April 1, 2008

II Corinthians 3:15 – But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.

Luke 11:35 – Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.

I am putt ing

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in an unusually long heading because the article which follows it is titled “Would Jesus want to convert the Jews.” The writer of the article is Shmuley Boteach, and he writes a very gentle and kind article, which is in no way offensive to me as a Christian. I indeed hope that my heading will not be offensive to Jews. I love and respect Israel, admiring the Jews as the “apple of God’s eye.” And I would not have written this heading or put up this blog if he had not used Matthew 5:19 as the Scripture to back up the title of his article. In order to correctly interpret this verse one must consider its context of verses before and following it, namely Matthew 5:14-20. Jesus is speaking directly to the members of the first 100 percent Jewish church, which he called out and organized during his earthly ministry.

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MATTHEW 5:14-16 – Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. [15] Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. [16] Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your GOOD WORKS, AND GLORIFY YOUR FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN.

[14-16] The real question addressed in these verses is who is producing the light of the good works men see outwardly from your life. They can only be “good” if God’ s Spirit in you i

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s producing them. If those who see them believe God is producing them in you, they will not glorify you, but will glorify God for His work in you.

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Jesus taught the rich young ruler that only God is “good.” The real question in Matthew 5:14-20 is not WHAT is your righteousness, but WHO is your righteousness!

[14-16] The Law itself is “good” because it is of God and, as such, represents the very character of God himself, which man could not produce in his state of inherited sinfulness from his earthly father’s seed. Nor could man in his inherited state ever keep every jot and tittle of a Law that was the very standard of God’s righteousness.

[14-16] Romans 7:12 – Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

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[14-16] Romans 7:14 – For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

[14-16] Galatians 3:21-24 – Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. [22] But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. [23] But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. [24] Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

[14-16] The light of the Law was indeed glorious, but the Son who actually kept it is far more glorious than the Law itself. It is the light of God’s Son living in us and fulfill

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ing the Law in us which he fulfilled in himself during his lifetime in sinless flesh.

[14-16] Galatians 2:20,21 – I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. [21] I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

[14-16] I love the people of the Nation of Israel, for I know they are the Chosen People of God, the Apple of His Eye, and will soon be restored to the promises made to their fathers, knowing a greatness they have never known before. But I also know from the prophecies of both the Old and New Testament, that before their restoration they will go through three and one-half years of the greatest time of tribulation they have ever known.

[14-16] There is no question they did not receive him as the Messiah, and certainly rejected him as God’s only begotten Son. But to blatantly declare the Jews crucified him and lay the blame on their shoulders is quite wrong. We are all responsible for his crucifixion, and it was the most beautiful act of God ever performed on this earth.

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For had it not been done, God could not be just in justifying those who put their faith in him from Genesis 3:15 to the present, and there would be no blood atonement for their sins.

[14-16] Genesis 3:15 – And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

[14-16] Isaiah 53:4-5,10 – Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

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[5] But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. [10] Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

[14-16] John 1:11-17 – He came unto his own, and his own received him not. [12] But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: [13] Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. [14] And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. [15] John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. [16] And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. [17] For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

[14-16] The glorious light of the good news in Christ far exceeds that of the Law. But the Law was certainly glorious. However, by comparison to the Glory in Christ the Law is a ministration of death to those who try to obey it to be declared righteous before God.

[14-16] II Corinthians 3:7-18 – But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: [8] How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? [9] For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. [10] For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. [11] For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. [12] Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: [13] And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: [14] But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. [15] But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. [16] Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. [17] Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. [18] But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Isaiah 28:16-22 – Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. [17] Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.

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[18] And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it. [19] From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report. [20] For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it. [21] For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act. [22] Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord God of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth.

[14-16] The Law is indeed glorious, but now the glory of the one who kept every jot and tittle for all who would have faith in him for salvation, is far more glorious.

MATTHEW 5:17 – Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

[17] Jesus as the Son of the living God is the only flesh and blood man who was born of a virgin without the inherited sin nature of Adam, and the only man who ever kept every jot and tittle of the Law.

[17] The only man born of woman who ever kept every jot and tittle was the only begotten son of man and of God, the man Christ Jesus. He fulfilled the Law perfectly and all that the Prophets had written concerning his coming as the Seed of Genesis 3:15, the Seed of Seth, the Seed of Noah, the Seed of Abraham, the Seed of Isaac, the Seed of David, the Seed of David, the son of a virgin, and the Seed of the Living God.

MATTHEW 5:18 – For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

[18] Indeed, heaven and earth did not pass away, and one jot or one tittle of the Law did not pass from the Law, until Jesus fulfilled it for all who would put their faith in his having done so for their justification before God.

[18] Luke 23:34 – Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

[18] John 19:30 – When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, IT IS FINISHED: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

MATTHEW 5:19 – Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

[19] Finally we come to the verse used in the Jerusalem Post Article by Shmuley Boteach titled, “Would Jesus want to convert the Jews?” The answer is a definite YES!

Did you notice in this verse that Jesus has both men already in heaven in the kingdom of heaven? Notice he is not addressing what got them there, but what they received as a reward after they arrived? It is not discussing salvation, but the rewards in heaven the saved received after arriving there. The reward in heaven will indeed depend on how well one taught and practiced the commandments of God in this life in response to the Spirit of God that indwelled them. The degree to which one kept the commandments of God after he or she received Christ will range from “least” to “greatest.” The degree to which they let the light of Christ in them show itself to the world will determine the “least’ and the “greatest.”

MATTHEW 5:20 – For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

The only righteous man who ever lived that kept ever jot and tittle of the Law was the

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man Christ Jesus, the son of David and the Son of God. There is no other righteousness that God will accept for justification of a man’s soul. Pharisees would not receive Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah, and he could not impute His righteousness to them because they did not believe. They had zero righteousness before God. Those who do not receive him as the Son whom God sent to redeem them have no blood atonement and no righteousness before God. I was justified freely by God by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

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Romans 3:24-28 – Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then

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? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

John 6:62,63 – What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? [63] It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

Israel’s problem is of their making – They will not receive his words of life. They will not honor the Son.

John 5:38-47 – And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. [39] Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. [40] And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. [41] I receive not honour from men. [42] But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. [43] I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. [44] How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? [45] Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. [46] For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. [47] But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

John 5:21-24 – For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. [22] For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: [23] That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. [24] Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

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Begin Jerusalem Post Article

Would Jesus want to convert the Jews?

By Shmuley Boteach, THE JERUSALEM POST

March 31, 2008

A serious blow was dealt to the Jewish-evangelical alliance with the publication in Friday’s New York Times of a full page ad by the World Evangelical Alliance – representing hundreds of evangelical Churches, organizations, and leaders, some being among the most prominent in the country – affirming their intention to proselytize Jews.

The ad said, “The most loving and Scriptural expression of our friendship toward Jewish people, and to anyone we call friend, is to forthrightly share the love of G-d in the person of Jesus Christ…. We recognize that it is good and right for those with specialized knowledge, history, and skills to use these gifts to introduce individuals to the Messiah, and that includes those ministries specifically directed to the Jewish people.”

Oh brother, here we go again. Is this really what we all need right now? Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are slowly building an army of non-believers to ridicule global faith. Fundamentalist Muslims who assail both Judaism and Christianity are digging in against the West. And a secular and exploitative culture in America is slowly eroding the dignity of women and the innocence of children. And just when we thought that Christians and Jews could really work together to reverse this tide, we get this: Christians who profess to be the Jewish people’s friends by devoting themselves to the end of their existence as Jews.

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NEXT MONTH in my old stomping ground in Oxford I will be engaging in a debate as to whether belief in the divinity of Jesus is compatible with Judaism. It is not. Period. It never was, and it never will be. But that has never stopped us Jews from loving and respecting our Christian brothers and sisters and the great faith they practice. The time has come for them to once and for all declare their reciprocity by refraining from ever directly targeting Jews for conversion.

This is what Jesus would want and says so with ferocious directness, going so far as condemn all who attempt to pry Jews away from Judaism: “Whoever goes against the smallest of the laws of Moses, teaching men to do the same, will be named least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who keeps the Law of Moses, teaching others to keep them, will be named great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19).

The Jewish community must respectfully but forcefully respond to our Christian brothers and sisters as to why proselytizing Jews is a bad idea.

IT’S BAD for Christianity because it betrays the tragic fact that after thousands of years of persecuting Jews, many Christians still have not evolved enough to respect the Jewish faith. It’s bad for Christians because if they reject the Jewishness of Jesus they will never fully understand his teachings or his life. It’s bad for Jewish-Christian relations because, for all their immense support for the State of Israel, most Jews are still suspicious of evangelicals precisely because many treat Judaism as an unsaved, subordinate faith. And it’s bad for the Western world whose basic fabric is based on Judeo-Christian values, which will of necessity suffer if the groups who promote these values neutralize each other through unnecessary conflict.

But rather than merely lamenting this new effort by Christian to proselytize Jews, I believe that we might see it as an opportunity. Time magazine recently identified the new effort by scholars to re-Judaize Jesus as one of the 10 most important new ideas in the world.

Using public forums to teach our Christian brothers and sisters of the essential Jewish nature of Jesus and his teachings is vital to a renewed relationship.

Jesus was a Pharisaic rabbi. Everything he taught and lived was based on the Torah and the Talmud. From his proclamation that “The meek shall inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5) which comes from Psalm 37, to the famous Golden Rule of ‘Do to others what you would they do to you,” which derives from Leviticus 19, to his statement that ‘the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath,’ whose origin is the Talmud (Yoma 85b), Jesus’ mission was to renew Jewish attachment to the Torah in a time when the threads of tradition were being unwoven due to the oppressive hand of the occupying Roman beast.

WHILE JESUS lived, Judaism was practiced by 10% of the Roman Empire. Later, because the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, it superseded Judaism as the world’s foremost monotheistic faith. Judaism became a backwater that was practiced and largely known only to Jews. But it is specifically Jewish values which today represent a great hope for rejuvenating a crumbling modern world and from which our Christian brethren can greatly benefit.

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For instance, Christianity says that faith trumps action. What you believe is more important than what you do. And that’s why they want us to believe in Jesus. But is that really the problem in the world today, that people don’t have the right beliefs, or that they don’t have the right actions? Nearly all people believe in love, and, according to the Rutgers University Marriage Project, close to 90 percent of all college undergraduates also believe in marriage. But their actions are not loving, as they practice cheap ‘hookups’ that are bereft of romance and commitment, and husbands continue to profess a belief in marriage while cheating on their wives, as we’ve seen recently with so many politicians.

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LIKEWISE, few today don’t believe in democracy. Even wannabe dictators like Putin and Chavez, and actual dictators like Mubarak and Assad, do their best to give their actions a thin democratic veneer. It’s their actions, rather than beliefs, that aren’t democratic and which must change.

Another example: Christianity values perfection while Judaism values struggle. Jesus was perfect, and Christians are meant to emulate his example. But in this age where we are all so deeply flawed and so many are lost, the message they must hear is that of the Hebrew Bible, which recounts all the errors of its heroes to teach us that even flawed human beings can vastly contribute to the perfection of the world.

And is the Christian emphasis on salvation what we most need now, or is it the Jewish emphasis on redemption? Should we be talking about getting into heaven when, after so many thousands of years of human history, our earth still has genocide in Darfur, terrorism in the Middle East, and broken, lonely souls across the West?

Rather than worrying who needs to be converted to get into heaven, Christians and Jews should join together to create heaven here on earth.

The writer hosts a daily radio show in the US. He is working on a book about the Jewish life of Jesus.

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