Friday, April 27, 2012

Is Yeshua (Jesus) a False Prophet According to the Scriptures?

This is an accusation posed by many Jewish apologists, or anti-missionaries, since the 2nd century.  The question of the validity of Yeshua’s claim to be the Messiah of Israel is less based on the scriptures themselves, than on traditional Christian doctrines that are supposedly based on those scriptures.  These doctrines which claim, among other things, that Yeshua “fulfilled” the law, so the law is now done away with.  That through His crucifixion, He has “set us free” from the law and we are under no obligation to keep it; that the commandments of the Old Testament have been replaced with the commandments of the New Testament.  So how do we answer this question in such a way that satisfies the Jewish apologist and maintains the integrity and consistency of the entire body of scripture? 

The first thing that we must realize is that all of scripture, from Genesis to Revelation is the word of God.  And that all the scriptures must be self consistent and all doctrinal teachings of the Church must be inline with them.  For example, if a doctrine or teaching is consistent with one part of the scriptures, say the words of Paul the Apostle in the New Testament, those same doctrines and teachings must also be consistent with the words of Moses the deliverer in the Old Testament.  The basic problem and reason for the development of contradictory doctrine is the failure to understand the important Jewish or Hebraic concepts which are transmitted to us in the Greek language of the New Testament writings; a language foreign in every way to the language, culture and religious concepts of the Jewish people and therefore to the 1st century disciples and to Yeshua Himself.

Essentially what we have in the Greek New Testament are foreign concepts being transmitted in a language that does not best translate the same religious and cultural concepts.  As an example and guide to understanding the Greek New Testament we refer to the Septuagint, the third century BCE Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures.  In the Septuagint we have a guide as to what Greek words are used to translate the Hebrew original.  By carefully examining the chosen words, we can then examine the Greek New Testament to derive the true meaning of the teachings of Paul and the rest of the writers of the New Testament and ascertain their Hebrew cultural perspective and understanding.

So let’s try to answer the question of Yeshua being a false prophet by examining the scriptures using this premise.

Deuteronomy 12:32 NKJV 32 "Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.

We are not to create new commandments, nor are we to cancel out any existing commandments. What is a commandment?  When we think of a commandment, we tend to think of something akin to a hard and fast law or rule that is not to be breached in any way.  This is true, but in the Hebrew there is a slightly different but all too important difference in the definition.  The Hebrew word translated most often as commandment is מצוה pronounced mitzvah.  It is defined in the Strong’s as:

#4687.  מצוה  mitsvah,  mits-vaw' from 6680; a command, whether human or divine (collectively, the Law):--(which was) commanded(-ment), law, ordinance, precept.

#6680.  צוה  tsavah,  tsaw-vaw' a primitive root; (intensively) to constitute, enjoin:--appoint, (for-)bid, (give a) charge, (give a, give in, send with) command(-er, -ment), send a messenger, put, (set) in order.

The concept of mitzvah in the Hebrew mindset would be better understood if it were translated as precept, ordinance or good works as defined in the Jewish Encyclopedia.

A false prophet would be one who takes away or adds to God’s word, or commandments. But from the early 2nd century onward, the Gentile (Greek and Roman) followers of Yeshua have done exactly that!  A central doctrine of mainstream Christianity since the 2nd century is that Yeshua has set us “free” so we are no longer obligated to follow the commandments (Torah or Law).  Christians generally equate following the commandments as defined in the Torah to be “legalism.”  This stems from the belief that Jewish theology teaches that in following the commandments one will achieve salvation. This is not the case and never has been.  We misunderstand this because of our misunderstanding of the Hebrew concepts being transmitted by the use of the Greek language that is foreign to the original Hebraic religious concepts.  In this way, from a Jewish theological perspective, Christianity has been guilty of taking away from God’s word.  We selectively uphold certain commandments, or precepts/ordinances contained in the Torah and totally dismiss others, all to suit our preconceived, long standing ideas, customs and doctrines.  When we present a teaching that Yeshua “fulfilled” the law, that is the commandments of the Torah, and as a result of this fulfillment, we do not have to keep those same commandments, then we are presenting to the Jewish people and to the entire world, by Biblical definition, a false prophet!  Naturally the Jews will reject Yeshua as so presented, because we show them a Messiah who violates Torah, the very word of God!

In Christendom, we have a Bible which we believe to be the Word of God. In it, is the entirety of the Jewish scripture known as the Tanakh.  The Tanakh is made up of three parts: The Torah, which is the first 5 books of Moses, the prophets and the writings.  If we believe that it, what we call the Old Testament, along with the New Testament, Matthew to Revelation is, in its entirety, all the Word of God, then why do we reject or ignore the major part of its teaching?  And when reading the story of the exodus of the Children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt, it is central to note this very important point: The Torah (Law) was not given to them while still in Egypt, in bondage and slavery, but was given to them AFTER they were redeemed from their bondage! AFTER they passed through the waters (a kind of baptism) of the Red Sea!  The Torah, the commandments, were given to a people already redeemed!

So what is this Torah (law)? Torah, in Hebrew means precept or statute:

#8451.  תורה  towrah,  to-raw' or torah {to-raw'}; from 3384; a precept or statute, especially the Decalogue or Pentateuch:--law.

It is derived from another Hebrew word, which means to flow as water.  When used as an archery term it means to shoot.  It also means to point out or to teach:

#3384.  ירה  yarah,  yaw-raw' or (2 Chr. 26:15) yara; {yaw-raw'}; a primitive root; properly, to flow as water (i.e. to rain); transitively, to lay or throw (especially an arrow, i.e. to shoot); figuratively, to point out (as if by aiming the finger), to teach:--(+) archer, cast, direct, inform, instruct, lay, shew, shoot, teach(-er,-ing), through.

You can think of the Torah as divine instruction or teaching from God.

Sin comes from another Hebrew word, chattah which means to “miss the mark.”

The Torah is not a way to achieve salvation, but is a set of instructions, precepts or teachings in righteousness.  It is God’s divine instruction on how to live a sanctified life after salvation has already occurred!  It is how we are to live out our lives before the one true God AFTER He has redeemed us from our slavery to sin!  It is how we can draw near to Him, have a relationship with Him and be holy as He is holy.  What then, are we to do with this Torah?  We are to keep it, of course!  Yeshua set the example and showed us the way, the truth and the life!  Remember what He said in John 14:15

John 14:15 NKJV 15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments."

So the natural question is, what are His commandments?  To discover what His commandments are, we need to look no further than the entire passage in John 14 beginning in verse 7, through verse 21.

John 14:7-21 NKJV 7 "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him." 8 Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." 9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. 12 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. 15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-- 17 "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19 "A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 "At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."

Right off the bat in this passage Yeshua is stating that He and the Father speak as one. Yeshua and the Father are of one mind and one purpose.  They are literally one!  The Hebrew word is echad:

#259.  אחד  'echad,  ekh-awd'  The Hebrew concept of this word is a combination of a plural and singular form.  You could think of this concept as a kind of “composite unity”.

Yeshua said in verse 7, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also”.  In verse 10 He states that His words are not His own but are the words of the Father.  If His words are not His own but are the words of the Father, then His commandments are the commandments of the Father!  Just look again at verse 21.  Yet there are many people, when looking at the commandments of Yeshua, will look no further than Gospel passages such as that found in Matthew 22:34-40 or the parallel passage in Mark 12.

Matthew 22:34-40 NKJV 34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" 37 Jesus said to him," 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 "This is the first and great commandment. 39 "And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

Here Yeshua is quoting a passage of scripture that is commonly known as the “Shema”.  It is a central teaching in Judaism and a part of a prayer recited everyday by every observant Jew, both in Yeshua’s day and to this day as well.  It is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Leviticus 19:18.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NKJV 4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 "You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Leviticus 19:18 NKJV 18 'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Yeshua said in verse 40 of Matthew 22 above, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” The primary misunderstanding here is that Yeshua was not expounding His own “new” commandments with this statement, but what He was doing was giving a summation of the entire Torah.  He did this on other occasions as well, such as that found in Matthew 7:12

Matthew 7:12 NKJV 12 "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

In the opening chapter of the Gospel of John, it is clear that Yeshua and the Father are one.  Again think of the Hebrew concept of echad.  The Apostle John writes that Yeshua was with the Father in the beginning, from the foundation of the world!

John 1:1-14 NKJV 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Yeshua IS the living Word of God!  He IS the commandments!  Never once in the New Testament is it recorded that Yeshua taught His disciples to abandon any of the Torah or commandments.  What He fought against was the common practice by the Jewish leaders of adding to the commandments with extra burdens and requirements not found in scripture.  He lived and breathed the Torah day in and day out.  The early believers were keepers of the commandments, just as Yeshua and the Disciples taught them.  This is shown in the Book of Acts where Paul is speaking before the Apostles in Jerusalem.

Acts 21:18-20 NKJV 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, "You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law;

And they were “all zealous for the law (Torah)!”  WOW!  Now if Yeshua had taught His disciples to disregard any of the commandments, then He could not possibly have been the Messiah and the Son of God!  Such actions and teaching would have made Him a liar and a false prophet as defined in the Torah, the Word of God itself.  Something to think about isn’t it?

שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

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