Christian Churches of God

No. 212E

 

 

 

Descendants of Abraham

Part V: Judah

 

(Edition 3.0 20070115-15-20070115-20070417-20100827)

 

Scripture tells us that a hardening came over the hearts of Judah and that in the Last Days they will turn and be converted so that Messiah might return to his own people and his own inheritance.

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Churches of God

PO Box 369,  WODEN  ACT 2606,  AUSTRALIA

 

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(Copyright ©  2007, 2010 Wade Cox)

 

 

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 Descendants of Abraham Part V: Judah

 


Introduction

It is a matter of Scripture that Judah will be converted in the Last Days and the hardening of their hearts will be removed.

 

A hardening came upon the hearts of Judah, and the Messiah had to be killed in accordance with prophecy. Judah had to be removed from Israel and the physical Temple destroyed because of their blindness on the first part and the Plan of God in relation to the Temple on the second part. The sequence was done in accordance with prophecy we see from Daniel regarding the Temple and as explained in the paper The Sign of Jonah and the History of the Reconstruction of the Temple (No. 13). The blindness that came upon Judah is detailed in the paper War with Rome and the Fall of the Temple (No. 298).

 

In the Last Days the blindness will be lifted and the Holy Spirit will be poured out on Judah so that they are converted and the Plan of God is implemented.

 

The sequence of the changes of Judah’s beliefs and the trials they have suffered when seen in context of Scripture and prophecy are recognisable as fitting into the overall structure. They need not have suffered as much outside of the Plan of God but they are a stiff-necked people and a hardness did come upon their hearts.

 

Soon they will repent and their eyes will be opened.

 

They still have a number of trials to endure (see the paper War of Hamon-Gog (No. 294)).

 

However, Judah will survive and they will overcome and be restored.

 

Their story is Scripture and Scripture cannot be broken (Jn. 10:34-35).

 

In the same way, prophecy deals with the Church and with the other nations surrounding the Holy Land. The prophecies cover the Middle East, including Egypt, Persia, and the nations allied with, or placing themselves in league with, those nations.

 

There has always been a question of freedom and persecution for Jews. For an example of their handling we will turn to England.

 

The Jews in England

The year 2006, or 29/120, marked the 350th anniversary (equal to 7 Jubilees) of the decision by Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector to readmit the Jews to England. Their expulsion, lasting about 366 years, had been by edict of King Edward I enacted on All Saints’ Day in 1290. England was thus the first European country to formally expel the Jews following several hundred years of persecution.

 

Their readmission came about mainly through the efforts of one man, Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel of Amsterdam. In 1655 he presented a petition to the Council of State in England asking that the Jews be granted freedom of trade, freedom of religion – including their own synagogues and cemeteries, and the right to operate under Mosaic Law – and calling for the revocation of all anti-Jewish laws. However, no decision was made by the committee formed to look at the question of their readmission. Most of the members of that committee of judges, merchants and clergymen were in fact opposed to the idea, but Cromwell himself gave permission in 1656. Cromwell and his Puritans had also sensibly supported an earlier parliamentary ban on the celebration of Christmas, Saints’ days and other non-biblical holy days.

 

It was noted that the ban by Edward was by royal prerogative only and not by any Act of Parliament, hence there was no actual law of expulsion to revoke. It wasn’t until over 200 years later in 1858, however, that Jews in Britain received full and equal rights as citizens. Cromwell, who died in 1658, sought to readmit the Jews for a number of reasons. Many of his fellow Puritans had a sincere interest in the Hebrew language and literature and felt a certain sympathy for the ‘people of the Old Testament’, while for others it was a matter of political expediency. The primary reason was apparently for straightforward commercial advantage, as there was a lucrative trade operating between Holland and England at the time and the Jews were recognised as master traders and merchants who could facilitate that trade. Lucien Wolf, founder of the Anglo-Jewish Historical Society, wrote early in the 20th century on what he considered was the motive for readmission: “It was really the deficiency of bullion in the country which, as early as 1643 … suggested to Cromwell the desirability of settling Jewish merchants in London.”

 

And settle they did, in ever-growing numbers. Expelled earlier from Spain and Portugal during the Catholic Inquisition, the Jews had set up business in Amsterdam and had been instrumental in making the city one of the busiest ports in the world at that time. Following Cromwell’s decision many of these Sephardi and other Jews began moving to England and reintroducing some aspects of Torah-observance to Britain. Someone who visited the Sephardi Synagogue in Creechurch Lane, London in 1662 was told: “One year in Oliver’s time, they did build booths on the other side of the Thames and keep the Feast of Tabernacles in them.” In October 1663, the famous diarist Samuel Pepys also visited this Sephardi Synagogue, the immediate successor of which, Bevis Marks, remains the oldest in Britain today.

 

Since their formal readmission, the Jews have become fully integrated into British society and have proven themselves loyal servants of the Crown and an invaluable asset to the country in a great number of ways. Today there are about 300,000 Jews in the UK, out of an estimated 13-14 million scattered throughout the world. There are more Jews in the USA than in Israel and the US and British Commonwealth is the true home for the majority of Judah today. In that sense the Jews are being reunited with Israel and the nation called Israel is really a section of the Commonwealth. It is ironic that Israel and Australia are grouped together in the same division of the world by the Rome agreements.

 

In The Times (London) of 1 June 2002, Rabbi Jonathan Romain wrote an article entitled ‘Pariahs, heroes and a loyal people: how England’s monarchs saw their Jewish subjects’, part of which reads as follows.

When the late Princess Margaret visited Maidenhead Synagogue ten years ago - the first Jewish worship she had attended - she admitted afterwards that what had amazed her most was not the Hebrew or the rituals, but the discovery that Jews recited a Prayer for the Royal Family at every Sabbath service. …

 

It is not just the present Queen for whom the Jews have prayed; it has been a long-standing tradition to ask for God’s blessing on the monarch as the symbol of national stability, although, frankly, some kings and queens have deserved it less than others.

 

The relationship between the Crown and the Jews started with William I, when a settled community was established here after he brought across Jews from Normandy to help colonise his new kingdom. They were seen as a trustworthy element in an otherwise unstable population, with Anglo-Saxons wishing to be rid of him and his own nobles vying for power. Their relations with William II were even more cordial and he even jested that he would consider converting to Judaism if they could out-debate his bishops - much to the horror of the latter, although it was never put to the test.

 

As newcomers to the country, the Jews … were formally declared to be “the chattels” of the Crown, responsible directly to the Throne and belonging to it. This definition held many advantages, giving Jews rights of residence and protection. …

 

Subsequent kings abused this special power, levying punitive taxes on the Jews … For her part, Elizabeth II has treated her Jewish subjects as they would wish: exactly the same as everyone else. …

 

Most Jews would be delighted to see a multi-faith element to any future coronations, with Orthodox and Progressive rabbis participating alongside other religious leaders, but for now they are more than happy to join in the acclaims of ‘Long live the Queen’ (emphasis added).

 

Such dedication and respect for the Monarchy is rarely to be seen among the most loyal of her other subjects, Christian or otherwise. Perhaps unknowingly, the Jews are actually praying for their own kin, as it has been proven that members of the present Royal Family are direct descendants of King David of Israel and are therefore of the tribe of Judah. See the paper From David and the Exilarchs to the House of Windsor (No. 67) and the Sabbath Message 16/4/27/120 at: http://www.ccg.org/_domain/ccg.org/Sabbath/2004/S_07_03_04.htm

 

Many royals know this fact, as there is a genealogical table in Windsor Castle actually showing their descent from King David. Queen Victoria (reigned 1837-1901) was fully aware that she occupied the throne of David. The majority of the subjects of the Crown, however, remain in ignorance to this day.

 

As a point of interest, the present Queen, Elizabeth II, began her reign in February 1952, so that the year 1977 was her official jubilee (albeit a silver one, i.e. a half jubilee). Her silver jubilee coincided with the true year of Jubilee. The first year of the new jubilee in 1978 was the beginning of the true 120th Jubilee of God’s Calendar.

 

David’s everlasting throne

Both kings David and Solomon were told that the throne they had been given would be everlasting (2Sam. 7:13,16; Jer. 33:17).

2Samuel 7:12-17  When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men; 15 but I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.'" 17 In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David. (RSV)

 

It could be inferred from some Scriptures that total obedience to God and His Laws was required for the promise to remain in force regarding the physical throne of Israel (e.g. 1Kgs. 2:1-4; 2Chr. 6:16; Ps. 132:11-12). However, verse 45 of 1Kings 2 suggests the throne would be established forever from its inception, irrespective of obedience by the kings (and queens) who would ascend it.

 

In verse 14 of 2Samuel 7 above, it appears that Solomon and the kings after him would be chastised severely for their sins, but the promise regarding the continuity of the royal line on Israel’s throne would never be revoked.

 

1Kings 2:1-4,45  When David's time to die drew near, he charged Solomon his son, saying, 2 "I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, 3 and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn; 4 that the LORD may establish his word which he spoke concerning me, saying, 'If your sons take heed to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you a man on the throne of Israel.' … 45 But King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD for ever." (RSV)

 

And again in the Psalms:

Psalm 89:35-37  Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. 36 His line shall endure for ever, his throne as long as the sun before me. 37 Like the moon it shall be established for ever; it shall stand firm while the skies endure." (RSV)

 

An analogy can be made between the throne of David and God’s Laws. The latter have not been repealed for the last two thousand years since the death of Messiah, only to become enforceable, as Scripture unequivocally indicates they will, in the coming Kingdom of God. Neither has the physical throne of David disappeared for 2600 years or so (i.e. since the captivity of Judah in 586 BCE), only to reappear when Messiah comes to take up his kingship. Rather, both the royal line on the throne and God’s royal Law have been in continuous operation from their inception.

 

Jeremiah 33:14-26  "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring forth for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: 'The LORD is our righteousness.' 17 "For thus says the LORD: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, 18 and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn cereal offerings, and to make sacrifices for ever." 19 The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: 20 "Thus says the LORD: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time, 21 then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken, so that he shall not have a son [or sons] to reign on his throne, and my covenant with the Levitical priests my ministers. 22 As the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David my servant, and the Levitical priests who minister to me." 23 The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: 24 "Have you not observed what these people are saying, 'The LORD has rejected the two families which he chose'? Thus they have despised my people so that they are no longer a nation in their sight. 25 Thus says the LORD: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the ordinances of heaven and earth, 26 then I will reject the descendantsof Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his descendants to rule over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes, and will have mercy upon them." (RSV)

 

In anticipation of widespread scepticism, God offers a challenge in verses 20 and 21. Day and night have come at their appointed time with absolute certainty since the Earth was renewed, hence God’s covenant concerning them has never been broken and neither has His covenant of putting an unbroken line of David’s descendants on the throne of Israel (cf. vv. 25-26). The Levitical priesthood mentioned is now (since the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem) the elect among the Churches of God, who have performed the continuous spiritual service since the Holy Spirit was given in the new era. The elect in fact are of the superior Melchisedek priesthood, of which the Levitical was only a temporary subset. We see also that the Levitical priesthood is never referred to as royal, unlike that of Melchisedek (1Pet. 2:9). The Law of God is similarly called royal (Jas. 2:8).

 

Royal obligations

This royal aspect brings with it certain privileges as well as duties, in the same way that the present Royal Family has obligations to the United Kingdom and the entire Commonwealth, which currently consists of about 54 nations and is undoubtedly the Ephraimite company of nations spoken of in Genesis 48:19.

 

If there are any ‘privileges’ of royalty they are ones associated with selfless dedication and service to the nation, of noblesse oblige, which the present Queen in particular has consistently demonstrated. She was born to a job she never wished for and which is thankless at the best of times, as alluded to in a recently-released film The Queen, starring Helen Mirren in the title role.

 

The Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, Professor Jonathan Sacks, had something to say about things ‘royal’ from a biblical perspective.

The Bible suggests that royalty isn’t about privilege and wealth, splendour and palaces. It’s moral courage. Moses, in discovering that he is the child of slaves, finds greatness. It’s not power that matters, but the fight for justice and freedom. Had Moses been an Egyptian prince, he would have been eminently forgettable. Only by being true to his people and to God did he become a hero.

 

Freud [author of Moses and Monotheism, in which he tried to prove that Moses was actually an Egyptian] … failed to see that he had come face to face with one of the most powerful moral truths the Bible ever taught. Those whom the world despises, God loves. A child of slaves can be greater than a prince.

 

God’s standards are not power and privilege. They are about recognising God’s image in the weak, the powerless, the afflicted, the suffering, and fighting for their cause. … the story of Moses is one of the great narratives of hope in the literature of mankind (The Times (London), 23 June 2001).

 

Judah’s pre-eminence

As mentioned earlier, the Jews have made an enormous contribution to the UK and most other countries as well. They have been pioneers in virtually every field, from science and medicine (since the mid-1800s, about 25% of the world’s scientists have been Jewish), to invention and commerce, and to the law, art and music (both as composers and performers). They possess natural intelligence and great energy which, for instance, has helped them to literally make ‘the desert bloom as a rose’ in the State of Israel, in marked contrast with many of its neighbouring states. From an objective and unprejudiced viewpoint we see that the Jews, who together account for only about 0.23% of the world’s population, must surely rank as the most talented and productive group of people, bar none. They thereby invite envy if not outright hatred from less-energetic and less-creative peoples.

 

However, Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, in his book To Life! A Celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking (Warner Books, NY, 1993), had this to say about the Jews who, as a result of their accomplishments, might consider themselves to be superior to other people:

What does it mean for us as Jews to consider ourselves a “chosen people”? It certainly does not mean that we think we are better than other people, either individually or collectively. I was a congregational rabbi for thirty years, dealing professionally with Jewish families, and if there is one thing I know beyond the shadow of a doubt, it is that Jews are just as flawed, just as average, just as imperfect as anyone else. There is no claim of Jewish biological superiority … We have no way of knowing how many of today’s Jews are the pure biological descendants of Abraham and Sarah, though we are all their spiritual descendants. …

 

But it is a historical fact that the Jews, and no one else, gave the world the Bible … God, for reasons of His own, chose to make the Jewish people the instrument of His self-revelation to the world (p. 32).

 

The fact is that only about a third of Jews are actually even Semitic let alone Jews. The origin of the Jews is detailed in the paper Genetic Origin of the Nations (No. 265) 2nd edition.

 

Judaism is a religion now and not a single people.

 

The key there is that God chose, as He is the Master Potter who fashions and selects human vessels for use according to His will (Isa. 64:8), and it is no one’s right to question that or be envious toward those whom He has chosen. They should be and will be praised.

 

Judah’s pre-eminence and pioneering spirit were demonstrated in former times by the fact that they were required to march in the vanguard of the armies of Israel (Num. 2:2-3,9), and were the first to move out of the camp following the Ark of the Covenant. Their ensign or standard was a young lion (cf. Gen. 49:9). Messiah is referred to as a Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and is himself set in the vanguard of spiritual Israel.

           

During the wars of conquest and possession in the Promised Land, Judah uniquely was given its inheritance in the territory which that tribe had conquered (Jos. 14:6-15; 15:13-17). The reason for this is contained in verses 8,9 and 14, and was essentially because Caleb the son of Jephunneh (of the tribe of Judah) had “wholly followed the Lord God”, as noted also in the Book of Numbers.

Numbers 14:24  But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it. (RSV)

 

Even though Joshua the Ephraimite was also loyal and apparently had the right spirit, his descendants were not to possess the land on a continuous basis, as were the generations of Caleb, the representative of the tribe of Judah.

 

It is estimated that Judah actually occupied one-third of the entire western side of the Jordan once all the tribes had been settled in their respective areas. The tribe of Simeon also came to be incorporated or enfolded into Judah’s territory (Jos. 19:9), although it retained a separate identity. Just as the term Joseph most often applies to the combined tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, it appears that when Judah is spoken of in Deuteronomy 33 it includes Simeon, as this tribe is included with Judah in their inheritance and was scattered amongst Israel. (cf. Jos. 19:1; Jdg. 1:3). There was also the close historical relationship between Simeon and Levi (Gen. 49:5), so there is a great deal of interconnection between the tribes. The name Judah means praised (SHD 3063), and perhaps suggests that this tribe will one day be praised by its brother tribes and the rest of the world as having been a vital instrument of God’s salvation, quite apart from Judah having provided the Messiah through King David.

 

Judah’s enemies

Just as spiritual Israel, the true Unitarian Law-keeping Church of God, has suffered intense persecution over the centuries, so too Judah, as the most readily-identifiable part of physical Israel, has suffered horribly. On several infamous occasions Judah has even been the target for attempted annihilation by its enemies: once by the Amalekite Haman, whose plan was thwarted by Esther and Mordecai (Est. 3-9), but even then the Jews had to fight for their lives; and secondly, in the 20th century, with the anti-Jewish pogroms in both Tsarist and Communist Russia, along with the mass extermination in Hitler’s Germany and its occupied (and often complicit) territories in Europe.

 

More recently, we have seen the unequivocal call by President Ahmadinejad of Iran for the extermination of the State of Israel (and presumably all the Jews with it), as if this would somehow solve the chronic and intractable problems in the Middle East. It is a call which conveniently overlooks the fact that the most vicious wars in that region have been fought (and continue to be fought) between so-called Muslim brothers, such as Iraq and Iran in the 1980s, and more recently between the differing sects of Islam, namely Shia and Sunni, within modern Iraq.

 

The origins of these people and the determinations of what is to happen to them is dealt with in the other papers in the series dealing with those countries. Much of the conflict is between sons of Shem and between Elam and Ishmael and Keturah as well as Judah. Iran is dealt with in Sons of Shem: Part I (No. 212A) and in the papers concerning the coming of the Messiah and also World War III.

 

On the Middle East question, it is worth reading what Rabbi Sacks wrote in The Times (London) of 7 September 2001 regarding the permanent and often violent friction between the Jews and the sons of Ishmael, all descendants of the Patriarch Abraham:

We are both the same race, both Semites. It is purely a political matter. We have to co-exist. Islam is closer to Jewry than Christianity. If Jews and Christians can live together, there’s no reason why Jews and Muslims can’t. Israel is not going to go away. Palestine is not going to go away. And shared tears do bring people closer together. Jews are not optimists, but we never give up hope for Israel.

 

Professor Sacks said in a subsequent article:

It is not that religion is intolerant. Rather, we must learn the hard way that religion must never have recourse to power.

 

Nowhere is this told more dramatically than in the story of Elijah. He had come to the mountain fresh from a decisive and bloody victory over the prophets of Baal. God asked him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  The prophet replied, “I have been very zealous for Your sake.” He then witnessed a whirlwind, an earthquake and a fire. But “the  Lord was not in” the wind or the earthquake or the fire. Then came the “still small voice” that was the voice of God.

 

The zealot believes that God is power. That is why zealots must learn. whether through a vision or a tragedy of history, that God lives in the still small voice of reason, compassion and peace  (The Times, 20 April 2002).

 

Words of wisdom, and therefore almost certainly bound not to be heeded in this age at least (and without divine help) for “the way of peace they know not” (Isa. 59:8), as evidenced by man’s entire history, not just that of the chronically troubled Middle East.

 

However, when Christ gets here he most certainly will take power and enforce a religion and one that is not kept on this planet at present except for a very few people who are persecuted for that faith.

 

It may seem to many that the Jews remain insular and aloof, if not arrogant, and that they thereby invite persecution upon themselves. Under the headline “The Burning Question”, the Russian author and dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn said that the Jews were unique in never assimilating with another nation in 2,000 years of history, adding that this was their most striking and admirable characteristic (The Times, 20 June 2001). It is certain that God arranged the separateness of the Jews that way for a number of reasons; however, it has also allowed them to be singled out from much of the rest of the population, as on the occasions mentioned.

 

However, they have absorbed a number of people and their diverse DNA structure proves that fact.

 

The fact is that only very few people are actual Jews of those claiming Judaism and when they cease to practise the religion they are simply Gentiles within Judah claiming protection under the Laws of God.

 

The Holocaust

Many secular Jews today consider themselves either atheistic or agnostic. Those in the State of Israel take the view that their country has survived for nearly 60 years in a supremely hostile environment due to their own efforts and a particularly effective military force; in other words, by a not-unjustified pride in their own power, but without acknowledging God’s undoubted help and protection during their many battles for survival.

 

This is a rather dangerous position to take, as even the Gentile Assyrians were to discover (Isa. 10:12ff.). They were punished by God for exalting themselves and their own abilities without reference to their Creator and the fact that they were merely a tool in His hands. At any time, God may choose to remove His protection from individuals or from a nation, including the State of Israel, because of an arrogant attitude on their part.

 

The secular Jewish rejection of the God of their fathers is perhaps understandable considering the number of deaths in the concentration camps both immediately before and during the Second World War in Europe. Many faithful Torah-observant Jews in those camps prayed to God for deliverance and even marched into the crematoria praising Him; many asked where God was at a time like that and how He could allow them to suffer as horrifically as they did if they were His chosen people. As a result of what they’d witnessed, many who survived these death camps simply deserted their faith altogether.

 

Judah and his brothers sold their half-brother Joseph into slavery in ca.1727 BCE. About 3664 years later, Judah itself was sent into captivity in the Third Reich and brother Joseph (basically modern America and the British Commonwealth) was instrumental in rescuing their remnant from the death camps. For more information, see the Holocaust Revealed website at: http://www.ccg.org/_domain/holocaustrevealed.org

 

The Jews had been sent like lambs to the slaughter, to be ‘holocausted’ in their millions in the crematoria like so many animals of the burnt offering (cf. Lev. 1:13) which, although an unfortunate analogy, is nevertheless fitting. The Jewish adults and children were literally made to pass through the fire, as their forebears had unwisely done with their own children during the worship of pagan gods centuries earlier (2Chr. 28:3). In order not to compare these more recent events with the burnt offerings of the sacrifices, the term Holocaust is not used in some modern Hebrew texts; instead, it is often referred to as the Shoah or Calamity.

 

Rabbi Kushner had this to say on the subject:

It is nearly impossible for non-Jews to appreciate the meaning of the scar that the Holocaust, and the centuries of persecution leading up to it, have left in the Jewish soul. I don’t know of any other people that wakes up virtually on a daily basis wondering if the world will let them live. … But after the Nazi experience, Jews understand that no matter how economically successful or socially integrated we are, we can never feel totally secure. …

 

This, I suspect, is why so many of us react so defensively when Israel is criticized: because we are always afraid that criticism will lead to a withdrawal of approval of Israel’s right to exist at all … It is not hypersensitivity on our part to notice that no other country is called on continually to justify its right to exist. (Does anyone call for the dismantling of Pakistan and giving the land back to the tens of millions of Hindus who were displaced when a Moslem state was created there in 1947?) (op. cit., pp. 247-9).

 

Earlier in his book Rabbi Kushner dealt with the age-old question, Why does God permit evil?

Sometimes bad things happen to good people because laws of Nature can’t tell a good person from a bad one, and sometimes they happen because God will not interfere to take away our human freedom, no matter how destructively we intend to use it.

 

Even something as monstrous as the Holocaust comes to be seen as Man’s doing, not God’s. “Why did God let it happen?” Because God determined at the outset that He would not compromise our human freedom to choose between good and evil, no matter how atrociously we misused it. If we didn’t learn from history, from experience, from the voice of conscience, we would go on hurting and killing each other. ‘Couldn’t God have made an exception to that rule in this one case, to save so many millions of lives?’ … would that mean He should also have intervened to stop Stalin and Pol Pot from killing millions of people in Russia and Cambodia? … on what grounds would God suspend the rules in one case and not in others? For me, the Holocaust is not a theological issue: “Why didn’t God stop it?” For me, it is a psychological issue: “How could human beings have so grossly misused their freedom to decide how to treat each other?” It does not challenge my faith in God. If anything, it makes it harder for me to believe in man without God (ibid., pp. 162-3; emphasis added).

 

Hence, despite the understandably horrific memories and intense grief engendered by the Holocaust (or Calamity), there are those who demonstrate a certain dignity in being able to be more understanding, if not forgiving, about this most unpleasant episode in Jewish history.

 

God’s displeasure with Judah

While R. Kushner and others may not blame God, the chronic persecution of the Jews and the Holocaust itself may actually have been direct punishment from God (for, at the very least, He did allow it to happen). However, this should not be construed as His hatred for or abandonment of the Jewish people. Quite the contrary, in fact, as God says through His prophets and in the Writings that He chastens those whom He loves, as any loving parent chastises his son for the son’s ultimate benefit, irrespective of how harsh that punishment may appear at the time.

 

To quote the words that Jesus Christ gave to the angel assigned to the Church at Ephesus in Asia Minor, “Nevertheless, I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love” (Rev. 2:4). He could just as easily be speaking to Judah or the Jews today, as they also have left their first love Eloah, the One True God –

 and have suffered for it.

 

God is clear that He doesn’t only want our ‘hands’, i.e. merely following the letter of the Law as many adherents to Judaism do. More importantly, He requires our ‘hearts and minds’ as exemplified by adherence to the spirit of the Law. Among the called of God, the Holy Spirit is presently conducting ‘a campaign to win hearts and minds’, with far greater meaning than the present clichéd military term. However, it won’t do so by loud insistence. We are told rather that it will be as a still, small voice behind us saying, “This is the way; walk you in it” (Isa. 30:21).

 

For all Judah, Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, should have been a time for reflection and re-evaluation along with Godly repentance. However, this fast wasn’t actually being observed on the correct day according to the original Temple calendar anyway. (See the papers God's Calendar (No. 156) and The New Moons (No. 125).) The correct days for worship do seem to matter to God and His Messiah, and there are definite consequences for devising one’s own agenda, as King Jeroboam of Israel was to discover when he commissioned a festival one month later than the God-ordained Feast of Tabernacles; his whole house or heritage was later cut off (see 1Kgs. 12:32-33 and 13:33-34).

 

Maybe as a result of the postponements of His ordained Holy Days and Sabbaths and non-observance of the New Moons for centuries past, God has postponed the deliverance and salvation of Judah … until these Last Days, when He will once again have mercy upon them.

 

When God tells us to keep the Sabbath holy, which includes not speaking idle gossip, He means just that. It’s not a matter of simply observing the Sabbath as a duty or weekly ritual; instead, it is the spirit in which it is kept that most pleases God, as He says quite plainly.

 

Isaiah 58:13-14  "If you turn back your foot from the sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; 14 then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken." (RSV)

 

Neither does He want people exchanging financial advice and business ideas on the Sabbath like modern-day equivalents of the money-changers in the Temple. That task can be done on any other day of the week. Jesus, or Yehoshua ben Yoseph, adhered to this injunction when he forcibly drove the money-changers and other Sabbath-breakers from the Temple precinct (Jn. 2:13-17). The same could apply in many Synagogues today where a good deal of worldly business is conducted on the Sabbath.

 

The Qur’an also forbids trading on the Sabbath yet on both Friday and Sabbath on the Temple Mount to this very day money-changers charge people access to the Al Aksah mosque in direct violation of the Koran and the Scriptures.

 

The undoubted money-making ability of the Jews today was evident much earlier in their history, when the Patriarch Judah suggested to his brothers that they sell Joseph into captivity rather than kill him (Gen. 37:26-28). It may have been to save Joseph’s life, however, financial gain seems to have played a large part in Judah’s motivation and thinking … and perhaps still does, although they are far from alone in that in today’s world, where materialism and love of money hold unprecedented sway. Through His prophets, God promises that our idols of silver and gold the riches and possessions that have become our little gods will be thrown to the bats and moles at the culmination of this age, when they are finally recognised as being of so little real value (Isa. 2:20).

 

Jesus, or Yehoshua, had a great deal to say on the subject of money and riches.

Matthew 6:24  "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (RSV)

 

Mark 10:17-25  And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher [didaskalos, SGD 1320; or Rabbi], what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 18 And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: 'Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'" 20 And he said to him, "Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth." 21 And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." 22 At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!" 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (RSV)

 

Rabbi Saul/Paul of Tarsus, who apparently studied under Gamaliel the Elder, was also certain that love of money was a primary cause of people separating themselves from God and forsaking their Faith.

 

1Timothy 6:6-11  There is great gain in godliness with contentment; 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; 8 but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs. 11 But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. (RSV)

 

Similarly, the pseudepigraphical work called The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (R.H. Charles, SPCK, London, 1917; translated from Armenian), which was supposedly written in the second century BCE and was therefore contemporary with the Dead Sea Scrolls, contains some incisive observations and warnings. The Testaments are based upon the supposed deathbed comments of the sons of Jacob to their children. Of particular relevance here are those made by the Patriarch Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and his first wife Leah. (Known interpolations have been removed from the text.)

 

XVII. And now I command you, my children, not to love money, nor to gaze upon the beauty of women; because for the sake of money and beauty I was led astray to Bathshua the Canaanite.

XVIII. 2. Beware, therefore, my children, of fornication, and the love of money, and hearken to Judah your father.

3. For these things withdraw you from the law of God,

And blind the inclination of the soul,

And teach arrogance,

And suffer not a man to have compassion upon his neighbour.

4. They rob his soul of all goodness,

And oppress him with toils and troubles,

And devour his flesh.

5 And he hindereth the sacrifices of God;

He hearkeneth not to a prophet when he speaketh,

And resenteth the words of godliness.

XIX. My children, the love of money leadeth to idolatry; because, when led astray through money, men name as gods those who are not gods, and it causeth him who hath it to fall into madness. 2. For the sake of money I lost my children, and had not my repentance, and the prayers of my father been accepted, I should have died childless. 3. But the God of my fathers had mercy on me, because I did it in ignorance. 4. And the prince of deceit blinded me, and I sinned as a man and as flesh, being corrupted through sins.

XXVI. Observe, therefore, my children, all the law of the Lord, for there is hope for all them who hold fast unto His ways.

 

There is an obvious theme here, and the writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes had this to say on the same subject:

Ecclesiastes 5:10  He who loves money will not be satisfied with money; nor he who loves wealth, with gain: this also is vanity. (RSV)

 

However, Rabbi Kushner then ties this issue to the perennial problem of latent anti-Semitism often arising from envy.

If some Jews are loud and aggressive or guilty of unethical business practices (as are lots of gentiles), one is entitled to dislike them as individuals but has no right to extend that dislike to innocent members of the larger group. Antisemitism, like all racial and religious prejudice, is a sign that something is wrong with the hater, not with his victim (op. cit., p. 262).

 

Jewish advocacy

The Patriarch Judah showed great compassion and impressive verbal skills as the advocate for his half-brother Benjamin (Gen. 44:16-34), so much so that he melted Joseph’s heart in Egypt. Judah nobly took upon himself the role of protector, and his Christ-like act of intercession on behalf of his brother probably bound the two so closely that, at the break-up of the Kingdom following Solomon’s death, Benjamin became allied with Judah (along with half the tribe of Levi) rather than with his full-brother Joseph’s tribe. It was obviously God’s doing as part of His unfolding plan.

 

This arrangement had been ratified and given permanence earlier by David (of Judah) and King Saul’s son Jonathan (of Benjamin), as recorded in 1Samuel 20:42. The name Benjamin means son of the right hand, so it seems he and his descendants were always destined to be the right-hand man of Judah. It is ironic that they were predominantly left handed-people and were almost destroyed for their perversity. The right also means the South, as the ‘front’ is always facing the East in Hebrew. It is interesting that the royal city of Jerusalem was apparently located within the historical boundary of the tribe of Benjamin rather than Judah, as might be expected. Also, Joseph may have had the primacy in Egypt, but it seems Judah is to have the ascendancy in Jerusalem (metaphorically referred to as Egypt).

 

Justice must be done and done correctly and the perversion of justice by Judah or the other tribes will be punished, in the same way the Talmud perverts the Laws of God and will be destroyed.

 

The basic purpose of advocacy was supposed to be the defence of the innocent and needy (Ps. 82:2-4) or to try and mitigate the sentence of a guilty person; it was assuredly not to get the guilty off on a legal technicality. It is not incumbent upon any lawyer to search out and exploit legal loopholes or defend the indefensible, to the detriment of a nation’s system of justice and of the society in general. That sort of unethical behaviour, by deliberately flouting the spirit of the law, will be punished by God in the Last Days. He says He hates injustice and the perversion of the justice system (cf. Job 8:3; 36:17). In order to be most effective, justice must also be swift and the truly guilty punished as a warning to others. The Torah is quite specific on the need for true justice for all people.

 

Exodus 23:6-8  "You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in his suit. 7 Keep far from a false charge, and do not slay the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked. 8 And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the officials, and subverts the cause of those who are in the right. (RSV)

 

The prophet Isaiah was aware of the situation in his time and foresaw the same thing happening in these Last Days, in line with the dual application of much of Scripture.

 

Isaiah 59:4  No one enters suit justly, no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity. (RSV)

 

It would appear that truth, justice and equitable treatment are extremely important to God as such requirements of the leaders and the people are mentioned often enough in Scripture (e.g. Jer. 23:5; Ezek. 45:9).

 

Proverbs 21:3  To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

 

For without justice (tsedek, SHD 6664) there can be no righteousness (tsedek), and vice versa. And as the writer of Ecclesiastes warns and the prophet Isaiah enjoins:

 

Ecclesiastes 5:8  If you see in a province the poor oppressed and justice and right violently taken away, do not be amazed at the matter; for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them. (RSV)

 

Isaiah 56:1-2  Thus says the LORD: "Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed. 2 Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast, who keeps the sabbath, not profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil." (RSV)

Again, justice and righteousness here are synonymous and interchangeable.

 

Torah observance

It appears that Judah or Levi was assigned to be God’s scribes or lawgivers (chaqaq, SHD 2710). Some Kenites also had this task.  Scribes have been referred to as Sopherim (from saphar, SHD 5608) since Ezra’s time, and were given the task of faithfully preserving Scripture down through the centuries (Pss. 60:7 and 108:8). It is recorded that the Jews and Levites were appointed custodians of the Oracles of God from the beginning (Rom. 3:1-2), however, that was only until the death of Messiah and the formation of the Churches of God from the Apostles onwards (see the paper The Oracles of God (No. 184)).

 

It was perhaps the Jews’ and Levites’ natural abilities, with their dedication and thoroughness, which particularly fitted them for the task of transcribing the holy texts. By tradition, a detailed and reverent ritual for copying the Scriptures was required, whereby each letter was considered holy in itself, so no adjoining letters were permitted to touch; each word was to be read aloud from an original version of the text; and every letter and word were counted to ensure that none had been added or omitted, in accordance with the injunction in the Torah (Deut. 4:2).

 

Christians naturally owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Scribes for faithfully copying and preserving the Hebrew Scriptures (the Tanakh) for hundreds of years, so that, at the appropriate time, they might be translated into all the languages of the world, as is still being done today. They did, however, take liberties with the Scriptures but preserved those texts for a permanent record and which we know today (see for example The Companion Bible notes to the texts).

           

In addition, the rest of Israel seemed more inclined to water down the Laws of God, until finally deciding that these Laws had been done away with altogether and that we are solely under “grace” within the new Christian dispensation. It seems pseudo-Christianity is in such a rush to disassociate itself from everything Jewish and the Jews (even until fairly recently known as “Christ-killers”), they have forgotten that the majority of first-generation Christians were Jews or Hebrews of all twelve tribes of Israel, located both within Judaea and in the Diaspora, and who didn’t suddenly give up their keeping of Torah when they became baptised Christians. They continued to worship in their local Synagogues, although many were later expelled as Jesus/Yehoshua said they would be (Jn. 16:2; cf. also Jn. 9:22), perhaps for mentioning the “heresy” that the long-awaited Messiah of their liberation had already appeared, yet had been ignominiously killed. It wasn’t the sort of information that many people wanted to know (see Acts chap. 7).

 

In Acts 24, Paul stated unequivocally before the Roman governor Felix and many eminent Jews that he still observed the Law.

Acts 24:14  But this I admit to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect [heresy: KJV], I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the law or written in the prophets. (RSV)

 

It simply wasn’t a case of Paul believing everything in the Law but then not acting upon that belief. It was quite the opposite in fact, and his statement here refutes the antinomian opinion that Paul denigrated the Law in his numerous other epistles.

 

In contrast to the pseudo-Christians’ willingness within just a few centuries to abrogate the Law, Judah often went to the other extreme. They had a tendency to introduce more and more man-made ordinances and restrictions, albeit with noble intent, perhaps, claiming these were part of the Oral Law given to Moses. Certain strands of Judaism also saw the need to put a fence around the Laws of God as shown, for example, by their 39 Sabbath prohibitions, few of which bear any resemblance to the original injunctions regarding the Sabbath in the Torah as given directly by the Angel of the Covenant (who became the Messiah).

 

Geza Vermes, in his book The Religion of Jesus the Jew (SCN Press, London, 1993), had this to say about the prohibitions.

We have to wait until the Book of Jubilees (50.6-9) in mid-second century BC, and the statutes of the Damascus Document (10.14-12.6) half a century later, before encountering the first attempts at systematization, and until the relevant section of the Mishnah (Shab. 7.2) before receiving a detailed list of thirty-nine classes of proscribed action.” (fn. p.12)

 

The Mishnah was compiled about 200 CE, long after the fall of the Temple. Hence it was long after the written Torah was produced that this so-called Oral Law was codified. This making of laws more binding and unnecessarily burdensome was what Yehoshua condemned (cf. Mat. 23:1ff.). He obviously recognised the difference between the Laws he had given to Moses and those added afterwards by over-zealous, and often hypocritical, religious types.

 

R. Kushner gave the Jewish perspective on God’s Law or Torah and why it is still binding upon all who claim to love God and act as His servants today.

“We learn two lessons from the stories we tell about ourselves: that God loves us and that God needs us.

 

God shows His love for us by reaching down to bridge the immense gap between Him and us. He shows His love for us by inviting us to enter into a Covenant with Him, and by sharing with us His precious Torah. The idea that giving us laws is a sign of God’s love is one of the fundamental theological differences between Judaism and [mainstream] Christianity. … Laws are seen [by the latter] as the instrument of a harsh, restrictive, punishing God, and need to be superseded by the rule of love and forgiveness. Judaism while admiring love and forgiveness … sees the role of the Law totally differently. In our view, a loving parent does not show his or her love by telling a child, “Do whatever you want, and I will still love you.” That is not love but an abdication of responsibility. … Jews have understood from the beginning that ours was a religion of love because it did not leave us to find our way through life unaided. It offered advice, insight, and guidelines.” (op. cit., pp. 47-8)

 

He goes on to share a few thoughts that should be noted by the antinomian Christians in particular.

We tend to think of laws as restricting our freedom. … But Judaism insists that living by God’s laws is a matter not only of obedience, but of a more important kind of freedom.

 

It may seem strange to speak of the Torah, with its myriad regulations and prohibitions, as a source of freedom. … The freedom the Law offers is the freedom of the athlete who disciplines his body so that he is free to do things physically that you and I are incapable of. It is the freedom of being the master of appetite rather than its slave. … The freedom the Torah offers us is the freedom to say no to appetite. …

 

The Law does not make us sinners. The Law tries to make us strong enough to resist the many temptations to sin to which the human being is subject daily. … The second gift of the Law is the reassuring message that we and our moral choices are taken seriously at the highest level. …

 

But what the Jewish way of life does by imposing rules on our eating, sleeping, and working habits is to take the most common and mundane activities and invest them with deeper meaning, turning every one of them into an occasion for obeying (or disobeying) God (ibid., pp. 50-4).

 

This is certainly good advice for taking care of most aspects of life. It’s true that, through self-discipline and self-denial, we are able to keep the Law in its physical aspect; however, there is still the more important spiritual application that needs to be addressed.

 

The problem is that Judaism as a religion has corrupted the Laws of God by tradition. That practice must be stopped and Judah’s and Levi’s conduct corrected.

 

Yehoshua as a Torah-observant Jew         

Geza Vermes was also unequivocal with regard to Jesus/Yehoshua’s observance of the Law of Moses:

Jesus not only was not hostile to the Torah in principle or refused to abide by it in practice, ready when necessary to choose between conflicting obligations, but that he acknowledged the Law of Moses as the foundation-stone of his Judaism (op. cit., pp. 188-9).

 

Vermes continues with this theme on page 194:

As has been clearly demonstrated in chapter 2, Jesus made no attempt to restrict, or interfere with, the Torah; he rather embraced it as the recognized framework of Judaism. What he strove to emphasize was inward piety for the individual devotee of the Kingdom of heaven. In brief, he adopted, intensified and sought boldly to inject into the Judaism of ordinary people the magnificent prophetic teaching of the religion of the heart (cf. Isa. 29.13) (emphasis added).

 

Earlier in his book, the above author made the following comment, which concurs with the views expressed above by Rabbi Kushner regarding Torah observance.

To be brief, the survey of Jesus preaching in parables, proclamations and sayings has shown that, the essential requisites are detachment from possessions, unquestioning trust in God and absolute submission to him. The fact that the duties imposed are generally expressed in ethical rather than legal terms should not lead one to imagining that Jesus eschatological preaching conflicts with his attachment to the Law. It is approval of his recapitulation of the Torah as love of God and love of men that brings the sympathetic scribe near to the Kingdom (Mark 12.34). Perhaps even more pregnantly, in the Lords Prayer (Matt. 6.10) the petition, Thy Kingdom come, is followed by, Thy will be done, a divine will seen by Judaism of all ages as being expressed and manifested in the commandments received by Moses on Mount Sinai (Vermes, ibid., pp. 148-9; emphasis added).

 

Messiah came to introduce the vital spiritual dimension that is impossible to engender within ourselves. In doing so, however, he did not “shatter the letter of the Law” as claimed by Ernst Kaesemann in Essays on New Testament Themes (transl. by W.J. Montague, Lond., 1964). Vermes countered Kaesemann as follows, and his footnote speaks of Jesus explaining the true meaning of the Law:

Incidentally, Jesus antitheses do not differ structurally from that which, according to Mark 7.10-13 (Matt. 15.4-6), the Pharisees are said to have propounded their doctrine concerning qorban: Moses said but you [Jesus] say (Mark), or even more strongly, God commanded but you say (Matt.). One can, needless to say, debate the nature of the contrasts in question, but the point at issue is that if Jesus teaching shatters the letter of the Law, that of the Pharisees seems to do the same, which is of course nonsense.28

Footnote 28: In the words of a well-known New Testament scholar, the scribes and Pharisees were tampering with Gods Law, whereas in the case of Jesus, it was a matter of the Son elucidating its real meaning (C.E.B. Cranfield, The Gospel according to Saint Mark (1959), 237).” (ibid., p. 31, emphasis added)

 

The one known as Jesus Christ was referred to by his fellow Jews as a Rabbi on numerous occasions (Mat. 23:7-8; Jn. 1:38,49; 20:16, etc.), so perhaps respect is due for his wisdom and teaching ability as for any other Rabbi before or since, such as Gamaliel, Akiba or Rashi. As a Rabbi he was speaking almost exclusively to other Jews of his day, and may have been the expected Teacher of Righteousness mentioned by the Essenes.

 

It is known absolutely that he didn’t abrogate Torah either when he was alive or by his death and resurrection, as so many Christians incorrectly claim today. He didn’t say to the wealthy Jewish leader who was seeking the best way to eternal life, “Keep all the Commandments for now but, know this, that my death and resurrection will abolish all those Laws of God that most people find so burdensome and difficult anyway, for everyone will come under grace from that time forward” (see Luke 18:18-30). It is worthy of note also that the Fourth Commandment requiring seventh-day Sabbath observance was too obvious to be mentioned here at all, yet could in no way be considered abolished by Christ’s silence on the matter.

 

The Patriarchs and prophets were among the few people in the Hebrew Scriptures recorded as having received God’s Spirit, the power of God. Abraham was called “a friend of God” (2Chr. 20:7), while David was known as “a man after God’s own heart” (1Sam. 13:14). They were given God’s Spirit and were led by it. They were among the first to receive the Spirit but were to be far from unique in this. This is the reason that Messiah had his Advent and began his teaching about the higher aspects of the Law and the availability of the Holy Spirit to a far greater number of people than the mere handful of specially-favoured men and women who had received it up until that time, in order to allow a more faithful keeping of the Law than ever before possible.

 

Through the Messiah, God is actually giving all of us the chance to become “a friend” of His and “a person after His own heart”. It is His intention that all human beings who ever existed are to be called into the Body of Israel at some point, given the Spirit so that they are better able to keep the full intent (i.e. the spirit) of the Law, and then to be finally transformed into spirit beings on a par with the angels in Heaven and thus become full Sons of God; and thereafter have eternal life.

 

The Advent of Messiah

Jews generally have never accepted that the man called Jesus Christ, or Yehoshua ben Yoseph, was the promised Messiah, despite many references to him in the Tanakh. One example is from Zechariah, where the Messiah is prophesied as one who is to be killed by being pierced.

Zechariah 12:10  "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born. (RSV)

 

He is not about to be pierced at his glorious Advent as King-Messiah, so it seems logical that the person spoken of here must have been pierced in the past, then resurrected to life in order to be seen again by those who pierced him at some time in the future. He is the same one pierced by the Jews (by proxy) and the Gentile Romans (by commission), thus he has already had one Advent … and most of the Jews, then and now, knew it not or refused to accept it. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, who was a Levite, stated categorically that the above Scripture referred to this same Jesus or Yehoshua ben Yoseph.

John 19:37  And again another scripture says, "They shall look on him whom they have pierced." (RSV)

 

The text in Zechariah undeniably alludes to two separate Advents of the one person, the person whom the first Jewish converts and all subsequent Christians have acknowledged as the long-awaited Messiah. (See also Commentary on Zechariah (No. 297).) Hence his first Advent according to Judah will actually be his second, when he will appear as an all-conquering King-Messiah. When they arise in the Second Resurrection of the dead, all those who pierced Messiah, or who called for that to happen, will come under judgment before him. This is dealt with in the paper Advent of the Messiah (No. 210).

 

Another Scripture that implies two Advents from an historical point of view is found in Daniel 2:31-45. It is generally acknowledged that the iron legs of this image represent the Roman Empire, the fourth kingdom extant in Messiah’s time, and that the stone uncut by human hands is Messiah himself. The stone is shown striking the great image on its feet of mixed iron and clay rather than on the legs; in other words, Messiah didn’t destroy the Roman Empire and the occupiers of Judaea at his first Advent as Jesus Christ. That Empire was to last several hundred years after his death and resurrection, without the promised physical Kingdom being set up on Earth during that period.

 

Incidentally, besides speaking of two Advents of Messiah, the prophet Zechariah (Ezekiel also) talks about a definite raising of the dead to life, so the Sadducees are without excuse when attempting to deny any future resurrection (cf. Mat. 22:23; Lk. 20:27ff.). Also, Paul, who was of the tribe of Benjamin, spoke to the Roman governor of Judaea, Felix, and his Jewish wife, and raised some uncomfortable issues regarding justice and a resurrection to judgment.

 

Acts 24:24-25a  After some days Felix came with his wife Drusil'la, who was a Jewess; and he sent for Paul and heard him speak upon faith in Christ Jesus. 25 And as he argued about justice [righteousness; KJV] and self-control and future judgment, Felix was alarmed … (RSV)

 

At some stage we are all required to acknowledge that Messiah has indeed already come once to this Earth. And the understanding that he would set up the physical Kingdom there and then, and therefore that Yehoshua ben Yoseph could not have been the promised Messiah, is erroneous. Instead, he set up the Kingdom spiritually in the hearts and minds of a number of faithful disciples at that time, with the millennial Kingdom on Earth not to be set up until after his Second Advent.

 

Revelation 1:4-7  John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. (RSV)

 

Again, Revelation 1:7 contains a dual meaning. “Every one who pierced him” may not be there to personally witness Messiah coming in great glory in the clouds; however, they and everyone else will most certainly see him sometime after they’ve been resurrected to life again, in either the First or Second Resurrection.

 

It is even possible that some of the Roman soldiers and others who had a part in the death of Messiah will be in the First Resurrection and thus will literally meet him in the air at his second Advent. Several Scriptures hint at this (Mat. 27:54; Mk. 15:39; Lk. 23:47). For instance, the Gentile centurion verbally acknowledged Jesus/Yehoshua as the Son of God, so it is quite conceivable that he was later converted and became a disciple along with many other witnesses to the crucifixion.

 

Matthew 27:54  When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!" (RSV)

 

It seems strange that a Gentile should recognise the Messiah when so many Jews of the time didn’t. In fact, this was the second recorded occasion on which a Gentile knew Christ to be the Messiah, the other being when he spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well (Jn. 4:4ff.). Many of the leaders of Judah were jealous of Yehoshua ben Yoseph, and this was perhaps a major reason for wanting him dead (see Mat. 27:18). As the saying goes, ‘What goes around, comes around’ or, in Hebrew, mida keneged mida (lit. ‘measure for measure’, i.e. the repayment in kind by God for good or evil). The Jews persecuted the Church endlessly and that was why they wanted the prophet Muhammed and the small group in Arabia killed so that it was wiped out. This envy and murder was to be returned with interest upon their own descendants’ heads over two millennia leading up to the Holocaust of the 20th century.

 

The Servant Songs

Another Jewish author, Stuart Sacks, in Revealing Jesus as Messiah (Christian Focus Publ., Scotland, 1998, p. 89), made this observation:

Some Talmudic writers have recognized the likelihood that suffering is bound up with Messiah’s work [Babyl. Talmud, tractate Sanhedrin 98b]. Among the ancient prayers said for the Day of Atonement may be found the words of Eleazar ben Qalir (perhaps as late as AD 1000): ‘Our righteous Messiah has departed from us; we are horror-stricken, and there is none to justify us. Our iniquities and the yoke of our transgressions he carries, and is wounded for our transgressions. He bears on his shoulders our sins to find pardon for our iniquities.’ (cf. Isa. 53:4-5).

 

Hence it appears that some Jewish writers acknowledged (albeit rather quietly) the fact that the Messiah had actually come and gone. Geza Vermes, in his book Jesus the Jew (SCM Press Ltd, Lond., 1983, p. 135), also mentioned this possibility.

In addition to the royal concept, Messianic speculation in ancient Judaism included notions of a priestly and prophetic Messiah, and in some cases, of a Messianic figure who would perform all these functions in one. On occasions, furthermore, Messianic brooding and reflection went hand in hand with the belief that the Anointed had already come.

 

The Dead Sea Scrolls show that the understanding of the community there was that the Messiah was the same person, being of two Advents. The first Advent was as the Priest- Messiah and the second was as the King- Messiah. The texts are examined in the symbolism of the High Priest on Yom Kippur and are examined in the paper Day of Atonement (No. 138) and Azazel and Atonement (No. 214).

 

Isaiah 53 is one of a small series of texts recorded by the prophet Isaiah and usually known as the Servant Songs (also Isa. 42; 49; 50; 52:13-15; part 40 and 61 also). Stuart Sacks had this to say about the last of these Songs:

Although the Jewish community has traditionally thought of this final Servant Song in messianic terms, how wonderful it will be in that day when multitudes of the household of Israel accept the Scripture’s reliable witness through such men as Luke and Philip [cf. Acts 8:34-35]. The fact remains that the final Song’s fifteen verses [52:1-53:12] fit none other so well as the Messiah as he was revealed in first century Palestine; if they do not refer to Jesus, we do not have the remotest idea of whom Isaiah is speaking (ibid., p. 68, emphasis added).

 

This author added that the latter Song “clearly identifies individual suffering in place of a rebellious people”, and the person known as “Jesus (Yeshua) is the perfect embodiment of the word yasha” (meaning to save), for it is recorded that Jesus (Gk: Iesous) will save his people from their sins (Mat. 1:21).

 

Returning to the Tanakh, the Psalmist gave a specific description of the hallmarks, so to speak, of the Messiah who was to come.

Psalm 22:16  Yea, dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers encircle me; they have pierced my hands and feet (RSV)

 

That is just one small example from a whole set of criteria required for Yehoshua/Jesus to be fully acknowledged as the promised Messiah. Besides the piercing of his hands and feet by the nails, there were also puncture marks around the head of this crucified one from the crown of thorns that had been jammed onto his head. These holes in his scalp allowed blood to trickle down his face and settle on his earlobes, while the wounds in his hands and feet allowed blood to run down onto his thumbs and big toes. God thereby arranged for Yehoshua ben Yoseph to be fully consecrated as a Priest, in accordance with the solemn ordination ceremony of Aaron and his sons (and all their priestly descendants) as described in Leviticus 8:23-24 (see also the paper Wave Sheaf Offering (No. 106b)).

 

Even now, as High Priest in the Melchisedek priesthood, Yehoshua is willing and able to make intercession directly to God the Father on behalf of the called-out and chosen ones alive on the Earth, as Timothy showed.

 

1Timothy 2:3-6  This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time. (RSV)

 

Jews for Jesus

God surely wants everyone of Judah to become “a Jew for Jesus”. But He certainly doesn’t want the Jews to dispense with their Monotheism and embrace the false gods of the Trinitarian concept adhered to by the overwhelming majority of ‘Christians’, whose Jesus is one of three co-equal members of an exclusive Godhead.  If this belief takes some swallowing and appears to run contrary to the ‘Shema Ysrael, that is because it most certainly is at odds with it.

 

If we have accepted that Messiah has already had one Advent and died for the salvation of all people in the world, then there is no longer a need to struggle with the alien concept of the Trinity of ‘Father, Son and Holy Ghost’ as it is totally unscriptural, found in neither the Tanakh nor, surprisingly, in the books of the Christian New Testament.

 

A typical Trinitarian thesis might include the following, though perhaps with a little less honesty than found in the opening sentence. This is actually a rather brave admission considering the Trinity concept is supposed to be pivotal to Christian belief. As Christians are also meant to be People of the Book, one would reasonably expect the doctrine to be plainly laid out in the New Testament Scriptures.

It is now generally acknowledged that the doctrine of the Trinity is not found in the New Testament. At the same time, it is more commonly recognized than it has sometimes been, that the New Testament contains the materials out of which the doctrine of the Trinity took shape; and these are to be found, not so much in the texts in which the names of the three “persons” occur together …, as rather in the outlines of a Trinitarian pattern which can be discerned, especially in the thought of Paul and the Fourth Evangelist (The Holy Spirit in Christian Theology, George S. Hendry, SCM Press Ltd, Lond., 1965, p.30).

 

That is not so. The only pattern which can be discerned, apart from in men’s fertile imaginations, is analogous to the pattern of DNA found in all living creatures. The basic building blocks are the same, i.e. we use the same scriptural texts in expounding doctrine, but the conclusions reached can be totally different, just as a human and a gorilla possess a similar make-up of DNA (sharing about 98% of genes) but only one will inherit eternal life.

 

Some pseudo-Christians have even claimed that the idea of a Trinity is implicit in the Old Testament or Tanakh, when that is not the case at all. One such point concerns the use of the term echad instead of yachid in the ‘Shema Ysrael when speaking of the ‘one and only’ God. The paper Consubstantial with the Father (No. 81) should be studied for an explanation of the use of the term echad in the ‘Shema.

 

The original Christian faith, such as being expounded by the Christian Churches of God, provides a scripturally-based alternative to the paganised and syncretic or pick-and-mix beliefs of the so-called Christians.

 

Reconciliation of Judah and Israel

Despite its persistent sinfulness, rebellion and an unhealthy love of wealth and status, it appears that Judah holds a special place of affection in God’s heart.

Psalm 114:2  Judah became his sanctuary [SHD 6944: holiness, sacredness], Israel his dominion. (RSV)

 

And, of course, out of Judah and from the lineage of Jesse and David, Messiah was born for the salvation of the entire world.

Isaiah 11:10-13 In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek, and his dwellings shall be glorious. 11 In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant which is left of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Ethiopia, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea. 12 He will raise an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. 13 The jealousy of E'phraim shall depart, and those who harass Judah shall be cut off; E'phraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not harass E'phraim. (RSV)

 

We see in 2Chronicles 28:9-15 that Ephraim had a change of heart when it and the other tribes had warred with Judah and taken many captives. Although God was angry with Judah and allowed them to be defeated, Israel had been over-zealous in its treatment of the captured Jews. Therefore God strongly advised them to show compassion. We are often judged on how we treat our enemies, for to be magnanimous in victory is a Godly characteristic.

 

Some time soon, there will be a foretold reconciliation of Judah and Israel, as we see in Hosea 1:11 and Ezekiel 37:15-22.

Hosea 1:11  And the people of Judah and the people of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head; and they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel. (RSV)

 

Ezekiel 37:15-22  The word of the LORD came to me: 16 "Son of man, take a stick and write on it, 'For Judah, and the children of Israel associated with him'; then take another stick and write upon it, 'For Joseph (the stick of E'phraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him'; 17 and join them together into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. 18 And when your people say to you, 'Will you not show us what you mean by these?' 19 say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am about to take the stick of Joseph (which is in the hand of E'phraim) and the tribes of Israel associated with him; and I will join with it the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, that they may be one in my hand. 20 When the sticks on which you write are in your hand before their eyes, 21 then say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all sides, and bring them to their own land; 22 and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms. (RSV)

 

In the prophecy given by Jacob/Israel to his sons on his deathbed, Judah’s hand is said to be on the neck (or back) of his ‘enemies’.

 

Genesis 49:8-12  Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's sons shall bow down before you. 9 Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as a lioness; who dares rouse him up? 10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. 11 Binding his foal to the vine and his ass's colt to the choice vine, he washes his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes; 12 his eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk. (RSV)

The last verses of this text refer to the death of the Messiah in Jerusalem. By his death he accomplished the washing of his vestments and the vestments of all of his people as the vineyard of the House of God (cf. Isa. 5:7).

 

In view of the words brothers and father’s sons elsewhere in verse 8, it appears that the reference here is to Judah’s hand being on the neck or back of his brothers also (as former enemies) in order to draw them to him; that is, to embrace them and to weep upon each other’s necks (cf. Gen. 33:4; 45:14) in a spirit of reconciliation rather than enmity. Isaiah 11:13 states prophetically that, “Ephraim [representing the 10 Tribes] shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim”. As mentioned earlier, this alludes to the jealousy and dislike of a group of people (in this case a brother tribe) toward Judah (the Jews), just as Judah may have envied Joseph (father of Ephraim) as the favourite son of their father, the Patriarch Jacob. The term enemies thus appears to be in the same sense as enemies shall be of one’s own household (Mic. 7:6; Mat. 10:36), i.e. one’s own blood relatives. Had there been a negative connotation to this part of verse 8, it would probably have spoken of Judah having his foot upon the necks of his enemies (Jos. 10:24), or a yoke of bondage upon their necks (Gen. 27:40; Jer. 27:12).

 

The Just of the Nation of God

We know that the essence of Torah is the love of God and the love of man, as Geza Vermes restated above. Similarly, while speaking primarily to fellow Jews, R. Kushner sees the need for all of us to imbue everything in our daily lives with holiness in order to please God.

One of the fundamental teachings of Judaism is that the search for holiness, for the encounter with God, is not confined to the synagogue. Everything we do can be transformed into a Sinai experience, an encounter with the sacred. The goal of Judaism is not to teach us how to escape from the profane world to the cleansing presence of God, but to teach us how to bring God into the world, how to take the ordinary and make it holy. (op. cit., p. 49)

 

It is not a matter of washing our hands of this world because of its seemingly insoluble problems, or simply waiting for the promised Kingdom to come in order to have Messiah clean up the mess on the Earth and solve everything for us. There is a vital need to work in this world, right here and now, to make it a better place, as R. Kushner would attest.

 

But the danger of believing too fervently in a World to Come is that you may come to care less about the imperfections of this world. So what if there is rampant crime and disease? So what if widows and other poor people are taken advantage of by the rich and powerful? This world is only God’s waiting room. In Eternity, people will get what they deserve and the last shall be first. Almost universally, Jews reject that perspective. Our creed would seem to be that God so loved the world that He lavished upon it immense care in creating it, making it an orderly, beautiful, precious place. And if we love God, we should feel obliged to treat with love the world He loves so much … the reader of the Bible is told that the abstract concept of justice is meaningless unless it is translated into the lives of every citizen.” (ibid., pp. 44-45)

 

As the Rabbi would have it, there is a nobler way in which to make a personal and positive impact upon the world: through study and implementation of all that we have learned, at least as a place from which to start.

Judaism has always insisted that knowledge has the power not only to make people smart but to make them good. Having studied, we should commit ourselves to live differently as a result of what we have learned. And having resolved to live differently, we should then go forth to bless God’s world and sanctify it. (ibid., p.304)

 

While no one is good but God alone (Mk. 10:18), the New Testament Scriptures concur with R. Kushner by telling us that God so loved the world that He gave up to a violent death His only human-born Son (Jn. 3:16-17), who came not to condemn the world but ultimately to save it. This is quite a different concept John later gave at 1John 2:15 and which apparently contradicts the former text by telling us not to love the world. However, it can be explained simply as an injunction to hate the man-made and Satan-inspired systems (which are not of God, but are certainly allowed by Him to exist) of this world yet, at the same time, to love and care for other human beings as God Himself loves all His creation. Brown-Driver-Briggs (BDB) make the distinction in their definition of the Greek term for world, namely kosmos (SGD 2889):

5) the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human family; or

7) world affairs, the aggregate of things earthly

7a) the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ.

 

There has often been a certain high-principled idealism exhibited by the Jewish people. Speaking as an American Jew, Rabbi Kushner made this observation:  

We tend not to vote for Jewish candidates, or for the most pro-Israel candidate. Jewish voters tend to support the candidate who seems most committed to making the world a better place.

 

In the early part of the twentieth century, many Jews were attracted to the Communist party not only because it replaced a cruel, viciously antisemitic czar in Russia, and certainly not because Jews are by nature revolutionaries, but because it promised to make the world better. When communism turned out to be a “god that failed,” when Stalin’s Russia turned out to be as brutal and as antisemitic as any czarist regime, they withdrew their loyalty. But they continued to look for a cause to follow, because they believed that the purpose of human beings on earth was to do for God the one thing He could not do for Himself, to crown His creation with goodness, and make this world, not some other far-off world, the Kingdom of God.” (op. cit., pp. 46-7)

 

That is obviously a very worthy view to hold, although it must be increasingly obvious that man alone will not be able to solve the multitude of problems this world faces. However, it demonstrates that Jews (among many others) often have a highly-developed sense of justice and empathy for their fellow man.

The claim that God needs us is not so much a statement about God as it is about us. We are called on to do something for God and for the world. We are important; we are empowered. The foundation story of Judaism [and all biblical Israel] teaches us these two lessons. It is our obligation to be a role model for all nations, showing them what the God-oriented life looks like, and it is our obligation to make God’s world complete by giving Him the one thing He cannot do for Himself, by freely choosing to do good. God depends on us to complete and sanctify His world, and we disappoint Him cosmically if we fail to respond to His challenge. (ibid., p. 48)

 

In the Mishnah, there is a saying attributed to Hillel, an older contemporary of Jesus/Yehoshua:

Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving mankind (ha-beriyot) and bringing them near to the Torah (mAb 1,12).

 

In his comment on Isaiah 60:3,6f., Geza Vermes states:

Here the coming of the Kingdom entails an element of mystery: the salvation of Israel is presented as a magnet attracting the rest of mankind to God (ibid., pp. 123-4).

 

Salvation to the Jews first

Again we see the pre-eminent position in God’s grand scheme given to Judah. Salvation was open to them first, beginning with the 42-plus years from the preaching of John the Baptist until the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE. Paul reiterated this fact.

Romans 1:16-17  For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live." (RSV)

 

Judah was thus given ‘first refusal’ on the truth and salvation through Jesus the Messiah; however, pre-eminence was to prove a two-edged sword, in that it meant Judah would also be the first to be punished for rebellion such as, for example, at the time of the destruction of the Temple and in the Holocaust centuries later. The rest of Israel may yet have to experience their own punishment.

 

Romans 2:9-13, 17-29  There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality. 12 All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified…. 17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely upon the law and boast of your relation to God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed in the law, 19 and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth-- 21 you then who teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." 25 Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law; but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For he is not a real Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. 29 He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal. His praise is not from men but from God. (RSV)

 

When Paul spoke about the true circumcision (i.e. of the heart) required of all people, not just the Jews, he was echoing Jeremiah’s words.

 

Jeremiah 4:3-4  For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem: "Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. 4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your doings." (RSV)

 

Similarly, Yehoshua restated Jeremiah’s words when he gave the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:3ff., which speaks of the seed or the word of God being broadcast or distributed abroad and whether or not it finds root in fertile ground. The call is going out at present, and it is up to individuals within Judah to allow those words to take root in their hearts and minds and to respond to that call.

 

It seems that when we scratch the skin of a self-confessed atheistic or agnostic Jew we find not too far below the surface a rather spiritual person who might readily respond to God’s calling of him or her. Rabbi Kushner gave a hint of the latent spirituality in many secular Jews.          

... Israel is not a new, forty-year old country, but is in fact one of the oldest countries in the world …

That explains why Jews were moved to tears in June 1967 when the Old City of Jerusalem, the Western Wall of the Temple, the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and other biblical sites became part of Israel. It connected them to their biblical origins, and even non-religious Jews were thrilled by that. Within two months of the end of the Six-Day War, fully half the population of Israel, most of them non-religious Jews, had come to Jerusalem to pray at the Western Wall. (Kushner, ibid., pp. 252-3)

 

Like all of God’s children, they undoubtedly have a strong innate desire ‘to find their way back home’ to Him. They are ‘prodigal sons’… as are we all. And while it is noble and right to have a strong connection with the physical land of Israel, there remains the more vital connection we are required to have with spiritual Israel.

 

R. Kushner in To Life! explains how (mainstream) Christianity and Judaism can learn valuable lessons from each other.

Christianity needs Judaism to remind it of what pure, uncompromised ethical monotheism looks like. … Christianity needs the example of the Jewish community actually striving to do what the Torah calls upon us to do.

 

But Judaism needs Christianity to remind us that the word of God is not meant to be kept for ourselves alone. We are called on not merely to live by God’s ways, but to do it in such a manner that the world will be persuaded to turn to God. (ibid., p. 290)

 

In point of fact, the Christian Churches of God bring together those vital strands of religious belief and practice, by being both Torah-observant and by promulgating God’s ways as widely as possible with the ultimate aim of encouraging the whole world to turn to Him.

 

Awaiting Judah

The elect cannot be sealed, and the world in general cannot be saved, until a certain number from the tribe of Judah are brought into God’s true Church. It has already been decided that a full 12,000 people from the tribe of Judah will be inducted into the central core of God’s chosen or elect, numbering 144,000 in total (Rev. 7:3-5).

 

The Great Multitude of the First Resurrection (Rev. ch. 7) is to consist of members of all tribes and nations of the Earth. We know that forgiveness from God is available at any time and not just on a specific day of the year such as Yom Kippur, provided that repentance is genuine. This has been demonstrated many times throughout the history of Israel and Judah.

2Kings 22:18-19  But as to the king [Josiah] of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, thus shall you say to him, Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Regarding the words which you have heard,  19 because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the LORD, when you heard how I spoke against this place, and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have rent your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, says the LORD. (RSV)

 

2Chronicles 20:3,18-21  Then Jehosh'aphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah…. 18 Then Jehosh'aphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD, worshiping the LORD. 19 And the Levites, of the Ko'hathites and the Kor'ahites, stood up to praise the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. 20 And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Teko'a; and as they went out, Jehosh'aphat stood and said, "Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed." 21 And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the LORD and praise him in holy array, as they went before the army, and say, "Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures for ever." (RSV)

 

A prophet of Judah was once used by God to warn Israel’s king of impending disaster (1Kgs. 13:1-3). Yet, even today, when God calls Judah to return to Him through Yehoshua the Messiah, He doesn’t want to see His prophets, those bringing the message of the recall to God, ignored, abused or even murdered as happened on numerous occasions in the past.

 

2Chronicles 24:18-21  And they forsook the house of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and served the Ashe'rim and the idols. And wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their guilt. 19 Yet he sent prophets among them to bring them back to the LORD; these testified against them, but they would not give heed. 20 Then the Spirit of God took possession of Zechari'ah the son of Jehoi'ada the priest; and he stood above the people, and said to them, "Thus says God, `Why do you transgress the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.'" 21 But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the LORD. (RSV)

 

Little was to change in subsequent years, as when Stephen made the truth known to Jews from many parts of the Near and Middle East in the first century CE (Acts 6:5-7:60). He too was stoned to death for his efforts; and a certain Pharisee named Saul of Tarsus was consenting to his death (Acts 8:1), although this led inexorably to Saul’s belief in Jesus/Yehoshua as the Messiah and to his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus. Saul repented and was baptised and renamed Paul. God is not mocked. And He eventually deals with all people’s games and their refusal to acknowledge Him or listen to His servants; but in His own time He will deal with each person to their own good.

 

It is perhaps appropriate that Second Chronicles is the last book in the Jewish Tanakh, as it contains pertinent messages for these Last Days of the present age. And, as so often before, Judah may be required to set the example and march in the vanguard, this time in the much more-important campaign to deliver the true message of salvation to all. Judah’s renowned advocacy skills could be useful also in persuading the rest of Israel to return to God, as they tried to do before with limited success (see 2Chronicles 29 and 30). A more successful campaign had been implemented by King Asa of Judah.

 

2Chronicles 15:1-9  The Spirit of God came upon Azari'ah the son of Oded, 2 and he went out to meet Asa, and said to him, "Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The LORD is with you, while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law; 4 but when in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them. 5 In those times there was no peace to him who went out or to him who came in, for great disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands. 6 They were broken in pieces, nation against nation and city against city, for God troubled them with every sort of distress. 7 But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your wrk shall be rewarded." 8 When Asa heard these words, the prophecy of Azari'ah the son of Oded, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities which he had taken in the hill country of E'phraim, and he repaired the altar of the LORD that was in front of the vestibule of the house of the LORD. 9 And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and those from E'phraim, Manas'seh, and Simeon who were sojourning with them, for great numbers had deserted to him from Israel when they saw that the LORD his God was with him. (RSV)

 

Similarly, King Jehoshaphat of Judah finally saw the need to teach and implement the Laws of God throughout Israel as an essential part of any restoration process.

 

2Chronicles 17:6-10  His heart was courageous in the ways of the LORD; and furthermore he took the high places and the Ashe'rim out of Judah. 7 In the third year of his reign he sent his princes, Ben-hail, Obadi'ah, Zechari'ah, Nethan'el, and Micai'ah, to teach in the cities of Judah; 8 and with them the Levites, Shemai'ah, Nethani'ah, Zebadi'ah, As'ahel, Shemi'ramoth, Jehon'athan, Adoni'jah, Tobi'jah, and Tobadoni'jah; and with these Levites, the priests Eli'shama and Jeho'ram. 9 And they taught in Judah, having the book of the law of the LORD with them; they went about through all the cities of Judah and taught among the people. 10 And the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, and they made no war against Jehosh'aphat. (RSV)

 

Jehoshaphat later set judges in all Judah to administer righteous judgment and thereby true justice for all.

2Chronicles 19:4-11 Jehosh'aphat dwelt at Jerusalem; and he went out again among the people, from Beer-sheba to the hill country of E'phraim, and brought them back to the LORD, the God of their fathers. 5 He appointed judges in the land in all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, 6 and said to the judges, "Consider what you do, for you judge not for man but for the LORD; he is with you in giving judgment. 7 Now then, let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed what you do, for there is no perversion of justice with the LORD our God, or partiality, or taking bribes." 8 Moreover in Jerusalem Jehosh'aphat appointed certain Levites and priests and heads of families of Israel, to give judgment for the LORD and to decide disputed cases. They had their seat at Jerusalem. 9 And he charged them: "Thus you shall do in the fear of the LORD, in faithfulness, an with your whole heart: 10 whenever a case comes to you from your brethren who live in their cities, concerning bloodshed, law or commandment, statutes or ordinances, then you shall instruct them, that they may not incur guilt before the LORD and wrath may not come upon you and your brethren. Thus you shall do, and you will not incur guilt. 11 And behold, Amari'ah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the LORD; and Zebadi'ah the son of Ish'mael, the governor of the house of Judah, in all the king's matters; and the Levites will serve you as officers. Deal courageously, and may the LORD be with the upright!" (RSV)

 

Thus the restoration must be according to the Laws of God.

 

The overall mission of Yehoshua the Messiah was put very succinctly by Geza Vermes.

For the magnetic appeal of the teaching and example of Jesus holds out hope and guidance to those outside of the fold of organized religion, the stray sheep of mankind, who yearn for a world of mercy, justice and peace lived in as children of God (The Religion of Jesus the Jew, op. cit., p. 215).

 

The writer of Chronicles noted that all Israel, including Judah, was directionless and lacking a shepherd or guide, and the fact that the prophet Micah “saw” this hints at a prophetic significance for today.

2Chronicles 18:16a  And he said, “I saw all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd; (RSV)

This was echoed later by Yehoshua/Jesus, who saw that Judah was a lost nation:

Matthew 9:36  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (RSV)

 

However, at his next Advent, Messiah will come as the Redeemer from enslavement to sin as a result of rebellion to God.

Isaiah 59:20  "And he will come to Zion as Redeemer, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the LORD. (RSV)

 

Of vital importance though, is the fact that if we wait until Messiah makes his appearance upon the Earth before we finally commit to recognising and acclaiming him as the expected Anointed One, it will be rather too late for us to be included in the First (and greater) Resurrection. Which is why Christ says there will be a weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mat. 8:11-12), as those who didn’t accept him in the period between his two Advents will be distraught at having ‘missed the boat’ through their indecision, disbelief or lack of a repentant attitude when they knew the Truth and where to find it, or smugly imagined themselves to be sons of Abraham by heritage and thus with one foot in the Kingdom already. We are told that the proud or haughty of Judah will be removed, including the Rabbis and the Zionists teaching untruths (Zeph. 3:11), and the Jews will be converted in spite of their unbiblical traditions. These aspects are also covered in the paper Measuring the Temple (No. 137).

 

It will be easy enough to accept the King-Messiah as the Anointed One when we are standing before him, not without some trepidation perhaps. But it is when he is out of sight right now that we are expected to believe the reports about him and to walk by faith. We don’t need faith to believe in someone or something that is in front of us.

 

Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple is arguably the most beautiful and moving in the entire Bible (1Kgs. 8:22-53; 2Chr. 6:12-42). Of particular note is the verse: “whenever they call upon you”, presumably with a genuine desire to return to God instead of merely going through the motions of religiosity, that is, with a heart far from God (Isa. 29:13; Mat. 15:8). Refer to the paper Rule of the Kings Part III: Solomon and the Key of David (No. 282C) for the full text of Solomon’s Temple prayer and the fact of its application to the Gentiles as well as to Israel.

 

Just as God listened and heeded Solomon’s prayer, we are reminded that He sees all and rewards accordingly.

2Chronicles 16:9a  For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show his might in behalf of those whose heart is blameless toward him. (RSV)

 

He is also in a state of readiness to listen to heartfelt prayer, and is willing to act upon it.

Jeremiah 29:12-14  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. (RSV)

 

A particularly relevant part of the Amidah Prayer may be worth remembering here also.

5. For Repentance: Bring us back, O our Father, to Your Instruction;

draw us near, O our King, to Your service;

and cause us to return to You in perfect repentance. Blessed are You, O Lord, who delights in repentance.

 

6. For Forgiveness: Forgive us, O our Father, for we have sinned;

pardon us, O our King, for we have transgressed; for You pardon and forgive.

Blessed are You, O Lord, who is merciful and always ready to forgive.

 

To you who have given mankind so much already: God can certainly use your undoubted talents in His work for the salvation of the world. You are encouraged to take up your position in the vanguard of Israel’s return to the Promised Land and to God’s favour.

 

The world awaits you, Judah. You have to be prepared so that Messiah can return to His own tribe and people in due process.

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APPENDIX

 

Some time ago I wrote on the aspect of Hitler being a Jew. Since that time the scientific evidence has been collected and we can now say with certainty that he was a Jew, from both sides of his ancestry, whether Sephardi or Ashkenazi is not yet certain. He was however not a son of Judah but rather of an early convert to Judaism.

 

What is understood to be the case is that his father Alois Hitler was the illegitimate son of the maid Maria Schickelgruber and a 19-year-old Jewish man named Frankenberger. The Gestapo in Austria imprisoned his cousin, one Alois V. Schikelgruber in an Austrian death camp.

 

What we do know now beyond doubt is that Adolph Hitler was a Jew of ancient lineage that was of itself not of the sons of Judah. In other words he was a convert to Judaism. We can determine that from the YDNA structure of his family; 39 of his relatives had DNA tests done and he has proven to be of the Hamitic YDNA E1b1b1. Heidi Blake wrote an article on it on 24 August 2010 in the Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/world-war-2/7961211/Hitler-had-Jewish-and-African-roots-DNA-tests-show.html

 

Adolf Hitler may have had Jewish and African roots, DNA tests have shown

 

Hg. E1b is not Semitic and certainly not a son of Judah. The YDNA comes from Egyptian/North African or Canaanite YDNA. It is most probably of ancient Egyptian stock that led into the Phoenician stock of Carthage. 

 

Jean-Paul Mulders, a Belgian journalist, and Marc Vermeeren, a historian, tracked down the Fuhrer’s relatives, including an Austrian farmer who was his cousin, earlier this year. "One can from this postulate that Hitler was related to people whom he despised," Mr Mulders wrote in the Belgian magazine, Knack.

 

Haplogroup E1b1b1, which accounts for approximately 18 to 20 per cent of Ashkenazi and 8.6 per cent to 30 per cent of Sephardic Y-chromosomes, appears to be one of the major founding lineages of the Jewish population. Knack, which published the findings, says the DNA was tested under stringent laboratory conditions.

 

"This is a surprising result," said Ronny Decorte, a genetic specialist at the Catholic University of Leuven.

 

Haplogroup E1b1b1 which showed up in the samples of Hitler’s family is rare in Western Europe and is most commonly found in the Berbers of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, as well as among Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews.

 

Some 25% of all European Jews are of Hg. E and Hg. E1b is a foundational stock of Judaism. So also is E3b.

 

E1b1b1 may stem from an early group of north Africans that came into Israel from Egypt even as early as the Exodus or who were Canaanites or were converted from North African Berbers at a later date into the Jewish community there. The Jews there in Austria may have even come into Europe with Punic forces but it is far more likely that they came in with the Ashkenazi Jews that went west even as early as the Tenth Century with the founders of Austria. Certainly they had come in by 1215.

 

What is the most amazing and appalling fact is that a full-blooded “Jew” assumed rulership of Germany, a nation to which he did not even really belong although he fought for it and was decorated by them. He mobilised that nation and imbued it with the express desire to wipe out an ethnic group of people that comprised a large part of the intelligentsia of his own people and to which the sordid little man himself belonged in an extended family that still live there in Austria to this day.

 

He had his own relatives killed in an Austrian death camp. What sort of a mind are we dealing with?  A very sick one is the obvious conclusion.

 

It is quite a serious possibility that Hitler’s family were Egyptian slaves that left Egypt as part of the Mixed Multitude and were allocated to Judah or Levi in the allocation of workers in the Temple system. Their YDNA completely eliminates the possibility that they were Semites. The only possibility of any Semite blood in them is through the female lineages. 

 

We now know beyond any doubt what Hitler was and what family structure he came from and what he did to his own people.

 

The correction of the second resurrection will confront literally millions of people with an awful truth that they will have great difficulty in dealing with. Every two bit Nazi loving hater of Jews and other races will have to be faced with the fact of what they followed and who they were.

 

One of the funniest things I was told about the Klansmen in the US was that there were a number of families that went to be YDNA tested and they were furious when they found out that they were descended from African slaves that may well have come in as early as the Roman period. They thought they were white and they were not. They were persecuting their own brethren and when they found out the truth they were furious. They were not repentant.  

 

Be very careful because you never know who your brother might be. The command is to love all men and show thereby that you love God whom you have not seen.