the law. If the love of God fulfills the law, then what more does one need to do? We are either “under the law” or “under grace”. We are either trying in our efforts to work through all of the ‘law system’ or we are being moved by the love of God. One way is a way to death and the other way is a way of life. The law is good. The law is very good, but we are bad, very bed. There is only One who is good and in order to meet the bill and get things right, we need to place our faith and trust in Messiah, His death, burial and resurrection. In doing this, we establish the law and satisfy its cry. We need to receive the Holy Spirit and be filled with the Love of God. The New Covenant and being “under grace”, has its laws, rules and guidelines. The New Covenant is about receiving grace (forgiveness, mercy and love) and living in that grace. The New covenant grace system is about placing our faith and trust in Jesus, Yeshua the Messiah. The new covenant grace system is about dying to the flesh, dying to the old system and becoming a new being. It is about receiving a new heart and a new spirit.

The New covenant grace system is about receiving the Holy Spirit, being filled with the Holy Spirit, led by the Holy Spirit and empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is not about “doing”, but is about “becoming” and “being” a child of God, and bearing good fruit.

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; Romans 8:4 so that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Here in Romans 8, Scripture is saying that “under grace”, or under the new system it is all about living after or according to the Holy Spirit of God. It is also saying that the law was weak, because it could not and cannot change our flesh or old nature.

Act 13:39 And by Him all who believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the Law of Moses.

Heb 7:18 For truly there is a putting away of the commandment which went before, because of the weakness and unprofitableness of it. Heb 7:19 For the Law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did, by which we draw near to God.

1Timothy 1:8 But we know that the law is good if a man uses it lawfully, 1Tim 1:9 knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous one, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 1Tim 1:10 for fornicators, for homosexuals, for slave-traders, for liars, for perjurers, and anything else that is contrary to sound doctrine,

The law is not made for those that are righteous. The law is meant to help point out and control unrighteousness. The law has great purpose and power, but the law is limited as to its purpose and power compared to Messiah.

Romans 7:12 So indeed the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.

The law is amazing and incredible. The Law is good to read, study, learn and understand. The Law or ‘law system’ gives us great insight and understanding of Messiah and His work. To try and live after or live under the law system should point us to our position of “guilty sinner” and point us to Messiah. From that revelation or understanding, we should release complete faith and trust in Messiah and rest, “under grace” receiving forgiveness, justification, righteousness and everlasting life. Living or practicing some of the instructions within the “law system”, can be good, but can be bad, depending on one’s understanding, motive, and trust. We do not want to get caught up in legalistic self righteousness. Our understanding and trust is that we are righteous by faith in Messiah and in Him alone. Our understanding is that living after the law does not make us righteous - or more righteous, but is a reflection and witness of righteousness. Our understanding is that we are made right with God through faith in Messiah and not our works or efforts of law keeping. Our faith and trust has to rest in Messiah and in Him alone. Our faith and trust has to rest and remain in the completed work of Messiah on our behalf. Our understanding is that “under grace” we are righteous because of faith. We are justified by faith. Our motive, understanding and belief is NOT, that I have to, I have to I have to and in order to be saved, right, righteous and go to heaven, I have to do everything that the law and law system says to do, and regardless of what Messiah did, I have to! Our understanding is NOT, that I don’t like it and I don’t want to, but I just have to. Our understanding is that we are righteous and we enjoy and want to live out some of the beautiful instructions that reflect who we are in Messiah. Our understanding is that we don’t have to, but we want to and enjoy it.

Our understanding is that all of the curses, punishments, judgments, and death demanded and required by the law system was paid in full by Jesus, Yeshua the Messiah and as we place our faith in Him, we are free from the law system, its demands and its judgments. Our understanding and motive is NOT that we “have to” in order to get forgiven and get righteous. Our understanding is that living out some of the instructions within the law system can be a great reminder of God, His mercy, His holiness, His righteousness, His goodness, and His judgment. The law is a beautiful picture of Salvation.

Hebrews 13:8 Yeshua Mashiyach, Jesus Christ the same yesterday and today and forever. Heb 13:9 Do not be carried about with different and strange doctrines, for it is good for the heart to be established with grace.

Well, there you have it. There is a difference as to being "under the law" and "under grace". Hopefully you find yourself ‘under grace’ and ‘under Messiah’. We are talking about the law system or law contract. We are talking about the old sacrificial law system of sin and death. The Torah (teachings, instructions), the first five books of the Bible are God's words and within these words contain the law system. God's Torah, words, instructions, directions and teachings are all very good and good for us and profitable. But don't forget to make sure you read all of the directions and understand them and understand what directions are meant for you.

article by carl e jones

God is Awesome!!!

God is Awesome!!!

Awesome means: moving, meaningful, majestic and magnificent.

Awesome means: extraordinary, exalted, exceptional and elevated.

Awesome means: impressive, inspiring, illustrious, imposing and imperial.

Awesome means: striking, stunning, stately, startling, stirring and splendid.

Awesome means something or someone characterized by ‘awe’. We could think of the word, ‘AWE’, as an acronym for, ‘Astonishment, Wonder, and Esteem’. When we look at and or see certain things, we sometimes use the term, “awesome” to describe them. And what may be awesome to some folks, may not be so to others. We may look at a certain vehicle, boat or house and declare, “It is awesome!” We may refer to a certain sports team or music group as “awesome”. Some may refer to a place such as the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls or some other significant place as “awesome”. There are many awesome things that we can think of and many awesome things that are in the world. Out of all the persons, places and things in this world, there is none, absolutely none as awesome as God. GOD IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The King James Version of the Bible referred to God as being “terrible”. In our modern way of thinking, this does not sound too good. This word in the Hebrew means, reverenced, respected and awed. Many of the newer translation of the Bible use the word, ‘awesome’ in place of where the KJV used terrible. The Word tells us in Psalms 33:8 Let all the earth fear Adonai. Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. The Word also tells us in Exodus 34:10, Psalm 45:4, 65:5, 66:3, 99:3, 145:6 that - God is Awesome and wants to do awesome things for us!

God knows the very number of hairs on the heads of all the billions of people that are in the world. He knows everyone’s name and where they live. He knows everything about everyone.  He knows everything about everything. He knows what we need and desire before we ever even ask Him. He can hear billions of prayers prayed all at the same exact time. God is Awesome!!! He created the heavens, the earth, the sea and all that is in them. He created multiple complex diverse solar systems, planets and stars and knows the exact number and name of each and every one of them. God is Awesome!!! He can see the things in our lives that nobody knows about. He knows every thought and dream that we have. With God nothing is impossible! God is Awesome!!! God is stronger, bigger, greater, and more powerful than anything that we are ever going to face, Hallelujah! God is much bigger, smarter, stronger and more powerful than the devil and all of the demons. God is much much bigger than pain, affliction, sickness and disease. God is incredibly bigger than any ugly circumstance, stressful situation, bombarding problem, tedious trial, stressful test or temptation that we will ever have to face. There is nothing too hard or difficult for God. God’s abundant forgiveness, loving-kindness, grace, mercy and love are far greater and more powerful than sin, iniquities, and transgressions. He forgives our sins and then forgets them. God’s mind boggling love endures forever and ever. His love is greater than the hate and malice of men. God’s wisdom, knowledge, and understanding are infinite. He knows absolutely everything! There are no secrets kept from Him. God is Awesome!!! God reigns in great majesty from the mighty throne in heaven. He is Boss. He is Lord. He is King. He is Master. He is Chief. He is the Supreme Authority. He is in Charge and we should all take our orders from Him. He always knows what is best for us. He has the overall picture and He knows what the future holds. He has got the whole world in His hands. God is Awesome!!! God gave us the free gift of eternal everlasting life even though we did not deserve it. He loved us before we ever thought of loving Him. He loves us even when we make mistakes. He loves us even when we sin and disobey Him. He sent His only Son to die for us so we could be saved, forgiven, redeemed, delivered and made righteous. All of this is only the beginning. It is on just starting to touch the tip of the ice berg here. There is soooooo much more! There is no way to say it enough! GOD IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

by carl e jones

Rosh Chodesh

Rosh Chodesh


“Blow the trumpet at the new moon (rosh chodesh).”

“And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says Adonai.

“For just as the new heavens and the new earth Which I make will endure before Me, declares the Eternal, So your offspring and your name will endure. And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me, says the Eternal.”

“Thus says the Eternal Eloheem, 'The gate of the inner court facing east shall be shut the six working days; but it shall be opened on the sabbath day and opened on the day of the new moon.’”

Celebration of the New Moon (literally “head of the month) is included in the commandments, something we may not have been taught in our earlier life. We should however get in practice, because in “the new heavens and the new earth” “from new moon to new moon” will we “come to bow down before” Him.

We may not have noticed, but the new moon is spoken of several times in Scripture:

1 Samuel 20:5; 1 Samuel 20:18; 1 Samuel 20:24; 2 Kings 4:23; 1 Chronicles 23:31; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 2 Chronicles 8:13; 2 Chronicles 31:3; Ezra 3:5; Nehemiah 10:33; Psalm 81:3; Isaiah 1:13; Isaiah 1:14; Isaiah 66:23; Ezekiel 45:17; Ezekiel 46:1; Ezekiel 46:3; Ezekiel 46:6; Hosea 2:11; Amos 8:5; Colossians 2:16

Not a lot of detail is provided in Scripture as to how to celebrate the New Moon. In several places it is placed in parallel with Shabbat and the feasts, which gives some clues. Just as some celebrate birthdays, etc. in a variety of ways, so the New Moon can be celebrated in diverse manners. Even Sha’ul said we have the liberty of choice about how we observe the New Moon. A few ideas to include in our celebrations follow, in no particular order.

1. Blow the shofar.

“Blow the trumpet at the new moon, At the full moon, on our feast day. For it is a statute for Israel, An ordinance of the Eloheem of Jacob.” (Psalm 81:3) This verse says that blowing the trumpet (shofar) is an ordinance. So we should do it, just as we should not murder – they are both ordinances.

2. Light the Menorah.

Eloheem commanded Moshe to make the first menorah in Exodus 25:31-40. He informed Moses that the Menorah was to be located in what was known as the "Holy Place" in the sanctuary of Eloheem. The scriptures teach that the Menorah was and is esteemed of Eloheem a symbol extraordinaire. Indeed it has been referred to in scripture as the "Lamp of Eloheem." (1 Samuel 3:3) If it is then we should embrace it and perceive the lessons embodied therein. The lampstand occupied a place of great prominence among the instruments used in worship throughout the Tanakh and Brit Chadashah, including early mention in the book of Revelation (1:12). The Menorah should retake its rightful place in worship of the One True Eloheem.4

Upon lighting the Menorah, blessings and praise are appropriate:


Baruch ata Adonai, Elohaynu melech haolam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzeevanu l’hadlik ner haminorah. Amayn.


Blessed are You, Adonai, our Elohim, King of the universe, Who sanctified us by His commandments, and has instructed us to kindle the light of the Menorah [and to be a light to the nations, and has given us Yeshua the Messiah, the Light of the World.] Amen.


Father or other Head of the House: And I saw seven spirits of Eloheem burning before the throne!

Family or congregation: The Spirit of Love (Eternal)

The Spirit of Wisdom

The Spirit of Understanding

The Spirit of Counsel

The spirit of Knowledge

The spirit of Strength

(and) The Spirit of the Fear of the Eternal

All present: Yeshua is the light that lights every man that comes into the world.

Now we are the light of the world!

We will shine forth as lights in a world of darkness!

Adonai Yeshua, Hamashiach, you are our light and our salvation! Amen!

3. Worship.

“The people of the land shall also worship at the doorway of that gate before the Eternal on the sabbaths and on the new moons.” Ezekiel 46:3.

Worship of the Eternal is commanded. And of course if we love Him, we will want to worship him. Worship of the Eternal can and does take on any number of mannerisms. You should choose the way of worship that puts you in closest communion with Him.

Worship in song, with or without music, we are familiar with. Any worshipful hymn or other song is appropriate to either read or sing, with or without music accompaniment, with or without dance. See also Psalms below.

4. Worship in praise.

Spontaneity and individual participation are probably the key here. Express publicly what you have to praise the Eternal One about. What has He done during the past month? What has He done during your lifetime? One thought is to go around the family, asking each person to publicly voice his or her praise for Adonai, for His blessings especially during the previous month. Worship in praise is so deeply rewarding to the soul.

5.Worship by reading Scripture.

Psalm 1048 speaks of the Eternal’s care over all His works and is appropriate to celebration of the New Moon. Hallel, Psalms 113 - 118, is a chant of praise used at Passover, Shabbat, Sukkot, Chanukah and Rosh Chodesh. Any of the many other Psalms, Proverbs and other appropriate Scripture may be read as you feel led.

6. Eat a celebration meal.

In 1 Samuel 20, discussion between Jonathan and David centered around the big meal in celebration of the New Moon. “Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed because your seat will be empty.” By this we know that a celebration meal was part of the observance practiced before the temple was built. So it is a proper part of our celebration today.

(Good appetite!) b’te’ahvon

7. Blessings.

The father or other head of the household may speak blessings on his family, emphasizing current events in the family – spiritual, emotional, mental, physical and financial, to end the celebration of the New Moon. Each part of the celebration of Rosh Chodesh is meaningful, but none more so than when the father speaks blessings over each child and his wife.

Blessing is commanded to be a part of family life. “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.”Genesis 12:14) “This is how you are to bless the Israelites.” (Numbers 6:22) The blessing that G-d gave to Abraham and his family is to be extended to all the nations of the world; the fundamental channel for the impartation of that blessing is the family.

If you are unaccustomed to speaking blessing into another’s life, be assured that it is very biblical to do so. Isaac blessed Jacob in Genesis 27. Jacob blessed his grandsons in Genesis 48. Aaron and his sons were instructed to bless in Numbers 6. Balaam was instructed to bless in Numbers 23. Moses blessed in Deuteronomy 1. We are instructed to bless the Eternal in Deuteronomy 8:10. Boaz was blessed in Ruth 2. Eli blessed Elkahah and his wife in 1 Samuel 2. David blessed his household in 2 Samuel 6. Children of the virtuous woman bless her in Proverbs 31. As priests (1 Peter 2), why should we hesitate to bless? Perhaps it is time we who “have faith to move mountains” begin with the blessing of children. It may seem like a leap of faith, but it is merely obedience to Eloheem’s command: “Bless the children of Israel.” If nothing else, follow the pattern of Yeshua. Let it be said of you that you took your children in your arms, “laid hands on them, and blessed them,” as Yeshua did with the children who came to Him. (Mark 10:16)

And to wrap up celebration of Rosh Chodesh, the Aaronic blessing is always appropriate:


Y'varekh'chah Adonai v'yishm'rechah,

yaer Adonai panav elechah veechunechah.

Yeesah Adonai panav elechah, v'yahseym l'chah shalom.

The Eternal bless you, and keep you;

The Eternal make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you;

The Eternal lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.




"Praised are you, O Eternal our Eloheem, King of the Universe, who created (bara’) the skies with his word, and all heaven’s host with the breath of his mouth. He gave them appointed times and roles, and they never miss their cues, doing their creator’s (konam) bidding with gladness and joy. He is the true creator (po’el) who acts faithfully, and he has told the moon to renew itself. It is a beautiful crown for the people carried by Eloheem from birth (Israel), who will likewise be renewed in the future in order to proclaim the beauty of their creator (yotsram) for his glorious majesty. Praised are you, O Eternal, who renews new moons."

Halakhah seldom provides this kind of opportunity to praise Eloheem so explicitly for creation outdoors, in the presence of nature itself, and rarely do we find a prayer so overflowing with poetry, joy and beauty. We call Eloheem borei, koneh, poel, and yotser--four synonyms for “creator.” The celestial bodies are joyous and happy, the moon is beautiful, and Eloheem is proclaimed beautiful, glorious, and majestic. Contrast this with the daily blessing for the rising sun, usually recited indoors, which is filled with talk of the splendor of angels, the magnitude of creation, and the awe of Eloheem, but says little about beauty, joy, or happiness.

The Moon & Israel

Aside from the natural beauty of the moon and the night sky, there is another reason that abundant joy and beauty are associated with the moon, a reason alluded to in the blessing itself: The moon is our crown, our alter ego. The people of Israel identify with the moon. Its constant change is reminiscent of our destiny, and its renewal symbolizes our hope. As the moon reappears to face its creator monthly, so Israel renews itself spiritually in greeting the Shekhinah [the presence of Eloheem]. These ideas are made explicit in rabbinic statements about the ritual, cited in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 42b):

In the first book of the Bible we read of the creation of the moon:

Eloheem said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate day from night; they shall serve as signs for the set times--the days and the years; and they shall serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth." And it was so. Eloheem made the two great lights, the greater light to dominate the day and the lesser light to dominate the night, and the stars. And Eloheem set them in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth, to dominate the day and night, and to separate the light from darkness. And Eloheem saw that this was good.

­-- Genesis 1:14-18

Immediately prior to the exodus from Egypt, Eloheem commands the Israelites to mark the months of the year:

The Eternal said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first of the months of the year for you.

-- ­Exodus 12:1-2

The Book of Numbers briefly describes the celebration of Rosh Chodesh:

And on your joyous occasions-your fixed festivals and new moon days-you shall sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and your sacrifices of well-being. They shall be a reminder of you before your Eloheem: I, the Eternal, am your Eloheem.

-- Numbers 10: 10

This passage from the Book of Numbers is chanted during the traditional synagogue morning service each Rosh Chodesh:

On your new moons you shall present a burnt offering to the Eternal: two bulls of the herd, one ram, and seven yearling lambs, without blemish. As meal offering for each bull: three-tenths of a measure of choice flour with oil mixed in. As meal offering for each ram: two-tenths of a measure of choice flour with oil mixed in. As meal offering for each lamb: a tenth of a measure of fine flour with oil mixed in. Such shall be the burnt offering of pleasing odor, an offering by fire to the Eternal. Their libations shall be: half a hin [a hin is approximately six quarts] of wine for a bull, a third of a hin for a ram, and a quarter of a hin for a lamb. That shall be the monthly burnt offering for each new moon of the year. And there shall be one goat as a sin offering to the Eternal, to be offered in addition to the regular burnt offering and its libation.

-- Numbers 28:11-15

The Mishnah describes how torches were lit to provide notification of the sighting of the new moon:

Originally they used to light beacons (to convey the news of the new moon to the Jews in the diaspora of Babylonia). When the Cutheans (Samaritans) adopted evil courses (and lit beacons on the thirtieth day, so as to mislead the Jews in Babylonia), they made a rule that messengers should go forth. How did they light the beacons? They used to bring long poles of cedar and reeds and olive wood and flax fluff which they tied to the poles with a string, and someone used to go up to the top of a mountain and set fire to them and wave them to and fro and up and down until he saw the next one doing the same thing on the top of the second mountain; and so on the top of the third mountain. Whence did they carry the chain of beacons? From the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem to Sartaba, and from Sartaba to Grofina, and from Grofina to Hauran, and from Hauran to Beth Baltin. The one on Beth Baltin did not budge from there but went on waving to and fro and up and down until he saw the whole of the diaspora (the district of Pumbedita in Babylonia) before him like one bonfire. (On seeing the beacon fire, the inhabitants used to light torches.)

-- Mishnah, Rosh Hashanah 2.2-4

The Talmud associates Rosh Chodesh observance with the Shekhinah, the Divine Presence:

Rabbi Aha ben Hanina also said in the name of Rabbi Assi in Rabbi Yohanan's name: Whoever pronounces the benediction over the new moon in its due time welcomes, as it were, the presence of the Shekhinah. For one passage states, "This month" (Exodus 12:2) while elsewhere it is said, "This is my Eloheem, and I will glorify Him" (Exodus 15:2). ["This" here connotes something that could be pointed at with one's finger, and the use of "this" in the two verses suggests that the one who praises Eloheem at the periodic renewal of the moon, gives witness to the revelation of divine glory as manifested in natural phenomena.]

-- Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 42a

The Talmud recounts a legend of the moon becoming smaller than the sun:

Rabbi Shimon ben Pazzi pointed out a contradiction [in the account of the creation of the sun and moon]. One verse says, "Eloheem made the two great lights" (Genesis 1:16), and immediately the verse continues, "The greater light ... and the lesser light." The moon said unto the Holy One, blessed be He, "Sovereign of the Universe! Is it possible for two kings to wear one crown?" He answered, "Go then and make yourself smaller." "Sovereign of the Universe!" cried the moon. "Because I have suggested that which is proper must I then make myself smaller?" He replied, "Go and you will rule by day and by night." "But what is the value of this?" cried the moon. "Of what use is a lamp in broad daylight?" He replied, "Go. By you, Israel shall reckon the days and the years." "But it is impossible," said the moon, "to do without the sun for the reckoning of the seasons, as it is written, 'They shall serve as signs for the set times-the days and the years' (Genesis 1:14)." "Go. The righteous shall be named after you [righteous people shall be named "the Small" after the moon, which had become the small light] as we find, Jacob the Small [se Amos 7:2], Samuel the Small [a 1st century rabbi], David the Small [see I Samuel 17:4]. 

On seeing that it would not be consoled, the Holy One, Blessed be He, said, "Bring an atonement for Me making the moon smaller." This is what was meant by Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish when he declared, "Why is it that the male goat offered on the new moon is distinguished in that there is written concerning it 'unto the Eternal' (Numbers 28: 15)? Because the Holy One, Blessed be He, said, 'Let this male goat be an atonement for Me for making the moon smaller.'"

-- Babylonian Talmud, Hullin 60b

Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer recounts legends from the time of Creation until the wanderings of the children of Israel in the desert.

The women heard about the construction of the golden calf and refused to submit their jewelry to their husbands. Instead they said to them: "You want to construct an idol and mask which is an abomination, and has no power of redemption? We won't listen to you." And the Holy One, Blessed be He, rewarded them in this world in that they would observe the new moons more than men, and in the next world in that they are destined to be renewed like the new moons.

-- Midrash, Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer 45 (circa 750)

Exodus Rabbah is an exegetical and homiletic work on the Book of Exodus compiled in the years 900-1000, including material from much earlier periods:

You find that if the moon does not appear in the sky at night, the world is so dark that a man cannot walk about even within the city, but as soon as the moon appears in the sky, all rejoice and walk about. So it was in the days of Ahasuerus who decreed that Israel should be destroyed, slain, and made to perish; but Esther came and brought light to Israel, for it says, "The Jews had light and gladness, and joy and honor" (Esther 8:16) Should you inquire why Esther is compared to the moon, the answer is that just as the moon renews itself every thirty days, so did Esther say, "But I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days" (Esther 4:11).

-- Midrash, Exodus Rabbah 1 5:6

The rabbis of Exodus Rabbah comment on the commandment in Exodus 12:2 to mark the months:

We may illustrate by the parable of a king unto whom a son was born, whereupon he made a joyful celebration; but the son was taken captive and spent a long time in captivity. On his release, the king fixed an anniversary. So, too, prior to Israel's descent into Egypt, they counted by years; but after they had gone down to Egypt and become enslaved there, Eloheem performed miracles for them, and they were redeemed; and then did they begin to count the months, as it says, "This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months" (Exodus 12:2).

-- Midrash, Exodus Rabbah 15:9 (900-1000)

Rashi, a medieval Torah commentator, discusses a passage from the Talmud about the public reading of the Torah on weekdays, holidays, and new moons:

"New months." There is no absolute prohibition against work, yet women do not perform work on those days I learned from my aged teacher, may his memory be for a blessing, that this commandment was given to them [women] because they did not submit their jewelry for the golden calf.

Tehillim 81:3  Sound the shofar at Rosh-Hodesh and at full moon for the pilgrim feast,


Bamidbar 10:10 “And in the day of your gladness, and in your moadim (appointed times), and in the Rosh Chodesh (beginning of your months), you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over your peace offerings. And they shall be a remembrance for you before your Elohim. I am Y-H-V-H your Elohim.”


2Chronicles 2:4 see, I am building a House for the Name of Y-H-V-H my Elohim, to set it apart to Him, to burn before Him sweet incense, and for the continual showbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Shabbatot, and on Chodeshim, and on the Mo’adei Y-H-V-H Eloheinu. This is for l'olam to Yisrael.



Yesha’yahu 66:23 “And it shall be that from Rosh Chodesh to Rosh Chodesh, and from Shabbat to Shabbat, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,” declares Y-H-V-H.


Yechezk'el 46:1  ‘Thus says the Master Y-H-V-H, “The gate of the inner courtyard facing east is shut the six days of work, but b’ Yom ha-Shabbat it is opened, and b’Yom ha-Chodesh it is opened.


Yechezk'el 46:3 “And the people of the land shall also bow themselves at the entrance to this gate before Y-H-V-H b’Shabbatot and b’Chodeshim.


May it be Your will Adonai, our G-d and G-d of our fathers, that you begin for us this month for good and for blessing. May You give to us long life, a life of shalom, a life of goodness, a life of blessing, a life of sustenance, a life of physical health, a life in which there is fear of heaven and fear of sin, a life in which there is no shame or humiliation; a life of wealth and honor, a life in which we love Torah and fear G-d; a life in which Adonai fulfills the requests of our hearts for good. Amein. Selah.



For your Pardon


As we take a look at the Holy Scriptures, we see prophecy after prophecy about Messiah and what was to happen to Him. Yeshua Messiah fulfills these prophecies.


In fulfillment of prophecies within the Holy Scriptures, the Messiah was born to die so that you might live. Shortly after His birth, King Herod tried to murder Him. He was eventually pierced and killed for your sins so that you could be pardoned from your sin and receive eternal life.



Isaiah 53:3 We despised him and rejected him; he endured suffering and pain. No one would even look at him--- we ignored him as if he were nothing.



Isaiah 49:7  Israel's holy God and savior says to the one who is deeply despised, who is hated by the nations and is the servant of rulers: "Kings will see you released and will rise to show their respect; princes also will see it, and they will bow low to honor you." This will happen because the LORD has chosen his servant; the holy God of Israel keeps his promises.



Isaiah 50:6 I bared my back to those who beat me. I did not stop them when they insulted me, when they pulled out the hairs of my beard and spit in my face.



Psalm 118:22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.



Micah 5:1 Now you will give yourselves deep wounds for grief; they will put up a wall round us: they will give the judge of Israel a blow on the face with a rod.



Psalm 22:7 I am laughed at by all those who see me: pushing out their lips and shaking their heads they say,

Psalm 22:8 He put his faith in the Lord; let the Lord be his savior now: let the Lord be his savior, because he had delight in him.



Psalm 22:16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.

Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.




Isaiah 53:8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.

And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.




Isaiah 53:11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

Psalm 16:10 For you will not let my soul be prisoned in the underworld; you will not let your loved one see the place of death.

Psalm 16:11 You will make clear to me the way of life; where you are joy is complete; in your right hand there are pleasures for ever and ever.

Psalm 68:18 You have gone up on high, taking your prisoners with you; you have taken offerings from men; the Lord God has taken his place on the seat of his power.


Psalm 22 is a description of crucifixion and a prophetic picture of Yeshua.

Psa 22:1  My God, my God, why have You forsaken me, and are far from my deliverance, and from the words of my groaning?

Psa 22:2  O my God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not answer; and in the night, and am not silent.

Psa 22:3  But You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.

Psa 22:4  Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You delivered them.

Psa 22:5  They cried to You, and were delivered; they trusted in You, and were not ashamed.

Psa 22:6  But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people.

Psa 22:7  All who see Me mock me; they shoot out the lip; they shake the head, saying,

Psa 22:8  He trusted on Adonai; let Him deliver Him; let Him rescue Him, since He delights in Him!

Psa 22:9  For You are He who took Me out of the womb, causing Me to trust while on My mother's breasts.

Psa 22:10  I was cast on You from the womb; You are My God from My mother's belly.

Psa 22:11  Be not far from Me; for trouble is near, for there is none to help.

Psa 22:12  Many bulls have circled around Me; strong bulls Of Bashan have surrounded Me.

Psa 22:13  They opened wide their mouths on Me, like a ripping and a roaring lion.

Psa 22:14  I am poured out like water, and all My bones are spread apart; My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of My bowels.

Psa 22:15  My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws;

Psa 22:16  and You have brought Me into the dust of death. For dogs have circled around Me; the band of spoilers have hemmed Me in, piercers of My hands and My feet.

Psa 22:17  I can count all My bones; they look and stare at Me.

Psa 22:18  They divide My garments among them and cast lots for My clothing.

Psa 22:19  But You, Adonai, be not far from Me; O My strength, hurry to help Me!

Psa 22:20  Deliver My soul from the sword, My only one from the dog's hand.

Psa 22:21  Save Me from the lion's mouth; from the wild oxen's horns. You have answered Me.

Psa 22:22  I will declare Your name to My brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise You.

Psa 22:23  You who fear Adonai, praise Him; all of you, the seed of Jacob, glorify Him; and fear Him all the seed of Israel.

Psa 22:24  For He has not despised nor hated the affliction of the afflicted; and He has not hidden His face from him, but when he cried to Him, He heard.

Psa 22:25  My praise shall be of You in the great congregation; I will pay My vows before the ones who fear Him.

Psa 22:26  The meek shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek Adonai shall praise Him; your heart shall live forever.

Psa 22:27  All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to Adonai; and all the families of the nations shall worship before You.

Psa 22:28  For the kingdom is Adonai's; and He is the ruler among the nations.

Psa 22:29  All the fat ones on the earth shall eat and worship; all those who go down to the dust shall bow before Him; and none can keep alive his own soul.

Psa 22:30  A seed shall serve Him; it shall be spoken of Adonai to the coming generation.

Psa 22:31  They shall come, and shall declare His righteousness to a people that shall yet be born, that He has done this.

It is believed that there were to be two Messiahs: Moshiach ben Yosef and Moshiach ben Dah-veed; Messiah son of Joseph was the suffering servant and Messiah son of David was the reigning King. Yeshua (Jesus) is both Moshiach ben Yosef and Moshiach ben Dah-veed. He came once as the suffering servant and He will come again as the reigning King.

Holy Eternal God in Heaven, I believe You exist and I turn my life over to you. Please forgive me of my sin. I believe Messiah died for my sin, was buried and was raised from the dead. I receive and acknowledge Yeshua the Messiah as my personal Lord, Authority and Savior. I believe and receive forgiveness, salvation and eternal life in Yeshua.

by carl e jones