Blood Songs – A Conversation with a Missionary

Blood Songs – a Conversation with a Missionary

 

Missionary – until you see the importance of the blood as well, you’ll miss the point of my preaching (and the Torah’s teaching as well).

Yisroel B. – I don’t deny the importance of the blood – I let God tell me exactly where it fits in.

Missionary – He’s telling you, but you’re saying you can do without it if necessary. You can’t!

Yisroel B. – At the pain of repeating myself – by assuming the blood offerings of scripture were simply done away with and replaced – and never really atoned anyways – that is “honoring” the word of God. But believing that the eternal nature of God’s word requires that they will come back, and yearning and hoping for that day – that is “mocking” the word of God?!

Missionary – I totally and completely differ with this statement, and it goes back to our first talk in PA. I honor the blood sacrifices in a way that you could never imagine, and I recognize that their efficacy in times past ties in directly with the extraordinary power of Messiah’s blood. Let me know how many services you have been in which praises to God are sung because of the power of the blood of the Lamb, the sin-cleansing power of the blood, the life-transforming power of the blood, the guilt-removing power of the blood . . . The list goes on and on and the prayers and songs and thanksgiving goes on and on — because I do not for a moment denigrate the system that God set up, whereas you and your father and his father and his father — for countless generations — can only hope that one day that system will be restored, having lived without it for almost the entire history of Rabbinic Judaism.

Yisroel B. – Your own argument underscores how non-scriptural your position is. You exalt the offerings in a way that God never imagined. There are many songs of praise and thanksgiving in scripture – how many of them praise God for the cleansing power of the blood?

Missionary – Now I feel like you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth. One moment I’m not taking the blood sacrifices seriously enough; now I’m exalting them in ways that God never intended! Tell you what: Ask Moses and Solomon which one of the two of us is getting things wrong.

Yisroel B. – I am being totally consistent – and the songs of praise that you quote prove my point. Each of our positions exalts the blood offerings to a degree and brings them down to a degree

You see my belief that atonement can be achieved without the blood offerings as denigrating them – let us call this point #1

I see your belief that they were replaced with Jesus as denigrating them – #2

You see my belief that these very offerings will be brought back with all of their intricate details as exalting them too much – #3

I see your belief that there is no atonement whatsoever without them as exalting them too much – #4

The fact that your belief inspires you to sing songs about the atoning power of the blood – something that the singers of scripture never do – tells me that I am right on target with point #4 – and it should tell you the same.

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Thank You

Yisroel C. Blumenthal

 

 

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218 Responses to Blood Songs – A Conversation with a Missionary

  1. Blasater says:

    This always seems so odd to me, this Blood emphasis. Stipulating for a minute that a human can be an atonement for all humanity forever (no such thing)….The man from Nazareth suffocated to death. He did not die of rapid blood loss from the neck. What little blood he shed, it was not enough to put in a basin and be carried to the altar for sprinkling. Of course he didnt meet any of the other requirements either…fat and ofal burning,, to be killed at the altar by a Priest etc…but just sticking with the blood….it stayed in his body…it in no way, was it any kind of blood atonement.

  2. naaria says:

    “Blood” must not have been all “that” important, or else there never would have been exceptions to the rules involving “lesser means or methods” to accomplish the same result. Nor would blood from most animals (or humans) have been considered as unacceptable. Nor, beside the type of animal, the condition of the animal, the manner in which the blood was offered, or the time or location of the offering, would not have been of such great concern. The rules would have been quite simple and the offerings would be very highly effective in most cases, because it would have been the “blood” of any living being, that was the only real thing of importance. And the Prophets were quite mistaken about their accusations.

    In the NT gospels (at least in the translation I consulted), the noun “sacrifice” is only mentioned 3 times, so sacrifice itself was not all that important? And because Jesus came “for the sick” and “not for the righteous”, in Matthew we read, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ Not that it was wrong, or “backward”, or unimportant, or ineffective. The parable of the prodigal son teaches that the “dead” can be brought back & accepted by the “Father” by repentance and not by blood. So, agreeing with the Prophets, sacrifice was not that important to Jesus, but repentance and doing what was right was most important. That changed with later apostles & church leaders who did not hear what Jesus spoke (& from whom they seldom quote).

    • naaria says:

      Thus, even on the Day of Purification (BTW, which is not really about worship), it is not really the “means” (or blood, which is only one part of the purification ritual or process) that is important, but it is the goal that is what is important. On that Holy Day, it is not the blood that is important, but the fact that the people are Purified once again, that is important.

      • naaria says:

        And it is important that it is not “done for us”, but that each individual also “does” his/her important part.

        • In a sense, absolutely – this Holy Day of Atonement, in which G-d did happen to repeatedly mention the blood, although the focus was to be HIM – G-d outlined what we were to do. He had already given the Law and His Commandments, and then, knowing mankind would fail, He then provided a sacrificial system that was to happen “every year”…clearly, because mankind would fail year after year.

          Yet on the contrary, G-d expresses repeatedly (AFTER having already given Deuteronomy, the Law, the Sacrificial system, and all the rest) that Israel failed over and over, and in fact never succeeded for any length of time in any of it at all. This of course points to the failure of all humanity and not to Israel’s failure alone because the rest mankind was generally even worse (often far worse!) than Israel. Yet, despite all of this (and despite His emphasizing it repeatedly in chapter after chapter and book after book of the Tanakh), He tells us that He Alone wiped Israel’s sins away when she continued to fail, that He alone was Holy and Intervened when none other was able, and that He Alone is Worthy.

  3. It is absolutely the LORD, and not the blood, who is to be worshipped – and not only for the Holy Day of Atonement that He established (which was indeed a sacrifice for all sin like no other, and for which indeed He allowed no “lesser method” for that Day) but also for His Holiness, His Righteousness, and His everlasting Love. It is because of Who He is in the first place that He provided that Holy Day of Atonement, and it is also because of Who He is that, by recognizing and confessing our sin – the truth in His description of it as He gives over and over throughout the Tanakh – we can see the contrast of His Compassion and intervention in our behalf, as He described in Isaiah 59. In the end, it is all about Him, and His Goodness, and His Kindness, that we fall down to worship HIM – because of Who He is, and not just because of the means by which He chose to cleanse us.

  4. Annelise says:

    To be fair, Christians have that emphasis because they believe that a new event was revealed, a new element of ‘salvation’ that was costly to God, amazing for humanity, and for which He should be praised.

    Yisroel’s point remains solid and clear, though. Such a belief does not follow on naturally from the Hebrew scriptures, it changes their emphasis and asserts a different kind of atonement. These passages regarding the offerings can’t be used as a proof that the ‘new event’ happened, or that the death of one human or another changed the way God had given to Israel to return to Him. They don’t indicate that following this way would not be enough without some future ‘sacrifice for all time’.

    The praise regarding God’s forgiveness in Tanach also doesn’t assume anything like that.

    So the Christian proof would have to come from something else. These claims that a historical man should be worshipped as God, and that the Torah should not be followed in the original way, really do need clear and non-ambiguous proof. Such a thing is not found by drawing patterns and assumptions out of the Temple offerings.

    • Annelise says:

      That is to say: the songs of praise mentioned by the Missionary would make sense if Christianity were true. But they don’t follow on from anything in the Temple system or the things written in Torah about forgiveness. The proof-texting that suggests they do is false. God had already given a complete way for obedience, forgiveness, and return to obedience and closeness with Him, even in a period of exile like the current one. The Jewish community is right to yearn for the reestablishment of those offerings, and in the meantime to press close to the spirit of such gifts to God with all that is in their strength. The restoration of the Temple system will be the last piece of an expression of love and fellowship with God that will fill them with sincerity… a sincerity still available to His people at this time of returning and restoring.

      • Annelise says:

        …the blood songs of Christianity simply have an emphasis that is different (or at least additional) to anything found in the Tanach, and therefore not directly expected or foreshadowed by it.

        • To be fair, there are quite a lot of songs in the Tanakh that reference blood sacrifices, and there are also many, many songs sung that simply praise G-d for Who He Is. That said, some people do indeed put inordinate emphasis on blood itself, instead of on the One and Only through Whom any Goodness and Salvation can be found. Songs of praise should be not only about His Provision but about HIM; it is not only sacrifice that merits such praise but the very essence of Who He Is. His Redemption is merely an outpouring of His Character, even in His willingness to intervene on sinful mankind’s behalf when there was none other who was holy (Isaiah 41:20-29, Isaiah 43:22-25, Isaiah 59:1-20). Throughout Isaiah chapter 48, we see His Love and even His self-sacrificial forbearance…Although He said she was treacherous, a rebel from birth, and with ears that were not opened from birth, ears that did not hear or know (Isaiah 48:3-9), He still called Himself Israel’s Redeemer! It is a G-d like that Who is indeed worthy to be praised…for all that He is, all He has done, and all that He ever will be!

          • Annelise says:

            There are many references to sacrifices in biblical songs, but they are basically in the sense of someone bringing an offering to God because of thankfulness or loyalty to Him. Here are all the relevant verses I can see. Tell me if I missed any. The verses in brackets follow the numbering in Christian translations.
            Deuteronomy 33:19, Jonah 2:10 (9), Micah 6:6-8, 1 Chronicles 16:29, Psalms 4:6 (5), 20:4 (3), 27:6, 40:7-9 (6-8), 50 (numerous verses), 51 (numerous verses), 54:8 (6), 66:13-15, 96:8, 107:22, 116:17-19, 141:2.

            You can hear the basic theme… I think Psalm 51 is the only one that really fits the idea of thanking God for atonement through offerings.

            I feel that you are constantly bringing true and beautiful elements from the Jewish scriptures, which is a good thing… but then in the background of everything you write is a sense that it is all fulfilled in Christianity, or at least that it’s possible to have a New Testament emphasis while also treasuring the truths of the Tanach. My heart is uncomfortable with that, because like I tried to say above… unless you can show that this new system truly is a fulfillment of the earlier scriptures, the fact is that the whole New Testament faith tramples over many precious and important Torah values as they are practiced and preserved in the lives of Torah-observant Jews. Please be careful with the attempt to make inter-faith discussion seem as if both faiths are following Tanach. One group or the other is missing something very important in the message.

          • Annelise says:

            I found a few more by searching different words. Some are just possible references.
            Psalms 22:26 (25), 26:6, 43:4 (3), 61:9 (8), 65:2-5 (1-4), 76:12(11), 116:14, 118:27.

            The verses in Psalm 65 also fit the theme you mentioned.

            It’s not that the atonement through offerings isn’t important to the Israelites, But it’s only mentioned a couple of times out of all the biblical songs of praise for God’s kindness and forgiveness.

          • Annelise,
            I have said nothing about the New Testament; if you carefully read what I wrote, I emphasized that HE is all in all, from Creation to Salvation, and everything in between. What I said with regard to His willingness to intervene when none other but Himself was holy, when none other could, was directly from the Tanakh (Isaiah 41:20-29, Isaiah 43:22-25, Isaiah 59:1-20), and we must be careful to never shun the truth found there. The heart is deceitful above all things – most devious and perverse (Jeremiah 17:9), but HIS Word is truth, and He alone is Holy and Worthy.

            Psalms 51:21 21. “Then You will desire sacrifices of righteousness, a burnt offering and a whole offering; then they will offer up bulls on Your altar.”

            Psalms 96:8 8. “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; carry an offering and come to His courtyards.”

            2 Chronicles 29:27-28 “And Hezekiah said to bring up the burnt-offerings to the altar, and at the time that the burnt-offering commenced, the song of the Lord and the trumpets commenced and by means of the instruments of David, king of Israel. And the entire congregation prostrated themselves, and the song was sung, and the trumpets were sounded; everything [continued] until the completion of the burnt-offerings.”

            1 Kings 8:60-62. “So that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God: there is none else. Let your heart, [therefore], be whole with the Lord our God, to follow His statutes and to keep His precepts as of this day. And the King and all Israel with him slaughtered sacrifices before the Lord.”

            2 Samuel 6:13-15. “And it was when the bearers of the ark of God had trodden six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. And David danced with all his might before the Lord; and David was girded with a linen ephod. And David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of [the] shofar.”

            Those are only a few of the many, many Scriptures that correlate praise with sacrifices. There are literally hundreds of them that either mention slaughtering the sacrifices in the context of joy and praise or else sing / prophecy about sacrificing before G-d. My point in what I said above is that sacrifices were both mentioned and remembered in times of great joy, in praise to the LORD (and they were also remembered when Israel would return to the LORD from sin, repeatedly throughout Scripture, as she acknowledged her sin).

            That said, as I mentioned earlier, it is indeed a mistake if people focus on the blood instead of on the One who is All in All. For He Alone is our Creator (Genesis), our Intercessor (Isaiah), our Redeemer (Isaiah), and the One who Alone is Holy.

          • Annelise says:

            Okay, we’re in agreement on everything you wrote. It is true that the offerings and praise were brought together. But Rabbi Yisroel was talking about songs that actually mention blood; I expanded it to songs that mention sacrifices. So the kind that you quoted are (I think) not relevant to the topic of this blog post.

            We really do agree about a lot of the things you write; there’s almost no debate! But the thing that bothers me is that instead of speaking freely through the terrain of the Hebrew scriptures, you seem to limit or at least focus yourself on verses that could traditionally be taken as highly relevant to the Christian version of how God brings atonement. These verses aren’t proofs of that story but in the New Testament mindset, they illustrate it. I think that you feel they are important not because of the way they are framed in Tanach, but because of the way they’re framed in your tradition. So I feel like your choice of topics and passages is selectively trying to build a mosaic of themes that look like the Christian story.

            The things you’re saying about the passages often aren’t wrong or out of context, and the heart and spirit you catch in them is beautiful. But I object to the cut and paste mosaic that seems to be made in your selection and emphasis. It uses an unproven framework and lens (which, if false, is very skewed in emphasis) as the means of choosing verses and themes, rather than stepping away from that faith system to hear the scriptures and Jewish testimony more freely on their own terms. It’s subtle and it’s not right: if a framework of thought is going to subtly influence the discussion, then it *must* also be brought up to the surface and tested.

            I’m not trying to write in an attacking way because I really like a lot of things in the way you write. I just feel like this matters a lot.

          • Annelise,
            Please keep in mind that my choice of topic and “emphasis” depends on the topic at hand. This means that as I search the Scriptures for myself – and indeed not because I am steeped in any traditions but quite the contrary…I read Scripture with an open heart, with no bent to rejecting what I find there or any view of myself as deserving of G-d’s Holiness – I bring out themes that I see HIM emphasize, over and over…as they relate to what was posted.

            I am sorry if that comes across as a cut-and-paste mosaic, but I assure you, that is not the case. I read the Bible – all of it. And I confront Christians with certain views and perceptions that I feel are unbiblical every bit as much as I bring up anything on this blog. The fact is that I am quoting SCRIPTURE (why should someone wish to shush me and quickly turn from those passages, when they are in fact plainly given to us in the Tanakh?), and the themes that I quote are not issues mentioned in some hidden passage but rather are repeated hundreds, if not thousands of times. To me, such repetition, made by the LORD G-d of Israel, is a clear indication that these are themes that were important to HIM. And I desire that what was so important to Him that He mentioned over and over and over – that He Alone is Holy, that He Alone was the Intercessor, that He alone was the one who could wipe our transgressions away, despite our sin – be as important to me as it is to Him.

          • Annelise says:

            I’m sorry if I am making assumptions about the way you come to where you are.

            We all read within a tradition and a framework… letting the various aspects of the text influence each other, and letting the context in which we accept the text in the first place define it.

            This blog is about looking at the various traditions that each accept Tanach, and seeing which is right.

            I can tell from your posts that when you read “the Bible – all of it”, what you mean is you read the Christian Bible. This makes an impact on the picture you draw out from the Torah, Prophets, and Writings. I believe that this is what people are objecting to, rather than the passages themselves. If you feel that people are running away from passages, though, you need to bring that topic out into the open, including the things outside Tanach itself that you think are involved. This blog is designed to handle conversation like that, and to be honest it needs to be on the surface… otherwise two people are agreeing with each other on a point, but taking different things home from that point. It’s confusing in the context of what you genuinely are bringing as a debate, even though you limit yourself to the points where others agree with you. Again, forgive me if I’m wrong.

          • P.S. As for the verses I mention not being relevant to the blog post…how so? The POINT of the blog post (I think) was the inordinate focus on the blood, right? And one proof of this inordinate focus was songs that focus on the blood.

            In my response, in a nutshell, what I said was – I agree that some do have an inordinate focus on the blood (in fact, I said that several times). However, if songs that focus on the blood are going to be mentioned as “proof” of an inordinate focus on the blood, then I have to be fair and bring up the point that this same focus was also present very often in praise depicted repeatedly in the Tanakh – and in fact to an even stronger degree. In other words, to merely sing words about something is actually much less “focused” on it than actually shedding it (blood) while singing and praising Him. And that did in fact happen repeatedly throughout the Tanakh. So I think my point is relevant.

            That said, I repeat – there are people now (and there were people then) who looked at the Provision G-d made rather than at the One who gave it. And to do so is indeed misguided and wrong – for He alone is our Intercessor, Redeemer, and the All in All who Alone is Holy.

  5. Annelise says:

    I’m replying to your last comment, “P.S. As for the verses I mention”…but thought I would start in a new thread because the comments are getting narrow 🙂

    Rabbi Yisroel is more qualified than I am to reply to the first two paragraphs.

    As to the last paragraph… thanks for writing that. It’s a constant emphasis of the prophets and one we need to constantly remember as well. Pressing close to Him alone, as He calls us on His ways. I want to grow in that.

    • Thank you, Annelise.

      I do also want to say that as I respond to posts, there is no reason for confusion about what I might be getting at or concern that perhaps I’m twisting Scripture. Just read it for yourself and see what it says. I’m not here to convince anyone of my viewpoint or about what I think is emphasized. I merely respond to what I feel is being said, and my emphasis depends on what the emphasis of the topic is in the first place compared with what I feel is emphasized in the Tanakh. (To me, if I read the same thing over and over throughout chapter after chapter (and book after book) of the Tanakh, then what I am reading seems emphasized. And if so, I then feel free to state that.) If you think an emphasis is missing, however, especially in some passage that I quote, then please do contribute it yourself. I love to read what other people are getting from Scripture as they read the same passages I read. I usually read carefully many chapters before and after what I comment on, marking how many times something was said, where else it appears in Scripture, and so forth because I am a stickler for taking a long, hard look at exactly what G-d says regardless of how good or bad it makes me feel. (Ultimately, only the truth matters anyway…and He is Truth.) However, I’m only human, and I’m sure I miss things many times. In any case, I always bring out the points I think were missed, in any conversation. No matter what it is or who I’m speaking with. You could ask my employer about that, and he would verify – LOL.

      Shalom

  6. Annelise says:

    🙂

    You wrote “To me, such repetition, made by the LORD G-d of Israel, is a clear indication that these are themes that were important to HIM. And I desire that what was so important to Him that He mentioned over and over and over – that He Alone is Holy, that He Alone was the Intercessor, that He alone was the one who could wipe our transgressions away, despite our sin – be as important to me as it is to Him.”

    The thing is, the rabbinic perspective agrees. Isaiah 55, especially 6-9…His reason and means of forgiveness are beyond our knowledge. But it is all a gift from Him. We can’t do anything to deserve it. But we can do a lot of things (as He commands) to return to and accept it.

    • Annelise says:

      These themes are also constantly repeated, and considered to be enough:

      When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors. The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you. You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

      • Annelise says:

        PS see if you can get a copy of an Orthodox Jewish prayer book for Yom Kippur… maybe the Artscroll Yom Kippur mazchor (with English translation). I think you’d value reading through it, trying to see what it means to people who believe that forgiveness comes from God according to the Torah but not the New Testament. I know it’s hard to get into that mindset, and you might be left with questions about some of the prayers, but still.

        You would want to keep in mind that people try to hold two things in one hand… the confidence that God as a father will forgive and pour out compassion beyond their means to reach for, and also the desire to fear Him and not assume that He will accept anything less than sincerity.

      • Yes indeed! That passage is, I believe, from Deuteronomy…a passage I love to study (I’ve especially studied Deuteronomy chapters 28-32) — and I agree! I have in the past written out exactly what His promises WERE there, and what they WEREN’T. Basically, His promise was earthly prosperity if Israel would follow Him and earthly punishment (not eternal punishments or rewards) if she did not…and within that same passage, He described exactly what her earthly condition as a nation would look like if she was following Him versus what her condition would be if she was not.

        I find that passage to very much parallel with King Solomon’s prayer… and offerings to the LORD in 2 Chronicles 7.

        What I see, too, as something beautiful about G-d is that even when Israel was in the earthly condition He had already described as being the “not following G-d” condition (and thus not blessed), He STILL loved her enough to identify Himself with her! He still called Himself HER Redeemer and HER Intercessor and the One who wiped HER sins away. That is something else beautiful that I have personally gotten from that passage as I have studied it with the “rest of the story of how that turned out” in Isaiah. 🙂

        Shalom

        • Annelise says:

          I think it’s talking about a real restoration of the whole covenant and the rightness of the nation before God, to be able to serve Him in holiness and please Him. It talks about the blessing and about their hearts being committed to Him, which implies that their breaking of the covenant is forgiven at the time or times of its restoration.

          Amen to what you wrote at the end here! There’s an aspect where God turns away from sinfulness and waits for repentance… but also an aspect of unmerited favour because of the covenant with Abraham.

          • Annelise says:

            Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9 referred to the same passage and linked it with real forgiveness and restoration as well.

          • I think the unmerited favor is because of Who He is as our Redeemer…His Faithfulness to His Covenant with Abraham was indeed an outpouring of that, but in the end, it all comes back to What HE is like as to why He loves us. We saw Israel almost instantly break the two-way Sinai Covenant, yet He remained Faithful…because that is Who He is. We saw that these things in Deuteronomy that were “not beyond the sea” were never accomplished for any lasting period, in these thousands of years, yet He continued to identify Himself with His beloved (even when angry, and even when she was in sin, and even when He clearly describes in no uncertain terms – in Jeremiah chapter 2 and 3, Ezekiel 22 and 23, and many other places – exactly what her behavior was like). Yet He remained Faithful, ever willing to intercede, ever loving her, ever identifying Himself as her Redeemer. And the One to intervene when she could not be faithful and none other could, either. In the end, it is all about Him.

            Amen to Daniel 9. We see there that he claimed no merit at all but trusted wholly in the LORD, and I think that was the place G-d wanted Israel to come to, also, even in Deuteronomy…a place of realizing she had not pleased Him…yet He still did everything on her behalf, in His Great Love.

  7. Annelise says:

    Yes… Daniel 9 mentions a few times things that support what you said about God’s unmerited favour being because of His nature, as well as because of the covenant with Abraham.

    These are two different things; humanity as a whole experiences one aspect, and Jews experience both. I still believe it’s constantly written through the Tanach that we have a responsibility for our own repentance, but ability to do that is a big gift from God. Do you agree? Deuteronomy 30 is about His merciful gift of second chances, and yet it does suggest that the actions and repentance of the people (stirred by Him to return) are necessary. And possible.

    • Annelise says:

      Also, there are times in scripture (especially psalms) when people realise they have pleased God. it’s a beautiful gift to be able to do righteousness, and therefore be near to Him. Every human has already been given that ability… thus the commandments to obey and to repent. We can do them.

      • Well, clearly, no one has ever obeyed them fully – Solomon said this in his prayer, at least, in 1Kings chapter 8 verse 46. This is not to say that our failure to meet G-d’s Holy and Perfect standard (and the failure of every single human being throughout history) is excused, nor does it mean that G-d does not desire obedience. Of course He does – and He provided His commandments for our benefit, not for His.

        I feel that the issue is twofold. First, I do feel it is important to not read into Scripture what isn’t there. For example, G-d is very specific in Deuteronomy about what His promises were if Israel would obey His commands. I often hear people use this as a proof text that it is possible to be without sin, to be forgiven, to inherit eternal life, and the like. Yet none of that is what G-d says in the passage (I am a stickler for what Bible passages actually say). What He actually says is that they will prosper in their earthly condition if they obey, and He clearly tells what exactly that will look like. Does this mean our obedience does NOT please G-d? Of course not. He loves us, and our obedience pleases Him, our trust in Him pleases Him, and our desire to know Him pleases Him. He says this repeatedly throughout Scripture. Nevertheless, it is important to note that where G-d actually specifically mentions restoration to His ways is in passages such as Daniel 9, Nehemiah 9, and others in contexts in which the holiest men of G-d saw themselves as having failed – but as having a G-d who would never fail.

        At the same time, I do agree that our repentance and choice to obey is certainly our responsibility. Not our merit (because every person has failed – in response to which G-d could, technically, cast every one of us away, if He were like that…so where is our merit if, as King Solomon said, none of us is without sin?), but our responsibility. And that is where His Mercy came in, as we see over and over…throughout Isaiah, in the prayers of the holiest men of G-d who were generally also the most humble, and in G-d’s own testimony of Israel’s failure, over and over. Recognizing failure does not mean abandoning obedience or claiming impossibility of obedience; in fact, a person who thinks he can sin without consequences has failed to read the very miserable curses he is inviting…and who knows how far he may go and whether he will have another opportunity to repent and acknowledge G-d’s truth. What recognizing our failure does mean, though, is acknowledging that our ability to please G-d DESPITE our sin is indeed His gift to us and not of our own merit (as Daniel prayed). And once again, it all comes back to Him…our Creator, Intercessor, Redeemer, and the One who loves beyond all understanding.

        • Annelise says:

          We are reading very similarly. I agree with you that we have a responsibility to obey, and I also agree that humans do fail and sin. People who are very close to God know that He delights in their obedience, and they know that they need His forgiveness and help to come closer.

          I want to talk about this in the light of the ‘gospel message’. I believe that all of this was already possible without Jesus. It was already written into the Sinai covenant. Do you agree, and simply feel that in Jesus’ death a part of God’s mysterious forgiveness was now explained? Or do you disagree, and feel that if Jesus had not died and resurrected then something would be missing from our ability to come to God?

          • Annelise says:

            And not just the Sinai covenant for Israelites; I believe the same ability applies for all humans.

          • Hi Annelise,

            You are welcome to talk about any of this in the light of the “gospel message,” but that is not my personal agenda or what I want to do. In my own comments, I want to simply look at the Scriptures for what they say, period. (I hope that doesn’t sound rude; I am just being honest. 🙂 )

            I do have a question, though (that you of course are not obligated to answer unless you wish to do so). I am curious what you refer to in your comment that “all of this” was possible. All of what? Clearly, every single human failed to perfectly keep G-d’s commands, so I am confused about what the “all of this” is that you refer to. What I am seeing in the Scriptures I am reading are:

            1. Failure of mankind – ALL of mankind – to be holy as G-d is holy.

            2. This failure was in spite of EVERY provision G-d gave…from the Law and Commandments in the first place (which He specifically stated were for earthly rewards and punishments and gave clear earthly conditions that would be the result either way) to a sacrificial system that Israel was to do “every year” – in itself a clear indication that G-d already KNEW they would fail the first provision (the Law) or the sacrificial system would not have been necessary in the first place, right?

            3. He listed many, many times in the Tanakh not only a failure to comply in the Law but also a failure to comply in the sacrifices (one example I’ve already mentioned is Isaiah 43:22-25). In fact, we see a plea by some (Hosea and 2 Chronicles, among many others) that He will have mercy and hear their prayer when they fail in even that (the sacrifices)…and we see Him say, over and over, that they have failed in all of the above, too. So now we have failure all around. Yet the beautiful thing is that He STILL identifies with Israel, calling Himself HER Redeemer, HER Intercessor, and HER G-d despite all of that. AND what we see repeatedly throughout the Psalms is only brief rejoicing of righteousness…far, far more often, we see, soon afterward, a contrite heart because of failure with an acknowledgment that it is G-d alone who is Righteous, and a plea for his help because of who He is…and this by a man after G-d’s own heart, as He says in Samuel. And we see this same humility, repentance, and acknowledgment of failure – trusting in G-d’s provision and in who He is despite (not because of) the people we have been in the holiest men of G-d throughout the Bible, so obviously we know what our heart is to be before G-d if we truly seek to be holy as they were.

            So, then, what is “all of this” that we can all accomplish? What it seems that we SHOULD be accomplishing (or seeking to accomplish) is to learn from those who have gone before us (those who have pleased G-d) and recognize in ourselves the same sin and lack of merit that they recognized in themselves, throwing themselves solely on G-d’s Mercy and Compassion. Is any of this about the means G-d chose to use to redeem us? No, it isn’t. It’s about the fact that, throughout Scripture, He identified Himself as our Sole Intercessor when no one else was holy.

          • Annelise says:

            By ‘all of this’ I meant, God gave a road to walk on and in mercy He also gave a way to get back to the road when people stray from it. That’s all part of the Torah. It’s always been possible to come close to God in this way, because forgiveness and the choice to obey, or learn to obey once again, has always been available.

          • Annelise says:

            I just felt like you’re implying that something was missing or lacking. I know what you think that is so I find it really hard when that is driving the conversation but isn’t being specifically discussed.

            Even so, I respect your intentions in this. And I believe it is possible to have a discussion about this point in a way that is within the Tanach only and shows that the process works and is enough as written there.

          • My advice –
            Simply read it for what it says, without worrying about what conclusion it might lead to or what conclusion someone else might draw from the Scripture. It is through a predetermined perspective (despite what Scripture actually says) that leads to error, not the reading the Word.
            Shalom.

  8. naaria says:

    One needs to put things in perspective. First of all, in the beginning, humans were given the task & the abilities and power & freedom to be “masters of a world created for them”, since God needed neither a world nor people? Death was not a “thing” or a “being” as some think (even if it were, God is not controlled by it or sin). We were told to master the world and after we chose wrong, we still could decide to whether we would “pout” like Cain or else chose uplift & master over sin; then & now. “Magic blood” was not primary, choice was, being a “partner with God was & is”.

    The “Day of atonement” is really a “Day of Purification”, which consists of many parts. Cleansing & re-consecration of the Tabernacle & the Priests. Part of the ritual was to symbolically place the “sin that could not be undone’ or the “indestructible” sin, on a live goat to carry it “away from us & hopefully never to return”. Part of the Eternal law of Purification (or At One-ment) for the People, the Israelites, (& which also applied to aliens who did not have to worship the God of Israel) was to fast or deny and to rest. Resting is necessary for atonement, purification.

    Lev 17-26 deals with the “Holiness codes”. Holiness is not only about God, nor is Holiness limited to the Tabernacle or Temple or Priests or the Land. The Israelite people COULD & must attain Holiness (Lev 19 & 20). Holiness is not just about ritual purity or activity, but about social behavior and every sphere of interpersonal relationship.

    What percentage of time should you sit around moaning about past mistakes (which can deteriorate into a self-centeredness or a form of “narcissism” or an escape into “love”) vs. “getting up and doing” the will of God?

    • naaria says:

      There is a time. Like King David praying & fasting for his child while the baby was still alive.

    • How long should one moan about past mistakes? For only as long as it takes to repent and acknowledge that life is about G-d and Who He is, not about us and who we are. We should seek to restore and heal that which we have destroyed or harmed as part of our recognition of our failure and as part of turning to G-d, but the moaning itself should be as short as possible – just long enough to stop focusing on Self as the answer and turn to G-d, who Alone is Holy.

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  10. Yehuda says:

    Freedom,

    You said (again…)

    “This failure was in spite of EVERY provision G-d gave…from the Law and Commandments… to a sacrificial system that Israel was to do “every year” – in itself a clear indication that G-d already KNEW they would fail the first provision (the Law) or the sacrificial system would not have been necessary in the first place, right? ”

    Right.

    And I’m asking your for at least the fifth time, as someone so keen on what the scripture says, please answer these questions directly.

    1) Did the experience of the Babylonian exile and the reaction of the prophets of that time not demonstrate clearly and scripturally that Judaism as defined by its Law could undergo a prolonged interruption in its temple based services and emerge intact with it restored in its original form rather than with it replaced by something unrecognizable? Yes or No?

    2) Despite God knowing all the things you mention about our failures in advance, does He or doesn’t He describe in Deut 30:1-10 an ultimate restoration predicated at least in part upon Israel’s return to observance of the Law. Yes or No?

  11. Yehuda,
    From your remark about this being the “fifth time” it would sound as though I have not responded to your previous questions, when in fact I have responded to every questions from you that I’ve seen. Have you not been reading them, then?

    My short response to these questions is No and No (with Scriptures to explain what I mean and what I find clearly said in the Tanakh). However, there are various aspects to both of these questions/answers, with a partial “yes” to some elements and yet with other factors that show these questions/answers alone are not the whole story…I have to work at the moment, but I will come back later to hopefully give you a more satisfactory and thorough (with Scripture) response. 🙂
    Shalom

  12. Yehuda says:

    Freedom, you indeed responded on the prior occasions but your responses tended to avoid the issues.

    As to your No and No, I look forward to your explanations of how your “No” responses fit squarely within the simple meaning of the topics I asked about and the scriptures I cited, with what I expect will be the same intra-chapter scriptural limitations you continue to insist are key to your understanding of Yom Kippur. Put differently, I expect not only to hear what you find “clearly said in tanach” but what you see clearly said in Deuternomy 30 in particular just as you continue to tell us what you find clearly said in Leviticus 16.

    Here’s the problem when you say “However, there are various aspects to both of these questions/answers, with a partial “yes” to some elements and yet with other factors that show these questions/answers alone are not the whole story…” you are already laying the groundwork for what I do not doubt will be a extensive treatise of your theology. But when we on this blog continue to say to you that the Leviticus 16 in the not the whole story of atonement you have been unwilling to go outside of Lev 16. So that’s Why I’m reiterating that if you want you response to be taken seriously to it will have to result in an understanding that when God said in Deut 30 that he will restore us when:

    30:2: “you shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and hearken to His voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul”

    and

    30:8 “And thou shalt return and hearken to the voice of the LORD, and do all His commandments which I command thee this day.”

    and

    30:10: “if thou shalt hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law; if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul.”

    and

    30:14 “But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it”

    That he was not saying what I assert he is saying.

    As for your “no” to point 1. That is interesting because in a prior post your more or less conceded the point and reframed your real concern with why Jews don’t seem to be as concerned with the restoration of the old order as was Ezekiel and Daniel.

    Here were your exact words

    “Yes indeed – G-d certainly does say that Yom Kippur was permanent and yet there were periods of time when prophets lived in a world when the service was interrupted. I am sorry I must have missed that question before (I thought I responded to that in another post by responding that – yes, those prophets indeed were unable to perform Yom Kippur, but unlike what I hear today, THOSE prophets did indeed place immense importance on it. …but I have to honestly say that in general I hear very little about its significance or about the desire to reestablish it. And I have spoken with many, many rabbis.”.

    Anyway. Looking forward.

    • Hi Yehuda,
      So many things to address! I shall try to be brief, but we both I may do a poor job of that, and you may have to, as usual, summarize my points for me. 
      1. You said a) Did the experience of the Babylonian exile and the reaction of the prophets of that time not demonstrate clearly and scripturally that Judaism as defined by its Law could undergo a prolonged interruption in its temple based services and emerge intact with it restored in its original form rather than with it replaced by something unrecognizable? Yes or No?
      And in response to my answer that the short version is “no” but there are elements to which a partial “yes” applies, you said this:
      “As for your “no” to point 1. That is interesting because in a prior post you more or less conceded the point and reframed your real concern with why Jews don’t seem to be as concerned with the restoration of the old order as was Ezekiel and Daniel.”

      What I was responding to previously (or thought I was responding to) was whether Yom Kippur could be considered permanent if there were interruptions. I said yes to that. I see this question today, however, as a very different one – Did “everything” (the entire system of Judaism and Jewish beliefs) emerge in its original form exactly as it had been before? – and to THAT, my response is basically no, with elements of a partial yes. Why? For several reasons. One is that between the time the original system was established (first the Law, then the sacrificial system), and Israel’s restoration from Babylonian captivity, G-d provided quite a bit of additional information—including His outright statement in Isaiah 48:6-8 that He was telling Israel NEW things…things she had not known, and that her ears were not opened of old.

      He also gave prophetic messages in between those two time periods (the Leviticus/Deuteronomy time period and the restoration time period after Babylon) through Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Micah, and many other prophets about the future and actually TOLD us what the “end of the story” would be for Israel—information that Israel had not had in the Deuteronomy days. I could include many, many excerpts here, but suffice it to list a few: Isaiah 4:2-6 and 59:12-16, Ezekiel 39:23-29, Micah chapters 3 and 4, Hosea 2:8-23, and so on. There are literally over a hundred passages that state the same thing: Israel’s immense sin, but G-d’s redemption of her, washing her sins away for His Own Name’s sake.

      So, did the “experience of the prophets” indeed demonstrate that Israel’s future, G-d’s Word, and Judaism as an entire belief system emerged unchanged? No, it did not. Nor did the Babylonian experience demonstrate that, for that matter, because it was precisely DURING the Babylonian experience that G-d provided many prophecies that did in fact clearly state that things would NOT one day be as they had been and that gave insights Israel had never before known.
      Does this imply that Israel suddenly no longer had the responsibility to obey, repent, offer sacrifices, and all the rest? No it does not. And that is the partial yes.
      You also asked the following:
      2) Despite God knowing all the things you mention about our failures in advance, does He or doesn’t He describe in Deut 30:1-10 an ultimate restoration predicated at least in part upon Israel’s return to observance of the Law. Yes or No?
      No, because we already KNOW exactly how it is all going to end through the many, many prophecies provided throughout the Tanakh since that time, which is something the Israelites of Deuteronomy did not have. We see throughout Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, Haggai, and many more (such as Hosea 2:8-23 and the others I already listed above, plus quite a number of other passages that say the same thing) that the ultimate restoration is not in fact predicated upon Israel’s return to observance of the Law but rather the exact reverse. Israel will be exceedingly sinful, and G-d will redeem her and wash her sin away (Isaiah 4:4). After that – after He has already interceded in her behalf and has already cleansed her – she will return to Him and His ways.

      He indeed describes a beautiful option of returning to the LORD throughout the passage you cited (Deuteronomy 30), but it is important to keep on reading the rest of the story. And through that rest of the story (with the prophecies already provided that tell us what will happen in the future), we see G-d’s eternal love, mercy, and redemption despite Israel’s sin, not a restoration that took place because of Israel’s faithfulness to the Torah.

      • Yehuda says:

        Freedom,

        More to come on the topic. But briefly, you are again dodging the real thrust of my point in question number 1 and you are doing so by blurring the distinction between my question two questions, as if by imposing your answer to number 2 on number 1 you are somehow addressing them both.

        And on number two you ignored a couple of very important words that I deliberately included when I posed the question.

        More to come.

        Peace.

        • Yehuda,
          I am not dodging anything; I am specifically looking at passage after passage in which G-d has specifically already told us what will happen in the restoration. And that clear message from G-d is that He will restore Israel in the middle of her sin, washing her from filth, not a restoration that will take place because of Israel’s faithfulness to the Torah. The question is – are you dodging HIS message?

          You may deliberately include whatever words you wish to include, even if for the purpose of slanting the situation in a way you want it slanted, but G-d gave us His Entire Word as His Message, and one you would do well to read thoroughly. HE has deliberately included THOSE Words, and I think that is what matters.

          Shalom

          • Yehuda says:

            As I said more to come especially on item 2.

            But I will now briefly point out about what I meant in your dodge of question 1.

            You have now twice insisted that you are responding to question 1 with the following:

            “I am specifically looking at passage after passage in which G-d has specifically already told us what will happen in the restoration. And that clear message from G-d is that He will restore Israel in the middle of her sin, washing her from filth, not a restoration that will take place because of Israel’s faithfulness to the Torah.”

            Which by the way is virtually identical to your answer to my question 2. Why you think the same words answer both of those different questions is a bit of a mystery .

            By contrast here is the question 1 I actually asked,

            “Did the experience of the Babylonian exile and the reaction of the prophets of that time not demonstrate clearly and scripturally that Judaism as defined by its Law could undergo a prolonged interruption in its temple based services and emerge intact with it restored in its original form rather than with it replaced by something unrecognizable? Yes or No?”

            Now let’s again look at latest summary response:

            “”I am specifically looking at passage after passage in which G-d has specifically already told us what will happen in the restoration. And that clear message from G-d is that He will restore Israel in the middle of her sin, washing her from filth, not a restoration that will take place because of Israel’s faithfulness to the Torah.”

            – I see nothing addressing my question about the plausibility of a prolonged interruption of the sacrificial system followed by it’s restoration..

            – I see nothing addressing my assertion that Judaism emerges from such an interruption with its Law essentially intact

            – And I see nothing about the absence of so much as a hint that the original Law would be replace by something “unrecognizable”.

            Instead you proceeded to answer a recast question of your own device – and you pretty much said so. I quote:

            “I see this question today, however, as a very different one – Did “everything” (the entire system of Judaism and Jewish beliefs) emerge in its original form exactly as it had been before?”

            That, my friend is not what I asked. It is simply what YOU prefer to talk about. I said nothing about Judaism emerging exactly identical. Clearly new experiences and new prophecies are going to render things unexact. I asked whether the result would be “unrecognizable” – which is what Chrsitianity and its complete abrogation of the Law are relative to Judaism. And to that you responded by first changing my question to suit your answer and perhaps more importantly by admitting the following:

            “Does this imply that Israel suddenly no longer had the responsibility to obey, repent, offer sacrifices, and all the rest? No it does not. And that is the partial yes”

            The only thing partial about that :yes” its that it was only partially relevant to the question YOU asked. It is however directly relevant to the 3 aspects of the question I DID ask. So I thank you for the corroboration.

          • Yehuda,
            Again, I am not dodging anything. In my response (which, by the way, was not what you quoted below) to #1, I answered #1 first, and then realized that same answer also applied very much to #2, just as two questions asked with the same intent / tone tend to have elements of the same response. Here again:

            You:
            – I see nothing addressing my question about the plausibility of a prolonged interruption of the sacrificial system followed by it’s restoration.

            OK, where exactly does the prolonged interruption of the sacrificial system, followed by its restoration, appear in your original question? I have already previously answered that precise question at least two or three times in the past, if you are referring to Yom Kippur, the Holy Day of Atonement that G-d established for all sin, and the many personal sacrifices He also established. However, if you are saying now that THAT is what you were really asking about (again), then let me restate the element in my previous answer that already addressed it: “Does this imply that Israel suddenly no longer had the responsibility to obey, repent, offer sacrifices, and all the rest? No it does not. And that is the partial yes.”

            You:
            – I see nothing addressing my assertion that Judaism emerges from such an interruption with its Law essentially intact.

            Did you indeed miss that? I said, “So, did the “experience of the prophets” indeed demonstrate that Israel’s future, G-d’s Word, and Judaism as an entire belief system emerged unchanged? No, it did not. Nor did the Babylonian experience demonstrate that, for that matter, because it was precisely DURING the Babylonian experience that G-d provided many prophecies that did in fact clearly state that things would NOT one day be as they had been and that gave insights Israel had never before known.”

            In other words, if in fact G-d provided NEW information about His plans for Israel between Deuteronomy and the interruption (which He said He did), then has nothing changed at all? How sad if you believe so. Judaism is not just about Deuteronomy 30; it is about ALL of G-d’s Word as He revealed Himself, His plans for Israel, and Who He Is as the G-d of Israel. If you believe nothing changed in Judaism through G-d’s gift of additional Scriptures, additional prophecies, and additional knowledge of Israel’s future (some of which did in fact happen precisely during the interruption), then that is indeed sad.

            You:
            – And I see nothing about the absence of so much as a hint that the original Law would be replace by something “unrecognizable”.

            OK, I can see where perhaps you didn’t glean something DIRECTLY addressing that, although I did say this:, “One is that between the time the original system was established (first the Law, then the sacrificial system), and Israel’s restoration from Babylonian captivity, G-d provided quite a bit of additional information—including His outright statement in Isaiah 48:6-8 that He was telling Israel NEW things…things she had not known, and that her ears were not opened of old.”

            I thought the deduction from the facts should be obvious from that, but since they aren’t, let me elaborate:
            Had the original Law included the “NEW” information that G-d Himself He was giving Israel? No? Do you think the Israelites of Deuteronomy would have “recognized” some of the additional information given to Daniel (such as Daniel chapter 7, among others) as relating to them?
            Did G-d not say Himself in Isaiah 48 that He was now telling them NEW things? Yes or no? And were these things in addition to the Law or merely restatements of the Law? If G-d Himself said in that passage that Israel “had not known” them and that her ears “were not opened of old,” then how does that, in your mind, equate to everything being recognizable as it previously had once been?
            Finally, the Law you mentioned was, in context (I think) what appears before and after and in Deuteronomy 30 – or at least that was what I thought you were referring to. As such, there indeed were hints that things would change from what people would have previously expected from the original Law. From looking ONLY at Deuteronomy 30, in other words, one might think G-d was saying this would be the way Israel would one day be restored. But during the time of interruption (which, you must remember, extended beyond merely the captivity in Babylon, because G-d had ALREADY through many prophets clearly said that the people had forsaken His Laws and His Sacrifices), we were given Scriptures that clearly tell us Israel will NOT be restored through faithfulness to the Torah. I’ve already quoted Scripture after prophetic Scripture that tell us exactly that.
            As for the term “replaced”? For you to ask me to defend that is to operate on a false premise to start with, because I never said (and don’t believe) that the Law was replaced by something unrecognizable. That is your words, not mine. I said G-d provided new information and additions of what exactly will be the rest of the story with regard to Israel’s future, Israel’s relationship with G-d, and new information G-d gave – so don’t ask me to defend YOUR beliefs.

            Thank you, and shalom. 🙂

          • Yehuda says:

            Thank you Freedom,

            I will first reiterate that I am not yet dealing with my earlier question number 2 and your responses to it. Despite the fact that you see them as directly intertwined, I do not. I am for now, focusing on distilling the relevant points from your latest response where you indeed made an effort to address the elements of my first first question directly rather than indirectly or as circumspect afterthoughts. So here goes

            Me::
            – I see nothing addressing my question about the plausibility of a prolonged interruption of the sacrificial system followed by it’s restoration.

            You:
            “…if you are saying now that THAT is what you were really asking about (again), then let me restate the element in my previous answer that already addressed it: “Does this imply that Israel suddenly no longer had the responsibility to obey, repent, offer sacrifices, and all the rest? No it does not. And that is the partial yes.”

            Conclusion: We are in agreement that an interruption in the sacrificial order neither contradicts its restoration or implies anything about Israel no longer having a responsibility to obey the law.

            Next:
            Me:
            – I see nothing addressing my assertion that Judaism emerges from such an interruption with its Law essentially intact.

            You
            Did you indeed miss that? I said, “So, did the “experience of the prophets” indeed demonstrate that Israel’s future, G-d’s Word, and Judaism as an entire belief system emerged unchanged?

            Me (new)
            Again I never said “unchcnaged” I said “essentially intact” and I can only assume that your answer to the first point about the ongoing responsibility to obey the Law agrees with that even if you believe that new information was imparted. If you continue to have difficulty with this distinction, let me rephrase the question a little. Do you see anything in the Babylonian exile experience or the prophets reaction to it that would have led the Jews to imagine that their obligations vis-a-vis the Law has or would dramatically change.

            Lastly,

            Me:
            – And I see nothing about the absence of so much as a hint that the original Law would be replace by something “unrecognizable”.

            You.
            “…:between the time the original system was established (first the Law, then the sacrificial system), and Israel’s restoration from Babylonian captivity, G-d provided quite a bit of additional information—including His outright statement in Isaiah 48:6-8 that He was telling Israel NEW things…things she had not known, and that her ears were not opened of old.” Did G-d not say Himself in Isaiah 48 that He was now telling them NEW things? Yes or no? And were these things in addition to the Law or merely restatements of the Law?

            Me (new)

            Yes, Isaiah does use those words doesn’t he. And do you really take them to mean
            that he was imparting that Judaism was to become something the Jew would not recognize vis-a-vis the Sinai covenant with God? Something that would abrogate the Law for instance? Or other things which while perhaps previously unknown, would be “unrecognizable” or contradictory to the basic framework of Judaism? You often criticize taking selected verses out of context, Just because something is “NEW” doesn’t make it unrecognizable. Please elaborate on precisely how the NEW things spoken of in Isaiah 48:6-8 served to do anything of the sort.

            So in a nutshell, All I have really been driving at is a clear concise assertion that the status of exile including an interruption of all sacrificial service, does not equate to, require, or even suggest a change in the Jew’s interrelationship with God and the Law. And given that you have now said at least twice in this context ” “Does this imply that Israel suddenly no longer had the responsibility to obey, repent, offer sacrifices, and all the rest? No it does not”, it would seem you agree

            The balance of your comments about Deut 30 are about my second question and as I have said I will address separately although It may have to wait until after the weekend.

            Yes he did

            :

          • Yehuda says:

            Sorry. Some stray words at the end of last post

          • There is an important distinction between what you are saying and what I am saying. Allow me to summarize.
            You: The LAW and Jews’ obligations to it on a personal level remained unchanged.

            I agree.

            HOWEVER

            Me: JUDAISM did in fact develop over time. The LAW did not change, but JUDAISM did. You are blurring the distinction between them, when in fact they are quite different. I am stating in a most forthright manner that JUDAISM underwent quite a number of radical changes (in the amount of information, new prophecies, and new declarations from G-d – thousands of them – that Israel now had…and most often rejected, unfortunately) since the Sinai experience. And these changes did in fact lead to new expectations as well as to new understanding of what would occur with Israel – most of that unknown at the writing of Deuteronomy 30.

            The fact that many of these changes did in fact take place during the “interruption” (which, again, took place far before the actual exile to Babylon, because Israel was continually forsaking G-d), true Judaism (the Jew tuned to what else G-d has said about Israel’s relationship with Him and what will occur with that) does not stop at Deuteronomy 30. It reads on.

            And in reading on, we see that the Law (your application of it – Deut, 30) was not in fact G-d’s prophecy of Israel’s Restoration, nor was He saying it would occur in that way … we know this because since that time, He gave dozens of prophecies that state exactly what the Restoration WILL look like, which will be G-d cleansing Israel from her sin and filth BEFORE she is adhering to the Torah.

            Shalom

          • P.S. There is one other distinction, I think, between the perspective you are speaking from and my own (if I understand you correctly).

            You are saying the Law remains a way for individuals to know G-d’s forgiveness and intimacy with G-d, are you not? Or what exactly are you saying the Law accomplishes (i.e., what are G-d’s promises regarding what will happen if one fulfills the Law, and what exactly does fulfillment entail — if one breaks any of these hundreds of laws, can he still be considered to be fulfilling it, in other words?)

            I am saying G-d’s promises throughout Deuteronomy deal primarily with national prosperity/exile, not with a personal relationship with G-d, and it is important to always consider not only the entire context but also what G-d DID and DID NOT promise in the passage.

            This is not to say there cannot be personal application (i.e., we see here what righteous living looks like), or even application to other societies outside of Israel (i.e., if I seek G-d’s blessing for my society, I must be willing to acknowledge and seek His ways – and encourage others in my society to call truth and lies, good and evil, what they are, too). However, the primary context there was inhabitance of the land (chapter 27), what this would look like for Israel as a nation (chapter 28), and how she could come back to her land and again prosper if she failed.

            It was not a prophecy that Israelites would enjoy a deep, intimate relationship with G-d through obeying the Torah. We already know what the conditions of the Final Restoration will be from the later prophecies G-d gave us. Obedience to the Torah, as well as the heart change, will prophetically come after G-d has already shown unmerited mercy and has Himself changed those hearts that were not in fact seeking him. I’m sure you know the passages…He will write His Laws on our hearts…
            Shalom

          • Yehuda says:

            Thank you again Freedom.

            As we continue to distill precisely where we differ allow me to pick up on your latest post. I’m also going to continue to defer for the moment on the topic of Deut 30 and your understanding how it fits, for later.

            So it would then seem that you are agreeing to my proposition that”

            “…the Law and Jews’ obligations to it on a personal level remained unchanged.”

            Excellent.

            But you also assert that:

            “…JUDAISM underwent quite a number of radical changes (in the amount of information, new prophecies, and new declarations from G-d – thousands of them – that Israel now had…and most often rejected, unfortunately) since the Sinai experience. And these changes did in fact lead to new expectations as well as to new understanding of what would occur with Israel – most of that unknown at the writing of Deuteronomy 30.”… You also foresee Jews ultimately “adhering to the Torah”

            So again, putting aside Deut 30 for the moment, could I ask you to clarify two points:

            1) Have individual Jews since Sinai through today ever been or will they ever be released from their individual obligation to observe the of the Torah? It would seem that you are answering “No” to this question.

            2) If I am correct about your position on number 1, could you then give me one or two examples of the “radical changes” that Judaism has undergone since Sinai. And let me make a point. If one of the things you mention is the destruction of the Temple and suspension of the sacrificial order, I will agree with you but again remind you in advance that such disruptions do not in themselves “…imply that Israel suddenly no longer had the responsibility to obey, repent, offer sacrifices, and all the rest…” to use your words.

            Peace and Solemn Shabbat.

          • Yehuda says:

            …and as to your PS about what exactly I think the Law accomplishes in terms of a relationship with God. I think King David dealt with that better than I ever could in Psalm 119…

            Signing off for Shabbat. Peace.

          • Hi again, Yehuda,
            This has gotten very narrow, but we shall continue. 🙂
            You said:
            1) Have individual Jews since Sinai through today ever been or will they ever be released from their individual obligation to observe the Torah? It would seem that you are answering “No” to this question.

            The short answer is no. Every person who breaks the Law is and continues to be individually accountable to G-d. The longer answer is that G-d speaks through the prophets of writing His Laws on the hearts of man, in a context of Israel’s exceeding sinfulness yet His Goodness in meeting her where she is and cleansing her. One such chapter is Jeremiah 31.
            In many Scriptures, He mourns that Israel at times follows the form but not the heart. We see that in the final restoration, He will do the work for her of pulling her from her sin and giving her a new heart. Then she will finally be able to do what she has never before accomplished – because of HIS work in her heart for HIS Name’s Sake. I say “never before accomplished” because there has always been the necessity of the sin offering – meaning, obviously, that she has never been without sin (and thus, obviously, has never fully observed the Torah).

            You said:
            2) If I am correct about your position on number 1, could you then give me one or two examples of the “radical changes” that Judaism has undergone since Sinai. And let me make a point. If one of the things you mention is the destruction of the Temple and suspension of the sacrificial order, I will agree with you but again remind you in advance that such disruptions do not in themselves “…imply that Israel suddenly no longer had the responsibility to obey, repent, offer sacrifices, and all the rest…” to use your words.

            Thank you for recalling my words. 🙂 Yes, the destruction of the Temple is one issue. However, there were quite a number of prophecies that, to me at least, seem quite radical. One is that while Hosea said the people would be without king and without sacrifice because of sin (Hosea 2, 3, and 4…culminating in chapter 13), he later says in chapter 14:3 that they should take words to the LORD and ask that He forgive their sin and that they be allowed to offer their lips [that which comes from the lips]. This is in the context of the last days, following chapter 13.

            Does it not seem like a radical change to you that they will be told to ask to be able to offer of their lips instead of the atonements G-d had established “for all time”?

            Because earlier, though G-d did indeed at times mention that the sacrifice itself was not what He desired but rather a broken and crushed heart, such as in Psalms 51, it was clear from the context (the final verse of the same chapter) that after these things were aright, bulls would indeed be offered.
            Psalms 51:21. Then You will desire sacrifices of righteousness, a burnt offering and a whole offering; then they will offer up bulls on Your altar.

            Thus, I find this somewhat radical – because G-d’s Laws and Sacrifices were established for all time, were they not?

            Perhaps in that same vein is that G-d will, as Jeremiah 31 and other passages note, make a new covenant with them, writing His law in their heart and giving them a new heart, at which time everyone will know Him. The knowledge of this immensely different formation of events is, to me, rather radical.

            Also quite radical are the visions of Daniel, including what the last days would look like.

            Also radical are the prophecies of Ezekiel in chapters 43-48 in which he was carried into the inner court where the LORD told him that here was where the soles of His feet would be forever. There he saw the prince who would eat bread before the LORD and to whom would be allotted the holy portion of the land in the midst of the tribes’ allotted portions (48:21) “And the remainder shall be for the prince – on either side of the offering of the Sanctuary and of the possession of the city – alongside 25,000 of the offering until the border to the east and to the west, alongside 25,000 until the western border, opposite the portions, shall belong to the prince; and the offering of the Sanctuary and the Sanctuary of the House shall be in its midst.”

            All of these visions and prophecies and further insights (and many more, but I must depart for now) define for me radical changes. This is not to say that G-d’s Laws do not remain G-d’s Laws (else why did He give them in the first place?) but rather that Judaism did not, in fact, remain essentially as it always had been. For with new (and radical) information and understanding of G-d’s ways, including the prophecy of a new covenant and a new heart and a new way of recording His Laws within them, come ears and eyes that, if opened, see and hear things of G-d’s love and goodness and work in mankind that they never before saw and heard – and we cannot help but be changed by it.

          • Yehuda says:

            Freedom,

            Let me thank you again, for the time and energy you are putting into this. For the moment, briefly, I’d like to make sure I am understanding your last response to my question about the applicability of the law to Jews.

            So am I correct that in your understanding of Tanakh there is absolutely nothing that I, as a Jew, could do today or even in the next week perhaps, that would free me from the prohibition against eating pork and permit me to freely partake of a ham sandwich. Am I understanding you correctly?

          • Yehuda,
            Thank you as well. Not only is there absolutely nothing you can do to free yourself from the the prohibition against eating pork, but there is likewise nothing you can do to free yourself from the obligation to adhere to fulfill all of the hundreds of laws as G-d gave them – some of the basic ones of which are that you not add to it, whether in writing or through interpretation (Deut. 13:1). Aish.com translates Deut. 31:19 to mean that you write a letter-perfect scroll of the Torah for yourself (Deut. 31:19). Other basic commands from which you cannot free yourself are that you put tzitzit on the corners of your clothing (Num. 15:38), that you bind tefillin on your head and arms (Deut. 6:8), that you not wrong anyone in speech (Lev. 25:17), that you not bear a grudge but rather love your fellow as yourself (Lev. 19:18), that you proactively take care of the poor, lending to them and not demanding repayment if they cannot (multiple verses in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy), and at the end of every seven-year period, you are to cancel all debts (Deuteronomy 15:1). Yo are also to love the stranger and likewise not wrong the stranger in speech (Deuteronomy 10:19, Exodus 22:20). Also, a husband is to devote himself to his wife and her needs for the first year of marriage (Deuteronomy 24:5), marry the widow of a brother who has died childless. You are also to discuss every year at Passover all that the LORD did for you at the Exodus (Exodus 12, Exodus 13:8). All of these and many, many more are laws from which you cannot free yourself. They are all good laws from the LORD.

            Now, I want to note that in responding to my question about the Law by saying King David answers it better than you ever could in Psalms 119, you did not actually answer my question at all, which was: “Or what exactly are you saying the Law accomplishes (i.e., what are G-d’s promises regarding what will happen if one fulfills the Law, and what exactly does fulfillment entail — if one breaks any of these hundreds of laws, can he still be considered to be fulfilling it, in other words?)”
            I, too, love Psalms 119, and since childhood one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible is and has been Psalms 119:165 “There is abundant peace to those who love Your Torah, and they have no obstacle.”
            But that does not answer my question. For if you know the Torah, you know that it contains hundreds of laws – from foods to business practices to treatment of the needy, and many many more. According to King Solomon, there is no man who does not sin – no one who completely fulfills the Torah, in other words. And that same truth is clear from the fact that sin sacrifices were necessary, in the first place – G-d would not have needed to provide an atonement “for all sin…for all time” if people could simply fulfill the Torah. In fact, did not G-d even explicitly state the high priest himself – the person who was hopefully the holiest, or one of the holiest, people in all of Israel – must FIRST offer a sacrifice for his own sins every single year? In other words, does this not say that there would be no man who would be without sin – that even the holiest people in Israel would not go even one year without sinning against the LORD?
            So, again – did any person, including the holiest of all, ever fulfill the Law?

          • Yehuda says:

            Thank your for your response.

            As to your latest clarification, let me try to cut to the heart of it. You ask?

            “My question…was: “Or what exactly are you saying the Law accomplishes (i.e., what are G-d’s promises regarding what will happen if one fulfills the Law, and what exactly does fulfillment entail — if one breaks any of these hundreds of laws, can he still be considered to be fulfilling it, in other words?)”

            Yes. Because clearly as you say while no human ever fulfilled the law to perfection, there were clearly times in history, for example during portions of the period of the Judges, David, and Solomon, when the blessings of the Torah promised for “fulfilling the Torah were indeed being bestowed upon the Jewish people. If the Jewish people were never in any state other than the cursed state described by the Torah for its violation, they would never have known any peace. The facts of that history force us to accept that God’s notion of fulfillment allows for something less than absolute perfect fulfillment.

            and then you continued

            “According to King Solomon, there is no man who does not sin – no one who completely fulfills the Torah, in other words. And that same truth is clear from the fact that sin sacrifices were necessary, in the first place – G-d would not have needed to provide an atonement “for all sin…for all time” if people could simply fulfill the Torah.
            So, again – did any person, including the holiest of all, ever fulfill the Law?”

            As I explained above. no

            But let’s take a moment to examine this idea that God commanded fulfillment of the Law while also providing for procedures for atonement from sin. Indicating that no one could ever fulfill the law perfectly. You seem to have this odd (and Christian) notion that the only thing one can conclude from that is that the God was pointing to an ultimate reality that would teach us of our irredeemable sinfullness and futility to even entertain the idea that we could fulfill the law TO THE EXTENT EXPECTED.

            Sadly, that again, is nothing other than your Christian orientation reading into the Torah what is simply not there. In your mind the idea that God commands us to fulfill the law but also provides for sin atonement can only be read logically by understanding God to be tweaking us over a period of centuries into a realization that we are hopeless vis-a-vis the law. The far more obvious, logical, and textual reading (at least to the unbiased reader) is the one Judaism has always subscribed to which is that God’s expectation was never about perfection but about making the best human effort, recognizing that we WILL have failures. THIS is the expression of his mercy that he articulated to Moses in Exodus 34:6-7

            And then of course there is Deuteronomy 30:11-14 where God makes the emphatic point that fulfillment of the law – whatever that may mean to Him – is absolutely within our reach.

            Did God lie about this?

            When in Deuteronomy 10:12-13 Moses said to Israel: And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul; to keep for thy good the commandments of the LORD, and His statutes, which I command thee this day?

            Was Moses in on the joke?

            When God instructed us in Deut 6:25 to teach our children ” And it shall be righteousness unto us, if we observe to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as He hath commanded us.’ was this all followed by God pausing and uttering a comical ironic “NOT” followed by heavenly laughter.

            Was the entire Sinai revelation asking us to obey nothing other than an elaborate staging designed to set us up so we could be mocked centuries later. And surely this isn’t because God didn’t know of our future sins. He knew of it and said all these things anyway? In all these verses and many more, Was God doing nothing but playing malevalent games with our heads so that centuries later he laugh at our silliness in thinking we had an ability to even think of “fulifilling” our obligations.

            THAT is how you see God. Frankly, it’s insulting to God. But mostly it is sad. Sad that Christianity took the merciful God of the Torah and recast him in this very dark way.

            Fortunately this is not the God of Tanach. Yes the prophets do repeatedly speak of God’s plan to redeem us DESPITE our sin and for the sake of HIS name. The point being the repeated emphasis that despite that fact that we have broken our end of the covenent, God will never break his thus sanctifying HIS name as the the ultimate posessor of reliable faithfulness. Because in his mercy he promises that our sins will never utterly doom us because he is all about the mercy described in Exodus 34. That however has absolutely nothing to do with our ongoing obligation – as you repeatedly acknowledge – to pursue repentance and obey the Law. Do we ultimately have to rely fully on God’s mercy? Of course we do.I’m not sure why you think that notion is so alien to Judaism.

            So what does obeying the Law accomplish? It accomplishes His will. And that’s enough reason for us.

            Lastly, and for sake of simple honesty, can we drop this silly charade that you are not Christian. It’s accomplishing nothing other than perpetuating a continuing insult to our intelligence. And besides, you blew your cover at least twice with the following sarcastic jabs at yourpharissefriend:

            1) “You have just defined intercession, so quite honestly, I’m not sure what you are getting at – unless you are afraid of the term and worried about what it could mean”

            2) “With regard to Ezekiel 13, I am glad that you acknowledged that Ezekiel was not directly referring to Jesus (or His followers) because if he had been, then we would have to consider which other Tanakh Scriptures might be referring to Jesus – right?”

            So let’s knock it off shall we?

          • Larry says:

            Thank you Yehuda for that last post. Freedom has cleaned up his act for the most part, but the push is the same.

          • Yehuda,
            In response to whether the Law was ever fully fulfilled, you said: “Yes. Because clearly as you say while no human ever fulfilled the law to perfection, there were clearly times in history, for example during portions of the period of the Judges, David, and Solomon, when the blessings of the Torah promised for “fulfilling the Torah were indeed being bestowed upon the Jewish people. If the Jewish people were never in any state other than the cursed state described by the Torah for its violation, they would never have known any peace. The facts of that history force us to accept that God’s notion of fulfillment allows for something less than absolute perfect fulfillment.”
            From which Scripture do you conclude that Israel fulfilled the Law based on the prosperity during the times of David, Solomon, and others? If they had fully fulfilled the Law, why did they still need to bring sacrifices? And which of the “all” things referenced throughout Deuteronomy 30 and the preceding chapters did they actually have to keep, and which of the “all” things did G-d not really mean? For example, did David fulfill the Torah when he committed adultery and then murder? What about when King Solomon turned away from G-d after marrying many wives? I ask this in response to your implication that, actually, Israel was only expected “to fulfill the law TO THE EXTENT EXPECTED.” What was that extent?
            And no, I most certainly do not see G-d in the ways you described above, of basically setting forth a huge joke, which Moses was in on, while setting Israel up for failure. What I think is He explained carefully what the “merit” system would entail, and what a “holy people” would look like. None of that would include adultery (as committed by David and many others), murder (as committed repeatedly by David and many others- even of the prophets of G-d who foretold the truth of doom), turning away from G-d (as did King Solomon) or any of those other things that happened throughout even the periods of prosperity.
            While G-d’s laws are good and righteous and perfect, in fact Israel HAS NEVER ONCE FULFILLED THEM; again – the question of which of the “ALL” these things listed throughout the Torah really mattered?
            Should Israel pursue G-d’s ways? Certainly! But G-d showed us clearly, as one keeps reading BEYOND Deuteronomy 30, that the time during which G-d will give her a new heart instead of the heart of stone (Ezekiel 36) is NOT after she returns to the Torah but rather in the middle of her sin. And what history shows us – most importantly, the History recorded by G-d Himself, is that G-d washed away her sin for His Own Sake (Isaiah 43:25), not giving her what she rightfully deserved based on the Torah but rather washing away her sin, as only He can do.
            Finally, your speculation about me as a person really serves only as a distraction to what Scripture says and a focus on that. Israel had a history, as I’m sure you know, of rejecting G-d’s truths that she did not want to hear, even killing the true prophets, again and again. I’m sure you’re aware of the many passages.
            If, at any time, what I am saying about Scripture does not match up to the clear and plain meaning of the ENTIRE CONTEXT of the passage I quote, I would certainly not want you to accept it. Scripture, not I as a person, is what mattes here. And that is what I challenge you to read for yourself.
            Shalom

          • Yehuda says:

            Freedom,

            You asked:

            “From which Scripture do you conclude that Israel fulfilled the Law based on the prosperity during the times of David, Solomon, and others? If they had fully fulfilled the Law, why did they still need to bring sacrifices? And which of the “all” things referenced throughout Deuteronomy 30 and the preceding chapters did they actually have to keep, and which of the “all” things did G-d not really mean? For example, did David fulfill the Torah when he committed adultery and then murder? What about when King Solomon turned away from G-d after marrying many wives? I ask this in response to your implication that, actually, Israel was only expected “to fulfill the law TO THE EXTENT EXPECTED.” What was that extent?”

            There are several questions here and I will parse them and address each:

            Q:“From which Scripture do you conclude that Israel fulfilled the Law based on the prosperity during the times of David, Solomon, and others?

            A: I don’t need a scripture to tell me that. As you yourself have insisted, the Torah itself describes clearly the rewards and punishments for compliance and failure to comply. So if centuries of relative prosperity occur I am entitled based on the empirical evidence to conclude that the extent of compliance required by God was present. You on the other hand have are the one who needs to explain how such prosperity could have occurred, because you believe that Gods standard was never anything other than absolute perfect compliance. So by your understanding, since there was never any such compliance at any time, the land should have spit them out almost instantly.

            Q: “If they had fully fulfilled the Law, why did they still need to bring sacrifices?”

            A” Again, you are imposing your definition of compliance on me, and then expecting me to answer for it. This question only follows by your understanding that God gave the law with an expectation of perfect compliance and if so how could there have been a need for sacrifices. Your question is not a question to me it’s a question to the God who defined a law system that already included in it provisions for transgressions. To me the plain meaning of that is that the expected level of compliance was that which could be reasonably expected from the imperfect humans to whom God gave the law. This includes some amount of transgression. To you it makes for a mystery pointing to something else. I am more than happy to leave that to the honest reader of scripture to see which makes more sense as the plain meaning of God’s word.

            Q: And which of the “all” things referenced throughout Deuteronomy 30 and the preceding chapters did they actually have to keep, and which of the “all” things did G-d not really mean? For example, did David fulfill the Torah when he committed adultery and then murder? What about when King Solomon turned away from G-d after marrying many wives? I ask this in response to your implication that, actually, Israel was only expected “to fulfill the law TO THE EXTENT EXPECTED.” What was that extent?”

            A: Again a continuation of your inability to accept the plain meaning of what God gave us. He gave a legal system. He expected us to make human best efforts to comply with it. All of it. Every single command. And to strive to observe every one of them to the best of our abilities. I said nothing about carving any out. You did. But at the same time, what he would consider overall compliance – the kind of compliance that would allow for prosperity during the times of David and Solomon – allowed for some level of transgression. You simply cannot reconcile the idea that God could tolerate any amount of transgression with his notion of what an obedient nation would look like. While I, and what I am confident any objective reader of the scripture will see is a clear understanding, that the very law God gave us includes provision for dealing with failures. And those provisions never spoke of abandoning hope of compliance. They spoke of repenting, performing acts of atonement and working on bettering yourself.

            You then go on to explain that your understanding.

            You claim God did not set up Israel for failure. Rather you write:

            “What I think is He explained carefully what the “merit” system would entail, and what a “holy people” would look like. None of that would include adultery (as committed by David and many others), murder (as committed repeatedly by David and many others- even of the prophets of G-d who foretold the truth of doom), turning away from G-d (as did King Solomon) or any of those other things that happened throughout even the periods of prosperity.”

            Well then the only possible conclusion of your understanding is that He DID set them up for failure. I’m sorry but you can’t have it both ways. And why then WAS there any prosperity by your reckoning? Please explain?

            And again I ask you, when God went out of his way in Deuteronomy 30:11-14 to tell us that compliance was within our reach. Was He lying?

            You conclude with :Should Israel pursue G-d’s ways? Certainly!”

            And that’s precisely what I will pursue.

            As always peace unto you as well.

          • Yehuda,

            Then we have to agree to disagree. From my plain and clear reading of Scripture, I determine that “all” means “all” and not some; because we do have blatant sins recorded even during the times of prosperity (and since that by law required the death penalty, in fact), I believe G-d made it clear that in fact Israel did not fulfill the Law. This belief is supported by G-d’s statement in Ezekiel 36:17. “Son of man! The house of Israel, as long as they lived on their own land, they defiled it by their way and by their misdeeds, like the uncleanness of a woman in the period of her separation was their way before Me.

            This, along with verses regularly provided, such as the one I have quoted multiple times (Isaiah 43:25), tells me that in fact G-d in His Great Mercy allowed Israel to inhabit the land DESPITE her sin and not because she had fulfilled the Law. His showing of His standard clearly demonstrates that she did not, when we compare with the recorded actions during the times of inhabitance and Scriptures such as the above quote from Ezekiel in which G-d directly stated it outright.

            One day He will give her a new heart and a new covenant, as outlined in Ezekiel 36 and Jeremiah 31, at which time she will indeed fulfill the Law perfectly. Until then, His Law serves to show us our need for the new heart only He can give us and our need for His Mercy and His Salvation.

            As always, shalom. 🙂

          • Yehuda says:

            Then so be it. I am happy to leave my last post and yours as the final words on this exchange with my belief in the abilities of the honest reader to assess our respective points and responsiveness to each other.

            With my sincerest wishes for peace upon you and yours and in anticipation of the day of God’s great salvation that we both await.

            Yehuda

          • Thank you, Yehuda. 🙂
            May we both continue to read His good Laws and His Word, seeing within them His great Love and Testimonies, seeking His Truth, and knowing His Mercy.
            Peace and blessings.
            Freedom

  13. Freedom
    I disagree with quite a bit of what you’ve written here – but at this point I want to step back and point something out to you as well as ask you a foundational question.
    I want to point out to you that your oft-repeated complaint about how you innocently quote Scripture and people “resist” the message – is completely invalid. You are not writing in a vacuum – when you quote Scripture in the context of this blog people will immediately make assumptions about what you are driving at – the fact that you refuse to divulge your beliefs don’t make your quotations any more innocent – they just generate confusion.
    Here is the foundational question – when God presented the Bible to the Jewish people – did He expect them to read it with any set of preconceived notions? Did He expect them to read it with the consciousness of a Jewish national identity? – Perhaps we spoke of these questions – but it would be nice if you remind me of your answers

    • Annelise says:

      I think these points are important.

      Freedom gave very good advice when he said to try and speak about the text without worrying what others may be driving at. I find it too easy to react when people keep bringing a selection of texts that Christians hold to be reflective of their belief… even before hearing their perspective or interpretation, I feel I already know where they’re going with it. This is not helpful because it takes a reasonable discussion away from the passages in question. But it’s very hard to avoid it because when it is clear that a particular framework is being used as an interpretative guide, then the framework itself must be brought into the open.

      Despite saying that it is the text that leads the emphases and conclusions, Freedom is insisting that there must be some other level of restoration than the ‘earthly’ one, something that is not able to be restored through repentance as the rest of the blessings are. This is despite the fact that Daniel’s prayer speaks of the restoration of Deuteronomy in explicit forgiveness terms, and many other passages (like Ezekiel 33:10-20) apply this to the individual forgiveness of a repentant sinner. It is despite the fact that nowhere does the Tanach describe a level of non-earthly punishment from which a person needs to be rescued, even when their relationship with God on earth and the blessings that flow from it are healed. He also said that the fact that people sang songs of praise or thanks while offering sacrifices has an innate similarity to the emphasis on blood atonement in Christian songs, which is not a natural parallel to make. The driving assumptions and criteria seem to come out of nowhere… or rather, out of the Christian concept that something was fulfilled in an ultimate atonement.

      Rabbi Yisroel is right that the Jewish nation were given a set of understandings, as a nation, in which to read and preserve the scriptures. This can be seen from the Tanach itself, and that’s a good place to move the discussion. But to begin with, I’m curious about why you (Freedom) personally believe that the Jewish scriptures are the holy and true words of God. Why do you assume that?

      Thanks again.

      • Annelise says:

        Also, your first comment here said “G-d expresses repeatedly (AFTER having already given Deuteronomy, the Law, the Sacrificial system, and all the rest) that Israel failed over and over, and in fact never succeeded for any length of time in any of it at all.” If you were taking Tanach on face value, you would find the solution to this problem expressed in the words of the same prophets: that God is forgiving and requires people to turn to the law wholeheartedly, emphasising loyal obedience to both the ritual aspects and to the heart of sincerity and justice.

        Many individuals and groups have poured their lives into responding to this message, I have met them, and they speak of many generations of people before them who taught them to do the same. They are not missing anything that God commanded them to do; they may make mistakes, but the Torah and prophets themselves already contain a path of restoration. There’s no reason scripturally to say that there *must* be something more, when the scriptures imply otherwise quite repeatedly.

        • Annelise says:

          Sorry- when I said people, I meant (the intended audience) Israelites. For non-Jews it’s a different story, but the same requirement of obedience, repentance, and mercy is in play, like in the story of Jonah etc.

    • Hi Friend,

      While people may make assumptions at whatever they decide I must be driving at, my challenge is one and the same – Read the text. People do not get on blogs to sound out their own interpretations, messages, and beliefs (or at least, they should not). Rather, they join in to point out other areas of Scripture that they feel were missed or altered or perhaps simply to agree. I very honestly find the implication that my “quotations” are not innocent to be very telling – are these quotations not from the Tanakh? Then why would it “generate confusion” to open up the Bible and actually see what else G-d really did say in there…unless there is a desire to hide that truth?

      As for whether G-d expected the Jewish people to read His Word with the consciousness of a Jewish national identity, He most certainly did – and that identity was the identity HE developed through HIS prophets, not the ones the Jewish leaders, throughout chapter after chapter of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Micah, 2 Chronicles, and so many, many more, decided to develop for themselves. That is the difference. And He denounces, in those same books, the priests and leaders of the people who led the people astray. He says, in Micah 2:6-7 “‘Stop preaching!’ they preach. ‘That’s no way to preach. Shame shall not overtake [us]. Is the House of Jacob condemned? Is the LORD’s patience short? Is such His practice?”
      He goes on in Micah chapter 3 “I said, ‘Listen you rulers of Jacob, you chiefs of the House of Israel! For you ought to know what is right, But you hate good and love evil…
      Thus said the LORD to the prophets who lead My people astray…”
      Hear this, you rulers of the House of Jacob, you chiefs of the House of Israel who detest justice and make crooked all that is straight…yet they rely on the LORD, saying, “The LORD is in our midst. No calamity shall overtake us. Assuredly, because of you, Zion will be plowed as a field and Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the Temple Mount a shrine in the woods.”

      We see this same message over and over, in book after book of the Tanakh. Ezekiel 13 describes those who mislead the people, speaking falsehood and lies. Ezekiel 13:10 “Inasmuch as they have misled My people, saying ‘It is well,” when nothing is well…” and goes on to describe their sin and hypocrisy in no uncertain terms.

      And over and over throughout Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Micah, Obadiah, Zechariah, and many, many more. This is not just a hidden concept that has been somehow wrongfully invented by myself, my friend. This is the Word of the LORD. And He repeated that same message an extraordinary number of times, as part of the Jewish identity that HE declared.

      Yes indeed He wants Israel to read the Tanakh with preconceived notions – the notion that HE alone is Truth and that HIS Word (not our interpretation of it) will stand forever. And if reading what His Word actually says becomes a forbidden thing, that means it is a sad, sad day in which, clearly, Israel has actually turned from the Word of G-d to hear things that merely make them feel good.
      The way HE develops the Jewish identity, throughout ALL of the books of the Tanakh, from beginning to end as we do not stop at the “pleasant” verses but actually read all the way through, is that before the final Restoration will be immense sinfulness on the part of Israel. but that HE will cleanse her from her sin. Then He will vindicate her as His chosen one for HIS Name’s sake, and not for her own righteousness.

      Isaiah 4:3-4 “And those who remain in Zion and are left in Jerusalem — all who are inscribed for life in Jerusalem — shall be called holy. When my LORD has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and from Jerusalem’s midst has rinsed out her infamy — in a spirit of judgment and in a spirit of purging.”
      Before that, He stated her sin clearly in the preceding chapters: “Ah, Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen because by word and deed they insult the LORD…”

      This is the same story we see in ALL of those books I mentioned above. We see Jewish identity of a chosen one, of a beloved one, of one whom the LORD will forgive and cleanse, for His own name’s sake. We see what the end will be. We see that Israel’s return to the LORD is not one of her own righteousness at all, but of HIS own righteousness on her behalf. Those nations who dared to rise up and gloat against Israel will indeed receive their due, and the LORD will vindicate her as His bride. As He says in Ezekiel 39 “Thus will I manifest My glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see the judgment that I executed and the power that I wielded against them. From that time on, the House of Israel shall know that I the LORD am their God. And the nations shall know that the House of Israel were exiled only for their iniquity, because they trespassed against Me, so that I hid My face from them and delivered them into the hands of their adversaries, and they all fell by the sword. When I hid My face from them, I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their transgressions…”

      And Israel’s sin and denial of it over and over in the same book (Ezekiel), such as chapters 22, 23, 33, and so many more. This is a repeated theme, and definitely part of the identity described by the G-d of Israel.

      But do you know what else? It is through these stories that I see myself in Israel. I see that the BEST of nations, with the MOST possible advantages, covenants, and instructions directly from the LORD G-d Almighty left behind her a trail of broken covenants. I see His prophecies of the future restoration, and that His intervention is despite her sin and not because of her righteousness. I see that HE made her holy when He washed away her filth Himself. That is when I see the undeserved Mercy and Love of an everlasting G-d who continued to identify Himself with sinners – with the worst of sinners. For He referred to Himself as Israel’s Redeemer in the same passages in which He declared her abominations, as her Intercessor while describing her sin, and as her G-d while describing her idolatry. THAT, my friend, is a G-d in whom there is nothing but goodness, and one I know I can trust forever with my heart and soul.

      • Annelise says:

        I’m not going to reply to these thoughts at the moment, except to share a quick thought. What does it mean to actually “read the text”?

        With any text, not just the Bible, there are always two worlds meeting: that of the meaning (in the mind of the author) and of the significance (in the mind of the audience). The text can only carry the meaning when it is formed from a shared set of symbols that have a common meaning to both author and audience. On the simple level, you find words: written-sounds that trigger the reader to think of concepts and relationships that both author and audience have a shared experience of. On the less literal level there are metaphors, symbols, and the conventions of structure and ‘genre’, which are all part of a shared language. New ideas are conveyed using what is already familiar.

        But here’s the sticking point. Some of these things are universal. Every human being understands certain things in a particular way because of logic, or experiences that everyone has had. So the text confines your interpretation to some degree… for example, none of us is looking at Genesis 1 and saying that it’s an instruction manual about how to build a house 🙂 But it doesn’t define interpretation completely. What if the meaning of a word is different in one family than it is in another? You may not understand the conversation that a father is having with his son if you don’t know the context of that word. Or what if one culture has a very particular understanding of a custom or a particular value? We may think that they’re doing the same thing as we are, but to them the meaning is different. Even just looking ‘at the text itself’: when you hear just the chorus of a song, you can sometimes misunderstand the meaning if you weren’t listening to the verses. Or if we misunderstood one particular aspect of the structure, the whole idea of a poem may not make sense to us. Most significantly (I think Rabbi Yisroel has written about this before)… if you read a letter and you don’t know the relationship of the sender and receiver, or if you see a legal document and you don’t understand the legal jargon and procedures, what will you possibly misunderstand? If you read someone’s personal diary in an effort to discover something about the geography of their home country, will you find it easier to tell someone about peripheral aspects of the diary than to talk about the parts that meant the most to the writer? Will their husband or wife be able to fill in the gaps of the text better than a random reader?

        Anything in writing does confine interpretation for anyone with a simple understanding of the language, but many levels of shared meaning are not universal. There’s no such thing as ‘just reading the text’.

      • Annelise says:

        This is also why I asked why you think the Bible is true, and from our Maker, in the first place. Jews and Christians may agree on that point, but they do so in incredibly different contexts and for different reasons altogether.

        • Annelise says:

          PS I once had two people come to my door from another country, with limited English, to ask “Do you know about the mother god?” My brother and I listened to them going through verse after verse that was highlighted in their Christian Bibles, describing feminine aspects and characters, as if that were proof that a woman in their home country is the mother god and that her husband is a reincarnation of Jesus. It is possible that they could have also said “I very honestly find the implication that my ‘quotations’ are not innocent to be very telling – are these quotations not from the Tanakh?”

          I know this is an extreme and unfair comparison, and I know I’ve written a lot. But it’s important to say that I see something in common with this in the verses that are highlighted in a lot of Christians’ copies of the Old Testament.

          • Annelise,
            Reading the text means studying it repeatedly – all of it – plain and simple. There is no reason to complicate the matter. G-d told over and over of Israel’s willful ignorance (Isaiah chapter 48, Hosea chapter 4, specifically verse 6, and multiple times throughout book after book of the prophets). And Israel was the best of the best…so it also describes all of mankind.
            He also describes His longing and tender care – but Israel’s rejection – in Isaiah chapter 5…and many, many other chapters. There He essentially said, “What more can I do?” (verses 3-4)

            He gave His Word. If we don’t want to read it, thoroughly study it (ALL of it) and accept it for what it says, I don’t know if there is anything anyone else can do for us.

          • Annelise says:

            I believe you’re right that it’s important to read the Tanach according to the whole collection in context, and really listen to the things that the text is drawing our attention to. This is all that we can do in honesty in trying to listen to what is written there. My experience is that I accepted the Christian understanding deeply and wholeheartedly, but was challenged about some of the things I’ve written above (and many other things) after beginning to hear the Orthodox Jewish perspective and objections. Whenever I discussed the Bible with Jewish friends, I would scatter in all the verses that I hoped they would read and ‘just see’ the Christian picture emerging from. So I have to apologise if I’m projecting from my own experience or missing something that you’re writing because of my bias; I’m sorry if your intentions or perspective are different. But I just wanted to let you know that I’m trying to observe things in what you’ve written, rather than attacking or anything. I have the same desire to put the facts on the table and really see what is being missed or falsely emphasised, and I have tried to follow that to where I am, and I hope to keep following that.

            “He gave His Word.” What do you mean; how do you know it comes from Him? One version of the Christian Bible from an important Ethiopian tradition has 81 books. Catholic Bibles have less, but they still have more than Protestant ones. Protestant Bibles contextualise the Tanach by way of a significant addition. Also, some people believe that the Qur’an is the word of God. Some people believe that other texts preserved by their cultures are the revealed truth. Why do you think that the collection of writings bound up as your Bible is actually all true?

            Obviously context isn’t everything, because if the rabbis and Jewish heritage pointed to a book as scripture and then they contradicted what was written there, then there would be severe issues of consistency and disobedience. But context is important, and the reason for belief influences our reading (the things that interest us, the things we try to prove) more than we can know. Why do you think these books are even important?

          • Annelise,
            I appreciate all of the thinking you are doing on Scripture, and may G-d be with you and guide you as you seek Him. I’ve discussed all of these issues about Scripture and how we have seen G-d canonize it, etc. in previous posts in the past (one of which was the Genesis 18 post), and this really isn’t an issue I’m interested in continuing. (It’s not that I wouldn’t be interested in chatting in person, but I can only be on the computer a limited number of hours per day, and these types of discussions usually go on and on. The problem is that I don’t think they ever really address the heart issue – which is to simply study His Word and thoroughly get to know Him there.) Suffice it to say that I do believe if you read the Tanakh – the ENTIRE Tanakh, and not just the pleasant verses – with an open heart, seeking Him, He will guide you.

            Shalom

  14. Freedom
    You missed my first point – which is that if you quote a verse in a given context – it will be weighted with connotation – the concept “just read what it says” is ony good for people who live in blissful ignorance of their own bias
    The Jewish national identity is preserved by God through testimonial observances – that hit your psyche long before you read the first word of Scripture
    You who reads Scripture and doesn’t read into Scripture – where pray tell does God call Himself an “intercessor”?

    • Annelise says:

      Are there any indications in the Tanach itself that this is really something from God… that the testimonial observances affect your psyche according to the ways that are explained by parents and by the leaders of the community? In other words, is it possible to suggest that the Tanach is true but that the witness of the Jewish community has changed?

    • Isaiah 59:12-16
      12. For our transgressions against You are many, and our sins have testified against us, for our transgressions are with us, and our iniquities-we know them.
      13. Rebelling and denying the Lord, and drawing away from following our God, speaking oppression and perverseness, sprouting and giving forth from the heart words of falsehood.
      14. And justice has turned away backward, and righteousness stands from afar, for truth has stumbled in the street, and straightforwardness cannot come.
      15. And truth is lacking, and he who turns away from evil is considered mad, and the Lord saw and was displeased for there is no justice.
      16. And He saw that there was no man, and He was astounded for there was no intercessor, and His arm saved for Him, and His righteousness, that supported Him.
      http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/15990

      Hosea 13:9-14 You have destroyed yourself, O Israel, for [you have rebelled] against Me, against your help….
      From the clutches of the grave I would ransom them, from death I would redeem them…
      http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16167

      There are several other instances in which G-d clearly demonstrates intercession on Israel’s behalf, speaking of cleansing her and washing all her sins away Himself, only for His Own Name’s sake. Several other instances, also, in which He says that no one but Himself was holy, such as Isaiah 41:18-29. These are themes repeated multiple times throughout Isaiah and a number of the prophets.

      • Annelise says:

        What exactly is the aspect of theology that you think people are teaching in contradiction to these verses? I think it would help if you’re more clear about what you’re responding to, so that they can have a chance to show how they read these passages, and other passages, together so as to form the belief you’re disagreeing with.

        • I was responding to the rabbi’s question above my post, which was where does G-d mention Himself in the context of intercessor.
          Shalom

          • Annelise says:

            I think there are lots of issues to discuss about selection, interpretation, and presentation of ideas. But to stay with the texts you’ve raised, to be honest I don’t see what you’re saying is being missed by the commenters here. For sure, Tanach describes God giving unmerited favour, faithfulness, and searching out a bride who was yet to learn to seek Him in the same way. All agree on that. What is the debate, what are you constantly bringing this point up for?

            As to an intercessor… technically an intercessor is someone who stands between two parties to mediate them.

          • Annelise says:

            You also didn’t respond to what I wondered about where you had found the concept of some other level of restoration than the ‘earthly’ one, something that is not able to be restored through repentance as the rest of the blessings are.

          • Annelise,
            I was not debating anything; I was responding to the question of where G-d mentions Himself in the context of intercessor. Please read the question, and you’ll see what the verses were in response to.

            As to me having “found the concept some other level of restoration than the earthly one,” I don’t recall having said that, though I did see that earlier you said I “insist” this. Can you point me to exactly what I said that is leading you to believe I am insisting such a thing?
            Thanks.

  15. Freedom
    Nowhere in all of Scripture does God call Himself by the word “mafgia = intercessor”. There are similar words used (suched as redeemer and savior – these words have a different connotation) but not “intercessor” – so your claim that Scripture says that God refers to Himself as Israel’s “intercessor” is based on your own bias and not on Scripture.
    This should tell you as clearly as it tells me that despite your convictions to the contrary – you are reading Scripture with a bias. teh fact that you insist on denying that bias only makes this whole conversation so much more ironic – because you came here in your great humility to preach to us arrogant Jews that we should recognize our bias.
    Now – let me enlighten you to something simple which seems to have escaped you. If two people are having an argument about a specific subject – let us say that one is accusing the other of adultery – and a third party comes into the conversation and innocently quotes the verse which speaks of an adulterer being put to death – would you call that an “innocent” quote? Don’t you realize that the Scripture you quote will be understood in the context of the conversation that you have inserted this quote into?
    Now – furthermore – Know ye – that I together with many of my brethren acknowledge our sins before God – we read all of those passages that you quoted and we realize that they are talking about us and that we have no merit before God and our only hope is God’s mercy and not our own righteousness
    But – this does not mean that the Sabbath that we observe is not a holy gift from God that grants us sanctification and KNOWLEDGE – a knowledge that you seem to deem irrelevant. We were granted an inheritance that is our exclusive possession and that is the Law of Moses – this is not our merit but God’s love. It is our responsibility to preserve these gifts and live with the knowledge that these gifts impart to us. It is also our repsonsibility to share this knowledge with others to the degree that it is relevant to them. Do you acknowledge that observance of the Sabbath grants Israel a unique knowledge or do you deny this Scriptural truth?

    • Friend,
      I did not say “mafgia”; I said “intercessor,” directly from the text found on chabad.org. G-d stated directly that He was astounded to find no intercessor in the midst of Israel’s sin, and therefore He saved by His own arm, directly from Isaiah 59. Please reread it. This is not a bias; it is a quote from Scripture, and the fact that you do not see it might alert you as to your bias to reject what Scripture says.

      I challenge you, again, to read Scripture – ALL of it. I am not the one pulling out a quote here and there out of context; rather, I have included one VERY LONG passage after another of G-d’s own assessment of the situation. Whether you accept (thoroughly read these many, many passages that all say the same thing) or reject (pretend they do not really mean what they say and turn them around to be as though G-d’s own Words are an attack from me) is your choice. According to G-d, Israel had a history of that. Need I include at least a dozen passages of Scripture that clearly state as much?

      I absolutely love the Sabbath and the purpose for which G-d intended it – to remember Him and His Holiness, and to the extent that I am able, I fast on the Sabbath.

      Shalom

  16. Freedom
    One more note – you quote Ezekiel 13 as “proof” that Israel’s leaders are corrupt – read what it says – it is talking about the false prophets and that their punishment will be to be cut off from the council of God’s nation The fact that God preserved the Pharisee understanding of Judaism tells me that this curse is not talking about them – the fact that this curse was completely fulfilled against the Jewish following of Jesus tells me that it was talking about them
    (note I refer here ONLY to Ezekiel 13 – I acknowledge that many of the other prophecies apply to our leadership just as they applied to Hezekiah and Josiah)

    • That is interesting, and I’ve said before, I don’t prefer to get into issues outside of the Tanakh…however, Ezekiel 13 does not in fact even remotely describe the Jewish following of Jesus.
      – They did not proclaim a vision of well-being of Israel, or at least that is not what you have said in the past.
      – There is in fact a Jewish following of Jesus alive and well in the land of Israel today.
      – These “prophets” (if that is what you are calling the Jewish followers of Jesus) are indeed not gone, as mentioned in verses 15 and 16.
      And so on.

  17. No, Friend, I did not quote Ezekiel 13 as “proof” that Israel’s leaders were corrupt. I quoted Micah, starting in chapter 2:6-7 (in “‘Stop preaching!’ they preach. ‘That’s no way to preach. Shame shall not overtake [us]. Is the House of Jacob condemned? Is the LORD’s patience short? Is such His practice?”
    He goes on in Micah chapter 3 “I said, ‘Listen you rulers of Jacob, you chiefs of the House of Israel! For you ought to know what is right, But you hate good and love evil…
    Thus said the LORD to the prophets who lead My people astray…”
    Hear this, you rulers of the House of Jacob, you chiefs of the House of Israel who detest justice and make crooked all that is straight…yet they rely on the LORD, saying, “The LORD is in our midst. No calamity shall overtake us. Assuredly, because of you, Zion will be plowed as a field and Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the Temple Mount a shrine in the woods.”

    You could read the entire chapter of Micah 3 for its context.

    I merely mentioned Ezekiel 13 – perhaps I should have noted that this referred to Israel’s prophets, as you say, to clarify that G-d said the same thing, over and over, about ALL of Israel’s leaders, from her kings and chiefs to her priests and prophets. Need I list those many, many Scriptures? I can do so later today, if you like.

    Shalom

    • David says:

      Freedom,

      I’ve read through all of your posts on this thread (topic). You strike me as someone who honestly studies (really studies) the scripture and lets the chips fall where they may without regard to the implications whether they be for or against any particular theology, religion, etc.

      I think I disagree with you on one point. But I’d like to read it myself. You referenced something on Chabad.org. Could you give me the full link to the exact page please.

      On another subject,
      Did you ever wonder why God didn’t have Cain killed, but then later after the Flood gave rules about killing those who kill. In fact He protected Cain. I think it’s because God has from the beginning had a plan to bring ALL of humanity to him (eventually). Cain represented and represents humanity as much as Able/Seth. We all have some Cain in us I think maybe and we all have to learn to master sin.

      Sorry for throwing all this at you like you’re the answer man. But I’d just like your opinion on scripture (for reasons stated above) on one more item. What do you think is the message about rules or law in general from Adam onward? I think one message is that God is saying basically: Look I gave you one rule in the Garden, you screwed it up, then, I gave you almost no rules, screwed it up again, then I gave you many rules and kept adding to them, same result. So humanity, as you can see the problem is not too many rules or too few rules. The problem is your heart. Get your heart right with Me whether or not there’s few rules, many rules or no rules.

      • Hi David,
        I’m sorry I missed this…it’s difficult to keep track of who said what with so many posts. 🙂

        You referenced something I said on chabad.org. I’m not sure whether you refer to what I was saying about Isaiah 59, but that link is here:
        http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/15990/jewish/Chapter-59.htm

        From there, you can access all of the other books of the Tanakh and their respective chapters.

        I think I would agree with you that we do indeed see a clear message from G-d throughout the whole Bible that no matter how many rules G-d gave us, the result is the same: we must return to Him who alone can do it through us. We must acknowledge that we need a new heart (Psalms 51) and that true righteousness can be found only when we abandon our own claims to righteousness of any sort, abandon any beliefs that we have somehow obtained merit through the Torah. It is only then that we will stop viewing the Torah as our answer and realize that indeed we have failed utterly that we will be looking to THE ONE who gives the New Covenant and a New Heart to finally understand and obey Him. For if we could accomplish the Old with our Old heart, there would have been no need to replace all that was broken and made of stone.

        This is not to say that there was a problem with any of the rules G-d has ever given — indeed not. The problem is with mankind. And mankind does not tend to want to accept that he has failed. He wants to keep striving, keep believing he has no sin nature, that we are “essentially good” and capable of keeping the Torah. We have G-d’s Torah not as a joke or as setting us up for failure in any way but rather to draw us to Him, realizing that only He can do what He asks…which ultimately leads to our worship of Him alone. It is those who have indeed sought to know and love and obey His laws who have most clearly seen their own sin and then G-d’s holiness in contrast (Isaiah 43, 48 Daniel 9, Psalms 32, 51) and then were given insights into G-d’s ways that were far beyond
        what those of their day understood (Isaiah 59-62, Daniel 7, 12, and Psalms 45 and many others).

        G-d’s message in every story, if read from beginning to end, is that Israel broke the old covenant and He will now give her a new one, along with a new heart that makes her finally able to truly obey it and know Him (Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 36-37). May we not stop reading where it makes us feel good but rather read through to the end, looking to Him alone.

        Shalom

  18. Freedom
    First – God says that there was no intercessor so He saved them – does that mean that He became an intercessor? Not at all – it means that God would have rather that someone from Israel stand up and interceed as did Moses – but since that didn’t happen so He saved them without an intercessor – Now do you see where your bias lead you to read things into the text?
    As for Sabbath – Exodus 31:13
    As for Ezekiel 13 – Jesus promised his own followers that by following him they will find spiritual security – what ended up happening is that the full brunt of the curse of this passage was fulfilled against his followers – they were wiped out of the Jewish community by the Gentile followers of Paul. The followers of Jesus who live in Israel today are a continuum of Paul’s Gentile church and have nothing to do with Jesus’ original Jewish following – the Jewish following of Jesus is gone together with most of their beliefs – whatever survived did not survive in the Council of God’s nation
    By the way – you continuously affirm that the sins of Israel are also your own – why then do you get so defensive when I point out to you that you read Scripture with a bias – if you accuse Israel of thsi sin – can’t you handle the fact that you may be guilty of the same sin?

  19. Hi Friend,

    You have just defined intercession, so quite honestly, I’m not sure what you are getting at – unless you are afraid of the term and worried about what it could mean. Multiple times G-d stated throughout the Tanakh that he acted in Israel’s behalf (again, the definition of intercession), that he looked and found none other holy, that He cleansed her Himself despite her sin and unfaithfulness though He had previously listed what she was to do herself (and she failed). And, as I stated previously, He said that when He saw there was no intercessor, He did that job Himself. To argue about semantics is a little senseless because we are both talking about the same concept.

    Exodus 31:13 says nothing about any mysterious knowledge being granted by way of keeping the Sabbath.

    Ezekiel 13 is a stretch to try to apply that to the followers of Jesus, as is the assertion that Jewish Christians today are really not followers of Jesus. You have no way of knowing that, and it seems a rather biased assumption to make.

    Shalom

  20. Annelise says:

    Freedom,

    I already told you that intercession doesn’t mean what you think. It means a mediator stepping in between two parties. I think the word you’re looking for is intervene. And like we keep saying, everyone here understands that concept (merciful intervention) and sees it as an important part of the history of both Israel and humanity.

    I don’t know if you understand the central place of the Torah in Tanach. You’re also defining ‘leaders who pervert justice’ as if it meant all leaders! There is a mention of something new in the prophets and you seem to read into it whatever you want, without wondering whether perhaps this passage is a real and important part also theology of people you’re disagreeing with.

    I’m tired of the lack of transparency in this conversation, and also tired of talking about God and worship in the abstract as if they were the foundations of an argument. I need to say I don’t have the strength for this conversation, but in all the many things we have in common I hope you continue to be blessed.

    Annelise

    • That is fine, Annelise. I really wasn’t directing my conversation at you at all, with any of that, very honestly. The Torah was indeed given to Israel…however, Israel’s later development in her relationship to G-d (Him washing her when she failed all), and the way He did indeed say He stepped in when there was none other to be the intercessor, shows Who He Is.

      I am reading nothing into anything “new” being said in the prophets, and I would appreciate if you leave your speculations about me behind and focus on the Tanakh itself. I assure you, you will be blessed if you do so, seeking His Word – His WHOLE Word, and not just the verses before the sin and restoration DESPITE her sin that He later describes. He is clear in many, many prophets that the Restoration will NOT happen through faithfulness to the Torah but rather because of His washing of her sin and establishing her despite her failure. It is all about Him. He is the All in All.

      Shalom

      • cflat7 says:

        Definition of ‘intercede’ =
        1. To plead on another’s behalf.
        2. To act as mediator in a dispute.

        Are saying God was pleading on behalf of Israel, or was acting as a mediator? Who was He pleading to? Was He pleading to Himself? Does that even make sense?

        • Hi cflat7,
          No, I was not saying that, actually. In fact, I merely quoted the verse directly from chabad.org.

          I am actually rather amazed that this is receiving so much negative attention, quite honestly. To me, it merely speaks to what we already see about G-d over and over throughout the Tanakh – that when Israel was utterly sinful, He reached down Himself and washed her sin away for His Own Righteousness sake, even after she had proven undeserving. He speaks repeatedly and in a self-sacrificial way multiple times throughout the Tanakh with regard to the suffering she put Him through, always coming to the same conclusion throughout the prophecies that tell us how this will end – that when the change does come, it will be because HE cleanses her from her sin and then HE puts His Laws in her heart, having pulled her from her own filth – not that she turned back to Him through the Torah and deserved His return. G-d is the one who used that term in Isaiah 59:16 in reference to what he looked for in the midst of her sin (an intercessor) and found none. So He did the work that needed to be done Himself.

          Now, whatever it is you want to call it, the facts remain the same – there was NO ONE to fill the role on her behalf that was missing, so the LORD stepped down and filled the role that was required there to save her. That missing role (translated there as “intercessor” on chabad.org) is a Hebrew term that can also mean entreat, meet (sometimes even in a hostile way), or even pray, as it is used in Job 21:15. The overall term as used in Hebrew (and not in the dictionary you quote from) is most often used to refer to someone “meeting” another. So I am quite amazed that there is such a large outcry about this issue, given that G-d did indeed meet Israel right where she was, in the middle of her sin, in Isaiah 59:16, when there was no one else. And in fact His “meeting” and forgiving her over and over, even coming to meet her despite her sin, is a concept recorded hundreds of times – in various terms – throughout the Tanakh.

          • cflat7 says:

            Freedom, 
            I think the point is an attempt to clarify your statement that He (Hashem) is an intercessor. In the comments to this article you have stated this numerous times, for example:

            “For He Alone is our Creator (Genesis), our Intercessor (Isaiah), our Redeemer (Isaiah), and the One who Alone is Holy.”

            When you were asked about it, you provided the verse from Isaiah which says, “He saw that there was no man, and He was astounded for there was no intercessor, and His arm saved for Him, and His righteousness, that supported Him.” 

            If God did not find an intercessor, and stepped in with kindness and mercy, does that imply that he himself became an intercessor?

          • cflat7,
            My reference was to the role He filled, not the term itself. When I said, “For He Alone is our Creator (Genesis), our Intercessor (Isaiah), our Redeemer (Isaiah), and the One who Alone is Holy,” my point was that He alone fills those roles that none other could do. Reading my assessment of G-d alone as able to do these things, I think that SHOULD be clear; was I saying G-d is the sole “intercessor” for Israel in the dictionary sense of the word? No, obviously not; Moses served as an intercessor, as did a number of the prophets. I’m fully aware of that. So obviously in THAT sense, G-d is not the sole intercessor at all. Rather, my point was that he filled the role that NO ONE ELSE could fill, as it says in Isaiah 59:1-16. Isaiah 41:21-29 also clarifies that all were nothingness, even when He sent a herald to Jerusalem.
            Perhaps a better wording would have been for me to say that when there was NO INTERCESSOR He stepped in and filled the role of bridging the gap, or breaking the barrier, that existed between G-d and man (Isaiah 59:2). He went the entire distance for Israel; she didn’t meet Him halfway. Israel never broke the barrier of sin, but G-d loved her anyway (Hosea chapter 2, Isaiah chapter 4, and many, many others).

          • cflat7 says:

            Freedom,
            So the role you are talking about isn’t ‘intercessor’. You probably mean ‘intervenor’.

          • That’s fine, too. I said intercessor referring to the fact that He listed the role that was lacking as intercessor (translated as such on chabad.org), and then He described His own actions in response, fully taking care of what was lacking there. But He certainly is the intervener, for sure, as you say.

  21. Freedom
    When you misquote Scripture – its just semantics – nothing to do with your bias – which you don’t have anyways – I find this attitude quite amazing – but completely in synch with the teachers you revere
    – About Exodus 31:13 – I sad nothing about “mysterious” knowledge – I said knowledge – and Scripture is clear that the way God chose to impart knowledge to Israel concerning his sanctification of His beloved bride is through this observance – that will abide continuously amongst His people as an eternal sign – so do you or do you not acknowledge that teh observance of Sabbath is one of God’s methods of imparting knowledge to Israel?
    – About Ezekiel 13 – obviously Ezekiel was written before Jesus was born so Ezekiel was not directly refering to Jesus – but we can easily figure out that if the punishment Ezekiel described was fulfilled against that group of leaders – then Ezekiel was talking about them as well
    – You call my assertion that the Jewish followers of Jesus today are not following in the footsteps of the early Jewish following of Jesus – based on “bias” – a plain reading of the Pauline “New Testament” leads me to that conclusion – remember – don’t pick and choose the verses that fit your bias (in case you have one) – read it ALL – if you can’t find what I am talking about I’ll point you to the passages that shoudl bring you to this obviously and plainly stated truth

    • Hi Friend,
      I find your message rather judgmental…the teachers I “revere”? And who might they be? I would be interested to know whom you have decided I revere, and I find the judgment rather offensive given that I don’t think you would like it if I implied you revere someone other than the LORD. Neither do I.

      I did not misquote Scripture at all; I listed the verse as it appeared in Isaiah 59:16 on chabad.org, in which the term “intercessor” did happen to be used. When G-d saw that THAT role (whatever you want to call it – the term can actually be translated a number of ways from Hebrew) was missing, He filled the role that needed to be filled there on behalf of Israel. The term actually most often is used to mean “meet” in Hebrew – and as we both know, G-d did indeed give dozens of prophesies that in fact depict Him doing exactly that before her final Restoration – meeting her right where she is, despite her sin, to cleanse her Himself for His Own Righteousness’ sake. It is the “meeting” of the sinner to which I refer. It was not she who came to Him or even met Him halfway. It was He alone who was Holy and went the whole way Himself to meet her where she was at. We see this in Micah chapters 2 and 3, Hosea 2, Isaiah 4, and too many others to list.

      With regard to Exodus 31:13, I am still waiting for the verse that says G-d imparts “knowledge” to Israel through the Sabbath. That verse in fact does not say that without a clear reading into it something that just plain isn’t there. It says to observe the Sabbath – yes. It says the Sabbath was a sign of Israel’s consecration – yes. But you are reading into it if you are going to start saying that verse says knowledge was or is imparted to Israel through the Sabbath because it simply does not say that. Not in any translation.

      With regard to Ezekiel 13, I am glad that you acknowledged that Ezekiel was not directly referring to Jesus (or His followers) because if he had been, then we would have to consider which other Tanakh Scriptures might be referring to Jesus – right?

  22. Freedom
    By the way – in case you missed it Deuteronomy 30 (verse 6) speaks of God’s intervention to cleanse our hearts (note – I said “intervention” not “intercession”) – so your seeing a contradiction between Deuteronomy 30 and the later prophecies of restoration won’t fly

    • I did not miss it. And I did not say there is a contradiction between Deuteronomy 30 and the “later” prophecies of restoration; the fact is that Deuteronomy was not a prophecy of Israel’s restoration to begin with. Rather it was a promise: “If you will, …then I will,” with a list of earthly rewards and punishments that would occur to Israel as a nation depending on her own choices. Israel has read into that, perhaps, to be a “prophecy” that the Restoration will occur after she is faithful to the Torah – but G-d said the opposite would happen in the several prophecies I have already listed and many, many more. So there is no contradiction; rather, any interpretation of Deuteronomy as a prophecy entails reading into the passage a “prophecy” was never there to begin with.

      As G-d, does He not have the right to show mercy and withhold the punishment that was deserved? Thus, what He clearly shows us through Deuteronomy 27-30 is what is DESERVED. Based on merit, this would be what Israel could expect, in other words. And that was with hundreds of laws to keep, with a curse listed in verse after verse throughout Deuteronomy chapters 27, 28, and 29 if Israel was to fail.

      But in the actual prophecies that foretell the events of the final restoration, He tells us the ending. We see a G-d who, when Israel deserves punishment, He gives kindness. When Israel is exceedingly sinful and there is no man – no one at all – to be her Intercessor (the term used in the Tanakh on chabad.org), He steps in and meets her where she is. He does not wait for her to fulfill the Torah, as He rightfully could do (and be waiting forever). Instead, He loves her and washes away her sins Himself and gives her a new heart for His Own Righteousness Sake.

      Shalom, friend.

  23. Freedom
    The negative attention is not about the word “intercessor” its about you – who come here to accuse others of reading into Tanach yet when you do the same your attitude towards the crime completely changes
    Its funny that you talk of “judgmental” your whole attitude is judgmental just read your early posts on the “Bush” article – the teachers that you revere are the ones that you believe that Ezekiel 13 “can’t” be talking about
    Deuteronomy 30 is a prophecy for the future and it does not conflict in any way with Isaiah, Ezekiel or Daniel’s vision of the restoration – Don’t you agree that Israel needs to repent (Isaiah 59:20)? Doesn’t repentance mean turning back to God’s Law in submission and love?
    By the way – who is the nation with God’s Law in their heart of Isaiah 51:7? Who are the servants of Isaiah 65:8? Who are the ones who tremble at His word of Isaiah 66:5? Who are the holy exalted ones of Daniel 7:18,25 and 27 that will inherit the kingdom?
    Concerning Exodus 31:13 – I don’t use a translation in the original Hebrew it says “lo’da’as” which means in order taht you “know” – the point being that by imbibing God’s Sabbath Israel comes to know that God sanctifies them – a simple piece of knowledge but one that observance of Sabbath adds weight, appreciation and emphasis to – and this knowledge helps you read Scripture in the light that God desires
    I have no problem discussing Scriptures that refer to Jesus and his original Jewish following (Daniel 11;14 – is a good place to start) – by the way – your picture of false prophets as preaching peace is unscriptural – they preach peace only for those who follow them – the people who refuse to follow the false prophet get an earful of the false prophet’s anger – Ezekiel 13:19, Micha 3:5

    • Hi Friend,
      Once again, I am sensing judgments and bias in your words. The accusation that I “came here to accuse others of not reading the Tanakh” is false. Not only is it false, but it is G-d’s place to judge that of any person, not yours.

      I did not come here to accuse others of not reading the Tanakh but rather came here to read what is said and search Scriptures for myself, contributing as I see clear messages from G-d, repeated dozens of times, that relate to what is said. If the conversation digresses to speculations about me as a person, I certainly encourage readers to focus on the Tanakh instead of speculating about me. Focusing on what the Tanakh – the WHOLE Tanakh – says SHOULD be the focus of any blog claiming to quote truths of Scripture.

      Your accusation that I revere teachers who say Ezekiel 13 is not talking about Jesus is also false. You are the first person I have ever heard claim that, and what showed me that your claim is false is a reading of Ezekiel 13, not any teacher. I haven’t asked any teacher about what it means; that is not my approach to Scripture.
      In other words, what clearly shows me Ezekiel 13 does not refer to Jesus/the followers of Jesus is that they did NOT proclaim well-being for Jerusalem (Ezekiel 13:16) – and if you claim otherwise, you are only contradicting yourself because you have complained in the past that Jesus spoke against Jerusalem and her leaders. And your claim that the prophesy was fulfilled against Jesus’ followers is utterly ridiculous (Ezekiel 13:9), quite honestly, because quite a number of Jews who in fact have asserted by their own testimony that they are followers of Jesus are alive and well in the land of Israel today. Even if you *believed* they are actually followers of Paul and not of Jesus, you and I both know you have not in fact interviewed all of them – or even most of them – to come up with that assessment (and the assessment itself only shows your bias to try to “make” Ezekiel 13 work for you). If they call themselves followers of Jesus by their own testimony, it’s safe to assume they are followers of Jesus.

      Deuteronomy 30 is NOT a prophecy for the future. Yes, Israel indeed needs to repent (Isaiah 59:20). But you are ignoring Isaiah chapter 4 and the many, many other prophecies that DESCRIBE the ACTUAL time of restoration, step by step – including Isaiah 59, from which you quoted above. There, it clearly says it will be IN THE MIDDLE OF ISRAEL’S SIN that G-d meets her where she is at. If you need more passages that describe the restoration, step by step (from her sin to vindication/restoration), I’m happy to provide them.

      Perhaps it is unintentional, but in your citations of Isaiah 51:7, Isaiah 65:8,Isaiah 66:5, and Daniel 7:18,25 and 27, you are ignoring the entire surrounding context, simply pulling them out as “proof” texts despite the preceding and following text. Isaiah 51 is preceded by Isaiah 50, the first verses of which read: “…you were only sold off for your sins, and your mother dismissed for your crimes. Why, when I came, was no one there, why, when I called, would no one respond?”
      And you have failed to mention the verses from the same chapter farther below in Isaiah 51 itself: “…a road the redeemed might walk. So let the ransomed of the LORD return” (verses 10-11).
      So these were people who were REDEEMED and RANSOMED and thus returned to G-d…sinful people, as G-d already clarified in Isaiah chapter 50 – the context preceding Isaiah 51. And so on, with each text you cite by simply pulling a verse out of context, with Isaiah 65 and the like. In fact, Isaiah chapter 65 begins as follows: “I responded to those who did not ask, I was at hand for those who did not seek Me…”
      This is G-d depicting yet again that He met Israel in the middle of her sin…as He describes in other books, He will give her a new heart rather than a heart of stone, and He will write His laws on her heart. If she didn’t have a heart of stone, why would the new heart even be necessary?

      Concerning Exodus 31:13 – to claim this as a proof text that keeping the Sabbath imparts knowledge is a misreading (and reading into Scripture). It is not said that they could thereby obtain knowledge but rather that they know a specific thing – it was a SIGN by which they acknowledge, admit, and know that the LORD (note: NOT themselves) consecrated them. This same term for “know” in the Hebrew is used dozens of times throughout the Psalms and Isaiah, and hundreds and hundreds of times throughout the Tanakh, by the way, and not in reference to the Sabbath.

      My picture of false prophets as preaching peace is indeed NOT unscriptural, and you need only read instance after instance of G-d’s record of them to see that. And by the way, you are misquoting Ezekiel 13 as proof of your claim. What the entire chapter of Ezekiel ACTUALLY depicts, if you read it thoroughly, is a picture of false prophets whose general claim is “It is well!” and see a vision of well-being for Jerusalem when there is no well-being” (verses 10-16). The next section begins with a new address: “And now mortal…” saying to set their faces against the women of the people who prophesy false things, noting BRIBERY in verse 19. We see the same reference to bribery by ALL of Israel’s leaders in Micah chapter 3, as follows:

      9. Hearken now to this, you heads of the house of Jacob and you rulers of the house of Israel, who condemn justice and pervert all that is straight.
      10. EACH ONE builds Zion with blood and Jerusalem with injustice. [emphasis mine]
      11. Its heads judge for bribes, and its priests teach for a price; and its prophets divine for money, and they rely on the Lord, saying, “Is not the Lord in our midst? No evil shall befall us.” [prophets falsely trust in peace]
      12. Therefore, because of you, Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the Temple Mount like the high places of a forest.

      Honestly, though, even if you want to use that particular verse to claim that false prophets proclaim peace only for those who follow them, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change the clear picture of false prophets GENERALLY falsely proclaiming peace, as given throughout the Tanakh, and prophets of the LORD more often known for proclaiming doom. Whom did Ahab not want to ask for because he, unlike the false prophets who preached peace, would tell Ahab the truth of the destruction that was to come, in 2 Chronicles 18? What about Jeremiah chapter 28? This was the general problem of the false prophets depicted repeatedly throughout the Tanakh. If you lack passages that clearly show you this, I can provide them. But it is also evident if you simply read the sin and wretched truth (truths the people did not want to hear) predicted over and over by the TRUE prophets of the LORD throughout all of these books. And you see them (the true prophets) denouncing the false prophets who spoke peace when there was none. You also see the true prophets speaking out against Israel’s leaders of every sort, over and over. Zephaniah chapter 3 is a clear picture:

      1. Ah, sullied, polluted, overbearing city!
      2. She has been disobedient, has learned no lesson. She has not trusted in the LORD, has not drawn near to her God.
      3. The officials within her are roaring lions; her judges, wolves of the steppe, they leave no bone until morning.
      4. Her prophets are reckless, faithless fellows; Her priests profane what is holy; they give perverse rulings.

      This is only one of many such passages. I can provide more if you desire to examine them, but for lack of space I will leave it here because I know that you, too, are as capable as I of searching Scriptures.
      Shalom

      • P.S. In my comment that if they call themselves followers of Jesus, it is safe to assume they are following Jesus, I do not refer to people who claim to be following righteousness but show by evil works and schemes and bribery and ill-gotten gains that they are not. Those kinds of people have existed in Israel and throughout all nations since the beginning of time.

  24. Freedom
    The accusation that you came here to accuse is false?! – Look back to your post from February 14 where you accuse me of intentionally distorting Scripture. It seems that you love to point out the sins of others but cannot begin to acknowledge your own sins – completely in synch with the attitude of those who you don’t want Ezekiel 13 to be talking about
    My point about Ezekiel 13 was not that you respect any teachers that taught you what it says – but that you repect a specific group of leaders (who happened to be Jewish) to the degree that you cannot acknowledge that the curse of Ezekiel was fulfilled against them – I am talking of Jesus and his Jewish followers. For you to dream that this curse was not fulfilled against him is ignoring history – where were the Jewish followers of Jesus ten generations after the death of Jesus?
    You simply ignore the word of God – Deuteronomy 30 says it will happen… you will return – how is this not a prophecy for the future?
    I asked you a simple question about certain Scriptures – I didn’t give you any interpretation – I just asked you who those Scriptures are talking about – how can you accuse me of taking these Scriptures out of context? I didn’t say anything about them I just asked you to help me identify the people the passages are talking about – let’s keep it simple – who are the holy exalted ones of Daniel 7?
    About the Sabbath – exactly! it says that the purpose of Sabbath is that Israel know a specific thing – in other words God presented this day to Israel so that they can know a specific thing – the Jew who grows up in a Jewish home will encounter the Sabbath every week – hundreds of times before he or she reads the first page of Scripture – and this Jew will come face to face with that specific piece of knowledge that God wants to impart to us through the sign of Sabbath – this fact will lend weight and emphasis to this piece of information that one who doesn’t encounter Sabbath will fail to appreciate.

    • Friend,
      I did indeed say I believed you were intentionally distorting Scripture on the date you cited. Why? Because in multiple posts, you had made comments contrary to Scripture. In the precise post you refer to now, of Genesis 18 and the Bush, you had in fact said that the one defined as YWHW in Genesis 18 was not really YWHW, although in a later post (Nine Letters # 5 – Sinai and Genesis 18) you acknowledged that your statement was inaccurate, and that Genesis 18 and Exodus 24 do in fact refer to the LORD G-d of Israel. You had also, in previous posts, implied various unscriptural things, such as the use of something other than the blood serving to symbolize the same thing with regard to the Passover. Should I have said your distortion was intentional? Did I not say myself the following, within that same post?: “Nonetheless, I am happy to take this moment to acknowledge that I have enjoyed the discussions with the rabbi, whom I now call Friend, and that I believe I stated some of my feelings on the matter too strongly.”

      The better question would be, if you believe I was sinning in being judgmental, then why would you want to pattern yourself after me by doing the same thing?

      Again, it is completely false to assert that Ezekiel 13 refers to Jesus/followers – and you should know this is false. They did NOT proclaim well-being for Jerusalem (Ezekiel 13:16) – and if you claim otherwise, you are only contradicting yourself because you have claimed in the past that Jesus spoke against Jerusalem and her leaders, as I said above.

      You said: You simply ignore the word of God – Deuteronomy 30 says it will happen… you will return – how is this not a prophecy for the future?

      False. Deuteronomy 30 says, “IF YOU WILL” …. “THEN I WILL.”
      That does not entail a prophesy; it entails a promise. So I have a question for you: Is Israel’s state sinful or righteous in Isaiah 59, during the description of the restoration? In Isaiah 65? In Isaiah 4? In Hosea 2? In Micah 2 and 3? In Zephaniah 3? Note the EXTREME sinfulness described in the early part of the latter one I just mentioned, and yet G-d then says in verse 9: “For then I WILL MAKE the peoples pure of speech, so that they all invoke the LORD by name and serve Him with one accord” [emphasis mine, to point out that this was not a case of the people first obeying the Torah and then being rewarded but rather describes them as totally sinful but G-d’s meeting them where they were at, when they could not. So, again, is the state of Israel in all of these passages that lay out for us, step by step, how her restoration will come described as sinful preceding the restoration or righteous? If she was in fact righteous, having returned to the Torah before the final Restoration, then why did G-d need to make a new covenant (Jeremiah 31) and give them a new heart instead of their heart of stone (Ezekiel 36)? Does He not explicitly say in Ezekiel 36, in fact, that it is NOT for her sake but for His Own Holy Name, which she has profaned, that He will do all of this? Then how does this equate, in your mind, to Israel having first fulfilled the Torah before the final Restoration?

      With regard to the individual verses we both discussed, you asked me a simple question about certain Scriptures – true. But you asked it in the context of claiming that Deuteronomy 30 is a prophesy (which it is not; it is a clear statement of what their DESERVED merit / reward would look like; the actual prophesies about Israel’s state of sin directly preceding the Restoration are provided clearly and in great detail throughout many, many Scriptures, I would like to hear your interpretation of Ezekiel 36, Isaiah 4, Hosea 2, and so forth).

      The holy ones in Daniel 7 are the redeemed, the ransomed. We see this clearly in Isaiah 51:10-11: “…a road the redeemed might walk. So let the ransomed of the LORD return” (verses 10-11). There are hundreds of verses that speak of the righteous as being those who are REDEEMED, the very definition of which speaks for itself, but I chose Isaiah 51 (which is preceded by Isaiah 50, where Israel’s sinful state was already clarified) because it is one of the texts you used along with Daniel 7 in your earlier post. In fact, if you read on in Daniel, as well, to Daniel chapter 9, you see again that this same holy man to whom this amazing vision was given claimed no merit or righteousness of his own but rather threw Himself on G-d’s Mercy for HIS Righteousness and HIS Name’s sake. THAT is the concept the holiest men of G-d had regarding whether or not Israel had fulfilled the Torah.

      About the Sabbath – again, you are using Exodus 31:13 as a proof text when in reality it does not say what you are saying (if I understand you correctly). First – G-d lists MANY, MANY things in Scripture using the same term: “that you may know…,” one of which was Jeremiah 44:29, in which He describes a sign that His threats of punishments would be fulfilled. In other words, this term you are citing was not specific to general knowledge about G-d being absent or granted depending on whether the person kept the Sabbath; it was referring to a way of acknowledging, or admitting, a specific thing – that G-d was the one (not themselves) who consecrated them. And I agree there; I, too, believe in the great importance of fasting and remembering the ordinances of the LORD, and He established His Sabbath as a way for us to remember that. This is not to say that following G-d’s other precepts might not interfere with the Sabbath (i.e., there were also many laws referring to treatment of the needy and poor, and even to helping even a beast that has fallen under his burden to get up), but the Sabbath is certainly meant to be a sign of G-d’s consecration – in which, as with anything, the Giver of the Law and of all good things (and not the law itself) is to be worshipped and revered.

  25. Freedom
    I have no problem turning back the discussion to Tanach and away from you or me as people – it was you who brought up the issue of being judgmental
    I will say however that your attitude is striking – you assume that whenever I differ from your interpretation of Scripture then I must be distorting or misreading Scripture – did it occur to you that perhaps the opposite is true? – You told me that you pray to God so that He open your eyes in case you are misreading Scripture – did it perhaps occur to you that my humble words are the answer to your prayer?
    For your information nothing I said in the article entitled “Nine Letters #5” contradicts anything I said in the article entitled “The Bush” – God is God and He sometimes sends an angel to speak His words
    And my point about other concepts teaching and symbolizing the same concept as the Passover blood is not a distortion of Scripture
    About Ezekiel 13 – Let me explain someting to you. About 2000 years ago there were two communities facing off against each other – you had Jesus and his followers criticizing the Pharisees and their followers – both of these communities were within the Jewish community at that point in time – the fact that the Pharisees had the majority of the people behind them while Jesus and his followers did not is not relevant to this discussion – both of these groups of people were Jewish – You consistently remind us of the EXTREME sinful nature of the Jewish people – especially those who lead them – so why is it so hard for you to see that Jesus wasn’t as sinless as he claimed? Don’t you always point to the Scriptures which reiterate that they are ALL sinfull? The fact that God blessed the community of the Pharisees – that their names and memories be perpetuated inside the heart of the nation of God while Jesus and his followers were cursed to have their name blotted out from the hearts of God’s nation tells me something – I see in Ezekiel 13 that the punishment that God reserves for false prophets is the very thing that happened to Jesus and his followers. Your counter-argument that Jesus’ message was not precisely the same as the message of the false prophets of Ezekiel’s time is silly. Does every false prophet have to preach the same message? In any case your argument is unscriptural – because while the message of the false prophets was peace – and Jesus’ message for the general population was destruction – but the pattern is still the same – The false prophets always preached destruction for those who would not respect them – this is explicit in Micah 3:5 – the only difference was that in Ezekiel and Micah’s day the false prophets enjoyed large followings so their primary message was peace – in Jesus’ day the Jewish people had God’s spirit in their midst as God assured them through the prophet Haggai (Haggai 2:5) so the majority of the people did not fall for Jesus’ flase teachings – so while Jesus preached peace to his following – he preached destruction for those who did not repsect him – but the pattern is the same.
    Concerning Deuteronomy 30 – where does it say the word “if”?
    I want you to notice something about Deuteronomy 30 – it starts out by saying that we will return to obey ALL of the law (verse 2) then it goes on to say that God will circumcise our hearts so that we can love God with all our hearts – obviously before the circumcision of the hearts we were not doing that – so how can verse 2 say that we were obeying ALL of the law BEFORE the circumcision of the heart?
    The answer is – and this seems to be the primary point that you are missing – is that when human beings turn to God in humility and ask for God’s help in doing the Law – then that is observing the law even though as human beings they cannot do it perfectly – God knows our weakness (Psalm 103:14) – So even while we are being criticised by the prophets for extreme sinfulness – we are still His holy exalted ones – its not a contradiction – God is always demanding more from us and we are capable of giving more – but God still sees our loyalty to Him as something holy – Psalm 44 expresses the same idea – it speaks of Israel’s suffering – something that would only happen if they disobey God – yet at the same time it speaks of Israel’s loyalty to God
    Isaiah 59:20 says that the redeemer will come WHEN we turn from sin – exactly as described in Deuteronomy 30. Daniel speaks of the holy exalted ones while we are under the curses of exile
    Of-course I don’t think that the redemption will come because of our merits or our righteousness – but it will take a turning back towards God in humility which includes a human effort at observance of the Law – and that itself is a gift from God.
    One more thing – even if it would be theoretically possible for Israel to observe the Law perfectly – the redemption would still not come in their merit – simply because God owes no one anything and no one ever gives God what God hadn’t first given them – it would still be solely for God’s sake. The fact is that we have not kept the Law perfectly at all – we haven’t even observed the Law according to human standards and that is why we are in exile – when we acknowledge our sin and turn back to God He will redeem us as He promised (Leviticus 26:40,41,42)
    You say that the holy exalted ones of Daniel 7 are the “ransomed ones” – so can you please identify them in the real world – who suffered all these years at the hands of the fourth beast?
    By the way – since Israel’s redemption from Egypt they are called “God’s redeemed”
    As for Sabbath – I don’t quite get your references about treating the needy and the poor – that is what the Sabbath is all about (in case you are interested you can go to my critique of Dr. Brown’s volume #4 and check out point # 28) – but in any case my point was that the lesson of Israel’s sanctity (together with many other lessons) was something that God chose to teach the Jewish people through the sign of the Sabbath – my understanding of this is that by encountering this sign – we are reminded of this truth – not just reminded of it – but we are reminded of it in precisely the way God ordained that this truth be remembered. The fact is that every Jew who observes the Sabbath will enocunter this truth and be impacted by this truth thousands of times throughout his or her life – this encounter and reminder will add weight to this truth, it will add emphasis to this truth and it will deepen the Jew’s appreciation of this truth – I understand that this is what God intended with the observance of the Sabbath as He states in Exodus 31:13 – do you agree with my understanding or do you disagree with it?
    One more final question – who do you understand that the Song of Solomon is referring to? Who is the man and who is the woman of that holy song?

    • Friend,

      At the risk of sounding defensive (which I honestly do not feel), I do not assume that whenever you differ from my interpretation, you must be distorting or misreading Scripture. I have assumed that in the past because you quoted words of the Tanakh and then went on to say that they did not mean what they really say. I am most happy to consider your insights insomuch as they remain true to the plain and simple reading of Scripture. Which is why there have been some blog posts you have made to which my response was simply “Amen!” It is when your insights move to speculation or to saying prophesies really do not mean what they say (sometimes not in so many words, but by avoiding the issue of what they ARE saying or turning them around as though they were somehow an attack from me even though G-d is the One who said them) that I disagree.

      Nowhere does Scripture indicate that other things can be used to symbolize the same concept as the Passover blood, so we disagree on that – I’ll leave that alone. As for Genesis 18, which you initially said was not the LORD G-d even though the verse clearly distinguishes Him from the other two, who were angelic beings, you say in the later post that “When God appears to His prophets – however it is that He chooses to appear to them – they know that they are talking with the Master of all creation.” If they are talking with an angel, are they in fact talking with the Master of all Creation? I’ll leave that alone as well, but we will clearly have to disagree on that point.

      With regard to Ezekiel 13, I believe we must obviously agree to disagree, too. You said this: “In any case your argument is unscriptural – because while the message of the false prophets was peace – and Jesus’ message for the general population was destruction – but the pattern is still the same….”
      No. I’m sorry, but the message of peace and the message of destruction are two VERY different messages. As I’ve already pointed out, what the entire chapter of Ezekiel ACTUALLY depicts, if you read it thoroughly, is a picture of false prophets whose general claim is “It is well!” and see a vision of well-being for Jerusalem when there is no well-being (verses 10-16). The next section begins with a NEW ISSUE: “And now mortal…” saying to set their faces against the women of the people who prophesy false things, noting BRIBERY in verse 19. In other words, I believe you are inaccurately blurring the two issues. We see the same reference to bribery by ALL of Israel’s leaders in Micah chapter 3, as I noted before, in the following verses:
      9. Hearken now to this, you heads of the house of Jacob and you rulers of the house of Israel, who condemn justice and pervert all that is straight.
      10. EACH ONE builds Zion with blood and Jerusalem with injustice. [emphasis mine]
      11. Its heads judge for bribes, and its priests teach for a price; and its prophets divine for money, and they rely on the Lord, saying, “Is not the Lord in our midst? No evil shall befall us.” [prophets falsely trust in peace]
      12. Therefore, because of you, Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the Temple Mount like the high places of a forest.

      In addition, what you said about Jesus predicting peace for those who followed Him was also inaccurate – He predicted tribulation, hatred, and death. I say this not because I want to move to discussing Jesus but rather because I do not like for verses in the Tanaykh to be maneuvered to try to “fit” a group of people they do not fit at all. No, in my opinion, the facts of Ezekiel 13 very clearly line up with those prophets discussed in Jeremiah 28, Zephaniah 3, 2 Chronicles 18, and many, many others – the false prophets were known for preaching the “well-being” of Jerusalem/Israel, while the TRUE prophets more often predicted doom – a message the people did not want to hear and thus often imprisoned and killed the prophets. I see that I cannot convince you of this, however, and that is not my job. I can only be true to Scripture and allow G-d to do His work in both of us in His way and His time.
      Concerning the word “if” in reference to Deuteronomy 30 – I am referring to the entire context. Chapter 30 does not appear in a vacuum; it follows Deuteronomy 28 and 29. Deuteronomy 28 says this: “Now, IF you obey the LORD your G-d, to observe faithfully ALL His commandments…” [emphasis mine] “…all these blessings shall come upon you…”
      Verse 15: “But IF you do not obey the LORD your God to observe faithfully ALL His commandments and laws…” [emphasis mine] “…all these curses shall come upon you and take effect…”
      Again in verse 58, after a long list of many, many curses: “IF you fail to observe ALL the terms of this Teaching that are written in this book…” [again, emphasis mine].
      Genesis 30:1-2 then says WHEN the blessing and the curse set before you occur and then lists the option of blessing. He uses the causal complement (כִּי) in verse 10 – which also is used in verse 11. So if you are going to say that the “if/when” of verse 10 means a definite “when,” they you have to say that the “for” of verse 11, which is the exact same word in Hebrew, also qualifies the promises of verses 1-10 – they are promised only WHEN this commandment is not hidden from them, and again in verse 14, only WHEN this thing is very close to you. The same term is used in all of these verses.

      Then, verse “17 says, “but IF your heart turns away…”

      If the preceding verses were a promise of the final Restoration, there would be no “IF” here. How do we know this? Because, according to Ezekiel 36, the final Restoration will occur in the middle of Israel’s horrendous sin, profaning His Name. It says at that point, G-d will give them a new heart to replace their heart of stone, after which – because of G-d’s work – they will never again disobey him. So, after that point, there will be no more “IF” of the heart turning away – it will never again turn away, period, because G-d will have given her a new heart to replace her heart of stone (Ezekiel 36).
      The entire context of Genesis 28-30 is clearly one of exhortation and promise, not one of prediction as to what they will choose. He says in 30:19: “Choose life” if they and their offspring would live… saying that by doing so, they will endure long on the soil of their forefathers.

      You still have not answered my question about Ezekiel 36 – does it indicate that fulfillment of the Torah will take place first or that G-d would intervene despite her sin and give her a new heart? And if you believe it indicates that Israel will first fulfill the Torah (i.e., she is heeding “all” these instructions as outlined in Deuteronomy 28-30), then why does she need a new heart? And what does Ezekiel 36 mean, in that case, by the following?

      verse 17. “Son of man! The house of Israel, as long as they lived on their own land, they defiled it by their way and by their misdeeds, like the uncleanness of a woman in the period of her separation was their way before Me.
      18. Wherefore I poured My wrath upon them for the blood that they had shed in the land, because they had defiled it with their idols.
      19. And I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries. According to their way and their misdeeds did I judge them.
      20. And they entered the nations where they came, and they profaned My Holy Name, inasmuch as it was said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord, and they have come out of His land.’
      21. But I had pity on My Holy Name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they had come.
      22. Therefore, say to the house of Israel; So says the Lord God: Not for your sake do I do this, O house of Israel, but for My Holy Name, which you have profaned among the nations to which they have come.
      23. And I will sanctify My great Name, which was profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord-is the declaration of the Lord God-when I will be sanctified through you before their eyes.
      24. For I will take you from among the nations and gather you from all the countries, and I will bring you to your land.
      25. And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you will be clean; from all your impurities and from all your abominations will I cleanse you.
      26. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.
      27. And I will put My spirit within you and bring it about that you will walk in My statutes and you will keep My ordinances and do [them].
      28. Then will you dwell in the land that I gave your fathers, and you will be a people to Me, and I will be to you as a God.
      I believe we see that in fact the message of redemption and restoration was indeed not one in which Israel first fulfilled the Torah and then received the blessing but rather the reverse. G-d will give her a new heart and a new covenant altogether (Jeremiah 31), and only then will she even be able to fulfill the Torah.

      Regarding Isaiah 59, it does not say the redeemer will come when Israel has turned from sin; verse 16 clearly says that He will bring salvation while Israel was in the midst of horrendous sin. It says there was no man (אַיִן ) and that at that point, He brought salvation Himself.
      The following verses reference the time AFTER He has done all this—He will have defeated the enemies (verse 18) and the entire world (not just Israel) will fear the name of the LORD, from the west to the east.
      THEN, after Israel will have already seen His Salvation (verse 16) DESPITE her horrendous sin—as already described in verses 1¬–15, and AFTER the entire world reveres the name of the LORD, the Redeemer will come to those in Israel who repent. The salvation comes first, in the middle of her sin, not after she has repented. And not before she fulfills the Torah, either. See Ezekiel 36 (and several other passages previously listed, such as Hosea 2), which again clarifies the order of events at the final Restoration.

      With regard to Daniel speaking of the holy exalted ones, there are indeed holy ones, but Scripture after Scripture describes them as the ransomed and redeemed. In addition, Daniel’s prayer of chapter 9 clarifies, if anyone had any doubt, that Israel was far from holy and exalted. And even during times of Restoration, we still see acknowledgment of deep sin; nothing changes with regard to the holiest men of G-d always acknowledging their sin. As I’ve mentioned previously, Yom Kippur clarifies that, if anyone had any doubt; the holiest men of G-d had to first offer a sacrifice for their own sin, every single year. So the holiest men of G-d never went even one year without sinning, much less a lifetime. I realize you aren’t saying they did, but I think it is important to emphasize this point – the holy and exalted ones Daniel saw were holy because of G-d’s holiness and His work on their behalf (Isaiah 59), washing their sin away (Isaiah 43:25); and redeeming them (yes, redemption referred many times to both deliverance from the evil without and from the evil within).

      You asked me to identify the ransomed in the real world – very simply, they are the ones who understand that the LORD has cleansed them from sin by His own merit and not their own (those referred to in Isaiah 43:25, Isaiah 4:3-4, and many others). They believe Scripture and know that He is the one who gives them a new heart because they NEED a new heart; they admit that their original heart is sinful, and with it they are unable to fulfill the Torah or to merit the blessing they could only truly deserve if they fulfill “all” the laws as G-d required in the latter chapters of Deuteronomy. He said, after that, that blessing is promised only if they fulfill ALL the laws, and G-d does not use the word “all” to mean only “some.”
      Thus it is that in acknowledging their sinful heart and the LORD as the sole Redeemer, the sole giver of a new heart in exchange for the heart of stone, that they are ransomed.

      As for Sabbath – yes, I agree with your assessment if I properly understand what you are saying this time. I do not see in that Scripture anything like what I previously understood you to be saying (that G-d grants general Scriptural knowledge through observance of the Sabbath) because, first of all, Exodus 31:13 (and other Scriptures) say nothing of the sort. He uses the same terms used in Exodus 31:13 to refer to giving a sign that Israel know many things about Him – most nothing to do with the Sabbath, and some in a negative context of “knowing” that He will fulfill His threats to punish them. The Sabbath is a sign, in other words, and a time to be reminded of G-d’s Holiness and His consecration (again, HIS consecration, not our merit). Yes, I agree with that, if that is what you are saying. I personally seek to fast on the Sabbath when I am not required to host company or something of that nature, and G-d established the Sabbath from the very beginning of Scripture, even before the Law.

      You said: One more final question – who do you understand that the Song of Solomon is referring to? Who is the man and who is the woman of that holy song?
      I believe this book clearly refers to the LORD G-d of Israel and to Israel His bride. He loved her, and they had a beautiful relationship. As we see in chapter 5, He came to her, but she did not want to get up and open the door. And then He was hidden from her. Yet the story, overall, is a beautiful picture of love, which will endure forever for His bride.
      Shalom

      • P.S. I meant to say, “and not *after* she has fulfilled the Torah”…in other words, Ezekiel 36 and Jeremiah 31 and the many other passages I’ve already listed depict G-d FIRST establishing the new covenant (saying in Jeremiah that this one “will not be like the [Sinai] covenant…which they broke” and giving them a new heart, and THEN they will all obey. The new heart and new covenant FIRST, taking her out of her sin and giving her a new heart, and THEN the true holiness.

      • Larry says:

        “I do not assume that whenever you differ from my interpretation, you must be distorting or misreading Scripture. I have assumed that in the past because you quoted words of the Tanakh and then went on to say that they did not mean what they really say. I am most happy to consider your insights in so much as they remain true to the plain and simple reading of Scripture”.

        At the risk of being booted from this site, I liked it more Freedom when you called people names, at least I knew where you were coming from. But this, is insanity. Only you understand, and only if you approve. Only if it agrees with you, you give it your blessing.

        • If I believe it agrees with the clear and plain reading of Scripture.
          Shalom

          • And I hope that if I were to cite a passage of Scripture and say it means something different from what it says, that those who believe that what I am saying does NOT agree with a clear and plain reading of Scripture will say so.
            I have not called people names. I have stated what I believed their intentions were, but I have not called anyone names, even when accusations have been made to me that I felt were unfair.
            Shalom

  26. Freedom
    I’ll cut to the chase and skip out most of the peripheral stuff – I just can’t resist this one – how is it that in your mind all of the Jewish leaders are corrupt to the core but Jesus who was also a leader of sorts as well as being Jewish – part of the sinful nation heavy with sin etc. (do I need to quote all the Scriptures?) is somehow free from this corruption?
    One more (perhaps not so peripheral) – don’t you realize that what to you may be a “clear and plain” reading of Scripture may seem twisted and distorted to someone else who loves Scripture as much as you think you do and has read all of it many times in prayerful humility before God – don’t you realize that possibility?
    Here is where I will cut to the chase – you point out that I didn’t answer your question about Ezekiel 36 – you know something – you didn’t answer my question about Deuteronomy 30 – had you focused on my question you would have realized that it answers your question.
    So to reiterate – my question was as follows – in Deuteronomy 30:2 it says that Israel will return to fulfill the Law according to ALL that Moses commands – you may have noticed that in Deuteronomy 6 Moses commands us to love God with all our hearts – so we could perhaps assume that Deuteronomy 30:2 would mean that we have fulfilled that commandment – now move on to Deuteronomy 30:6 where it says that after God restores us to the land (thus after Deueteronomy 30:2 which takes place while we are still dispersed in exile) He circumcizes our heart so that we can love God with all our hearts – hey didn’t that happen in verse 2 already? why do we need the circumcision of the heart if we are already fulfilling all of the Law?
    The answer is that the fulfillment of the law expected before the circumcision of the heart is not the same as after the circumcision of the heart – and this answers your question about Ezekiel 36 – when God judges the nation as a whole before the circumcision of the heart – which is the same as granting us a new heart – then we are impure defiled polluted and unclean – but this does not mean that there is no obedience at all – it means that according to the standard of a circumcised heart – we have not yet loved God with all our hearts (1Kings 14:8 description of David can help you understand this concept – remember David said concerning himself that his sins are heavy and weighty – Psalm 38)
    Your response as to the identity of the holy exalted ones is self contradictory – you keep on insisting that “all” means “all” – that being the case if you believe that there are people walking around with a new heart today – so do you know anyone that observes “all” of the commandments perfectly? (-again – the holy exalted ones of Daniel are here with us in exile)
    There is more for me to say here but I think your facing these issues will help you see why you are not reading the “clear and plain” meaning of Scripture

    • Friend,
      – I did not say all of the Jewish leaders are corrupt to the core; I merely cut and pasted Scripture directly from chabad.org. Those were G-d’s Words, not mine.

      Yes, I realize there are instances in which one person may view as clear and plain that which another views otherwise. I do not have a problem with that, for the most part, and I have not memorized all of Scripture either, or know it as well as I hope to one day know it – and there is no person who ever knows everything about Scripture. That is fine.
      I’m referring to saying things that directly contradict what G-d says in Scripture. For example, you said in your post titled Eternal Freedom that” the beastly spirit that brought people to murder little children did not overtake us,” without explaining that in fact Israel, too, slaughtered her children and offered them to idols, as we are told in Ezekiel. It seems that at that time, the beastly spirit did indeed overtake Israel just as it has overtaken other nations from time to time.
      There have been a few similar issues – remarks that Israel is the one nation that has not turned (as a nation) to other gods…G-d directly contradicts this repeatedly in Scripture, in dozens of passages. He clearly lists not only His complaint that Israel in fact did turn to idols over and over, profaning His name (in Ezekiel 36 even stating that she has polluted the land the whole time she was there), but also states horrendous, specific sins in Jeremiah 2 and 3, Ezekiel 20-23, and many other passages – in some of which He actually states that Israel taught the worst of women her ways. I say that to explain what I mean – I understand that you and I will, understandably, differ on some points of Scripture, but my problem comes when I feel these things are shushed.

      You said I didn’t answer your question about Deuteronomy 30:2 – I answered what I thought your question was, which begins with the fact that I believe you are operating on a false premise. The verse does NOT say that Israel will return to fulfill the Law according to ALL that Moses commands. I work in linguistics and examined the small terms that appear here in Hebrew, and verse 2 is preceded by verse 1, which uses the conditional “IF/WHEN” that is regularly used for that same meaning throughout Scripture (and verse 2 is a continuation of the same sentence, with the same conditional terms). So it says, “IF/WHEN” you do these things, THEN this is what will happen. This same “if/when” appears again in verse 10 as a follow-up (so, all of this will occur, if you do these things), and again in verses 11 and 14. Not only that, but the verses that follow provide the OTHER alternative (if you do NOT follow these things), clarifying that he is indeed giving them a CHOICE here, and not a promise. And then, in case anyone missed any of that, he again states in verse 19 that they should CHOOSE the best way if they want to endure in the soil and live long.
      And as I mentioned previously, the entire context of a conditional choice/result being presented was already laid out plainly in chapters 28 and 29 – IF YOU WILL… then this is what will happen. But IF YOU DO NOT…then the opposite will occur. This is an exhortation.

      However, Israel will indeed one day fulfill the Torah. As both Isaiah 59 and Ezekiel 36 clarify (which, by the way, are not answered by your response at all), the Salvation and new heart will come FIRST; after that Israel will finally truly walk in G-d’s ways. I’ve already quoted the passages and noted step by step how G-d presents the order of events. I see that we must disagree on this for now.

      As for my identity of the holy exalted ones, I do not believe it is self-contradictory at all. G-d is the One who repeated said BOTH that there was “no one” who truly did right AND yet also talked of the righteous who are redeemed and ransomed. Was He contradicting Himself? I don’t think so.

      Blessings, friend.
      Shalom

  27. Freedom
    You did not answer even one of my questions – If all of the Jewish leaders were corrupt (according to the words you cut and pasted) then how is Jesus not included under that umbrella? and if you acknowledge that not everyone is included then what method do you use to determine who is and who isn’t corrupt?
    When I spoke of us being free from the beastly spirit that overtook the nations I was referring to the specific time period of the holocaust – in any case from the time that God’s spirit stood in our midst (Haggai 2:5) idolatry and child sacrifice have not been Jewish vices
    Your assertions about Deuteronomy 30 are patently false (there is no “if” in the passage) – but if you would care to read what I wrote you would see that that was not my question at all – my question was why would we need the circumcision of the heart in verse 6 if we are already obeying ALL of the Law in verse 2 – can you please answer the question?
    About the holy exalted ones – again you seem to miss the point – so are these holy exalted ones granted a new heart already? If they are – then are they observing ALL of the Law?
    Please answer the questions – until you do that the appearance that you portray is that you ignore Scripture that doesn’t fit your agenda and at the same time you preach to others about loyalty to Scripture (note – I am not judging you – I am just telling you what image you are presenting here) – so please answer the questions
    again – here are the questions that I already asked several times without getting an answer from you
    1) what method do you use to determine that Jesus is not one of the corrupt leaders that the prophets warned us about?
    2) If israel is observing the Law in Deuteronomy 30:2 – then why do they need the circumcision of the heart in verse 6
    3) Are the holy exalted ones described in Daniel observing ALL of the Law?

    • Friend,
      1. You have consistently ignored my repeated question about the order of events G-d presents in Ezekiel 36; which does He say there will occur first – obedience to the Torah or His giving of the new heart?

      2. As I’ve stated before, I don’t prefer to discuss issues outside of the Tanakh, so I will ignore the question about Jesus. It was not my statement to begin with; what I did was list Scriptures in which G-d said all the leaders were corrupt – you may draw your own conclusions from that because you are as capable as I of looking at what Scriptures say.

      3. Again – THE TANAKH DOES NOT SAY THAT ISRAEL IS OBSERVING THE LAW IN DEUTERONOMY 30:2. I cannot answer a question that is based on a false premise to begin with, and I do not understand why you continue to ignore what I already said. The word “IF/WHEN” is indeed present; verse 2 is a continuation of verse 1. If you are a linguist, you are aware that this is how language works; you cannot pull a verse out of nowhere and use it as a proof text. You have to consider WHAT SENTENCE is being continued, and the one that is continued here is one that begins with “IF/WHEN” (verse 1).
      I see you don’t believe that, – so answer me this. How do you explain the entire context of Genesis 28, 29, and 30, with IF YOU DO, THEN I WILL listed throughout, and Genesis 30 ending with an exhortation to choose properly between the two options of blessing or curse?
      Verse 15 CLEARLY SAYS it is a choice, so I do not see how you can ignore that. He says, “See, I set before you this day life and prosperity, death and adversity…” The Hebrew word is נָתַן, which means to give, set, ascribe. He says he is giving them a choice.
      Then in verse 19, he clearly says AGAIN that this is a choice, using the Hebrew word בָּחַר.
      If it is a choice, it is NOT a prediction of what they will choose (that is not a choice at all). To assert otherwise does not even make any sense to me. Please also explain how you see the context (chapters 28 and 29) fitting in with your assertion.
      Until you can explain those things (1. The context of Genesis 28-30 of choices to begin with, and 2. The order of events as G-d clearly presents them in Ezekiel 36), we really cannot proceed on this question because I believe your premise is faulty. I feel you are ignoring the context of this chapter, specifically, and ignoring the prophecies overall, throughout the Tanakh that do clearly tell us the order of events in which it will happen). So – your question: why does Israel need circumcision of the heart if she is already obeying ALL the Law? The answer is, revise the question – it is based on a false assumption. In Ezekiel 36:17 G-d says “Son of man! The house of Israel, as long as they lived on their own land, they defiled it by their way and by their misdeeds, like the uncleanness of a woman in the period of her separation was their way before Me.”
      What part of that verse seems unclear? And how do you explain it?

      4. The holy exalted ones in Daniel are observing ALL the law only after they have been redeemed by the LORD, who has washed their sins away (Isaiah 43:25, Isaiah 4:3-4). Again, Ezekiel 36 and MANY other passages make it clear that the true obedience comes AFTER the new heart, not before.
      These holy exalted ones are those whom He has saved, as He describes in Isaiah 59:16 and later verses, and then they repented (verse 20) and trusted in Him. They have not claimed this was their own doing, just as the very author of this book you mention (Daniel) also did not (chapter 9). These were holy, exalted ones because they trusted in HIS holiness. The entire chapter of Psalms 78 clearly outlines that G-d has done all He has done with a desire that they trust in Him (verse 7) versus His anger at those who do not (verse 21). G-d has given these, who have trusted in Him, a new heart, as already described in Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36, and as I’ve already mentioned in detail. He speaks repeatedly of the righteous as being redeemed and ransomed.

      5. Do you acknowledge that you need a new heart, as G-d claims in Ezekiel 36?

  28. Freedom
    1 – I explained to you that the answer to your question about Ezekiel 36 is my question from Deuteronomy 30 – there are obviously two levels of obedience – one before the circumcision of the heart and one after the circumcision of the heart – both of which are called observing ALL of the Law
    2 – You are missing the point here as well – you allow yourself an exception to the broad scope of the Scriptural condemnation of Israel – On what basis?
    3 – You miss the point here as well – let us assume for argument’s sake that your interpretation is correct – that this is passage is speaking of a theoretical possibility and not of a promise – fine – you still haven’t answered the question – In this theoretical scenario verse 2 speaks of observance of ALL of the Law to be followed by a circumcision of the heart – if someone (in this theoretical scenario) is observing all of the Law then why do they need a circumcision of the heart?
    4 – You still haven’t answered the question – according to Daniel – there are “holy exalted ones” who are alive today – my question to you is – do you know anyone who observes ALL of the Law? who is Daniel talking about? what is their address and phone number?
    5 – Of-course I do what kind of a question is that?
    Now will you please quit dodging the questions and answer them directly

    • Hi Friend,
      I have not dodged any of your questions—it seems you simply don’t like my answers.

      1. You did not answer my question about Ezekiel 36. Specifically, what do these verses mean?:
      Ezekiel 36:17 “Son of man! The house of Israel, as long as they lived on their own land, they defiled it by their way and by their misdeeds, like the uncleanness of a woman in the period of her separation was their way before Me.”

      Ezekiel 36:32. “Not for your sake do I do it, says the Lord God, may it be known to you; be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.”
      and so on, the entire passage, actually?

      Isaiah 59:16. “And He saw that there was no man, and He was astounded for there was no intercessor, and His arm saved for Him, and His righteousness, that supported Him.”

      My focus here is on the “no man” (not intercessor) just to be clear what my focus of this verse is here. Was there any righteous person, then, at this time before He saved through His own righteousness?

      2. I did not say whether Jesus was or wasn’t a corrupt leader, so I don’t find it necessary to defend your beliefs. I merely cited many very long passages of Scripture in which G-d denounced all the leaders as corrupt. You may conclude from that whatever you will from His Word. (In other words, I have no reason to defend a claim I haven’t made.)

      3. I did not miss your point; as I said, I believe you are operating on a faulty premise. If G-d says over and over, throughout Scripture (and demonstrates it in dozens of ways, from the sacrifices that the holiest men of G-d had to offer because they, too, were sinners) that NO ONE has fulfilled the Torah, then I refuse to answer the question of “But what if someone HAS fulfilled ALL the Law?” which is what this question seems to be. G-d said no one has. For me, that is the answer to your question.

      4. G-d has already ascertained that NO ONE fulfills the Torah, so that is a given. Daniel seeing a vision of these holy ones was a vision of the future—in past tense. As you know, G-d sees the future and past as one, which is why He can speak of an event in the past tense before it has even happened, and can speak of His holy ones as holy (because our sins are washed away for His own sake, not our own) before we are yet truly holy on earth. He sees us as we will be, knowing our faith is in Him alone, and He can refer to us as holy because He is holy and we are found in Him, in His righteousness.
      Did He not speak of Israel at some times as His own holy nation, speaking of her as the redeemed and ransomed, while also, in other passages, making it very clear that at the present time, she was practicing terrible sins? I think we both know this is true.
      In addition, Daniel 7 correlates with many passages in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. In the early part of Daniel 7, we see that one like a human being came with the clouds of heaven, to whom all dominion, glory, and kingdom will be given (verse 13). Yet we also see the explanation that the kingship, dominion, and grandeur will be given to the “people of the holy ones of the Most High” (verse 27). What, then, does this mean? And why are they called the “people of the holy ones”? Are they both people and also holy ones? Why would He use two terms here? And He does – in the Hebrew language as well.

      Israel can be who she becomes (holy) because of the One (G-d) in whom she is found—in His righteousness, with His new heart and His new covenant. Not like the Sinai covenant, which she broke (verse 32), as He says in Jeremiah 31, but with a new covenant, one that will be everlasting (Ezekiel 37:26).
      And if you have read through all of Ezekiel, which I am sure you have, you know that it is full (literally full) of account after account of Israel’s idolatry (even slaughtering her own children to them), unfaithfulness, wickedness, and profanity. Yet after all of this, in Ezekiel 36, G-d tells of giving her a new heart to replace her heart of stone. Then in Ezekiel 37:24-25. “And My servant David shall be king over them, and one shepherd shall be for them all, and they shall walk in My ordinances and observe My statutes and perform them. And they shall dwell on the land that I have given to My servant, to Jacob, wherein your forefathers lived; and they shall dwell upon it, they and their children and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever.”

      In Isaiah 40:10-11 “He also speaks of this age. He says, “10. Behold the Lord God shall come with a strong [hand], and His arm rules for Him; behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense is before Him. Like a shepherd [who] tends his flock, with his arm he gathers lambs, and in his bosom he carries [them], the nursing ones he leads.”

      There, He compares Himself to a shepherd.

      Yet also, in Ezekiel 34:23-24 “And I shall put up over them one shepherd and he will shepherd them, namely My servant David; he will shepherd them, and he will be for them as a shepherd. And I, the Lord, shall be to them for a God, and My servant David [will be] a prince in their midst; I, the Lord, have spoken.”

      In Jeremiah 23:5-6, we see this: “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will set up of David a righteous shoot, and he shall reign a king and prosper, and he shall perform judgment and righteousness in the land. In his days, Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely, and this is his name that he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness.”

      Interestingly, these books (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel) are those that depict Israel as a most horrendous sinner throughout. Yet…they also most clearly depict His redemption. For it is here that we see that He identified with Israel despite her sin, for He is most faithful. When He looks at her and calls her holy, He sees her as He is, for He has washed her (Isaiah 4:3-4) and loved and redeemed her, and she is Holy in HIS righteousness. The holy are the ones He sees in Himself, for they have trusted in His Righteousness, and He who sees the future as though it has already happened sees them as they WILL be, with the new heart He will give.

      This same beautiful love is seen in Isaiah 62, following the chapters of 58 and 59 that, again, depict her sins. The middle of Isaiah 59 shows that He was astonished that there was “no man,” after having described immense sin, and then He brought Salvation Himself – He alone.

      And then His good news in Isaiah 62:12 is this: “And they shall call them the holy people, those redeemed by the Lord, and you shall be called, ‘sought, a city not forsaken.'”

      5. Since you do believe you need a new heart, then what do you believe having a new heart will accomplish for you? What does that look like in real life? When do you get this new heart?

  29. Freedom
    You did not answer a single one of my questions and I have clearly answered yours
    1 – Ezekiel 36 states that Israel is underserving – and that always remains true (Job 9:30,31; 35:7) – this does not mean that there is no obedience whatsoever – I proved this from Deuteronomy 30 which describes obedience that is followed by a circumcision of the heart. The obedience BEFORE the circumcision of the heart is described as obedience to ALL of the Law. I proved this from 1Kings 14:8 where David is described as someone who did ONLY that which is straight in God’s eyes.
    What I see from these passages is that sometimes the prophets use extreme terms to describe sinfulness – but at other times we could see that the same prophets described the same people as righteous – another example is Joshua 7:11
    The same people that Ezekiel is talking about in chapter 36 are described in Psalm 44:18 as those who have not violated God’s covenant
    I have provided a solid Scriptural basis for my answer – yet you continue to refuse to look at the Scriptures that don’t fit your agenda
    2 – Here you are simply being evasive – everyone reading this conversation knows that you believe that Jesus was not corrupt – that measn that you understand that although the prophets condemned ALL of the leaders this doesn’t quite include everyone – your continued evasiveness on this question simply reinforces the impression that you have one standard of Scriptural interpretation for yourself and another for God’s nation
    3 – Here too you are evading a very simple and straightforward Scriptural question – Read Deuteronomy 30 verses 1 thru 10 – I don’t care if you want to believe that this is only a theoretical joke or not – I am just asking you to explain the Scripture – verse 2 describes obedience to ALL of the Law which is to be followed by a circumcision of the heart – how do you explain this passage? What obedience is being described in verse 2 and what obedience is being described in verse 6?
    4 – Your statement about Daniel’s vision of the future in past tense is evading the plain meaning of Scripture – The 11th horn will do battle with the “holy exalted ones” – they will be given into his hand for a time and times and a half – the same is stated in chapter 12:7 – the simple implication is that this is happening RIGHT NOW – so who are the holy exalted ones? Who is the “holy nation” of chapter 12?
    In case you jumped to the non-Scriptural conclusion that once a person sins once he or she can no longer be considered righteous or holy – go back to my response above at point #1
    5 – Read the Scriptures – they describe this quite clearly – this will happen AFTER ALL of Israel is gathered back into the land as the prophets taught us (Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 31:30; 32:39; Ezekiel 36:26; 37:24) – when do you think it is going to happen?
    6 – Can you give me even one Scriptural source for the idea that God counts someone righteous on the basis of the future?

    • Friend,
      I feel that the opposite is true. I have answered all of your questions with clear Scriptures while you have evaded mine by quoting a Scripture out of context and claiming it answers the others that clearly show the order of events as they occur in the last days.

      1. As I have showed you from Scripture already many, many times, Deuteronomy 30:2 does NOT say what you claim. Verse 1 begins with the conditional “IF/WHEN” term in Hebrew, and verse 2 continues the condition. Verse 3 states the THEN (result of that IF/THEN condition), stating the many blessings that will occur, if this condition is fulfilled – one of which is circumcision of the heart. Verse 10 again restates the “if/when” term in Hebrew, summarizing the condition, and verse 15 then CLEARLY states that what he has set before them (i.e., in chapters 28 through 30) is a CHOICE. As we both know, if it is a CHOICE, then it is NOT a prophecy as to which way they will choose. He then again restates the negative option and its negative results before them, and then he concludes in verse 19 by saying again that they should CHOOSE THE RIGHT OPTION.

      This is not an issue of me not looking at Scriptures that don’t fit my agenda; I have no agenda except to truthfully read G-d’s Word. What I do see is that if you continue to insist that chapter 30 promises which way the people will choose, then you are completely ignoring the entire passages leading up to chapter 30 to begin with, and then ignoring how the chapter ends (with an exhortation to choose wisely). By ignoring the context, you change the meaning of G-d’s Word and then say that a passage of exhortation somehow answers the passages I asked you about. It does not. Ezekiel 36 CLEARLY tells the order in which the events of restoration / fulfillment of the Torah will happen, and the answer there is that G-d will intervene in the middle of Israel’s sin. Ezekiel 36:17 “Son of man! The house of Israel, as long as they lived on their own land, they defiled it by their way and by their misdeeds, like the uncleanness of a woman in the period of her separation was their way before Me.”

      Ezekiel 36:32. “Not for your sake do I do it, says the Lord God, may it be known to you; be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.”

      What G-d is saying in Deuteronomy 30 is that conditional upon Israel’s obedience (the condition of “if/when” she makes the right choice), then the blessing would be the result, based on merit. If she does NOT make the right choice, then the other result is presented. Most importantly, IF SHE FULFILLED all the Torah, then what she would is a circumcised heart, as described in verse 6! Ezekiel 36 lets us know that in fact that isn’t what occurs at all! – the old heart has to be completely replaced! It’s not just a matter of having the old heart circumcised, because she has failed in that – she needs a completely new heart altogether! Just reread Ezekiel chapter 36 and 37, and you will see what I mean. I think I just explained my answer to your question #3 here as well. The answer is that IF Israel were able to attain this conditional blessing (conditional upon her obedience or the lack thereof), THEN in fact yes, she would need only a circumcised heart. But Ezekiel 36 and Jeremiah 31 tell us that isn’t the case. In fact, she needs a new heart and a new covenant because she broke the old covenant (Jeremiah 31) and has a heart of stone (Ezekiel 36). Will G-d desire that she keep her heart of stone and merely circumcise it? No, it has to be done away with altogether.

      2. I do not have two standards of Scriptural interpretation; I simply see that you are changing the subject to Jesus, when that really has nothing to do with what we were discussing. The only thing I said about Jesus (in response to what you said) is that Ezekiel 13 clearly does not refer to Jesus/followers. Just read the comments in the Christian Bible about Jesus’ followers being doomed to tribulation, being hated, and so forth; that is a completely different message from the one the prophets in Ezekiel 13 were giving, as seen in verses 10-16. And I provided several other passages of Scripture that describe the false prophets predicting peace when there was none, versus the true prophets generally predicting doom.
      I see no reason to try to turn that around to accuse me of having two standards of Scriptural interpretation; I was merely commenting on the plain and clear meaning of Ezekiel 13. As to whether “all” of the leaders of Israel includes Jesus – you are the one who said you considered Jesus a leader of the people in the first place; I did not say even that. That is the first issue we would have to decide our viewpoints on, and I don’t see it as relevant to any of what we are discussing here, nor is it what I was addressing at all. The bottom line is that you think Ezekiel 13 refers to Jesus / followers; I think it clearly does not and that one must twist Scripture to even wring that out of the passage. So if you are bringing all of this up now in relation to Ezekiel 13, then let us simply agree to disagree on that.

      3. Answered in #1 – IF that were true, then yes! Israel’s obedience would be followed by a circumcised heart. You mentioned the obedience of verse contrasted with the obedience of verse 6. The obedience of verse 2 refers primarily to the form – G-d’s commands, fearing and obeying Him in action. IF she were to fulfill ALL G-d’s commands, as previously listed in all the preceding chapters, then the only thing she would need, in verse 6, is a heart set free to properly love – which you are calling a circumcised heart.
      But that isn’t the case, is it? Because we see in Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 that a circumcised OLD heart will not work at all. She needs a new heart altogether precisely because she was unable to fulfill these conditions. What was G-d’s assessment of whether Israel had fulfilled the Torah in Jeremiah 31:32? Did he refer to the Sinai covenant as the covenant she broke or the covenant she fulfilled?

      4. I already told you who the holy ones are, from Scripture. They are the washed, the redeemed. The passage you quoted from 1Kings 14:8 only proves what I was saying. Because – did King David in fact fulfill the Torah? Is adultery acceptable? Is murder acceptable in the Torah? No. With King David, too, the only reason G-d could view him as having done ONLY what is right is that G-d Himself washed away David’s adultery, murder, and lies and remembered them no more. G-d testifies this of Himself in Psalms 103 – a beautiful picture of Who He is:
      Psalms 103:10-12 “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor has He requited us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him. AS EAST IS FAR FROM WEST, SO FAR HAS HE REMOVED OUR SINS FROM US…” [emphasis mine]. And here we see exactly why the holy are called holy. Because He has removed their sins as far as the east is from the west.
      He tells us clearly Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel who the holy ones are. And interestingly, these are the very books that most clearly depict, over and over, Israel’s horrendously evil deeds? Was G-d lying about those evil deeds, or exaggerating? No indeed. Yet THROUGH His true descriptions of her sin, we see His Redemption and His Holiness even more clearly. We see that He proclaimed her holy because of HIS Righteousness. One such passage, as I’ve already mentioned, is Isaiah chapters 58 through 62. What do we see here? Much of Isaiah, including chapters 58 and 59, describe Israel in deep sin. The middle of Isaiah 59 then says He was astonished that there was “no man,” not one single righteous person, after having just described her immense sin. Then He brought Salvation Himself – He alone. Yet AFTER His actions on her behalf, what we see in Isaiah 62:12 is this: “And they shall call them the holy people, those redeemed by the Lord, and you shall be called, ‘sought, a city not forsaken.’”

      THOSE, my friend, are clearly the holy ones of Daniel. They are holy because, although they are still sinners on earth, they are found in HIS Righteousness for they have trusted in Him alone. They shall be called the holy people, redeemed by the Lord…a city that is sought and not forsaken, even after failing to ever fulfill the Torah. Remember that we already know G-d’s assessment of whether or not Israel fulfilled the Torah, because He told us in Jeremiah 31 what that assessment is. And therefore, because she did not fulfill the Torah but rather broke it, He will give her a NEW covenant that will be everlasting (Ezekiel 37:26). If the old covenant and a circumcised old heart were enough, there would have been no reason for a new heart and a new covenant to replace all that was broken.

      5. In response to your response to #5, my question is how, then, do you explain the Psalms in which David says G-d’s Law is in his innermost being? One of the things G-d says He will do at the time of the New Covenant is to put His teaching in their innermost being. Yet in Psalms 40:8, David said the following: “Your teaching is in my inmost parts.”
      What was he talking about?

      The other issue here is that you still have not told me what difference this “new heart” will make for you. You said you do believe you need a new heart – why? Cannot your old heart simply be circumcised?

      6. Were the prophecies in Isaiah not often told in the past tense? The verse we have been discussing all along, Isaiah 59:16 is itself said in the past tense – yet it clearly refers to the future, does it not? Isaiah 59:15 says that the LORD “saw” (past tense) that there was no redress, going on to say in verse 16 that there “was” (again, past tense) “no man.” So then He “brought” (past tense) Salvation Himself, and His own righteousness “sustained” (past tense) Him. Are you saying this has already happened?
      And if he could speak in the past tense about seeing no one righteous in the future, then why would you think He would not also speak in the past tense about those He does see as righteous in the future, because of His work on their behalf, washing away their sin (Isaiah 43:25)? And what about the verses I already mentioned above in Psalms 103? These verses tell us that He “removed” (past tense) our sins from us. In that case, are not those from who the LORD has already “removed” (past tense) sin considered holy now?
      In Isaiah 41:27-28, G-d announces, “The things once predicted to Zion — Behold, here they are! And again I send a herald to Jerusalem. But I look and there is not a man…” Was G-d saying this was happening right then, since he said it past tense? So it has already happened, then? When?
      Then in the very next chapter, the good news of the future is again said in past tense: “Shout, O heavens, for the LORD has acted…” (Isaiah 44:23). Had G-d already, at that time, done these things on Israel’s behalf, then?

      You surely see this pattern of G-d looking into the future and calling righteous those who presently were not yet righteous over and over in the Scriptures you even quoted yourself. As you said, “sometimes the prophets use extreme terms to describe sinfulness – but at other times we could see that the same prophets described the same people as righteous.” And that is my point. It was not the prophets using extreme terms; it was G-d using extreme terms – to describe extreme sin. Yet He also saw them as righteous because HE had removed their sins, cleansed them, and pronounced them holy and redeemed.
      And, with regard to past tense, had Isaiah 53 already happened at the time of its writing (again, much of it written in past tense)? If you think it through, I think you will see that your question is already answered.

      7. Micah 7:14 says, “Oh, shepherd Your people with Your staff, Your very own flock…”
      Yet in Ezekiel 34:23-24, He says, “And I shall put up over them one shepherd and he will shepherd them, namely My servant David; he will shepherd them, and he will be for them as a shepherd. And I, the Lord, shall be to them for a God, and My servant David [will be] a prince in their midst; I, the Lord, have spoken.”
      Who is the Shepherd? G-d or the prince?

  30. Freedom
    1 – My answer is clear and is grounded in Scripture – there is one level of obedience that will prcede the restoration – and this level of obedience is described as sinfulness – and there is another level of obedience that will follow the circumcised heart that will follow the restoration – Scripture clearly and unequivocally teaches about these two levels of obedience in Deuteronomy 30 (and you yourself acknowledge this in point #3 – supplying your own imaginitive twist) – this is not related to the question as to whether Deuteronomy 30 is a prophecy or a cruel joke – the fact that you keep on bringing that question up tells me that either yuo don’t understand the discussion or that you are being purposefully evasive
    2 – The fact that you refuse to answer this question is also hypocritical – it is obvious that you believe that you have a way of determining which Jews are corrupt and which are not – even though the prophets said that all the Jews were corrupt – I also have a way of making that same determination – according to my calculations – Jesus and his gang were the ones the prophets warned us about while the Pharisees are the one through whom God fulfills Isaiah 59:21 – My determination is based on Scripture – with Ezekiel 13 being one reference
    3 – Finally you gave some form of an answer – You say that the obedience spoken of in Deuteronomy 30:2 is an obedience of “form” while in verse 6 it speaks of love
    Sorry – try again – verse 2 says according to ALL that Moses commanded us – in case you didn’t notice – Moses commaded us about love many times – so does “ALL” mean “ALL” or does it mean something else?
    4 – So when God says that David DID only that which was straight in His eyes – was He lying? was He saying that he didn’t really do it – its just counted “as if” he did it? and if this is available to David – why isn’t it available to us through simple repentance as described in Deuteronomy 30:2? – you are contradicting yourself
    5 – You are missing the point – there are different levels of obedience and different levels of having the Torah on your heart – and this is clearly delineated in Scripture – (as I pointed out from Isaiah 51:7 – which is clearly talking about the time before the restoration)
    The circumcision of the heart is the same as a new heart – according to you is Deuteronomy 30:6 also a joke?
    6 – You completely missed my point – Danile is describing these people as holy exalted ones throughout the entire period of tribulation – and no you did not present one Scripture which tells us that God imputes future righteousness to the present – I presented many Scriptures which describe the same person as both righteous and sinful – which clearly tells us that there are different levels of judging people
    7 – God is the Divine shepherd and David is the human shephered – by the way – who will the nations be praying to in the Messianic era to Israel (Isaiah 45:14) or to God (Isaiah 56:7)?

  31. Freedom
    One more question – where is the “if” in Deuteronomy 4:29,30?

    • Deuteronomy 4:25-31
      NEGATIVE OPTION:
      25. When you have begotten children and children’s children and are long established in the land, should you act wickedly and make for yourselves a sculptured image in any likeness, causing the LORD your God displeasure and vexation,

      26. I call heaven and earth this day to witness against you that you shall soon perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess; you shall not long endure in it, but shall be utterly wiped out.

      27. The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a scant few of you shall be left among the nations to which the Lord will drive you.

      28. There you will serve man-made gods of wood and stone, that cannot see or hear or eat or smell.

      POSITIVE OPTION:
      29-30. But if you search there for the Lord your God, you will find Him, IF only you seek Him with all your heart and soul [emphasis mine, to point out the conditional term in Hebrew]—when you are in distress and all these things have befallen you and, in the end, return to the LORD your God and obey Him [this is the same sentence continued with the same conditions stated: IF only…].

      AND WHY WILL SHE BE ABLE TO RETURN TO THE LORD, IF SHE CHOOSES WELL?
      31. For the Lord your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor will He let you perish; He will not forget the covenant which He made on oath with your fathers.

      FINAL COMMAND, WITH RESULTS LISTED AGAIN:
      40 Observe His statutes and His commandments, which I enjoin upon you this day, [WHY?] that it may go well with you and your children after you, and that you may long remain in the land that the LORD your God is assigning to you forever.

      Note: Indeed Israel WILL return to the LORD and obey Him fully…but it will be after He has given her a new heart and new covenant. Why would she even need a new covenant if she is fully capable of simply fulfilling the old one? Does He not say in the future (Jeremiah 31:32) that His (future) assessment is that she broke it, and therefore He will create a new covenant?

  32. Friend,
    1. You said, “…and this level of obedience is described as sinfulness”; so, if I understand you correctly, you believe that to G-d, this level of obedience equates to sinfulness – correct? I disagree. Throughout Leviticus and Deuteronomy, particularly, but the entire Torah, G-d described His Good Laws, and at no time did obedience to any of them equate to sinfulness. In addition, He was clear throughout Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and many other books regarding WHAT those sins were, and they certainly were not in any way, shape, or form related to keeping the Torah (Ezekiel 22-23: idolatry, offering children to idols, Jeremiah 2 and 3: ill-gotten gains, teaching the worst of women her ways, murder…)

    Why do you feel the New Covenant and the New Heart were required? And at the future time described in Jeremiah 31, directly before G-d will give Israel her new heart, why does He look at the entire past and describe it all as her having “broken” that covenant if in fact she had fulfilled it? Will He be joking at that time?

    I believe that a reader needs only to read the context—Deuteronomy 28–30 (even chapters before that point) as well as the passage of Scripture directly following Deuteronomy 30:1–10 to see that it is ALL presented in the context of a choice. What did Moses mean in verse 15 and 19 when he said that he was giving them a choice? Was he joking? Why would he have listed all of what would happen either way, depending on what they chose to do, throughout all of those chapters in the immediate context, if it really wasn’t a choice at all but rather a prophecy?

    As to your implication that if it WASN’T a prophecy, then must mean it was a cruel joke—why not instead conclude that G-d in His Great Love showed what HE is like? Had G-d not given the Law, how would man have even known that G-d had forgiven him? Or why would he conclude that he had ever sinned if he had no standard by which to measure his behavior? No, G-d explained the choices they had. He gave His Good Laws, showing His desire that they be His sanctified, holy people. This He did to show His heart, His desire for Israel. Indeed she would one day fulfill that desire—but not until He gave her a New Heart and a New Covenant, having acknowledged that she indeed had broken the covenant and had a heart of stone, all of which needed to be replaced.

    If G-d had not known the plans He had for Israel—plans to prosper her and not to harm her, plans to do for her what she could never accomplish on her own—then indeed it would have been a cruel joke, just as it would have been if he had just left her at Deuteronomy 30 with her old heart and old covenant. As it was, it was not a cruel joke at all, for it was only when she truly knew His Forgiveness and Mercy and Love for what it was, contrasted with her own failures, that she would be able to understand what He had seen all along.

    2. I disagree entirely with your assessment of Ezekiel 13, as I’ve already stated, because the two issues (false prophets with a message of peace and prosperity, as described in Ezekiel 13:10-16, versus the message of tribulation and trials and hatred and even death for those who followed Jesus) seem to me as different as night and day. I believe fully that the Scripture must fit, and I simply do not believe this one fits at all. So I think we’d best simply agree to disagree on that point.

    As for Isaiah 59:21 (the other verse you reference in this point), it says this: “And this shall be My covenant with them, said the LORD: My spirit which is upon you, and the words which I have placed in your mouth, shall not be absent from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your children, nor from the mouth of your children’s children—said the LORD from now on, for all time.”

    Indeed this was not something fulfilled through the Pharisees at all; G-d was referring to the New Covenant here, just as He did in Ezekiel 36, in the parallel passage in which He likewise described first Israel’s horrendous sin and then the New Heart He gave her, as well as the New Covenant described in Jeremiah 31. Remember that Isaiah 59:21 follows the rest of the chapter; it does not appear as a verse out of nowhere. He has just finished describing in detail throughout that chapter Israel’s immense sin and His own Redemption of her, with not only Israel but the entire world revering His Name and His Presence. (Has that happened?) Then verse 21 continues with the New Covenant He will give her at that time. If you are saying that Isaiah 59:21 is fulfilled through the Pharisees, then the verses that precede it in that same chapter, Isaiah 59:1-20, must also be fulfilled. When did that happen?

    I am sorry that you feel I am being hypocritical here with regard to turning the discussion now to Jesus, but I very honestly see it as a distraction—and one that would lead to months of discussion and still never be solved. As I said before, first we would have to establish whether Jesus was even a leader of Israel (for your comments about “all the leaders of Israel” to even relate), and I do not think we agree on even that point. And that isn’t what I was addressing anyway; what I want to look at is the Tanakh—G-d’s clear message throughout it—not a side issue about whether Jesus was a leader of Israel and so on and so on.

    3. I don’t think you understood was I was saying (or perhaps I didn’t communicate it properly). I am well aware that the First Commandment is to “Love the Lord our G-d with all our heart…” You surely have to be aware that I know this, too. However, G-d was indeed referring to the form of obedience able to be performed. Verse 6 does not say they would now be able to love for the first time, if they fulfilled all of G-d’s commandments, nor was that what I said. What I did say is that it would mean she would have “a heart set free to PROPERLY love” [emphasis to show what I was getting at]. In other words, if indeed Israel WERE able to accomplish complete obedience, as the condition already established in the previous chapters and again begun in verse 1 (and remember, G-d said “ALL” the commandments, not just some of them), then even her frail human heart (having loved the LORD her G-d as much as fully able) would need only to be set free, opened, allowing her to love in a new way. And G-d would do that, then. She wouldn’t need a new heart; her old heart could simply be circumcised.

    But did she accomplish this? Again, I challenge you to look at G-d’s future assessment of this, one He already told us in Jeremiah 31:32. Will He say at that time that she DID do ALL of His Commandments? Or will in fact say that she instead broke the covenant and needs a new one? Why does she need a New Covenant at all?

    4. In Psalms 103:10-12, G-d says this: “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor has He requited us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him. AS EAST IS FAR FROM WEST, SO FAR HAS HE REMOVED OUR SINS FROM US…” [emphasis mine].

    Was He lying there? Had He not, in fact, removed our sins as far as the east is from the west? Has He NOT REALLY forgotten them, even though He said He did? I think you will see the answer right there.

    Let me put it this way: Was G-d saying that David’s adultery, murder, and lies were fine and good? The point is that if G-d can wash them away, they are in fact washed away. And G-d does say this over and over in Scripture. Is He joking there?

    A huge difference I see between the comparison you make with this situation and Deuteronomy 30 is that (besides the entire context of the latter chapters of Deuteronomy being one of choices and not of prophecy), David UNDERSTOOD faith in the LORD alone, His own failure to keep the Torah, and his need for a new heart that only G-d could create for him.
    Psalms 51:12 says this: “Create for me a pure heart, O God…”
    This was not David saying that what G-d desired was that he adhere to the Torah…the sacrifices were very much a part of the Torah, were they not? Yet that was not what G-d desired. He desired a crushed heart that understood its need to be completely recreated pure and new by G-d alone.

    5. No indeed, Deuteronomy 30:6 is not a joke. This is what G-d would have done if in fact Israel had fulfilled ALL of G-d’s commands (remember—“all,” not just some of them). I believe we both know that G-d made many conditional promises (i.e., His promise to Solomon about none of his sons failing from the throne if they did not turn away from G-d – was that a cruel joke, when G-d knew what would actually happen?).

    And circumcision of the heart is indeed not the same as an entirely new heart—not in any culture or language, and not with reference to anything at all. In fact, Deuteronomy 10:16 in fact tells them to circumcise their OWN hearts—using the exact same Hebrew terms as He used in Deuteronomy 30:2. He did so again in Jeremiah 4:4. Was G-d really equating what He was asking them to do with His giving of an entirely new heart to them as He promises to give in Ezekiel 36? The terms He uses in Ezekiel 36 in fact are that He will “take away” (סוּר), which means “reject/abolish/remove, cause to depart” their stony heart and give them a new heart. Does this sound like circumcision of the old heart to you?

    Not only that, but you told me yourself that you will get your new heart at the restoration. If G-d told you to circumcise your own heart now (in Deuteronomy 10:6 and Jeremiah 4:4), then why will you need a new heart?

    6. You said I did not present one Scripture that tells us G-d imputes future righteousness to the present. How do you not see G-d’s washing and cleansing of sinners (Isaiah 4:3-4) and proclaiming them holy as not imputing future righteousness to them? Or are we not talking about the same thing? Perhaps the term “future righteousness” is confusing here — I am merely referring to His knowledge of the future and simultaneous pronouncement of them as righteous and holy even while they are still on earth and still sinners. The terms G-d uses about the holy ones in Daniel are the exact same terms He uses about those He has redeemed—because He made them holy (as already noted: Isaiah chapters 58–62 with Isaiah 62:12 declaring her holy after He saved by His own righteousness alone). And we see this over and over throughout Scripture. There is nothing in Daniel that indicates this group of “holy people” is somehow different from all of the other instances in which G-d already describes outright HOW the holy and redeemed became known as holy—through His own righteousness.

    Are the holy and redeemed those who inherit eternal life, as in Daniel 12:2? “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, others to reproaches, to everlasting abhorrence.”

    What is your definition of holy and how people become holy?

    7. You asked my view of Isaiah 45:14. He is referring to the heathen here who recognize, perhaps with limited understanding, that the G-d of Israel is the True LORD. Earlier in the chapter, we see this: Isaiah 45:4-5. For the sake of My servant Jacob, and Israel My chosen one, and I called to you by your name; I surnamed you, yet you have not known Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God: I will strengthen you although you have not known Me.”

    Here, before He proceeds to tell a beautiful story of vindication and righteousness through HIM alone, He explains again that Israel has not known G-d, though He has loved her all along—BUT He still loves her dearly! He then says, in verses 14 and 15: So said the Lord, “The toil of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you and shall be yours; they shall follow you; they shall come over in chains, and they shall prostrate themselves before you, they shall pray to you, “Only in you is God and there is no other god. Indeed, You are a God Who conceals Himself, the God of Israel, the Savior.

    Are they in fact worshipping Israel, in recognizing that G-d is with them? Maybe they have limited understanding, seeing Israel’s unmerited blessing as stemming from the One and Only True and Amazing G-d (which it does), and maybe in fact some of them do pray to Israel. That is not uncommon among the heathen, even among those who being to see the True G-d.

    However, this does not refer to the group of “foreigners” who recognize G-d for who He is, in Isaiah 56:7—a different time frame and context altogether. The first (Isaiah 45:14) occurs after the restoration and is clearly stated as a future event. The second (Isaiah 56:7) discusses G-d being a G-d for all people, as begun in Isaiah 56:3 and onward.

    My question was a different one. Jeremiah 23:5 discusses a true branch of David who will reign as king. Hosea 3:5 says they will “seek the LORD and David their king,” and in Jeremiah 33:14-16 He says that when He raises up one who will do what is just and right in the land: 14. Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, and I will establish the good thing that I spoke concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15. In those days and in that time I will cause to grow for David a plant of righteousness, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land…

    He repeats this various other times, such as Zechariah 3:8. Hearken, now, O Joshua the High Priest—you and your companions who sit before you, for they are men worthy of a miracle—for, behold! I bring My servant, the Shoot.

    So is this shoot, or branch (the same Hebrew term), the prince I referred to earlier? What was miraculous about it? And why would Israel seek both the LORD and David her king? Did not G-d say elsewhere in Scripture that He would be their king in that day?

    • cflat7 says:

      Freedom,

      ‘I am well aware that the First Commandment is to “Love the Lord our G-d with all our heart…”’

      The first commandment in the Tanach is to be fruitful and multiply. The first of the Ten Commandments isn’t to love the Lord. So I’m wondering where you got this notion. Maybe from someone who said that Deut 6:4 is the first commandment?

      • Hi cflat7,
        I am referring to the first commandment (and the last one repeated again at the very end) at the time the covenant was made, right before Moses ascended into the mountain.
        See Exodus 20-23…this was in the context of the Torah and the old/new commandments, as I’m sure you remember.

        Shalom

        • Freedom
          Which verse are you referring to?

          • Hi Friend,
            I misspoke; I was thinking specifically of the parallel passage in Deuteronomy, Moses’ summary of how they were to respond to the 10 Commandments, which he had just given them:
            6:4-5 “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

            However, what I was actually referring to earlier with regard to Exodus was the very first and last very last indirect command of Exodus chapters 20 and 23, in which G-d said that they were not to worship any other. This is something I have thought about quite a lot because I see in it G-d’s desire for one’s whole heart…because what we dedicate our minds to, what we think about and love, is what we ultimately worship, is it not so? I see this as parallel also with Deuteronomy 4:29 in which He says they would find Him if they only would search for Him with all their heart and soul. What we seek with all our heart and soul is that which is dearest to us, or what we love most.

            However, I should have explained my thought process on this – sorry about that.

            I am in the middle of addressing your other response as soon as I am able to sit down and focus on it. 🙂

            Shalom

  33. Freedom
    1 – The same David about whom God said that he DID ONLY what is right in His eyes (1Kings 14:8) said about himself “my sins are constantly before me” (Psalm 51:5) – Or take Yehoash – who it says about him that he did that which was straight in God’s eyes all the days that Yehoyada the priest taught him” (2Kings 12:3) – Do you believe that for a few decades Yehoash did not sin even once? Did he not need to bring sacrifices?
    What I see from here (as well as from many other passages in Scripture) is that there is a certain level of obedience that can be considered obedience to all of the law even though it is not perfect – it is obedience to the degree expected according to the given circumstances. That same level of obedience – which is far from perfect can also be considered sinful – when God judges according to a higher standard.
    Another example of this is found in the Psalms where David says both “do not judge your servant for no one can be righteous before you” (Psalm 143:2) as well as “judge me O God according to my righteousness because I walk in wholesomeness” (Psalm 7:9; 26:1) – there are different levels of judgment and there are different levels of righteousness – this is supported throughout Scripture.

    Let me take this one step further – Ezekiel 20:38 tells us that God will destroy those who rebel against Him – this while Israel has not yet entered the land – those who enter the land in Ezekiel 36 – where the new heart is granted – do not include those who rebelled against God – the same happens in Isaiah 1:28. Now look in 2Kings 23:25,26 – where we see that Josiah repented – but God still held the murderous ways of Manasseh against him
    That is how I understand Ezekiel 36 – Israel will have already achieved a level of repentance because otherwise they would not be brought back to the land as stated in Ezekiel 20:38 – but still all of the previous sins are held against them to a certain degree
    This explanation is supported by Scripture as I have demonstrated.

    I have a question for you – did Israel hope for God throughout their exile or not? – I would guess that you would say “No” – if that is the case then how do you explain Isaiah 25:9; 26:2,13; 49:23; Micah 7:7; Psalm 44:23?

    You keep on throwing in the discussion that Deuteronomy 30 is a choice and not a definite prophecy which a complete distraction to this discussion – so I will address it further on in # 8

    2 – This was not a question about Ezekiel 13 – this was a question about exceptions to the general condemnation of Israel recorded in Scripture – you obviously do not believe that Jesus was rotten to the core – although you believe that about every other Jew who lived in his day – this being the case – I have demonstrated to you that you yourself do not read the condemnation of Israel on a completely literal level – as for Isaiah 59:21 – My understanding is that it is fulfilled side by side with the first part of Isaiah 59 – in the midst of Israel’s sin God still preserves His spirit in their midst – again – just read the Scriptures – for example Haggai 2:5 – where those people sinless? Or Exodus 31:13 – were all the generations who observed the Sabbath sanctified by God as the Sabbath testifies? The answer is yes and no – they were certainly sanctified to a certain degree but at the same time they were far from perfect
    (Perhaps you noticed that it was through the Pharisees that God preserved His holy sign of the Sabbath and not through the followers of Jesus) – The fact that God put His word in our mouth should come as no shock to you as this is stated in Deuteronomy 31;21; Isaiah 51:16; and the fact that God calls us His witnesses tells us that He put His testimony in our mouths – Isaiah 43:10,12; 44:8.

    3 – Where does Deuteronomy 30:6 say anything about “setting free”? It says that God will circumcise our hearts so that we can love Him with all of our hearts – but we are described as fulfilling all of the commandments in verse 2 – one of those commandments is to love God with all of our heart
    So you seem to be saying that verse 2 is describing an obedience that is only considered “complete” in a relative sense – if that is the case we are in general agreement as to the meaning of the verse – when verse 2 says all of the laws it means relative to their situation – in other words they are still committing some sins – in other words they are still tainted by all of the sins of their fathers as Ezekiel 36 describes.

    4 – You say that David could be considered righteous because he had faith in God – of-course – how else can anyone even begin to approach God – of-course Israel has faith in God so why can’t you see that they are righteous as well?

    5 – You base your distinction between the circumcision of the heart described in Deuteronomy and the new heart described in Ezekiel on the fact that God demands that Israel circumcise their hearts in Deuteronomy 10 and Jeremiah 4 – it seems that you forgot that God also demands that Israel make for themselves a new heart in Ezekiel 18:31 – You have again demonstrated how your position is not grounded in Scripture
    Do you think that the new heart will be a physical transplant?

    6 – You have still not demonstrated how future righteousness can make someone be considered holy even while they are still sinning – the reference in Isaiah is telling us that after they are cleansed they will be considered holy – not that they are considered holy before they are cleansed because one day they will be righteous
    So please answer – where did you pick up this idea that God considers someone righteous on the basis of future righteousness that this person will perform?
    My definition of holy is whoever God chooses to sanctify – and there are different levels of holiness – Israel is called a holy nation even in the midst of their sin – Jeremiah 2:3

    7 – The words “king” and shepherd refer sometimes to God and sometimes to humans as is obvious throughout Scripture – As to your question about Israel seeking David – I answered it a while back
    https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/yearning-for-the-messiah/

    8 – Deuteronomy 4:30 tells us that all of these things will befall us – in other words it is a prediction that the bad will happen to us – and it tells us that we will repent – verse 31 goes on to explain why it must be that we will repent – because God’s covenant with us must be fulfilled

    Deuteronomy 30:1 also opens by predicting that both the blessing and the curse will be fulfilled (by the way indicating that Israel will experience the blessing on the basis of their obedience at some periods during their history as Solomon proclaimed 1Kings 8:56) – so we are talking about a time when Israel has already sinned – the Hebrew word “im” is completely absent from this passage (verse 1 thru 14) – Verses 11 thru 14 explain why this must come to pass – it is because this commandment is near to us – verse 15 goes back to the conditional proposition that is set before them in Moses’s day – but verses 1 thru 14 are not conditional in any way – the “ki” in verse 1 and 10 is not the same as the “im” of chapter 28:15 or the “pen” of 29:17 – “ki” in verses 1 and 10 are “when” or “that” – this interpretation is supported by the very passage that you quoted – Hosea 3:5 – where Israel needs to seek God and David – do you want to say that the seeking of God will also only take place after the cleansing of their hearts? This is also supported in Psalm 44 – where Israel speaks of her loyalty to God before she is redeemed. The same is seen in Psalm 79 where Israel declares her loyalty to God before her redemption – at the same time admitting her sins – Again in Psalm 102 – there is a prayer that Israel offers up while yet in exile that God hears and responds to (verse 18 – see also 69:34)

    According to you – after both the blessing and the curse have come to pass – Israel should not be encouraged to repent but rather they should be encouraged to give up and look for Jesus – why do these two passages – which clearly tell us that they are referring to the time when both the blessing and the curse will have been fulfilled – encourage Israel to turn back to God through the Law of Moses? If this is not a cruel joke than what is?

    Again – my position is supported by Scripture – if you want to present your own theories – please show how it is supported by Scripture

    • Hi Friend,
      1. You said: “The same David about whom God said that he DID ONLY what is right in His eyes (1Kings 14:8) said about himself “my sins are constantly before me” (Psalms 51:5). I agree with you entirely in this respect. In other words, David indeed was sinful (he knew that he did NOT fulfill “ALL” that G-d had commanded throughout the Torah). I do not see from any of this that a “certain level of obedience” achieved righteousness for David, nor does David seem to believe this. That said, I DO indeed believe G-d desires our obedience; G-d’s Law is good and right. But it is those who most closely study and know His laws (as David repeatedly says he did, throughout the Psalms) who ALSO understand their utter sinfulness, their need for G-d’s intervention, and their need for a new heart, as David asked for in Psalms 51.

      You asked me whether Israel hoped for God throughout their exile or not, noting that you guess I would say no. Indeed I do not say no. I do absolutely believe Israel hopes for G-d, or that many in Israel do, in any case. But what is sad is G-d’s future testimony of her, at her restoration: “Israel My chosen one, I call you by name, I hail you by title, though you have not known Me…I engird you, though you have not known Me” (Isaiah 45:4– 5). This is not to say that there are none in Israel who know Him. Yet He says here that His own assessment at that future day will be that as a nation, she has not known Him.

      2. With reference to what you said here, perhaps the best way to come to peace over this issue is to note that I did not say every Jew who lived in Jesus’ day was corrupt, and I am not certain what exactly I said that caused you to think I believe this. The only thing I remember doing was citing several long passages of Scriptures in which G-d denounced every kind of leader of Israel (ALL of them, including the priests, kings, and every kind of leader).

      As for Isaiah 59:21, I still firmly believe that verse was meant to be read in context. This is in parallel with G-d’s New Covenant that He will make with Israel. It occurs AFTER His redemption, as He just finished saying in the previous verse, and AFTER He has saved when there was none other to do so (verse 16) and AFTER the whole world has revered His name from east to west (verses 18-19). That is most certainly not now.
      As for Haggai 2:5, I do not see anything in that verse or in the surrounding context that implies those people were sinless at all. He simply said His Spirit is still in their midst, showing again His great mercy.

      In Ezekiel 20:12, G-d says: “I gave them My sabbaths…that THEY MIGHT KNOW that it is I THE LORD who sanctify them” [emphasis mine]. He gave them His Sabbaths for this purpose, that they recognize it was He, His Holiness, that sanctified them. He desired that they know Him. But is that what happened?
      In Isaiah 43:10, too, He says, “My witnesses are you—declares the LORD—My servant, whom I have chosen. To the end that you may take thought, and believe in Me, and understand that I am He…” He did indeed desire this understanding from her, this knowledge of Him.
      Yet just two chapters later, He says that at her restoration, His testimony will be that Israel has not known Him. And I say this not as an insult against Israel but rather as a true testimony of G-d’s kindness and compassion—although Israel specifically, but mankind in general, failed to understand and truly know G-d, He did not leave her there. I think that is an amazing testimony about what kind of G-d He is.

      3. Deuteronomy 30:2 does not at all describe Israel as fulfilling all of the commandments. The fact that the entire context was one of choices is clear not only from the surrounding passages (chapters 28-30, with the end of chapter 30 telling them to CHOOSE the right way) but also by the fact that G-d said He will give her a new covenant, saying that His testimony at that future time (Jeremiah 31:32) will be NOT that she fulfilled it but that she broke it. Why would He even give her a new covenant if she had fulfilled the old one?

      With regard to what you believe I said about verse 2 and verse 6, I did not refer here to an obedience that is considered complete only in a relative sense at all. I believe He meant what He said. IF in fact Israel fulfilled ALL the commandments, then her heart would be “opened up” (verse 6), and she would be able to love as she should. In other words, if she obeyed FULLY and did ALL that G-d had said, then He would open up her heart even more, to be able to love more deeply, more profoundly.

      I believe it is completely unscriptural to say G-d really did not mean Israel needed to fulfill ALL the commandments but rather only to the level expected. What level was that? Which of the ALL that He commanded did He not really care about? Most importantly, why would He even need to give her a New Covenant if in fact she fulfilled the Old one?

      4. My point about David was his acknowledgment that it was NOT through fulfilling (or attempting to fulfill) the Torah that he was righteous. The sacrifices were in the Torah, yet David’s knowledge at that time was that he was utterly sinful and needed a new heart. He was not trusting in the Torah, or in what he could do by the laws (including sacrifices) set forth through the Torah. He trusted in G-d alone to give him a new, clean heart, having realized he was utterly incapable of saving himself.

      5. Yes, G-d did indeed command Israel to create for herself a new heart. But did she? Perhaps most importantly, if she had tried to do so, would she not have fallen on her knees before a holy G-d, acknowledging (as David did) that it was not she who could do that for herself? Would she not have then humbly known Him as He is? For it is when we realize that we are fallen people who do indeed have an inherent sin problem in this old heart (as David realized) that is the first step toward truly seeking G-d with all our heart and soul. And that was the step Israel had not yet come to, in Ezekiel 18. We see this in the entire passage leading up to that verse (chapters 14-18) that even while she was in great sin, she complained that G-d was not fair. She did not even see her own sinful heart or understand that it needed to be changed.

      6. I did not say someone would be considered holy even while they are still sinning. What I said is that they are considered holy while still SINNERS. Was not David still a sinner (i.e., was G-d not aware that David would later commit dreadful sins) at the time He called David a man after His own heart? And yet G-d saw beyond that day, too.

      When G-d says in Ezekiel 36 and in Jeremiah 31 that He will give them a New Heart that will finally be able to obey Him, and a New Covenant that is “not like the one she broke,” I think He will give that new heart and new covenant to everyone who has truly put their trust in HIM alone (not in their own righteousness or their attempts to fulfill the Torah). It is for all of those Daniel 12:2 speaks of who will be raised up on that day to eternal life, even if the person did not yet, while alive, fully understand exactly how G-d, in His righteousness and by His merit alone, would save them. If they did indeed believe they were sinners and needed His work alone to create in them a new heart, as David understood, then I believe He will take care of the rest. The problem is that so many have difficulty getting to that point. They want to believe they do not really have a sin nature, that they are not really incapable of fulfilling the Torah, that they have really done all they could—they kept the Sabbath, after all—so they surely do not really need a new heart. And perhaps they doubt they even need a new Covenant.

      Finally, with regard to Deuteronomy 4:25-40 and Deuteronomy 30, I think we will have to agree to disagree there. I strongly believe that had this not been a passage clearly shown as a choice, Moses would not have exhorted them to CHOOSE. The Hebrew word “im” is not the only conditional term used to mean “if,” and the JPS Tanakh clearly translates “kiy” as “if” in Deuteronomy 4:29. In addition, in both passages (verses 15 and 19 in Deuteronomy 30, and verse 40 in Deuteronomy 4), Moses gives them a command, not a prediction. He tells them to CHOOSE to obey so that they will endure long on the land. Had this been a prophecy, there would not have been the exhortation to choose wisely. And again—the entire passage bears this out.

      Even if you do not believe this—and I see that it will be pointless to argue this issue—you have not answered why Israel needs a new covenant. That is another reason I do not feel that your interpretation of this makes any sense. If in fact the order of events were that Israel will fulfill the Torah and then G-d will circumcise her heart (never mind even getting into anything about the new heart in place of her heart of stone), then why does G-d specifically mention this old covenant as the one she “broke” in Jeremiah 31, at the time He gives her the new covenant that will be everlasting?

      David understood this, even before this prophecy was given. He knew that blessed was that man who…the one who filled the Torah? No, the one whose sin was covered (Psalms 32). And to this one, a man who understood such things all the more clearly because he DID seek G-d’s laws and thereby understood both his own fallen nature and G-d’s redemption, was granted the knowledge in Psalms chapter 45, in which he foresaw this beautiful day and all that G-d would do. He also later referenced G-d’s Everlasting Covenant—but it was the Abrahamic covenant, not the Sinai covenant (Psalms 105). And David, this one who understood, is referenced in Isaiah 55, too, when G-d promises not that the old covenant will be fulfilled but that He will NOW give an everlasting covenant.

      With regard to Hosea 3:5 – yes indeed. It follows Hosea chapter 2, in which we are clearly shown that it was NOT while Israel was seeking Him that He drew her back to Himself but rather while she was seeking after other lovers. And then in Hosea 4:6 we see this: “My people were silenced for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge….”

      Israel has indeed had a yearning for G-d, but G-d’s assessment was that she rejected knowledge (Hosea 4:6), that she has not known Him (Isaiah 45:4–5). And His solution is to give her a new covenant (Jeremiah 31). The truly sad thing is, I am not sure she knows that she needs it.

      I assure you, I do not believe what it seems you concluded—that Israel should not be encouraged to repent. She should indeed…as should every man and woman who ever lived and breathed on this earth. For if Israel—G-d’s chosen, holy people whom He has loved and never forsaken—has been depicted as guilty of every manner of evil and as having failed to fulfill the Torah, then where does that leave the rest of us? G-d’s Torah is beautiful. It is good. It is holy. The problem is not the Torah but rather mankind. It is our hearts that need changed, as David understood. And he understood his own sin more clearly, and also G-d’s Holiness, by seeking to write G-d’s laws on his heart, that he might not sin against Him—not by seeking to break them.

      Thus it is that as we seek to follow His Laws, to hide His Word in our hearts that we might not sin against Him, to know Him more deeply through all He has said and done, we will indeed see that in fact we do need His New Covenant. And thus it is that the Old Covenant leads us to Him.

  34. Freedom
    I have more than 250 articles on this blog – please show me one in which I say that Israel can be saved through their own righteousness? I have stated many times that no created being can be saved through their own righteousness – this even if they would observe the Law perfectly – simply because it is never “our own” righteousness – but rather like David said – 1Chronicles 29:14 – that everything is from God and everything we “give” to Him is already His
    Neither did I say that anyone was sinless – still – God counts our clumsy works done out of a heart that yearns for God while it is tainted with sin – God counts these works and this love for righteousness even though we do nothing to deserve it – its all God’s mercy and love
    Since I said neither of these things (that righteousness can save or that we can be sinless) – yet you seem to be convinced that I believe these things – so it is clear to me that you have imbibed the evil slander of the Christian Scriptures when they defamed my nation
    Let me tell you this – I believe in the mercy of God and I trust in Him alone – you believe in the works of a man who you believe was perfect – read Jeremiah 17:5-8 for a Scriptural perspective on our conflicting trusts
    You quote Isaiah 45:4-5 no less than three times in your response to “prove” that Israel has not known God – This passage is speaking of the Gentile king Cyrus and not of Israel – and you come here to preach about loyalty to Scripture?
    1 – I am in agreement to you here – It is those who most closely study God’s laws and understand the need for a new heart whom God counts as righteous – Those who have discarded and disdainded God’s Laws – those who believe that they already have a new heart by believing in Jesus – are the last people who are counted as righteous
    In any case the repentance of Deuteronomy 30:2 – is this very understanding – and this understanding does NOT mean – “oh – so we can’t be perfect so lets give up” – but rather this understanding brings us to the recognition that everything belongs to God including our works – it brings us to put our full trust and hope in God
    2 – So how can you tell who is and who isn’t corrupt?
    By the way I did not quote Haggai 2:5 to prove that the people were sinless – I quoted it to prove that God’s spirit is in our midst despite the fact that we are not sinless
    3 – You can’t escape the fact that verse 2 speaks of one level of love of God while verse 6 speaks of a different level of love of God – both are called ALL your heart – all God demands is that we love Him with the heart that we have now – loving God includes the recognition that we are tainted by sin and that we need a new heart – if someone is satisfied with their own obedience to God that is not loving God by any level of definition
    4 – I said nothing about “saving yourself” I didn’t say anything about “saving” altogether – I spoke of repentance – and the same David that wrote Psalm 51 also wrote Psalm 18 in which he says that God dealt with him according to his own (David’s) righteousness – verse 21 – Those who love God and who treasure His word recognize that God in His mercy counts our deeds as righteousness even though we do not deserve that this be done at all
    5 – You originally argued that the fact that God commands us to circmcise our own hearts is “proof” that this is not the same thing as the new heart promised in Ezekiel – now that this proof blew up in your face – admit that you were wrong
    For your information – I understand that when God commands us to do anything – the first step is to do is to recognize that we cannot do anytthing ourselves and to trust In God alone and beg for His help – this applies to getting a new heart, building a tabernacle or admitting a mistake
    6 – We both believe that people who are still sinful and are yet before the new heart can be considered righteous – I believe that this is possible because of God’s mercy in considering our tainted actions righteous when we trust in Him even though we are underserving – you believe that this is possible on the basis of God considering our future perfection with our new hearts – I have demonstrated my position from Scripture – you have not
    7 – I have told you that I understand the need for Israel to receive a new heart yet you talk to me as if I never said that
    If you want to have a conversation with me – read what I wrote and interact with that – if you want to interact with those “evil Pharisees” that are described in Matthew 23 – open your Christian Scripture (try to find one with pictures) and speak to the Pharisees in that book – because the Pharisees that Matthew describes exist nowhere else outside of that book

    • Friend,

      I want you to know that I have not in any way approached this blog or my conversation with you believing that I am conversing with an evil Pharisee. I in fact very honestly approached it believing that we have many things in common, not the least of which is a strong desire for the peace of Jerusalem and a yearning to see Israel fulfill what G-d’s plan for her has always been. Anything that I have discussed at all, with regard to Israel’s leaders, was G-d’s direct quotes from the Tanakh:

      Zephaniah 3:1. Ah, sullied, polluted, overbearing city! 2. She has been disobedient, has learned no lesson. She has not trusted in the LORD, has not drawn near to her God. 3. The officials within her are roaring lions; her judges, wolves of the steppe, they leave no bone until morning. 4. Her prophets are reckless, faithless fellows; Her priests profane what is holy; they give perverse rulings.

      Micah 2:6-7 (in “‘Stop preaching!’ they preach. ‘That’s no way to preach. Shame shall not overtake [us]. Is the House of Jacob condemned? Is the LORD’s patience short? Is such His practice?”
      He goes on in Micah chapter 3 “I said, ‘Listen you rulers of Jacob, you chiefs of the House of Israel! For you OUGHT TO KNOW what is right, But you hate good and love evil… [emphasis mine]
      Thus said the LORD to the prophets who lead My people astray…”
      Hear this, you rulers of the House of Jacob, you chiefs of the House of Israel who detest justice and make crooked all that is straight…yet they rely on the LORD, saying, “The LORD is in our midst. No calamity shall overtake us. Assuredly, because of you, Zion will be plowed as a field and Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the Temple Mount a shrine in the woods.”

      Please do not twist what I said above as though it came as an attack from me or as though it was meant personally for you. It wasn’t. It came from Hashem, and I quoted it in part because you have commented in previous posts that Israel has been the one nation that has not (as a nation) turned to idols (not true: Exodus 32, Deuteronomy 32:16–31 / Judges 3:7–8, 10:13 / 1Kings 22:53; 2Kings 21:21 / Jeremiah 2:11–36, 3:12–14, 8:19; and the entire chapters 16 and 17 of Jeremiah as well / Psalms 78:58, 106:36, and many more), that criticisms of Israel’s leaders were false and meant to malign them (G-d painted a very different picture in the verses I quoted above), that Israel herself at least has not become like the nations around her (also not true, according to G-d, if you read Jeremiah chapters 2 and 3, Ezekiel chapters 22, 23, 33, 34, 36, and many others), and that at least she has kept the Sabbath.

      I do want to acknowledge that after a more careful reading, I agree with you that the specific verses I quoted from Isaiah 45 were directed to Cyrus. I am happy to admit that I am prone to human error, and I thank you for pointing this out because I had forgotten that the subject changed between Isaiah chapter 43 and chapter 48 (which were indeed passages that clearly described Israel’s sin and lack of having open ears to hear what G-d was saying).

      Nevertheless, the essence of what I was saying (although I inadvertently quoted the wrong Scripture) is clear in the Tanakh; I simply erroneously cited the wrong passage.

      In Hosea chapter 2, we are clearly shown that it was NOT while Israel was seeking Him that He drew her back to Himself but rather while she was seeking after other lovers. And then in Hosea 4:6 we see this: “My people were silenced for LACK OF KNOWLEDGE; because you have rejected knowledge….” [emphasis mine].
      This was in direct parallel to His other many admonitions to the leaders of the people, including that of Malachi 2:7-8 in which he said that although a priest’s lips were supposed to guard KNOWLEDGE, instead they not only turned aside from the way but also caused others to stumble. And so on.

      Isaiah 65 begins with G-d saying that He had responded to those who did not ask, who did not seek Him. Before that, Isaiah 63 says that His year of redemption had arrived, but there was no man… (verse 5), even though He was their Deliverer and was troubled in all of their troubles, redeeming them (verse 9) and being their Shepherd (verse 14). Before that, as well, He says in Isaiah 48 that Israel was a people whose ears were not opened of old (48:3–8), even saying WHY He had previously foretold His acts to her long ago—because she was stubborn and so that she could not claim that her idols were the ones that did His acts (verses 3–5). Then He says He is now telling her new things that she had not heard and had never known (verse 8).

      What was this new message that she had never heard before? Did she know it? Was she listening?

      And what of the branch of the LORD referenced in Jeremiah chapter 23 and chapter 33, who will do what is just and right and reign as king in the land, who will also cause the LORD’s righteousness to be known? G-d refers to this one throughout the prophets as a plant (branch, shoot), and in Zechariah 3:8 He refers to bringing His servant, the branch, mentioning it as something conspicuous, miraculous. What, in all of these passages is the “new” (Isaiah 48–49), bringing about righteousness (Jeremiah 23 and 33), and miraculous (Zechariah 3:8) event the LORD referred to?

      I also want to point out that I said nothing to indicate that Israel’s inability to do “ALL” of G-d’s commands, thus fulfilling the Torah, means the Law should be ignored. I said the opposite. It is through the Old Covenant, which was good and right to begin with, that we come to know our need for His redemption. This knowledge means we no longer claim that “The beastly spirit which brought people to murder little children did not overtake us. The darkness that induced people to be saturated with hatred did not blacken our souls” and other such nice-sounding beliefs that in fact contradict what G-d tells us throughout the Scriptures I’ve already listed above. This true knowledge of our need for His redemption also means knowing WHY we need a new heart instead of claiming that we can simply do ALL of G-d’s Laws and then have a circumcised heart. It means acknowledging that our human nature is indeed essentially sinful—we DO have a sin nature—and the remedy is a new heart from Him (Psalms 51, Ezekiel 36).

      That does not mean there is anything wrong with the Law; the Torah in fact draws us to Him, if our ears and eyes are open and we are being truthful about our failures instead of claiming we have actually been righteous because we’ve fulfilled it “to the level expected” and have at least kept the Sabbath. If that is the case, then “all” doesn’t really mean all, and there is really no measure anymore for what is good and what is not, because it is all relative anyway.

      No, the one who will find righteousness in Him is the one who understands that ALL means ALL, and does indeed seek to write G-d’s laws—EVERY law—on his heart, gets to know Him as He is, and believes the truths He gave us not only in the Torah but also in the Prophets. They were all given for our learning. It is then, as we stop trying to claim ways we have ACTUALLY been true to G-d, and that the Pharisees have ACTUALLY fulfilled Isaiah 59:21 (a verse that has to be completely pulled out of its very context to mean such a thing) that we see our true condition and our inability to do it. It is when we stop trying to grasp at pretenses—at least we have kept the Sabbath, after all—as though we have somehow managed to maintain “the expected level of obedience” that we understand G-d did indeed mean what He said in declaring that the only way they could merit blessing would be if they fulfilled ALL the Torah. Only when we leave this claim that “we only have to do _______ to fulfill the Torah, and we can do it!” can we see WHY we need a New Covenant in the first place (Jeremiah 31:32).

      You said I originally argued that the fact that God commands us to circumcise our own hearts is “proof” that this is not the same thing as the new heart promised in Ezekiel, and that you feel you disproved what I was saying. I completely disagree. The context of each (circumcised heart, new heart) was as different as night and day. Furthermore, what I said is this:

      “And circumcision of the heart is indeed not the same as an entirely new heart—not in any culture or language, and not with reference to anything at all. In fact, Deuteronomy 10:16 in fact tells them to circumcise their OWN hearts—using the exact same Hebrew terms as He used in Deuteronomy 30:2. He did so again in Jeremiah 4:4. Was G-d really equating what He was asking them to do with His giving of an entirely new heart to them as He promises to give in Ezekiel 36? The terms He uses in Ezekiel 36 in fact are that He will “take away” (סוּר), which means “reject/abolish/remove, cause to depart” their stony heart and give them a new heart. Does this sound like circumcision of the old heart to you?”

      My point here is that the context of the first (circumcision) is one of following G-d, seeking Him. He tells them to circumcise their hearts, also saying that HE will circumcise their hearts if they do “ALL” that He has commanded them. The context of giving an entirely new heart, on the other hand, is completely the opposite—Ezekiel 18 falls in the middle of a book (and context) that describes Israel as utterly sinful. So here we are no longer even talking about a context of seeking the LORD; we are saying the old heart needs to be “rejected/abolished/removed/caused to depart,” with a completely new heart in its place. And yes, G-d told them to do this. He also told them to do ALL of the commandments He gave them, yet you do not seem to feel He meant that literally. I do, in both cases, and I think I am the one being consistent here. He told the remedy, in both cases, too. If they were seeking to be righteous—then what they needed to know was that if they fulfilled ALL the Law, then they needed only to circumcise their hearts. If they were NOT seeking to be righteous at all (which was the case in Ezekiel 18 and the surrounding chapters), then what they needed to know was that their entire heart needed to be replaced. In either case, a careful rendering of exactly what He said should have given them all the knowledge they needed to fall on their knees before a holy and righteous G-d, asking for His intervention because they could not do either one.

      Most importantly, between these two scenarios, which did G-d say was the outcome? Did they in fact only need a circumcised heart because they had accomplished ALL of G-d’s Laws? Or did He declare that they had profaned the land since the time they had been there but that HE would give them a new heart to replace their heart of stone (Ezekiel 36) and that He would give them a New Covenant, not like the one that they broke (Jeremiah 31)? I think the answer is clear.

      You also said: “We both believe that people who are still sinful and are yet before the new heart can be considered righteous – I believe that this is possible because of God’s mercy in considering our tainted actions righteous when we trust in Him even though we are underserving – you believe that this is possible on the basis of God considering our future perfection with our new hearts – I have demonstrated my position from Scripture – you have not.”

      I do not think this is quite accurate. When I spoke of G-d considering our future perfection with our new hearts, I was referring to Him declaring those who were yet sinners “holy” through His redemption, washing and making them clean (Psalms 32, Psalms 51, Psalms 103, Isaiah 4, Isaiah 58-62, and so forth). In other words, they did not cease to be sinners altogether while on earth—David was called a man after G-d’s own heart, though he went on to lie, murder, and commit adultery. Yet G-d also knew that he would understand his need of redemption and of a new heart.

      Regardless of that fact, I did not say “future perfection” was the basis of righteousness. I was explaining that G-d saw not only their sin but also His work on their behalf, covering their sin (Psalms 32). Many times He looked into Israel’s future and said they would be to Him a holy people (Isaiah 62:12). This was a future prophecy, even though at the time the prophecy was given (in Isaiah’s day) they were described as quite the opposite in their current condition.

      So as to HOW they become righteous, let me clarify exactly what I believe about righteousness and how it is attained, copied from my previous post: “It is for all of those Daniel 12:2 speaks of who will be raised up on that day to eternal life, even if the person did not yet, while alive, fully understand exactly how G-d, in His righteousness and by His merit alone, would save them. If they did indeed believe they were sinners and needed His work alone to create in them a new heart, as David understood, then I believe He will take care of the rest. The problem is that so many have difficulty getting to that point. They want to believe they do not really have a sin nature, that they are not really incapable of fulfilling the Torah, that they have really done all they could—they kept the Sabbath, after all—so they surely do not really need a new heart. And perhaps they doubt they even need a new Covenant.”

      You said that I speak to you as though you never said that you understand the need for Israel to have a new heart. What I continue to ask about is WHY she needs a new heart. More specifically, WHY does she need a new covenant?

      Shalom. I wish you every health and blessing and a peaceful Shabbat.

  35. Annelise says:

    Shabbat Shalom to everyone and to your families. I trust it will be a precious, refreshing, and surrendered day.

  36. Freedom
    When I said that you came on to this blog believing you are conversing with an evil Pharisee – I explained exactly what I said. You said that I believe that Israel should trust in her own righteousness – I never said that. It seems that no matter what I say – you will go on believing that I believe what the Christian Scriptures tell you that I believe. There are certain statements that I said that may have lead you to believe that this is my belief – and I will explain them below – but I think we need to step back and put this conversation into context.
    Each of us has a different world view and each of us believes that our respective world view is based on Scripture. You have refused to put your world view on the table in this conversation – although your agenda has slipped through the cracks in some of your recent posts. I have put my world view on the table throughout this blog and in my responses to you. Now instead of reading what I wrote and learning what my world view is so that you can interact with it – you seem to have a complete “understanding” of my world view that no matter what I say – you believe as an article of faith that I trust in Israel’s actions and that I don’t “really” see a need for a new covenant.
    So there are two problems in this conversation right off the bat – # 1 – you seem to be embarrassed to put the fullness of your world view on the table, and # 2 – you seem to be convinced about my world view and you are not willing to allow me to tell you what I believe. In order to have a meaningful conversation you will need to rectify these two problems.
    There is a third problem here. Each of our world views seems to fit with certain Scriptures better than others – at least on a superficial level. Each of us needs to point to those Scriptures that support their own view and attempt to explain the Scriptures that do not seem to fit with their own world view. I believe that I am consistently doing that – You, on the other hand, are not explaining the many Scriptures that refute your world view.
    Now before we get to Scripture – I think it is important to put our two respective world views on the table. Since you have refused to present the fullness of your world view I can only guess at it – but I will try to present both views so that we can analyze them in light of Scriptural truth.
    I believe that Israel is sinful. I believe that Israel needs a new heart in order to love God fully and in order to obey God’s commandments consistently and properly. I pray that God grant my nation this new heart on a regular basis and I fully recognize that I cannot do this on my own.
    At the same time I recognize that God has granted us the gift of His commandments – He allowed us to observe them – although far from perfectly – and in His infinite mercy He accepts this imperfect observance.
    This is NOT to say that we obtain God’s blessing by observing the commandments in the sense that God “owes” us anything – but all of this – the observance and the blessing are part of God’s gifts to us.
    To deny these truths is to deny God’s gifts.
    At the same time – I recognize that our imperfection is so great that we are sinful and filthy and in dire need of God’s cleansing.
    These are not a contradiction.
    I proved this from Scripture – the same David who wrote Psalm 18:21-25 wrote Psalm 51. The same Israel spoken of in Ezekiel 36 is also described in Psalm 44. These are not a contradiction. As I demonstrated from Deuteronomy 30 that there are at least two levels of observance – one described in verse 2 and one described in verse 6 – both called with “ALL” our heart.
    You have not provided any response to the Scriptural evidence that I have presented.
    You challenge my statements about Israel’s observance of the Law and about her leaders on the basis of God’s critique of Israel as recorded in the prophetic books.
    I stated that Israel has not worshipped idols – I explained that what I meant was that for the past 2500 years idolatry has not been a Jewish vice. Do you deny this historical truth? Should I not thank God for the gift that He granted our nation for the past 2500 years?
    You argue that ALL of Israel’s leaders are corrupt on the basis of the prophecies of Ezekiel, Jeremiah Micah and others.
    According to your line of reasoning – were Mordechai and Esther corrupt? How about Ezra and Nehemiah? How about Hillel the elder?
    It is obvious to me and it should be obvious to you that your reading of Scripture is incorrect.
    You disagree with my statement that Israel has not become like the nations around her – please compare our history with the history of those who claimed to follow Jesus. Did we produce an institution anywhere near as evil as the inquisition? Did our leaders inspire a holocaust? Should I not thank God for this gift?
    You take issue with my statement that Israel observes the Sabbath. I understand the promise of Exodus 31:16 to mean what it says – just as I understand the promise of Genesis 17:7 to mean what it says. Should I not thank God for this gift? Should I deny that He granted us this gift? Should I deny the historical truth?
    Yes – we could be observing the Sabbath on a much higher level – but to say that we are not observing it at all is simply throwing God’s goodness back into His face.
    You argue that Israel doesn’t know God – I acknowledge that we could know Him better than we do – but we are married to Him and He granted us that gift as is explicit in so many Scriptures – Deuteronomy 4:35; Jeremiah 10:16; and Micah 7:9; Psalm 44:21 – are just some examples.
    You say that Israel is only considered holy because of what God has done for them – I agree but it seems that we differ about what it is that God has done for them. I believe that what God has done for them is that He granted them the gift of His commandments together with the gift of the observance of the commandments – to the degree that that has been granted to us – together with the gift of reckoning the observance that is really His gift to us – as if it were our righteousness. I also believe that we are considered holy because God forgives our sins when we turn back to Him in repentance – although the repentance is not yet perfect as we do not yet have a circumcised heart. I see all of this in Scripture – some passages are Numbers 15:40; Deuteronomy 6:25; Psalm 103:17,18 – and Isaiah 62:2.
    That was my world view with the Scriptural support.
    Your world view is that God has not given Israel the gift of knowledge of God – or at least that He has not maintained that gift in her midst to any degree whatsoever. Your world view is that God has not granted Israel any measure of the gift of obedience to His Law and your world view is that Israel is only considered holy on the basis of a certain process that God did on Israel’s behalf. You have quoted Isaiah 63:5 to support your view – I argued in response that the event described in Isaiah has not yet happened – and Israel is already considered holy (Jeremiah 2:3) before the event in Isaiah has happened. You responded by claiming that God somehow counts the future as if it happened in the present or the past. I asked you for a scriptural source for this concept – you have not yet provided it.
    I have given you the Scriptural basis for my position together with the Scriptural basis for my rejection of your position. If you want this conversation to be useful – please read what I have written and respond to that and not to what someone told you that I believe.

  37. Friend,
    I think we are talking in circles here. Since you mentioned both at the beginning and end of your post that you think I have concluded things about your beliefs not because of what you have said but because of the Christian Bible, let me address that first.
    I assure you, I have NOT concluded anything about your beliefs based on what anyone else has said, or based on anything in the Christian Bible. I have responded to what I understand your beliefs to be based on three things:

    1. THE STATEMENTS YOU HAVE MADE YOURSELF, one of which was the following: “Israel will be vindicated as the nation who did not give their hearts to another god (on a national level) and that they hoped to God…I believe that Israel’s deep appreciation for God’s absolute sovereignty over every facet of creation is something that is righteous and good – and it is this appreciation that will be vindicated in the Messianic era.” (Feb. 22 on The Bush, The Cloud and Genesis 18).

    While the statement above sounds good at face value, the underlying meaning that I understand from it is STILL that Israel’s righteousness (i.e., deep appreciation…) is what will be vindicated. Elsewhere, you have commented that her “loyalty” will be vindicated—just another way to say some aspect of righteousness, to me. I see in Scripture that G-d repeatedly says Israel claims righteousness when she is NOT righteous, and that on that day when He completes His vindication, it is with NO ONE else’s help and because of NO ONE else’s righteousness (Isaiah 63;5, Isaiah 59:16 and several others). I also believe your repeated statements that Israel at least has not been like other nations (even if packaged as THANKFULNESS that “at least we are not like them”) relates to that underlying belief of Israel’s righteousness—yet there are Scriptures that very clearly tell us otherwise, as I’ve previously mentioned (Jeremiah 2, 3, 8, 16, 17; Ezekiel 22, 23, 33, 36, Hosea chapters 2 through 4, Micah…and so on). To me, even if the proclamation of righteousness is done in a subtle packaging of “thankfulness” for the righteousness or some other term, the message and perspective is still the same. And that is what I disagree with.

    2. The second thing that has given me an impression of what you believe is THE ISSUES YOU CHALLENGE AND DON’T CHALLENGE in the replies on your blog. For example, people have repeatedly made comments implying that Israel will fulfill the Torah before the Restoration, that “we can do this!” with regard to the Torah, that we are essentially good people, that Israel is a righteous nation, that Israel has maintained loyalty, that “God believes in us, why don’t we believe in our worthiness, our righteous nature?”, and so on. I have waited for your response, your addressing of these important issues as false, and there has been none. Conversely, you have been quick to reply (and contradict) replies that say the opposite. So it is the issues you address and don’t address in your replies that have also given me the impressions I’ve gotten regarding what you believe.

    3. I have also concluded what you believe based on my comparison of those two things I mentioned above with several Judaism sites and Jewish friends. From my extensive research, I have seen a general denial of man’s sin nature and a general indication that man can be worthy and righteous and can fulfill the Torah. And this is from sites written by respected rabbis, not sites written ABOUT Judaism by outsiders. (I can provide a list of the sites, if you like.) I’ve also watched videos by you and Rabbi Skobac, among others, so it is not only from one particular post or statement that I’ve gotten these impressions.

    Now, that said, you are not Rabbi Skobac, and you are also not the Judaism sites I’ve researched. Nonetheless, the statements you’ve made and the issues you address/don’t address in replies to your posts have given me reason to think you agree.

    I am letting you know this simply so that we can clear this issue up: I am NOT forming ANY conclusions about you based on anything that anyone else has told me about you, and I would like for us to move beyond any claims that I’m basing any impressions about you whatsoever on something in the Christian Bible. That simply isn’t true at all.

    I am concerned that we seem to be talking in circles. Some examples are that you mentioned Isaiah 63:5 as a Scripture I quoted in reference to G-d’s intervention on Israel’s behalf, and your response was that it hasn’t happened yet. If you read what I said, I never claimed it had. I said this:
    Isaiah 65 begins with G-d saying that He had responded to those who did not ask, who did not seek Him. Before that, Isaiah 63 says that His year of redemption had arrived, but there was no man… (verse 5), even though He was their Deliverer and was troubled in all of their troubles, redeeming them (verse 9) and being their Shepherd (verse 14). Before that, as well, He says in Isaiah 48 that Israel was a people whose ears were not opened of old (48:3–8), even saying WHY He had previously foretold His acts to her long ago—because she was stubborn and so that she could not claim that her idols were the ones that did His acts (verses 3–5). Then He says He is now telling her new things that she had not heard and had never known (verse 8).
    What was this new message that she had never heard before? Did she know it? Was she listening?

    As you can see above, my point was that, just as He tells us in Isaiah 59, there was no one righteous but Himself. I also noted that He clearly said He was now telling something new while simultaneously saying Israel’s ears had not been opened of old to hear what He was saying. My point had nothing to do with whether this prophecy had come to pass.

    Because of this and other issues, I would like to cut right to the heart of what seems to be the matter here, and perhaps we can discuss with more clarity rather than talk in circles.

    1. I am not going to ask you again to explain the verses I have mentioned several times now—my question was: What, in all of these passages is the “new” (Isaiah 48–49), bringing about righteousness (Jeremiah 23 and 33), and miraculous (Zechariah 3:8) event the LORD referred to?
    I am willing to let that one go because I don’t consider it the heart of the matter here. I also already did tell you that I do NOT see “righteousness” as G-d counting the future as the present or past, but it seems I have somehow been unclear in this, so perhaps it will help if I include that aspect clearly in my worldview below. Other than that, the two primary issues I see are this:

    1. You still haven’t told me WHY Israel needs a New Covenant, even though I’ve asked the same question repeatedly.
    You said, “Now instead of reading what I wrote and learning what my worldview is so that you can interact with it – you seem to have a complete “understanding” of my worldview that no matter what I say – you believe as an article of faith that I trust in Israel’s actions and that I don’t “really” see a need for a new covenant.”

    I am sorry if I have somehow communicated that, but the reason I continue to ask about the New Covenant is simply that you haven’t answered the question. The question was not DOES Israel need a New Covenant; the question was WHY does Israel need a New Covenant? (See the end of my previous post and at least 2 instances of the same “why” question in the post before that.) I am not asking a rhetorical question here; I really want to know: WHY DO YOU BELIEVE ISRAEL NEEDS A NEW COVENANT? In other words, what is the BASIS for your belief that she DOES need a New Covenant? What is wrong with her or wrong with the Old Covenant or wrong with mankind/the world that G-d doesn’t just keep the Old Covenant?

    I hope the question is clearer now, and you can see that I am not refuting your claim that you believe she needs a new heart and a new covenant; I want to know WHY. What do you think is the reason that she must have a new one?

    2. You said that I have not refuted the Scriptures you presented, and I am unclear what exactly you refer to. Can you clearly state the worldviews and accompanying Scriptures that you refer to with this statement so that I can then clearly either agree or disagree and why? I will be sure to list Scriptures either way and will also be sure to provide an alternate explanation for what I believe the Scriptures you quoted are saying, should such be the case, so that we are both very clear about this. From what I can recall, I refuted a few things you said, yes, because the clear reading of the entire passage didn’t jive with what you were saying (i.e., I felt you were taking Isaiah 59:21 out of context in claiming it refers to the Pharisees because the context is events that haven’t occurred yet. However, I did feel I provided a clear alternate explanation—that this verse obviously refers to the time after the rest of the chapter takes place.)
    So, I am honestly quite confused about what exactly you feel I have stated disagreement with yet couldn’t refute with Scripture. If you will kindly restate what you feel are the main issues (with Scriptures), I will be happy to do so now.

    With regard to my worldview, I am happy to put that on the table. If you disagree, I will be happy to provide Scriptures, but for time and space, I will simply list the views for now.

    1. I believe man is fallen from his originally pure and good condition. Every person on earth has sinned. Logically, then, every person has a sin nature.

    2. G-d means exactly what He says. When he says that to merit the blessing of enduring long in the land (note: NOT a promise of eternal life but rather one of prosperity on earth) one must fulfill ALL the commands He gave, He meant that.

    3. G-d certainly wanted the people, individually and as a nation, to keep the Torah. He did not give it as a joke.

    4. The Law can certainly draw people to G-d. It is only by caring about G-d and His Laws in the first place that we realize how much we have broken and that we need His mercy, if we are truthful.

    5. The Prophets, Scriptures, and Torah are all G-d’s Holy Word. This means G-d’s later revelations through the Prophets are as true as the Torah and must be read seriously and accepted/believed as part of His Message.

    6. G-d is the same G-d He has always been. The method He provided for man to come to Him is the same now as it was then: believe what He says—all of it—without rationalizing that He didn’t really mean “all” of it or that He will be fine with us attaining only an “expected level” of His requirements. A truthful approach should lead us to the same conclusion it led David, Daniel, and the others who were known as holy. An untruthful approach will do nothing for us other than give us false reason to feel self-satisfied that at least we have done this or that.

    7. KNOWLEDGE (about anything G-d is or has done or said) has never made anyone holy. The lack of knowledge can most certainly keep people in the dark, but obtaining knowledge does not make a person holy or closer to G-d.

    7. G-d has a special relationship with Israel as His beloved bride, and He has chosen her and given her His Name. The fact that she has utterly failed and that His assessment in the end will be that she has broken the Covenant and has profaned His Name does not take away from His devoted love and sovereign choice of her.

    8. G-d made two Covenants with Israel as a nation (not counting the Davidic, etc.). The first (everlasting) covenant was the one-way Abrahamic Covenant, dependent on G-d alone, and it will endure forever. The second covenant was the two-way Sinai Covenant, and Israel broke that one less than two months after solemnly swearing, in blood, that she would never break it. In the end, G-d’s assessment will be that she has broken that covenant, and He will give her a New Covenant, “not like” the Sinai Covenant — one that will be everlasting.

    9. G-d will redeem and vindicate Israel as His holy bride (holy because He washes her and makes her holy). G-d often uses evil entities to bring punishment, as we have seen occur repeatedly with Israel. This does not mean those entities are good or godly in any way, and in fact what we generally see in Scripture is that the entities used to bring punishment upon Israel are utterly evil. For their mockery and self-righteousness in deeming themselves better than Israel (and for their own wickedness), those entities will be punished harshly in the last days, and Israel will be vindicated as the one and only nation G-d has ever loved and chosen and given His Holy Name to.
    A man who loves a woman may be angry himself if she is disloyal, practices adultery, is spoiled and self-righteous, and behaves in a conniving and wicked and false manner, but he will be even angrier if the ones with whom she has practiced these evils laugh at her downfall, mock her for believing she can still be loved, and feel they can rape and torture or kill her with no consequences. So is G-d’s love for Israel, His bride. He is faithful. His love is everlasting.

    10. Holiness and righteousness come with humility, repentance, and truth. G-d gave us everything we need in the Torah, Scriptures, and Prophets for us to understand what we need to know about our sin, fallen nature, and inability to fulfill the Torah. We have a choice: respond as King Saul did and try to save face in front of everyone, or respond as King David did and throw ourselves at G-d’s mercy, begging for a new heart.

    I hope we can proceed with greater clarity now.
    Shalom

    • P.S. The other reason I am greatly concerned with the perspective I am often seeing not only in your comments / the issues you address or don’t address in the replies, but also in the replies themselves is that they often line up with the responses of King Saul, not King David. King Saul was the one who focused on “at least” he had done this or that, to the level expected, even though he hadn’t fully obeyed, and tried to find aspects of his own righteousness to focus on. King David’s responses, on the other hand, were what I believe G-d referred to when He said David did only what was right in his sight – David’s perspective was that “ALL” meant all. If he had disobeyed in anything, he didn’t excuse himself or bring up what he had done right; he clung to G-d’s mercies and proclaimed that he had sinned and that G-d alone was holy and perfect in His judgments.

  38. Annelise says:

    Could you read the book of James and tell me where it is similar, and different, to Yisroel’s approach?

    I think that Rabbi Yisroel believes that it is only by God’s gift that we can come close to Him; he also believes that God delights in and requires choices of wholehearted obedience from us, truly chosen by us, on *every* step of the road towards complete surrender. Even when we’re not yet fully there, we can make choices that offer our whole hearts to Him and those things do bring us closer. It seems like you’re negating the second part of that, and ignoring the scriptures that would suggest that both parts are important together. Then you’re complaining that the commenters here don’t contextualise their belief in obedience with a belief in real grace, but that’s not true.

    • Annelise says:

      I didn’t really want to get back into this conversation though. Maybe if you have thoughts on this then you could discuss it together 🙂

      All the best.

    • Annelise,
      No, I really am not interested in discussing the book of James. I’ve repeatedly affirmed that it is only by choosing to take an interest in G-d and His laws — and obey them — that we are able to see ourselves in contrast to His holiness, so choice certainly factors in (i.e., the person who chooses not to care what G-d said doesn’t regard G-d in the first place — David saw His utter sinfulness as he sought to write ALL of G-d’s laws on his heart, not by seeking to break them).

      My point here is primarily our fallen nature and the choice AFTER we have seen and sought to obey the Law. King Saul’s focus was on what he HAD done right (and saving face). He rationalized his disobedience (he had obeyed to the expected level, he had done what seemed right at the moment, given the circumstances). King David’s choice was to honestly look at ALL of G-d’s laws and see his failures – a conclusion that led him to beg for a new heart, not rationalize that “all” didn’t really mean all. (Psalms 51, Psalms 32).

      And the other huge issue is WHY we need a New Covenant, as I stated above.

      Shalom

  39. cflat7 says:

    “King David’s choice was to honestly look at ALL of G-d’s laws and see his failures – a conclusion that led him to beg for a new heart…”

    Did he get a new heart then or is that yet to come for him?

  40. Annelise says:

    It’s frustrating that you won’t accept any comparisons of your logic against Judaism when it is compared to things that you actually believe in. I don’t understand your whole point and reasons for conversing here.

    • Annelise says:

      I guess it doesn’t make sense to me that when your method or approach is challenged, you think it is undesirable to compare it with other accepted beliefs… whether things accepted by everyone, or things that you hold to be true in the rest of your faith… in order to see whether your point is valid or empty. I really don’t see why you insist that the people writing here don’t belief that humans need God’s help to overcome the sinfulness of human nature. This argument is being created out of nowhere and I really insist that it is the NT understanding that makes you focus on this point as if something is missing in the Orthodox Jewish reading.

      • Annelise says:

        I.e. When Rabbi Yisroel says that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone, you disagree, but when it says the same in James 2:24 (not that these two writers say the same things on every point… but here…) then you believe it? That seems like an impossible double standard.

        Assuming that you don’t credit James with poor reading of scriptures as well… I’m just trying to point out that if you didn’t find fault with the faith system of Judaism as a whole, then you would have no problem accepting the reading of Tanach that is being made in the articles and comments here on this particular topic.

  41. I do not want to digress to side issue. The issues I laid out, as requested by the rabbi, were my worldview – primarily the fallen nature of man and WHY we need a New Covenant, which are both a huge part of my worldview. I also addressed the issue we clearly see in the Tanakh of the men G-d called holy having an attitude NOT focused on what they “HAVE done” (whether because of a gift of G-d or any other reason) or on saving face in any way – as Saul did – but rather on their complete unworthiness before a holy G-d, having looked ALL of His commandments full in the face and found themselves utterly lacking. No ifs, ands, or buts.

    As far as I’m concerned, those issues comprise the matter I personally want to address, and I’m specifically addressing the rabbi here. If you have your own questions, I suggest that you either ask the rabbi himself (because this is his blog) or seek some other blogs on which to ask them. If you want to talk about the book of James, for example, you might seek out some Christian blogs on which to do so. I have read the book of James, and I don’t find it related at all to the heart of what I’m talking about here (and even if it were, that’s someone else’s question). I also don’t find it necessary for anyone to decide “what else” I must believe in. I have presented my worldview (and no one else’s), and I’ve asked which of those issues the rabbi agrees with/disagrees with. I’ve also asked for clarification regarding which issues, with Scriptures, he feels I’ve disagreed with without refuting them with Scripture so that we can clear that up, too.

    Please note that my responses were specifically addressed to the rabbi.

    • Annelise says:

      Just trying to comprehend why it should be so hard to accept that the scriptures show instances of people saying that God alone is righteous and that only with His help can we please Him, AND also of people saying that their righteousness is pleasing to Him and that it will bring about restoration.

      So I think that bringing up the NT is relevant because I can see no other reason why you are only looking at half of the picture here. And I wanted to show that the logic being used in the Jewish reading is even acceptable to you if you find the writings of the apostles to be valid.

      I’m sorry for writing so bluntly and personally, I need to be more gentle and more careful to be sure to listen to what you’re really saying. I just feel that there is injustice in the claim that you’re reading scripture at face value and others are reading it wrongly when you don’t examine what seems to be a clear bias. It’s wrong to misrepresent the words of people who pour a lot of sincerity and even sacrifice into their pursuing and preserving of the knowledge of God in their communities, if in reality what they’re saying is important and backed up by a fuller spectrum of scriptures.

      I know it is possible to just look at the Tanach,and finish this discussion without reference to the biases for why particular points of view might be brought. It’s not ideal, but what’s there is there. I hope all the best for you both in unraveling the heart behind these passages, and for us all in coming closer, humbly, to that.

      • Annelise says:

        I really believe that the knowledge that our righteousness means something to God, and affects the way He relates with us, only really increases our honour of Him and thankfulness for His gifts to us. We don’t even exist without Him and we don’t deserve to be given such a close relationship with Him, in some ways a partnership where we really play a real and active role. But that is the experience He has given to us, to be able to choose to share in His righteousness. Knowing that we can do this only shows how much He has put into our hands, and deepens our awareness of complete dependence on Him as the source of goodness.

  42. Freedom
    We are talking in circles because you simply don’t tune in to what I am saying. Yes, I did say that Israel will be vindicated as the nation who did not give their hearts to another God, as the nation who hoped to God and for her righteousness. This is explicit in Scripture as I quoted – But before I get to the quotations – let me explain that this has NOTHING to do with “TRUSTING” in our righteousness. All of these are gifts from God and after we have done all of these – God still owes us nothing and all of our trust is in God’s mercy and in His mercy alone.
    But God in His mercy did promise to us that He will vindicate us to the eyes of the nations – Isaiah 26:2; 49:23; 62:2.
    When people comment on my blog saying that we could do the commandments and when you read on Jewish websites that we could follow God’s Law – I don’t for a second think that any of these people are saying that we could follow the Law perfectly or that we could do anything without God sustaining us every step of the way – neither do I think that these people are denying the obvious fact that we have a proclivity to sin. Neither do I worry that these people are feeling “self-righteous” when they speak about observing the Law. You see Freedom; self-righteousness is a tricky thing. You could be self-righteous by focusing on your observance of the commandments – or you could be self-righteous by focusing on your beliefs – such as “I am not as self-righteous as those people who think that by observing the commandments they could earn God’s blessing – I acknowledge my sin nature and those evil Pharisees don’t – thank God I am not like them”
    The latter type of self-righteousness is far more common and it has been used to encourage people to worship an idol for the past 2000 years. I am far more worried about the latter type of self-righteousness and that explains my reactions to the commenters on this blog.

    So your entire read of my blog and of Judaism is tainted by the teaching of the Christian Scriptures which associates observance of the Law with self-righteousness, hypocrisy, denial of sin-nature, and lack of trust in God.

    When I see people encouraging themselves and others to observe the Law and telling people that observing the Law is something they can do – I don’t see any of the evil stuff that you were taught to read into such statements.

    When you speak of David’s response to the prophet or to God that is one thing – but when David responded to people like you – he gave quite a different answer – Psalm 119:42.

    You ask me why I believe that I need a new heart – I already told you the answer to that question – let me say it more explicitly – because at this point in time there are forces in my heart that pull me away from obedience to God and from recognizing the fullness of God’s sovereignty – that is why I need a new heart and that is why we need a new covenant – we need a heart that is completely loyal to God without the slightest taint of rebellion.

    You keep on pointing to David as an example that we should all follow – and I couldn’t agree with you more. As I pointed out – the same David that cried out that God create for Him a pure heart – also said Psalm 18:21 – How do you understand This Psalm? Do you have a problem with Israel’s declaration in Psalm 44:18?

    I want to ask you a question – if someone does an act of kindness to someone else – out of humility and trust in God without a feeling of self-righteousness but rather with a thankfulness towards God for allowing him to perform this act – is that a Godly action? Is it something that God loves? – after you formulate your Christian answer – please try to reconcile it with Jeremiah 22:16.

    One more question from my previous response – how were the Jews supposed to know that Ezra, Nehemiah, Mordecai and Esther weren’t corrupt – didn’t Jeremiah and Micah already tell them that ALL the leaders are corrupt?

    I asked you three questions – please answer them.

    • Friend,

      – I asked you whether you agree or disagree with the worldviews that I clearly laid out as my own.

      – I also asked if you could provide again the specific Scriptures or worldviews that I’ve disagreed with yet haven’t provided Scriptures to back my beliefs. I will be happy to respond to whatever you are referring to with that (clearly and with Scriptures, either agreeing or disagreeing) once you clarify what those issues are.

      – I also asked WHY Israel needs a New Covenant, and I don’t feel that you’ve really answered that. What is wrong with the Old Covenant / the people that G-d doesn’t just keep the old one? Just saying the old heart is pulled away really doesn’t tell me WHY a New Covenant is necessary. Is something wrong with the old one? Is something wrong with people? What is the issue here?

      – I do not disagree with you in the slightest regarding your assessment that many people of other faiths can likewise be self-righteous about what they are or are not like, what they do or do not know, or about what they believe in and thus feel they are better. However, that wasn’t the point; I was responding to your question as to where I’ve gotten that idea from THIS blog.

      I’ll be very happy to respond to your three questions above after I return home shortly, but I am presenting these again (the top three bullets) so that they don’t run together with my responses. I’d like an answer so we can clarify these things.

      Thank you, and Shalom.

  43. Freedom
    – About your worldview – you are playing games as is obvious to everyone reading these posts – you did not say that you believe in the Christian Scriptures – so your answer is not honest enough to deserve a response – do you or don’t you believe in that book? – Don’t go and tell me that this “detail” is “irrelevant” to the conversation – because while you may be operating under the self-righteous notion that you are not affected by the slant of that book – I don’t think anyone else reading these posts shares that view of yourself

    – I gave the Scriptures to you in the previous posts – Two of them are the ones I asked you about here – Psalm 18:21 and 44:18

    – You feel that my answer as to why we need the new covenant is not adequate – let me try again – right now our hearts are pulled away from God – so yes there is something wrong with the people – since the sin of Adam – the only thing “wrong” with the old covenant is that it didn’t come with the new heart

    – And I was explaining why you jumped to the wrong conclusion

    I am looking forward to your answers

    • Friend,
      1. I am not playing games. I gave you my worldview as it relates to G-d, Israel, and mankind in general. Which of these did you not consider deserving of a response? These are some very honest issues that anyone, of any faith, would consider relevant—issues I have discussed with many friends—and I mean every word of them.

      2. Have you considered the context of the Psalms you mentioned? Psalms 18, for example, was not David initiating praise about himself but rather was in response to a compliment he’d just been given (see 1Samuel 24:9-23) and was also in relation to a specific accusation toward him that had been false. Saul had been listening to those who had been slandering him, saying that David was “out to harm him” (1Samuel 24:10). In that particular instance, David’s men had urged David to kill Saul (verse 5) and David had refused to do so, realizing that would be wrong. He then explained that although Saul was bent on taking his life (verse 12), David would not retaliate. At this time, Saul had cried and said that although the LORD had given him into David’s hand, David had treated him well…and Saul then told David that he now knew David would be king of Israel.

      Do you not suppose this was an immense relief to someone who had been pursued and slandered? In Psalms 18 David was responding to this specific compliment, one that he had not initiated; he was not proclaiming general righteousness. The term David used there was one that means doing what is right, just, or normal, justice of weights and measures (צֶדֶק) and was in reference to that specific decision in which he respected G-d’s anointed (and not having been guilty of the particular accusation that was said about him).

      Most importantly, this was in the context of having made a clear choice NOT to sin. This is very different from looking at the failures of the nation (context of sinning) and saying, “Well, at least we haven’t been like THEM,” as though there really is only an “expected level” of obedience (Saul’s mentality) and proclaiming that the nation has still been righteous to a degree, at least (also Saul’s claim). At any time when David sinned, his attitude was not to look for the areas in which he’d obeyed (Saul’s response), nor was his general claim about himself or the nation one of righteousness. As we both know, when referring to the nation in general (and even to himself in general), David’s general plea was that the LORD work for HIS righteousness’ sake, fully acknowledging the immensity of the sin, not seeking to downplay it or make excuses of any sort.

      This leads to your question about Psalms 44. David here was pouring out his soul to G-d, and I believe here he foresees what Israel’s own perspective would be one day of her own suffering that G-d would bring upon her. It corresponds with several other prophecies in which the people complained that G-d was unjust or had brought trouble to them (while G-d responded that indeed He was just). In Psalms 44, we see only the people’s claim, not G-d’s response. But if we follow this same claim through all the way in the prophets to see G-d’s response to it, His version of the situation was very different from that of the people.

      Malachi 2:17 You have wearied the Lord with your words, and you say, “How have we wearied [Him]?”—By your saying, “Every evildoer is good in the Lord’s sight, and He desires them,” or, “Where is the God of judgment?”

      Isaiah 1:2-3 “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord has spoken; Children I have raised and exalted, yet they have rebelled against Me. An ox knows his owner and a donkey his master’s crib; Israel does not know, my people does not consider.” He goes on to describe their “works” when they come to appear before Him, saying that He cannot abide Sabbath proclamations of solemnities as assemblies with iniquity. In other words, they appear to think they are doing all the right things, while He says the opposite is true.

      There are many others, such as Ezekiel 18:25-29 in which the people claim G-d is not fair and G-d then defends Himself at length and says that indeed He HAS been fair; it is they who are not fair. We see this argument repeatedly throughout the prophets (the people crying out that they are being punished unjustly, while G-d replies that their claim is wrong). But I wanted to point out the two above (Malachi 2:17 through Malachi chapter 3, Isaiah chapter 1) because they, like Psalms 44-45, show Israel’s punished state followed closely by Scriptures about the Kingdom of the Righteous One.

      Psalms 45:7 Your divine throne is everlasting; your royal scepter is a scepter of equity…
      Malachi 3:1 Behold I am sending My messenger to clear the way before Me, and the LORD whom you seek shall come to His Temple suddenly.
      Isaiah 1:26 I will restore your magistrates of old, and your counselors as of yore. After that, you shall be called City of Righteousness, Faithful City.

      There are many other passages throughout the prophets as well (of which I am sure you are aware) in which the claims of the people were “we are innocent!” while G-d’s reply (every time we are provided with His response to the claims) was a long list of her sins for which she was suffering. Now, Israel did indeed receive double for all her sins, as Scripture says (Isaiah 40:2), and we also know that G-d continued to love her with a faithful, everlasting love…but we also do see from every single instance in which G-d RESPONDS to their claims of innocence and unfair punishment that He says their claim is wrong.

      I realize you believe my view is tainted, Friend, but I assure you that I have gotten these views from no one except through a careful study and cross-referencing of these issues throughout the Tanakh. G-d’s love for Israel is Eternal and Faithful, yet He repeatedly rebuts her claims of innocence, over and over.

      3. You asked whether an act of kindness to someone else – out of humility and trust in God without a feeling of self-righteousness but rather with thankfulness towards God for allowing him to perform this act – is a godly action, one that G-d loves. Of course it is. And if in fact it is done in the spirit you say, then it will be one that the person will recognize as having stemmed from G-d, not taking credit for the act himself or herself. As Proverbs 27:2 says, it ought to be another who praises us, not our own mouth.

      4. You also asked how the Jews were supposed to know that Ezra, Nehemiah, Mordecai and Esther weren’t corrupt, since Jeremiah and Micah had already told them that ALL the leaders are corrupt.
      Yes indeed; He addressed each kind of leader in turn (priests, prophets, kings, chiefs, rulers) and declared each evil in turn. In Micah, however, we also see that the role of the one who WASN’T corrupt was to “declare to Jacob his transgressions and to Israel his sin” (verse 8). We also see the same happen in Jeremiah 28; the one who spoke of peace and prosperity was the false prophet, while the true prophet spoke words that were less pleasing to hear. He says this in Jeremiah 6:14, too: “They offer healing offhand for the wounds of My people, saying “All is well, all is well,” when nothing is well.”
      He repeats this same message in Jeremiah 8:10-12. This is the first indication of who was and wasn’t righteous. I think the kinds of leaders they were and their messages were clearly described in the passages.

      As I’m sure we both know, such a message was far from the message we see in the prayers of the individuals you mentioned above (Nehemiah 9, Ezra 9). These leaders instead did not proclaim any such false peace nor did they claim righteousness whatsoever for the nation.

      I also think it is important to note that G-d was referring to a national issue among the leaders of Israel, and never did He did say that there would be none He would raise up to help them, as He did with the people you mentioned above.

      5. I realize you will not agree with some of my responses and that you feel you have already answered the question about the New Covenant, but it isn’t answered for me. If the only thing “wrong” with the New Covenant is that it didn’t come with the new heart, why will G-d not simply give the new heart and keep the Old Covenant? Why does He give a New Covenant, one “not like” the Sinai Covenant? (Jeremiah 31:32).

      Shalom

      • Freedom
        1 – Answer – do you or do you not believe in the Christian Scriptures?
        2 – Psalm 18 was said by David at the end of his life when God had saved him from ALL of his enemies – just read the opening phrase of the Psalm – also read the end of the Psalm how he was already made king over his nation and other nations.
        Try again
        So you dismiss Psalm 44 because it is the people talking but according to you God wouldn’t agree – So would you say that Psalm 44 is an unGodly piece of literature?
        3 – So is the act considered Godly even while the person is under the old heart? Is it an act of righteousness? will God reward it?
        4 – So you admit that it is possible for God to raise up leaders in Israel that are not corrupt – do you beleive that Israel possesses such leaders today?
        You realize that the criteria that you set for identifying a leader who is not corrupt is if it fits YOUR understanding of Scripture. I realize that you are convinced that your understanding of Scripture is absolutely correct and not based on any bias – its only other people’s understanding of Scripture that is wrong and built on self-righteous blindness. But do you recognize the right of other people to think that they understand Scripture and identify Godly leaders according to their own understanding of Scripture?
        5 – A covenant is a connection between two parties. If one of the parties can possibly break the covenant then that connection is not as close as a covenant in which neither party can break the connection – that is the advantage of the new covenant over the old.

        To recap – here are the questions
        Do you or don’t you believe in the Christian Scriptures?
        Explain Psalm 18:21-25
        Is Psalm 44 an unGodly piece of literature?
        Does God reward an act of righteousness done by a person who has a sinful nature?
        Does Israel possess any Godly leaders today – or have they possessed any for the past 500 years?
        Please answer

        • Friend,
          I’ve told you that I’m not interested in discussing anything outside of the Tanakh. You already said much earlier in the conversation that you were fine with turning the conversation back to Scripture itself instead of about me and my personal beliefs, and I’m going to hold you to that. I want to discuss WHAT THE TANAKH SAYS. Nothing else—not a focus diverted to me instead of Scripture.

          I believe Psalms 18 was specifically referring to the event with Saul. In the JPS Tanakh, Psalms 18 is prefaced as follows: Of David…after the LORD had saved him from…the clutches of Saul. I may be mistaken about exactly WHEN it was written (I think you are right about that issue), but it has always been well-known and accepted among all faiths that Psalms 18 was particularly written ABOUT the events that took place with Saul; this is nothing new and was recorded as such from the ancient manuscripts. (See the commentary on chabad.org as well.)

          My previous explanation is the same with the other verses in this section (verses 21-25). David was specifically responding to the LORD’s rewards (including Saul’s recognition that G-d would establish the kingdom in his hand) for particular acts—his having made right choices in not having sinned against the LORD’s anointed. See 1Samuel 24:9–23…this was also in relation to a specific false accusation Saul was listening to—David was innocent of these things. In these particular issues/accusations/acts, yes, David was innocent and righteous in that he made a godly choice and wasn’t guilty of what he was accused of.

          You asked another question that ties in with this one: Does G-d reward a righteous act by a person with a sinful nature. Yes, absolutely, in the sense of “righteousness” as used here— what is right or just or normal, rightness, justness (of weights and measures), as in צֶדֶק. We often see this kind of earthly reward in societies that seek to maintain some standard of G-d’s laws…those societies that do believe, overall, that G-d’s standards as “right,” for example, often tend to prosper. (I’m referring specifically to a number of smaller-scale societies that I’ve personally observed in several countries.) Conversely, societies in which there is no justice and that call right “wrong” and wrong “right” often go downhill very quickly. Why? Because His Laws are good laws. He gave them for our well-being.

          That said, “keeping” a law or doing an act doesn’t make a PERSON righteous in the sense of being inwardly good or kind or pure of heart, and THAT is what I was referring to with regard to David not considering himself “righteous” throughout the Psalms. Did he do righteous acts for which he received earthly rewards/prosperity? Absolutely, as can any of us (as noted above). But we see dozens of Psalms that are NOT written in reference to a certain event or act, and in those general Psalms, he refers repeatedly to his own utter failures and tendency to sin, and to G-d’s holiness in contrast. David clearly understood the deeper spiritual meaning of righteousness—none of which entailed any merit on his part or had anything to do with any particular act or event.

          And when I speak of true righteousness and holiness, it is to that second aspect that I speak—not the earthly rewards (as David ALSO received, yes) given to those who take note of His Wisdom or “make” certain good choices.
          “Keeping” any particular law we know to be good and right because it came from G-d does not make a person inwardly righteous/good/pure of heart/kind/holy. Regularly doing righteous acts can certainly give a person a more prosperous life, and does indeed have earthly benefits in itself—and earthly prosperity was actually what G-d had promised when He gave the Law. The Law can also lead one’s mind to think on G-d and His ways (which CAN lead to holiness/goodness)—but doing certain acts, or laws,, in themselves, don’t make him good.

          The Law serves two purposes, I think. The first is that it leads us to make choices that will prosper us, insomuch as we “behave” according to the outline we see there. But beyond the earthly level, the truthful heart seeking to TRULY KNOW G-D and LOVE His Laws and write His laws on our heart—one who goes beyond merely seeking to “keep” them and be rewarded for good choices to actually truly seeing Holiness for WHO HE IS within them—sees the utter failings and the deep need for a new heart. In THAT sense, keeping “some” of the laws does nothing spiritually if the person ends up self-righteously reciting what he HAS done (as Saul did) and gains a false sense of satisfaction of having fulfilled “some” obedience rather than seeing what he was meant to see within the Law and truthfully accepting his spiritual failings and deep need for something more. I’m sorry if this is unclear. I can write more about my thoughts on this later, if you like.

          No, Psalms 44 absolutely is not an ungodly piece of literature. That is exactly what the Psalmist foresaw the people saying, and it was a true prophesy. At the same time, we only have to read the Prophets to clearly see G-d’s RESPONSE to what the Psalmist foresaw the people saying. Both were prophesies; one just tells us more of the story than the other one does (with the same thing repeated many times).

          If an incorrect perception by the people about themselves constituted ungodly literature, then very honestly we would have to do away with much of the Tanakh, because a very large portion of it refers to people’s inaccurate perceptions of themselves (and G-d always clarifies which perceptions are accurate/ inaccurate, too, if a person keeps reading and cross references Scripture). He gave us both perspectives in the prophesies.

          As for whether Israel possesses any godly leaders today or over the past 500 years—I honestly do not personally know them well enough to be able to give a knowledgeable answer to that. (I do pray regularly for Israel’s peace and reestablishment, however.) It certainly would not be impossible for G-d to raise up godly individuals within her, at any time, as He has done in the past.

          Shalom

          • Freedom
            Yes – lets keep the foucs on Tanach – but which Tanach are you reading? Do you sincerely believe that your belief or lack thereof in the Christian Scriptures doesn’t influence your “read” on Tanach? – please answer yes or no
            I ask the following question not to attack you personally – but in order to get your set of definitions – Do you believe you have a “new heart”? please answer yes or no

            Aha – so Psalm 18:21-25 is referring to one limited situation (even though ALL the laws are mentioned) – would you say the same of Psalm 119 verses 22,31,56,59,87,102,121,129,153,166,167,168 ? – please answer yes or no – and if no please explain these verses

            And Psalm 44 is not a prophetic prayer guiding the people in their approach to God but rather it is a prophecy about a haughty and self-righteous nation – Would you say the same about Isaiah 26:13? Please answer yes or no and if no please explain the verse

            It may shock you to know that I agree to your words that our approach to the law should not be “merely seeking to “keep” them and be rewarded for good choices to actually truly seeing Holiness for WHO HE IS within them—sees the utter failings and the deep need for a new heart”

            I think that we disagree over how observance of the Law accomplishes this (the recognition for a need for a new heart) – plus we disagree over the concept that in the midst of the recognition of our failure if we can still thank God for His blessings of holiness that He grants us through our limited observance of the commandments

            One more questions – You perhaps realize that pointing out people’s flaws is not always the mark of the Godly person – it could actually be the mark of evil as in Job 1:9
            So my question to you is this – do you have a way of determining which type of pointing out people’s flaws is pleasing to God and which is not?

            there are five questions in this post – please answer them

  44. Annelise says:

    tabright, your honesty is beautiful. I have a feeling that you wrote that way also because you want to see Yeshua made central to the message of scripture, rather than seeing the Christian scriptures pushed out of conversation. Even though personally I do not believe that God’s forgiveness comes through Jesus’ death, I can appreciate that when you do believe that, it seems very wrong to shy away from focusing on it.

    I really learn from what you said about commenting out of self-righteousness (i.e. thinking that others are missing something that I understand). Thanks for sharing your experience transparently so others can share in it,

  45. Annelise says:

    I read something this morning that reminded me of this blog post. I want to comment, not in reply to the conversation that is happening here, but to the original idea of the big emphasis of blood atonement in Christian songs.

    The writer of the article was an evangelical Christian, who comes from a group of churches that emphasises its intellectual tradition, the focus on scripture above feelings in preaching, and a desire not to water down the things that they see as central to the Christian message. These elements include the need for sinful humans to accept Jesus, the message about his suffering, and the willingness of Christians to ‘take up their cross’ in following God. Things that are sometimes uncomfortable to preach, or take a lot of focus to explore deeply.

    He was critiquing and reviewing a conference he went to last year, run by a Pentecostal church that is popular for the music and rock concert atmosphere of its services. His main comment was that he loved the songs for their focus on Jesus and on the theological concepts of human need for forgiveness and salvation through his suffering… But he disliked the teaching in the sermons because the focus on a vague idea of God blessing Christians seemed to push out any attempts to present visitors with an emphasis on what has come to be known as the ‘Gospel’ (in a nutshell): that humans are sinful, in need of a saviour, and that God came in the form of a man to take human punishment for anyone who would believe that and join in the Christian community.

    So I thought about why the writer felt so passionately about this point. Is it because he idolises the idea of self sacrifice in the NT story, or chooses to focus on the man Jesus instead of focusing on God? Is it because he wants to emphasise innate human sinfulness in an attempt to ignore the full message of the Torah? To both questions, I think the answer is no. Here’s the reason. Many Christians would say that the most beautiful and theologically profound songs they know are the ones that delve into the issue of substitutionary atonement and the idea of new life, a new way of being human, coming through Jesus’ resurrection. The reason is that they already believe that this is the way that God gave them to accept Him, and so they see it as the opposite of pride and as an expression of thankfulness to focus on such a thing at the centre of their faith.

    To me, what needs to be understood there is that rejecting Jesus does not mean rejecting forgiveness or grace or the fact that God needs to do the work in our hearts in a way that we can’t do for ourselves. For the Jewish people, rejecting Jesus means saying that forgiveness is needed, that a new heart is needed, but that the answer to this problem is different from the solution that Christians jump to. We can ask why these Jews believe that Tanach does not point them to Jesus and that in fact it points them away from this message. But we should still remember to see that the heart of thankfulness and humility felt by Christians when singing the songs is not unique to Christianity. It’s also at the heart of the Orthodox Jewish liturgy, even with no reference to an ultimate sacrifice. With with eyes fixed on the original covenant as well as the one to come.

    Anyway, I wanted to write this just to point out that the blood songs of Christianity are generally not loved by Christians simply as some kind of distraction from loving God, but instead as an expression of humility before His grace. I disagree with the belief that belief in Jesus and acceptance of grace are inseparable. But I just don’t want the heart that people are bringing to God, when they choose to love these songs, to be misrepresented.

    • Annelise says:

      In other words, Christians are very careful not to act as if the goodness they do ultimately comes from themselves rather than from God. The same attitude is constantly affirmed in the Jewish liturgy: the belief that God owes nothing to humanity, that he is faithful when we are unfaithful, and the joy that God has given us an ability to come closer and closer to responding to His commandments with love. Even the fact that He gives commandments is seen as a gift for this reason. Because He is looked to as Father and King, the source of all life, before the rest of the conversation even begins. The point of emphasising the need for human righteousness and the ability to really please God and make a difference in His response to us is not an excuse for imperfection or an expression of pride. It’s an expression of what God himself said that He desires and offers the Jewish people and humanity as a whole.

      It is this Jewish concept of humility before God’s grace that Christians are trying to hold on to when they look at the death of Jesus with admiration and worship. It is misdirected but I really believe that the concept at the heart is often quite similar.

  46. Tabright,
    I had not seen your response and certainly was not offended. If a person is looking for a message of “WHO is the Messiah?”, then indeed the exchange could be frustrating. But that isn’t my message. My message is to compare Scripture with Scripture, looking honestly at what did G-d really tell us from the beginning and all along — particularly about Himself, about our humanity, and about Israel His beloved bride, cross-referencing that same message to other books to see where it is repeated and when and how. To me, it is an issue of getting to know Him as He revealed Himself from the beginning of time, learning and accepting all that He said as Truth.

    Shalom

    • David says:

      Based your reading of Scripture and cross referencing books, who do you say that he is (the one spoken of in Genesis 3:15)?

  47. David says:

    Hi tabright, You may have already answered this; sorry I haven’t read through all the posts. I’m having computer problems. Who do you say that Jesus or Yeshua is?

  48. Friend,
    I’m going to ignore any further questions/comments regarding “which” Bible I’m really reading, “which” slanted view I’m looking at this from, what else I believe in, and anything that I can’t answer directly through a review of the Tanakh. I find the implications disrespectful, and more than one person (who would no doubt defend the questions as “merely wanting to know where I’m coming from”) has immediately insinuated (when I’ve disagreed with something) that my perspective is REALLY tainted by something else or that I’ve REALLY gotten my views elsewhere — comments that, by nature, are designed to discredit my input on Scripture. (You may disagree, but that is what I feel, so I ask you to respect my feelings on the matter and limit questions to what I feel G-d said in the Tanakh and why I understand that to be the case.) This is not a case of me discussing something no one else can access; you can just as easily read the full passages and their contexts as I can, and then you can decide, based on what you understand to be the clear and plain meaning, whether you agree or disagree with what I understand it to be saying.

    What I bring to the table is my understanding of the Tanakh as I read it as honestly and prayerfully as I am able to do so. I read both the JPS Tanakh (which I own) and chabad.org (which is accessible online). I do not automatically discount someone else’s interpretation of Scripture; if I feel the verses are taken out of context or that they are not being read as they would be clearly understood in any other context, I say so. That does not make me automatically right, nor have I said that. But I have the right to review what I read, and to cross-reference that with other Scriptures in the Tanakh, to see what I understand the passage to be saying in its full context just as everyone has the right to do with the Scriptures I present my understanding of (many of which are the ones you’ve presented and asked my opinion on, so this is not a case of me refusing to look at anything except some specific verse I’ve picked out). And when I present or explain my understanding of Scripture, it is a given (for me) that I may not always be correct on everything. Nevertheless, if I didn’t feel free to state what I honestly feel it is saying, my input would be pointless.

    I’ll respond to your other questions – anything I can give an opinion on from a careful reading of the Tanakh (both versions) very soon.

    Thank you for understanding. Shalom.

  49. Freedom
    I asked you a “yes and no” question – it was “Do you sincerely believe that your belief or lack thereof in the Christian Scriptures doesn’t influence your “read” on Tanach?”
    So I guess your answer is “no” and you are offended that I asked
    Interesting

  50. David says:

    Hi Tabright, did you see my question for you posted above?

  51. David says:

    Hi Tabright, sorry ignore the earlier post. I see you’ve answered it. Thanks.

    • Annelise says:

      I don’t think that Freedom is ignoring the question of his faith simply because of some unwillingness to stand for what he believes. What he feels is that people are judging his reading with prejudice before even listening to it, and he wants to talk about the Bible on its own terms and to stick to the subject. It’s up to him to decide whether to answer your question, but if you chooses not to, I don’t think that he will be denying Jesus. On the contrary, he is expressing his worldview in the undercurrents of what he says in a way that shows us how much faith in Jesus means to him.

      I would differ with Freedom’s statement that “more than one person…has immediately insinuated (when I’ve disagreed with something) that my perspective is REALLY tainted by something else or that I’ve REALLY gotten my views elsewhere — comments that, by nature, are designed to discredit my input on Scripture.” Actually, we’ve tried to show very specifically how what he sees as a neutral reading actually seems like a biased one. People have given reasons for making that call; just trying to articulate something they feel is a pattern and framework within his choice of focus and interpretations.

      But that said, I agree with him that the point has been made and it is fair to get back to the Tanach itself and get to the absolute simplicity of the heart of the matter. We may believe that the reading is affected by a foreign framework, but that doesn’t matter. Now that the possibility of bias has been talked about openly, it is a fair plan to stay on topic and just see whether the idea really fits with Tanach or whether it doesn’t, *whoever* has said it.

      Whether Freedom is sincere in his faith or not is between him and God. It’s not like he’s denying Christianity just by wanting to talk about a plain exegesis of the ‘Old Testament’. So maybe it is a helpful experiment for everyone to just talk about the Tanach on its own terms, and see where you actually have ideas in common… and when you don’t, just find out whether there *is* a scriptural support for one view of the other. That will keep it simpler.

      • Annelise says:

        By the way, I know that Freedom and Yisroel have asked each other a lot of questions, some of which are yet to be discussed through. But here are two that I think it would be worth focusing on between the two of you.

        1) Don’t you both agree that humans have a problem with sin, and *also* that God asks obedience from us even in our imperfection? Can you come to a working agreement about that fact?
        2) Is it possible that Orthodox Jews are trying to be humble when they emphasise the importance of obedience, in the context of grace?

        • Annelise,
          I think we may have addressed these above. We have written several posts about these topics, but the newer responses seem to be landing above.

          1. In a nutshell, yes indeed, obedience is part of our relationship with G-d — but the primary issue is the heart. How do we know this? Because while it is possible to do good acts WITHOUT a right heart, a heart that is right does indeed pour forth acts that are right. (Isaiah 29:13–14: “My LORD said: Because that people has approached [Me] with its mouth and honored Me with its lips, but has KEPT ITS HEART FROM ME, and its worship of Me has been a commandment of men, learned by rote—Truly, I shall further baffle that people…and the wisdom of its wise shall fail, and the prudence of its prudent shall vanish” [emphasis mine]).

          2 Chronicles 25:2: “He did what was pleasing to the LORD, but not with a whole heart.”

          Psalms 78:8 “and not be like their fathers, a wayward and defiant generation, a generation whose HEART was inconstant, whose SPIRIT was not true to God.”
          or as Psalms 78:8 is translated on chabad.org, they did NOT PREPARE their heart.

          We also see this same need for heart change in Isaiah chapter 1: “Come, let us reach an understanding, —says the LORD. Be your sins like crimson, they can turn snow-white; be they red as dyed wool, they can become like fleece.” If, then, YOU AGREE AND GIVE HEED, you will eat the good things of the earth…” (verses 18–19) [emphasis mine]. We see that the first thing that must change is the heart. One must first AGREE that G-d’s assessment of us is correct—that we are sinful. That change begins in the heart.

          What David asked G-d to create for him anew was a new HEART, not renewed obedience (Psalms 51), and he knew that what G-d desired was a crushed and broken HEART, not obedient acts that he could do according to the Law. The acts would certainly follow, but first came the heart issue.

          2. I see no problem at all with addressing the importance of obedience in the context of grace. It is absolutely essential that we do so, in fact. For the lack of obedience indeed indicates that the heart is NOT right. As G-d said, He searches the HEART to give everyone the fruit of his deeds (Jeremiah 17:9–10). That tells us that although the deeds can indeed be a measure of one’s heart, what G-d looks at is the heart — He also knows when “good acts” are merely done “by rote” and “learned by men” (Isaiah 29:13–14) rather than because if a true, humble agreement with G-d that our heart condition is sinful (Isaiah 1:18-19). When we come to Him as David did, accepting ALL of His judgments and precepts and laws as Just and Right (even when they contradict our human reasoning), that submitted heart will indeed walk in obedience to Him.

          Shalom

  52. Hi Friend,
    You asked these questions:
    1. Do you believe you have a “new heart”? please answer yes or no

    The short answer, if you refer to the “new heart” as described in Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 37: No. I think of it this way. David asked for a clean, new heart. He understood that he needed one and that only G-d could do that for him. Considering that, I think that in the sense that I look to the New Covenant that He has promised (Jeremiah 31) all of what He has already declared is His role in saving me, and I believe Him, He renews my heart as I look to the day when all things will be new, through His righteousness alone. Thus, although the Old Covenant is good and right and given for our learning, I do not simply remain there because He has already said that He will give a New Covenant that is not like that one, and I look forward to the fulfillment of His Word. I know He does count faith in His promises as righteousness because He did so with Abraham (Genesis 15:6), who believed G-d before any of what was promised actually happened.

    That said, I am still a sinner who does indeed stray from G-d’s heart and good laws. I still wait for the day when people will no longer have to teach each other because everyone will know the LORD (Jeremiah 31) and for the day when His Sanctuary and covenant of everlasting peace will be established forever (Ezekiel 37). So in the sense of the “new heart” as in the fulfillment of Jeremiah and Ezekiel 37, No, I do not yet have my new, undivided heart.

    2. Regarding Psalms 18 and 119…yes, although ALL the laws are mentioned, Psalms 18 is and was always recorded, from ancient days, as referencing specific events (and David’s choices in them) as they related to earthly rewards. Earthly rewards are what He promised with the Law, and that Psalm is about exactly that—earthly rewards and prosperity. It is not about his having come to a deeper goodness or greater intimacy with G-d through merit and righteousness at all.
    And yes, Psalms 119 is also about that whole same issue. Throughout this Psalm, David is asking G-d for earthly blessing and deliverance from earthly enemies as he seeks to make choices according to G-d’s laws (which are good and right). Importantly, He does NOT claim that He has gained intimacy with G-d through any act of his own.

    And that is the issue, I think; people read promises of true goodness and intimacy with G-d into verses about obedience into the Law that are not there and were never given in connection to the Law. This is not to say that the Law is not a very important tool that G-d uses to draw us INTO intimacy with Him—indeed it is. But THAT righteousness and intimacy and purity of heart comes only as we are truthful about how very, very far away from G-d’s holiness we really are and fall to our knees to seek the work that only He can do in us and for us. As a personal example, I have a heart that sometimes covets things I don’t have, and I sometimes wrong others in speech (Lev. 25:17) or bear a grudge rather than loving my fellow as myself (Lev. 19:18, Deut. 10:19, Ex. 22:20). Whether momentarily or for a longer period, the fact that I do any of these things at all shows that my heart is sinful and nothing whatsoever like G-d’s heart, which is only ever pure. That is where I must choose: will I excuse myself and say, “Well, I at least have never committed adultery or killed anyone or made a graven image or (etc.),” as Saul did in his excuses and claims of (partial) obedience… or will I see what the Law was intended to show me—that I am far, far away from G-d in my very being, my soul of who I am…in contrast to One who would never, ever do anything other than holy perfection?

    3. As for Psalms 44 and Isaiah 26:13, yes, I do believe the two are consistent. My reason for believing Psalms 44 is not a prophetic prayer guiding the people in their approach to G-d is simply that at no time in all of Scripture did G-d agree with a claim that He had forsaken them in their righteousness (as seems to be the claim in Psalms 44), and in fact this contradicts all we know to be true about G-d throughout His many, many promises and prophecies. We don’t see G-d’s response to what the people (prophetically) claimed and felt here at all; we hear only their side of it. When we do see His responses to these very same kinds of claims, we see His rebuttal. A similar claim was made in Malachi 2:17, as I mentioned before, and G-d clearly said that this kind of perspective wearied Him. A similar claim was also made in Isaiah 49. G-d’s response there—a gentle one—was the immediate assurance that He had NOT and never would forsake her (indeed she was engraved on the palms of His hands).

    Yet while explaining that the future He plans for her is a good one (Isaiah 49:18–26), He also tells her clearly that it is for her own sin that she was sold (Isaiah 50:1). He goes on to ask, “Why, when I came, was no one there? Why, when I called, would no one respond?” (verse 2). And we see the same in the other verse you mentioned: Isaiah 26:13. Backing up one verse, we see the context in verse 12: “O LORD! May You appoint well-being for us, since You have also requited all of our misdeeds.” In other words, she has acknowledged her sin. He has requited all of HER sins, not the sins of others. Then we see the next verse: “O LORD our God! Lords other than You possessed us, but only Your name shall we utter.” She is not claiming to have never uttered other names. She is saying that although in fact others HAVE possessed her, she will [future] speak only His name. This corresponds to the same situation we see cross referenced in Hosea chapter 2. Here, after she has gone after other lovers, the LORD draws her back to Himself and says, “For I will remove the names of the Baalim from her mouth. And they shall nevermore be mentioned by name” (Hosea 2:19). He then goes on to say that at this time, He will make a covenant with her …and THEN she will be devoted to the LORD.

    4. You asked if I have a way of determining which type of pointing out people’s flaws is pleasing to God and which is not. Here are my thoughts as I feel they correlate with Scripture:

    First, I think there is a very big difference between our approach to an INDIVIDUAL’S heart/sufferings and our truthful examination of G-d’s clear prophecies regarding how and why things will occur on a national level with the nation He has always loved.

    Second, “pointing out flaws” should ultimately point to G-d and His Word, seeking to draw the hearers to know Him more deeply, to love His Word, to search His Scriptures and find Him there as He really is. His Word should be the clear focus, not one’s own assumptions.

    Finally, good criticism should affirm G-d’s Love and Redemption. One of the issues the nations will be judged for in the last days (in addition to being judged for their own wickedness) is that their criticisms leave out (and contradict) G-d’s choosing of Israel in the first place as His love, His beloved bride. They do not point out flaws to show her kindness or to restore her to a place of knowing that although she has failed Him, HE WILL NEVER FAIL HER. Rather, they seek to laugh at her downfall and make her believe she is cast out forever. Importantly, all of the Prophets that most clearly show Israel’s wickedness also clearly show the beauty of what will follow…she will NOT be in that state forever. She will be restored. And when she is, it will be an everlasting restoration and kingdom like no other.

    I believe I have answered your questions, inasmuch as I understand the heart of what you were asking. Perhaps to be safe I should assume I likely answered only half of them to your satisfaction, since it seems that at times when I felt I had answered, you didn’t feel the same.  However, assuming that you feel I have answered at least 2 of your questions fully, I would like to ask you 2 questions.

    A. I believe I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been thinking very much on G-d’s command (the one He both opened Exodus 20 and closed Exodus 23 with—to worship none other but Himself). One aspect of this relates to my belief that what we love most (and devote our minds and hearts to) is really what we worship. But there is another aspect of idolatry, I think. My question is this:

    Do you think we can create an “idol” out of G-d if we decide, based on our own human reasoning, what He must be like and will do (in contradiction to what He says Himself that He is like and will do)? For example, I have heard many claims about G-d (I am not referring to your personal claims; I am asking your view on other claims I’ve heard in relation to the Tanakh), some of which say He of course would not send anyone to everlasting punishment because He is loving. Yet in Daniel 12:2, He seems to say that indeed some will be awakened from the dust of the earth to eternal life while others will awaken to everlasting abhorrence. There are a couple of other verses in the Tanakh, also, that indicate His judgment will be quite fierce. Is it possible for us to create an idol in our own minds that we believe is the G-d of Scripture while ignoring the less pleasant aspects He reveals about His Holiness (and thus worship not the G-d of Israel as He described Himself in Scriptures but rather the idol we have imagined)?

    B. For what reason did G-d closely associated sin with death? (Or do you not believe this is the case?) I am referring to the fact that when Adam and Eve sinned, G-d clothed them in skins (which grow on animals, not on trees, so it seems there was a death at that time). The Day of Atonement included death. Granted, many personal sacrifices (which were for unintentional sins) did not involve death, but the sacrifice that the high priest offered on behalf of the people for not only unintentional but also willful sins and rebellion (Lev. 16:21) did result in death (and applied to the holiest people of all, including the high priest himself). I am wondering—do you believe there is a correlation there between sin and death? Or is that merely a coincidence?

    Thank you, Friend. Shalom

  53. Freedom
    1 – So you do not have a new heart – but do you believe you have an advantage because you believe in the promise of the new heart? If yes what is that advantage?
    2 – Here you are playing bait and switch. First we discussed whether a pre-new-heart obedience can be called obedience to “all” of the Law – when I bring Scripture to prove my point you suddenly start talking about intimacy with God. Do you acknowledge that from the Scriptures that I quoted – an obedience that is pre-new-heart can also be called obedience to “all” of the law? Or put it this way – do you acknowledge that there is place in a pre-new-heart Godly person’s life to declare what David writes in Psalm 119 concerning observance of the commandments?
    3 – It seems that you are under the impression that the Hebrew word “da’as” (as in Jeremiah 22:16) has nothing to do with intimacy – you could not be more wrong – the word “da’as” is THE word for intimacy with God – some references are Isaiah 11:9; Jeremiah 31;33; and Hosea 3;22 – How do you explain these passages in relation to Jeremiah 22;16?
    4 – You dismiss Isaiah 26:13 because you contend that it is talking of a future loyalty to God – would you say the same about 26:8?
    5 – You say that good criticism should affirm God’s love and redemption – That is a beautiful definition – but if you redefine God’s love and redemption to make it less than what it is – where does that put you? – I don’t expect you to answer this question – this is just to tell you how your position looks like from my perspective – your interpretation of Psalm 18 Psalm 44 Psalm 119 Jeremiah 22;16 and Isaiah 26:13 – leaves much to be desired to say the least

    I asked you four questions – please answer them

    Now for my answers to your questions
    1 – You want to know if I consider it idolatry when one has a wrong idea about God’s system of interaction with the world – such as not accepting that God has eternal punishment in store for some people
    My answer to this question is NO
    – I will add that I find this question completely against the spirit of Scripture. Idolatry is a specific sin of giving your heart to one other than the God who created and sustains every facet of existence – it is confusing Creator with created. By equating this sin with other sins you minimize the gravity of idolatry
    By the way – do you believe that you have every last detail of God’s system of interacting with the world “down pat” in your mind?

    2 – Of-course I acknowledge that sin is associated with death – the Scriptures say so explictly many times
    I don’t know why you need to resort to some “reading between the lines” to make this association (I am talking about your reference to the skins that Adam and Eve were enclothed with – and I dsisagree with that inference) the Scriptures explicitly make the association so many times – Ezekiel 18:4 being just one example – by the way the same prophet associates obedience and repentance with life

  54. Hi Friend,
    I’m including your original question, where appropriate, to clarify what I am responding to.

    1. You: So you do not have a new heart – but do you believe you have an advantage because you believe in the promise of the new heart? If yes what is that advantage?

    What I said is that I trust in what G-d promised and that He counts my belief in Him for righteousness in the same way that He counted Abraham’s belief in Him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6). If that gave Abraham an “advantage,” then I guess it gives me an advantage too. But if you want to see what kind of advantage that is, I would say the best thing to do is to ask oneself what kind of advantage it gave to Abraham. That should be the answer.

    The advantage that I personally see is simply that it entails believing G-d and all He promised. If He says (repeatedly throughout the Prophets) that He will be replacing the old with the new and yet we ignore the way He tells us directly—not through only one prophet but through many, many prophets and in many long passages of Scripture—how those events will play out, then perhaps we aren’t fully listening to /believing Him.

    2. You (regarding Psalms 18 and 119 and our discussion): Here you are playing bait and switch. First we discussed whether a pre-new-heart obedience can be called obedience to “all” of the Law – when I bring Scripture to prove my point you suddenly start talking about intimacy with God…

    No, Friend, I am not playing bait and switch; I felt that you switched subjects midstream—from national blessing (the promise given in Deuteronomy) to personal rewards. In addition, the reason I started talking about intimacy with G-d is that I feel you are blurring (or at least haven’t clarified any distinction between) two distinct aspects of righteousness: earthly, righteous acts (resulting in earthly rewards) and redemption/righteousness of the soul—two very different things. David REPEATEDLY referred to Himself and to the nation as sinful yet ransomed and redeemed (he clearly understood that his inner being was sinful). We see this over and over in the Psalms. With regard to earthly blessings, on the other hand, he also realized—based on what one can see about G-d’s nature in the Torah and Who He has shown Himself to be—that G-d would indeed be merciful and would reward on a personal level those who demonstrated a trust in Him and that all He said is right by making choices in line with His laws. And those entailed specific moments, specific actions, specific choices—and specific earthly rewards that followed.

    Also, I believe the choice to do what G-d said stemmed from having believed that what He says is true and that His laws are just and good in the first place—so even that comes back to faith in Him. Still, we are talking about several issues here, not just one.
    So—if you want me to be clear about what I believe each entails and which is which, then we need to begin again. Do you want to talk about national blessing or personal rewards? They are two separate issues. And in discussing righteousness—do you want to talk about righteous acts that result in earthly benefits OR about eternal redemption (righteousness of the soul) based on a humble acknowledgment of His holiness versus our sin? Those, too, are two distinct issues. Both do indeed relate to the Law—but each in a unique way.

    3. You: It seems that you are under the impression that the Hebrew word “da’as” (as in Jeremiah 22:16) has nothing to do with intimacy – you could not be more wrong – the word “da’as” is THE word for intimacy with God – some references are Isaiah 11:9; Jeremiah 31;33; and Hosea 3;22 – How do you explain these passages in relation to Jeremiah 22;16?

    I don’t think I said anything at all related to that in my recent post, so I’m a little confused about what you believe I said. Yes, דַּעַת does refer to knowledge in the “discernment / perception / understanding” type of way. This refers to KNOWING on a more intimate level, and not just “knowing about.” The only thing I can think of that would have given the impression you mention above is my stated worldview #7: “KNOWLEDGE (about anything G-d is or has done or said) has never made anyone holy. The lack of knowledge can most certainly keep people in the dark, but obtaining knowledge does not make a person holy or closer to G-d.”

    Is that what you refer to? If so, please note that as I said there, I was referring to “knowing ABOUT” G-d, not to knowing G-d. For example, as in Isaiah 47:10 “And you trusted in your evil, you said, “No one sees me.” Your wisdom and your knowledge—that perverted you. And you said to yourself, ‘I am [it], and there is none besides me.'”

    What I had been saying there (if that is what you are referring to) is that simply OBTAINING knowledge in itself does not make one holy or closer to the LORD. The lack of knowledge most certainly can keep people away from Him (Isaiah 1:3, 5:13, Hosea 4:6, and so on), but simply acquiring knowledge does not make one intimate with G-d. One must come to KNOW the G-d of Scripture and not just acquire knowledge ABOUT G-D. I hope that clarifies any misunderstanding there. As an example, I personally know someone whose father literally memorized the entire Tanakh, verse by verse. I’ve never heard of anyone else doing that. Yet he was an atheist. He had “acquired” much knowledge about G-d—and yet he rejected all that it could have brought him.

    4. You: You dismiss Isaiah 26:13 because you contend that it is talking of a future loyalty to God – would you say the same about 26:8?

    First: I want to point out that I did not dismiss Isaiah 26:13. Discussing it in its context (i.e., along with the verse that precedes it) and cross-referencing it to other Prophets who refer to the same people and the same time frame is not dismissing it.

    Second: Isaiah 26:8, also, does not appear in a vacuum. It appears in context. And that context is the time frame in which G-d has already fulfilled Isaiah 59:16. I believe one must pay attention to the time frame being discussed and ask—is this after the Final Restoration? Before the Restoration? In the middle of it? What events are described leading up to this verse?

    Clearly, this was AFTER the time period discussed in both Isaiah 59 and Hosea 2 because Isaiah chapter 25 (which is the same topic and leads into Isaiah chapter 26) says the following: “He will destroy death forever. My LORD G-d will wipe the tears away from all faces…” (verse 8) For the hand of the LORD shall descend upon this mount, and Moab shall be trampled under Him…”
    This clearly shows the timeframe, correlating with the latter part of Isaiah 59. To back up in Isaiah 59, first we see the sin of all (verses 1–15), and THEN He will save by His own arm (verse 16). THEN all the nations from east to west will revere Him (verse 19). THEN the Redeemer will come to Zion to those who repent (verse 20). Then He will make His covenant with them (verse 21). We see this same timeframe also presented in Micah 2–4 and Hosea 2 and Ezekiel 36–37 and many other prophets.

    Cross-referencing what is happening here in Isaiah 26:8, then, and looking at it in context (and the events leading up to it), what we see is that Israel is ALREADY at the stage after which the LORD has intervened on her behalf. So this is also after the point described step by step later in the same book in chapter 59: it is AFTER He has stepped in, despite her sin, and AFTER all the nations revere Him. Most importantly, these described in Isaiah 26:8 are the ones who have REPENTED (Isaiah 59:20). They have acknowledged their sin (Isaiah 59:1-15) and have waited for the LORD. And He, the Redeemer, has returned for them (Isaiah 59:20).

    We see this same timeframe in Zechariah chapters 7 and 8. In chapter 7 we see this: “They hardened their hearts like adamant against heeding the instruction and admonition that the LORD of Hosts sent to them by His spirit through the earlier prophets…” (7:12), and He goes on to describe His wrath against them for their sin. Yet then chapter 8 tells us this: “Thus said the LORD: I have returned to Zion, and I will dwell in Jerusalem. Jerusalem will be called the City of Faithfulness…” (8:3).

    I believe what is key here is that, just as in Isaiah chapters 1 through 5, we see the same message throughout all of these stories. The majority did not know Him. Yet as we carefully study these 5 chapters (Isaiah 1–5), we see His workings despite the sin; He ALWAYS planned good and not evil for Israel. And He describes over and over His return; how He will return; what He will do.

    So, back to Isaiah 26, I believe that when these events BEGIN to happen (which will already be the case, based on the latter part of Isaiah 25), THEN, as Isaiah 59:20 says, many in Zion will repent and realize they did indeed reject knowledge (Hosea 4:6) and that indeed they did harden their hearts to G-d’s clear message (Zechariah 7:12). That is when they will recognize His works and repent, and they will wait for Him to do the rest of what He promised. They will realized that just as He requited her iniquities (Isaiah 26:12), so He will fulfill all the well-being that He established for her from the beginning of time.

    5. You: You say that good criticism should affirm God’s love and redemption – That is a beautiful definition – but if you redefine God’s love and redemption to make it less than what it is – where does that put you?

    Friend, what you are implying would be true IF I were in fact redefining G-d’s love and redemption. However, that isn’t the case. What I specifically referred to (please reread my post) is what G-d CLEARLY SAID, in the Prophets, that His love and redemption will entail. That is the key. I base my definition on G-d’s Word—what HE has already said He will do.

    As for your answers to my questions:

    You said: You want to know if I consider it idolatry when one has a wrong idea about God’s system of interaction with the world – such as not accepting that God has eternal punishment in store for some people
    My answer to this question is NO
    – I will add that I find this question completely against the spirit of Scripture. Idolatry is a specific sin of giving your heart to one other than the God who created and sustains every facet of existence – it is confusing Creator with created. By equating this sin with other sins you minimize the gravity of idolatry
    By the way – do you believe that you have every last detail of God’s system of interacting with the world “down pat” in your mind?

    Three points to think about, Friend:
    1. Calling someone “The G-d of Israel” if one’s definition contradicts what the G-d of Scripture said about Himself is to create something in one’s mind that ISN’T the G-d of Scripture. To worship THAT instead of the One HE said He is isn’t worshipping Him. It’s worshipping something else entirely. Doing that is like telling someone who knows nothing at all about G-d to believe in “the G-d of Israel” and then just letting them define that “god” however they want. No. I’m sorry, but if it isn’t the G-d of Scripture as HE said He is, then it isn’t the G-d of Israel.

    2. No, I do not believe that I have every last detail of G-d’s system of interacting with the world “down pat” in my mind at all. But what I do believe is that I cannot reject the information He HAS given. Nor can I say that what He has said about Himself (and what He will do) isn’t true.

    3. Finally, but very important—something is missing here. If you say “for the past 2500 years, idolatry has not been a Jewish vice” (which you said in a previous post)—yet G-d says otherwise (as He repeatedly lists in Prophet after Prophet where He describes the last days, saying He will reach out to them EVEN THOUGH they have been and will still be worshipping their fetishes and going after other lovers), then clearly He must have a different definition of what idolatry entails than you have…right? Or do you think G-d is wrong?

    Shalom

  55. Freedom
    Let me introduce this post with what I see as the purpose of this conversation. It is simply to see which of our two opposing worldviews is in line with the letter and the spirit of Scripture and which is not. I imagine that you agree with me on this. This being the case; please answer my questions concerning your understanding of Scripture and I will do my best to try to answer yours.

    1 – Believing in the promises of God is counted as righteousness – so would you say that preforming an act of zeal for God is counted for the same thing as per Psalm 106:31?

    2 – I asked you a simple Scriptural question – is there any room in a pre-new-heart Godly man’s life to make the declarations that David does in Psalm 18 or Psalm 119 concerning obedience to ALL of the Law?

    3 – I asked you a simple Scriptural question – How do you read the word “da’as” in Jeremiah 22:16 in light of Hosea 2:22? Do you believe that they are talking about two different types of “da’as”? and if yes – what is the Scriptural basis for this distinction?

    4 – So we are getting closer here – you accept now that there will be some level of repentance before the new heart is actually put into us – the only difference we seem to have is if there is any level of hoping to God while Israel is in exile and before any aspect of the redemption process started – So can you explain Micah’s declaration (7:8) – “while I sit in darkness the Lord is my light” – wouldn’t you agree that darkness implies the depth of exile?

    5 – You claim that you have not redefined God’s promises to Israel – I say that you have – the purpose of this discussion is to put the Scriptures on the table and examine our opposing worldviews in light of God’s word – this being the case please answer my 4 questions directly.

    6 – Here too it seems that our positions moved closer – I agree with you in some areas and disagree in others. I fully agree that while Israel as a nation has not worshipped idols in the literal sense for the last 2500 years – but I agree that they have committed sins which have the same spiritual root as idolatry. Anyone who doesn’t fully trust in God but puts their trust in something else is in a certain limited sense committing idolatry (Job 31:24). So yes – Israel has put their trust in things like money, their own good works, their brains, their connections, political entities etc. and in this sense Ezekiel’s description fits us – and I believe that we won’t be redeemed until we fully put our trust in God

    Where I differ from you is 1 – I see the difference between practically worshipping idols in the literal sense versus the conceptual idolatry inherent in trusting in something else – to be a very big difference while to you it seems to be almost no difference at all

    2 – You seem to be under the impression that if someone misunderstands a Scripture as it relates to God’s system of reward and punishment then that person is already worshipping a different god – I completely disagree with this – My understanding is that as long as one recognizes that ALL finite existence is COMPLETELY subservient to the One who is above and beyond all finite existence – that person is worshipping God
    Can you provide a Scriptural source for your definition of idolatry – where if one misunderstands or forgets a Scripture as it relates to God’s system of reward and punishment that that is compared to idolatry?

  56. Hi Friend,
    Thank you very much – I am in the middle of seeking to fully respond and to consolidate my responses so that they take up a little less space. I will speak with you very soon…
    Shalom

  57. Teresa says:

    ypf, I was wondering if Jews think Jesus was an evil man.

  58. Teresa says:

    ypf, sorry I forgot to ask if you thought what is recorded in the Christian scriptures as being said by Him is what He actually said? 🙂

    • Teresa
      I highly doubt it (that what is recorded is what he actually said) – Its not my business to judge if the historical Jesus was evil or not – I don’t give it much thought – However the character portrayed in the Christian Scriptures does not sound like a good person to me

      • David says:

        So that I can understand what you mean by “good” in the context you are using it and how you have come to the conclusion that “the character portrayed in the Christian Scriptures does not sound like a good person to me”, could you please pick someone else from the scriptures who you believe was a good person (if indeed you think there was anyone) and compare that person’s specific behaviors or motivation etc. from Scripture and point out how it makes them good and Jesus not.

        • David
          Many people in Scripture were good Noah, Abraham, Moses, David etc. Being good does not mean never making mistakes or even never committing sins – but claiming to be sinless and then telling everyone who doesn’t buy your claim to sinlessness to be a child of the devil is taking things too far

          • David says:

            If, in fact the behavior which Jesus cites as hypocritical were not so, and characterized some as “sons of the Devil” because of their hypocritical behavior, AND IF He did so KNOWING it were not true then, I’d agree with you.

            But all of the evidence suggests that Jesus believed what He said and said what He believed.

            Also, if you study the context of His point (that they were hypocritical) it had nothing to do with not agreeing with a supposed claim of sinlessness, which He never claimed. He says in effect: I know you’re sons of ABRAHAM, but you’re acting more as if you’re sons of the Devil because you’re doing things more in keeping with the will of the Devil. You’re trying to kill me and Abraham didn’t do that. And in fact they did try to kill Him by stoning and as we know they eventually along with others schemed and succeeded in His death through crucifixion. So the evidence vindicates Him.

            Another point is that if in anyone, SINLESS OR NOT, correctly states the truth regarding the things of God, even if that truth makes some feel uncomfortable, does that fact make the one standing in the truth a bad person? Of course not; I mean come-on, didn’t Noah say some things regarding his grandson, and didn’t Moses repeatedly call out the bad behavior of some?

            So the argument of whether or not Jesus claimed to be sinless is irrelevant if what he said about the Pharisees being hypocritical is true. But in fact did Jesus claim to be sinless? No, not really. What did Jesus claim? He claimed to follow the will of His father, that He listened to God His father; that He only did and said as He received from His father and similar claims. Many have interpreted this to mean (even some Christians say) that He “claimed” to be sinless, but that’s not accurate. God judged Him to be sinless and to be a sin offering, but Jesus never made that claim. Once, even when someone called him “good teacher”, Jesus responded, to paraphrase: why do you call me good, God alone is good.

            So, we are left with someone who gives all the credit to God and God alone, who spoke the truth and stood/acted in the truth as he understood and heard from His father, God.

            Compare that to the other great prophets you mentioned who you cited as good. And I agree, but if they were good people then Jesus was most certainly a good person.

  59. Friend,
    I will do my best to answer your questions, and then I will present some to you as well. I do also want to say that I don’t see the purpose of the conversation SOLELY as a way to see which of our worldviews is in line with Scripture; I think there are always things to learn from another person, and I am enjoying studying some of these issues more thoroughly myself.

    1. You said: Believing in the promises of God is counted as righteousness – so would you say that performing an act of zeal for God is counted for the same thing as per Psalm 106:31?

    No, not with the way the question is worded. That is to say, I do agree that the exact same terminology is used in Hebrew, yes (regarding what he did there being counted as righteousness and his being granted a special covenant)—and I, too, have studied these two passages together (Genesis 15:6 and Psalms 106:30–31) for that very reason.
    However, an “act of zeal” is only as good as its foundation. I say this because “acts of zeal” (using the exact same terminology) that were not founded on G-d’s commands but rather on human reasoning were punished—as in Saul’s acts of zeal for the sake of the children of Israel and Judah. (see 2 Samuel 21:2… and the rest of the chapter). We also see the same term used in Psalms 37. In the Tanakh it is translated “…do not be incensed by wrongdoers” but the Hebrew term there (zealous/incensed) is the same. We also see in 2 Samuel 6 an instance in which an act seemingly meant to protect the ark of the LORD from harm was punished severely (by death).

    So why was Phinehas’ zeal counted as righteousness forever?

    For one thing, it was based on a clear command from G-d. That meant that he chose to believe G-d’s ways were right and true in the face of all opposing human reasoning (i.e., this was just a young man who loved a woman…he brought her to his own relatives, whom he obviously trusted to “understand” his situation…and Phinehas had to kill him not in front of enemies who wished for his death but rather in front of the very ones who loved him).

    I see this the same as the case of Abraham. By all human reasoning, Abraham should not have been able to produce a nation at that time in his life. G-d said it would happen. Abraham rejected human reasoning and chose G-d.

    In the case of Phinehas, by all human reasoning, this young man should have been “safe” with his family. Human reasoning makes his love affair seem harmless. G-d said it wasn’t harmless. Phinehas rejected human reasoning and chose G-d.

    In both cases, they truly submitted their hearts to G-d to the extent that His heart became their heart, His passion became their passion, and His Words became the truth they lived by. That is true faith in G-d.

    2. You said: I asked you a simple Scriptural question – is there any room in a pre-new-heart Godly man’s life to make the declarations that David does in Psalm 18 or Psalm 119 concerning obedience to ALL of the Law?

    The short answer: yes. In fact, I believe the ONLY choice the pre-new-heart can really make with regard to true obedience is to EITHER observe all of G-d’s laws, judgments, and precepts (i.e., accept ALL of what He says as True, and Himself as Just and Right no matter what) OR reject them/some of them (and thus elevate one’s own human reasoning to being of equal weight with G-d’s Word).

    What I mean is this: David clearly was not in any way suggesting (in any of the Psalms) that he didn’t sin. We know this as we compare Scripture with Scripture. His claim in Psalms 32 is that the one whose sin is COVERED is blessed. He then refers to himself as this blessed man. And repeatedly, we see His confessions of sin, of having strayed, of having transgressed, of his need for a new heart.

    But importantly, what we also see is that David’s conclusion, following his every struggle (and some of them very detailed), is always that G-D WAS RIGHT. And in that, we see his humble submission in obedience to ALL that G-d said.

    In contrast, Saul listened to G-d only inasmuch as G-d’s Word made sense to him. When his own reasoning seemed like a better plan, he “compromised” to make G-d’s instructions fit with human reasoning (1 Samuel 15).

    Now, with regard to this topic, as previously commented, I do think it is important to note the context and what exactly is being discussed in these Scriptures you mention; there is a difference between claiming merit in one’s own redemption (which David never, ever did) and acknowledging that specific, deliberate human choices to follow G-d’s ways merit earthly rewards (which David did). The latter is the context of Psalms 18.

    But with regard to your overall question: can the pre-new-heart godly man make the declarations that David made (elsewhere in Psalms) concerning obedience to ALL of G-d’s Laws—yes, absolutely. And making THAT CHOICE is in itself what makes him godly. Because that choice means deliberately rejecting one’s own reasoning and choosing to believe that G-d’s Words and Ways and Judgments and Precepts and Laws are true and right and just—ALL of them…even when they do not seem to be that way. It is obedience of the heart, submission of the soul and mind. If there were time and space, I would love to discuss this issue further with regard to instance after instance that we see of David’s human struggles with this very concept as revealed to us in Scriptures (what a blessing to have been given these play-by-play accounts of this godly man’s thoughts and cries to G-d!) and his final conclusions each time that G-D’S WAYS were right, no matter what.

    There are times when one sees injustices in humanity that suck out one’s very breath. In those moments, when you see hurts and abuses and suffering that no one can cure, and there is nothing you can do, it is so horrific that you are literally silenced. You suddenly hear small sounds you didn’t know the world made—a world that suddenly seems both vast and suffocating at the same time—and your chest hurts when you try to breathe.

    I feel that the Psalmist expressed something of this in Psalms 38 and 39.

    But those are also often the defining moments when you choose which way you will go. Will you put your trust in G-d, that ALL of His Ways and ALL of His Words and ALL of His Laws and ALL of His Precepts are True and Just and Right, with your faith in His Word alone? Or will you decide that THIS issue cannot possibly have anything to do with G-d… a good G-d could not allow this, perhaps refusing to face the issue at all? That choice—either to trust and obey and submit with the heart or to continue down the path of human reasoning—is what it comes down to in the end.

    3. You said: How do you read the word “da’as” in Jeremiah 22:16 in light of Hosea 2:22? Do you believe that they are talking about two different types of “da’as”? and if yes – what is the Scriptural basis for this distinction?

    The term is actually not the same in Hebrew. In Hosea 2:22, the term used is ידע, or yada and means a wide range of experiential knowledge, including acknowledging, confessing, perceiving. In Jeremiah 22:16 it is in fact דַּעַת, or da`ath and refers to wisdom, discernment, understanding.

    That said, no I really do not see a Scriptural difference in the use of the terms, although certainly the meaning of the phrase (and the entire passage) would need to be considered in each case. Although the term used in Hosea 2:22 (yada) isn’t the same as the one used in Jeremiah 22:16, it (yada) is used many, many times throughout Scripture (including in Jeremiah 9:23, 11:18, and so forth).

    I am really not sure what you are getting at here, to be honest, so I may not be answering the question you are asking. I do certainly believe people here and now can know the LORD; this does not refer to merely knowledge ABOUT the LORD but rather refers to knowing HIM as He reveals Himself in Scripture—accepting all of His ways and judgments as true and perfect.

    In Jeremiah 22:16, I believe He was essentially saying, “Here is what ‘knowing Me’ looks like in action. Do you do that? No, not at all. Look where your heart and mind are at.”

    In Hosea 2:22 (and the preceding passage), He contrasts the condition from which He took her (one of not truly knowing Him and calling Him “my Baal”) to the condition He will put her into (one of knowing Him and calling Him “my husband”). Then she will truly know Him and will be devoted to Him.

    4. You said: So we are getting closer here – you accept now that there will be some level of repentance before the new heart is actually put into us – the only difference we seem to have is if there is any level of hoping to God while Israel is in exile and before any aspect of the redemption process started – So can you explain Micah’s declaration (7:8) – “while I sit in darkness the Lord is my light” – wouldn’t you agree that darkness implies the depth of exile?

    First: I have always believed there would be some level of repentance before the new heart and New Covenant are established. What I have argued is that neither repentance nor fulfillment of the Torah will be what sets into motion all of what the Prophets describe as the Restoration. According to the Prophets, G-d will intervene DESPITE Israel’s sin. He will work in the middle of it and not because she has fulfilled the Torah (at the time He establishes the New Covenant, He will say that in fact she did not fulfill it but rather broke it.)

    I am clarifying that because it sounds (to me) like you are implying that I previously denied there would be any repentance at all before the Final Restoration is completed, and that wasn’t what I was trying to say (so if that is what I communicated, I should have expressed it better).
    That said, I believe Micah 7:8 is after the events described in Isaiah 59 have begun, but before Isaiah 59:20 (at which time the Redeemer will return…and we know from other Scriptures that the events described throughout Isaiah 59 do not happen overnight but over a period of time).

    She has begun to see and understand what has been prophesied all along, and she knows she now needs to wait for Him. As we see earlier, in verse 2, she says, “The pious have perished from the land, and there is no upright among men; they all lurk for blood; each one hunts his brother with a net.” It sounds to me, from this entire passage, that she has begun to agree with the LORD regarding her sinful condition, which is the first step in repentance. We also see a possible correlation here with Daniel 12:1: “…and it will be a time of distress that never was since a nation existed until that time.”

    Back to Micah chapter 7, I think we see a key in the last verse of the preceding chapter correlating with this terrible time: Micah 6:16. “And the statutes of Omri shall be observed, and every deed of the house of Ahab; and you shall walk in their counsels, in order that I make you an astonishment, and its inhabitants a hissing; and the disgrace of My people you shall bear.”

    Comparing with Daniel chapter 12 again, we see this: verse 11. And from the time the daily sacrifice was removed and the silent abomination placed, is one thousand, two hundred, and ninety.12. Fortunate is he who waits and reaches days of one thousand, three hundred, and thirty-five.

    In Micah chapter 7, then, I believe we see her begin to come to this realization (correlating with Daniel 12:10 “…but the knowledgeable will understand”), and she will read the two verses that follow and will realize there is limited time remaining of the abomination, and she will wait and hope for the LORD at that time.

    5. You said (with regard to our conversation about idolatry): Here too it seems that our positions moved closer – I agree with you in some areas and disagree in others. I fully agree that while Israel as a nation has not worshipped idols in the literal sense for the last 2500 years – but I agree that they have committed sins which have the same spiritual root as idolatry….
    Where I differ from you is
    1 – I see the difference between practically worshipping idols in the literal sense versus the conceptual idolatry inherent in trusting in something else – to be a very big difference while to you it seems to be almost no difference at all.

    (No, I wasn’t trying to say that. What I was actually trying to do is thoroughly read G-d’s Word and see what HE says about idolatry. I want to acquire HIS definition of it. He did clearly say that Israel has been idolatrous all along, and He also says that at the time she is redeemed it will be the same; He will take her back from her other lovers and from her fetishes. So I’m merely trying to learn how HE views it.)

    2 – You seem to be under the impression that if someone misunderstands a Scripture as it relates to God’s system of reward and punishment then that person is already worshipping a different god…
    Can you provide a Scriptural source for your definition of idolatry – where if one misunderstands or forgets a Scripture as it relates to God’s system of reward and punishment that that is compared to idolatry?

    I feel the need to back up and point out that the question here starts on a false premise. I don’t (and didn’t) define idolatry as someone misunderstanding or forgetting Scripture. What I am talking about is WILLFULLY REJECTING what G-d said about Himself and what He will do. I also think there is a difference between being UNABLE to know and intentionally turning one’s head.

    That said, I understand the heart of your question to be where do I think the line is drawn with regard to idolatry entering in at some point if a person does reject the description G-d provided about Himself and substitutes it with one’s own human reasoning as to what “G-d” must be like; and you want to know what Scriptures I base my conclusion on. Is that correct?

    If that is what you are asking, here is my answer.
    First, I am sure we both agree there is some point at which one’s definition of “G-d” can cease to even be recognizable as the G-d of Israel. A case would be someone redefining the G-d of Israel as One who DID NOT institute negative retribution of any kind, ever, because He simply is too loving to do so (as One who really isn’t bothered at all when people sin)—or, at the other end of the spectrum, as One who has a fierce eye open ONLY for sin, with a raging desire to squash anyone who inadvertently fails to understand every command He has given. More extreme than either of those might be for one who knows nothing about G-d to hear that he must believe in “the G-d of Israel” and immediately transfer that “name” to whatever preexisting beliefs he already had about “G-d”—perhaps a definition of the Greek Zeus. Somewhere, at some point, too many changes result in the definition no longer being recognizable as what G-d said about Himself, would you agree?

    Now, at exactly what point that happens, I cannot say. I believe G-d has made it clear in Scripture that man CAN reach a point (whatever that point may be) where G-d will simply let him carry on in his own ways, to a degree, because he continues to reject all that G-d is saying. (Psalms 81:12–13)

    Although I do not know what THAT point is (only G-d knows each individual heart), I do strongly believe that intentional, willful rejection of known truth is what leads to it (Hosea 4:6, Isaiah 5:13).

    I want to point out that in bringing up the issue of G-d in the way He defined Himself versus the way we decide He must be (including rejecting the possibility that He could actually execute the everlasting punishment He presents in Daniel 12:2), I am not isolating eternal rewards/punishment as a deciding factor of whether or not a person has “reached that point” of rejecting the G-d of Scripture. Not at all; that is only one of many, many issues in which one can choose to accept or reject what G-d said about Himself and what He will do. Instead, the reason I brought up that particular issue is twofold: (1) because it is an issue that is easy for all of us to identify with in regard to naturally wanting to reject what G-d said there, and (2) because it is an issue that is very personal for me. This is not a concept that I am self-righteously saying I have no trouble accepting and that everyone else needs to “just keep reading” and believe Scripture so that they, too can attain what I have—or anything ever remotely similar to that. No, this is an issue that I have struggled with, especially as I have seen it be abused at both ends of the spectrum (at the one end, pretending G-d didn’t say it at all and that Hashem could never do such a thing, and at the other end, actually developing it far beyond what G-d actually said and implementing it into messages G-d never implemented it into). The truth is, not that many details are provided about everlasting punishment. The facts as I find them in the Tanakh:

    1. Everlasting punishment DOES exist.
    2. There will be some humans who, at the last day, will indeed be on the receiving end of everlasting abhorrence (Daniel 12:2, also possibly alluded to in the end of Isaiah 66 and in Job 26:6).
    3. G-d is Sovereign. Thus, it will indeed be G-d Himself who ultimately authorizes such everlasting punishment.

    I believe there are points for all of us at which we choose to reject or accept what G-d said as Truth. When our human reasoning comes up against G-d’s Word, we must CHOOSE to accept “ALL of His precepts and judgments” as Truth and Justice and Righteousness. That includes the difficult themes. And that is why what I have said several times (Don’t stop at the pleasant Scriptures—keep on reading) is as much a message to myself as to anyone. For it is in the difficult passages that we often make those hard decisions whether or not to bring our hearts into obedience to Him alone. Is He Right? Or is my human reasoning right? Where the two don’t jive, I MUST choose to believe that HE is right and I am the one who must redefine whatever I previously understood to be the case.

    There are indeed crucial moments in which I read stories, whether in the Torah or in the Kings or Judges or other Scriptures, that cause me to naturally gasp in horror, and I think, “G-d, You ordained THAT?” Stories such as the cutting up of humans (as in 1 Samuel 15:33), taking the heads of their enemies back to camp (as in the many stories of war) or entire families being destroyed because of the father’s sin (Numbers 16:25–33). And then there are some stories that are not G-d ordained at all but simply a recording of the events as they happened—such as Aaron’s agreement to make the golden calf and his lies about the event later (Exodus 32), Lot’s offer to send his two virgin daughters to the wicked men outdoors in Genesis 19, and the incest later in the same chapter. Other difficult issues to fathom are that G-d brought the Israelites out of Egypt with the promise of something better…and yet some of those very people to whom the promise was made would die in the wilderness, never seeing the Promised Land. And G-d KNEW that in advance.

    My point is that there are many, many difficult issues. It is not just about eternal rewards and punishments; it is about ALL issues that are hard to read, difficult to fathom. It is there that I must choose to believe Him and seek to understand the lessons He has in them, submitting to His righteousness even when not everything makes sense to me in my humanity. That is where I learn to obey G-d and trust that in the light of all eternity, His ways are higher than mine. If one of the two of us must adjust, that person is me, not Him.

    I think this submission of the heart—the only way the pre-new-heart man CAN really observe all of His commands and precepts—essentially comes down to accepting truths as He reveals them to us, not turning our heads when we easily COULD have known.

    I watched a story once in which it was told that after the British and American governments overcame Hitler’s army, they ordered many of the Germans (most of them merely citizens) to walk through the death camps. Going into the gas chambers, there was semi-cheerful chattering. Coming out on the other end, after seeing the mangled human remains and ashes, they were stumbling, silent, many crying. It was a horror that would take one’s breath away, and it was right that they should have had to face it. This was not an issue they were unable to know about. It was something they had CHOSEN to turn their heads and ignore because it was easier to pretend it wasn’t real.

    And that, I think, is how we must face G-d’s Truth. He has already given it to us in Scripture—the dark, ugly issues that describe our human nature and our failures…along with the story of His love and redemption. The question is whether we will accept the truths we see or turn our heads and deny that He meant what He said.
    And now, assuming that I have answered at least two of your questions fully, Friend, I would like to ask you two questions.

    1. Clearly, in many dreams (throughout the Torah, Prophets, and Scriptures), G-d made great use of symbolism, would you agree? He also used symbolism repeatedly in His descriptions of what sin was like, in His messages through the Prophets (i.e., Nathan’s confrontation of David’s sin), and in many, many other instances all throughout Scripture (i.e., comparing Israel to His vineyard in Isaiah chapter 5, the entire story of Song of Solomon, and countless others). Do we agree so far?

    If so, do you believe any symbolism was involved at all in G-d’s story of the Sinai Covenant and His servant Moses as revealed in the Torah? For example, there we see that the Covenant did not occur overnight; rather, the Exodus began with many signs (i.e., Moses’s signs) while Israel was in exile, then we see the Passover, then there was a long journey through many difficulties, and finally the Covenant was actually established. Do you think any of this relates to the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31, or will that one simply occur overnight? What Scriptural basis do you have for your views about this, one way or the other?

    2. In Isaiah chapter 48, G-d says there is “something new” He was about to announce to Israel, and He went so far as to repeat Himself in saying she had never heard this before, so she cannot not say that she already had heard it. What was this new thing?

  60. Freedom
    1 – If I understood you correctly then your are saying that an act performed out of complete faith in God counts for righteousness – so – does this have to be a full observance of every last law or is one act preformed out of faith enough?

    2 – So is it appropriate or not for a pre-new-heart Godly man to declare that he preformed all of God’s commandments without straying from them – in context of also admitting to having sinned?

    3 – Jeremiah 22:16 refers to Josiah – did Josiah come to intimacy with God through caring for the poor?

    4 – So do you believe that there is NO hoping to God during the exile on Israel’s part?

    5 – wouldn’t you agree that there is a more straightforward definition of idolatry found in Scripture other than your extrapolation that Ezekiel 36 says that Israel is idolatrous so that means Israel must be guilty of idolatry now?

    To answer your questions
    1 – I believe that the exodus does give us an understanding of how the final redemption will unfold – and it shows a certain amount of activity on Israel’s part at the same time that it is God alone who redeems Israel

    2 – Isaiah 48:6 is referring to the destruction of Babylon as is explained in verse 14

    • Friend,
      I will respond much later when I am able to sit down and devote some time to this, but I did want to take a moment to immediately respond in part to #4 because I had already felt badly about the hopelessness one could easily feel in looking at the Scriptures I quoted with regard to Micah chapters 6 and 7 and Daniel chapter 12 if one thought only on the final national, not individual, condition of hope to the LORD.
      Daniel 12:1 says this:
      1. Now at that time, Michael, the great prince, who stands over the children of your people, will be silent, and it will be a time of distress that never was since a nation existed until that time, and at that time, your people will escape, everyone who is found inscribed in the book.

      I interpret this to possibly be saying there will be some rescue for those whose names are written in the book before the horror of some of these events . Clearly, that will not include all of the nation, however, because he also mentions later that some will be knowledgeable and will understand once the events do begin to unfold (perhaps they did not previously accept them, but they do now as the part of the nation remaining on earth), and at that time, blessed will be the ones who understand these things and wait till the end of those horrible days already prophesied in Daniel. And this theme is cross referenced in several other passages of Scripture that discuss the same people and the same time frame.

      I do believe there is AND ALWAYS WILL BE hope for those INDIVIDUALS who abandon the self’s righteousness and elevated view of human reasoning, choosing instead to truly seek, study, and accept all that G-d tells of Himself, even the difficult stories and themes. We repeatedly come up against issues in Scripture that are easiest to dismiss or explain away, but for our own sakes, we MUST look them full in the face and choose to believe G-d — He is ALWAYS Just and Right, and He ALWAYS means what He says.

      Such repentance, and the accompanying hope, can take place at ANY time people do this, whether before, during, or after these terrible events have begun to take place. For those individuals who humbly choose to know and trust G-d in ALL He has said of Himself BEFORE these events take place, my understanding is that they will be rescued, based on the end of Daniel 12:1. For the rest of the nation that remains, I believe there will be hope despite the darkness later, once she recognizes the events the Prophets foretold of old as they begin to unfold. Then she will realize that just as He has requited her sins, He will also establish her well-being for all eternity, as promised. And she will truly and deeply study all of these prophesies and will also then see clearly that the abomination will be for a limited time, as noted in Daniel 12:11-12, which will give hope to this remaining part of the nation on earth that now understands and believes and trusts and waits.

      There is always hope for every individual who seeks the LORD with a whole heart, abandoning self in the pursuit of Truth as He has revealed Himself in Scripture. And there is always room for repentance — not only nationally (which will happen for ALL of Israel, I think, at the very last, during the abomination) but also individually (which happens at any time).

      Shalom, and I will respond later. Blessings and health, Friend.

  61. Freedom
    You misunderstood my question – I was not asking if Israel had no hope in the sense of no future in God’s plan – but if there was no hoping to God in Israel’s heart throughout the exile – in other words was there any level of loyalty to God found in Israel’s heart throughout the exile?

  62. Friend,
    1. You said: “If I understood you correctly then you are saying that an act performed out of complete faith in God counts for righteousness – so – does this have to be a full observance of every last law or is one act preformed out of faith enough?”

    With regard to “acts” being counted for righteousness, I was actually referring to the submitted heart from which the act(s) originate, not the acts in themselves. On the one hand, with earthly acts/earthly rewards—yes, I think there are times G-d rewards (with specific earthly rewards) specific right choices to follow what He said to do instead of going with one’s own reasoning/selfish desires. In that “earthly reward/merit” sense, specific acts might relate to one particular Law and may not necessarily seem to relate to other precepts and laws.

    But in terms of complete faith in G-d being counted for righteousness, I don’t consider that to be an act. The “observance of every law,” in that case, refers to the submission of the heart in choosing to accept EVERY LAST judgment, precept, and law G-d gives and does as Just and Right—it relates to Him as a Whole, in other words. And it relates to those hard choices—when one’s own human tendency and reasoning is to try to find worthiness in self or ways to explain away things G-d said that are difficult to accept—to instead bow the knee before a Holy and Pure and Perfect G-d and acknowledge that HE is G-d regardless of whether He does things as I would have thought He should do them. As to whether this CAN involve specific acts—yes, I believe so. But the issue there is the heart.

    One of the stories that most spoke to me in this regard is that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I loved that they said, “Our G-d is able to save us…but EVEN IF HE DOES NOT…we will not worship the statue of gold” (Daniel 3:17–18). I love this heart of true faith. G-d did not have to do as they thought He should do for Him to be their G-d. This was not an issue of them saying, “He WILL deliver me because He owes it to me to save me because I am trusting Him…and if He doesn’t, my faith will be shaken.” No, not at all. It was “He CAN…but if He chooses not to, He is still my G-d.” That is the way I see faith. My faith must not be in my human reasoning of what I believe G-d will or should do but rather in WHO HE IS.

    Perhaps the heart of your question is whether heart submission occurs at one instant in time or over a period of time after thinking through many laws and judgments and precepts. I believe there are choices that can lead to a person going one way or the other—choices to either accept or reject difficult truths as G-d presents them in His Word. I think we see David working through such choices throughout the Psalms. Some such choices include bringing our perceptions of our own sin and fallen-ness in line with His, I think, or the choice to trust His Righteousness and Faithfulness even when all earthly evidence, or even a portion of His Word we are reading, seems very unjust or painful to understand. But I do believe there is some point at which, perhaps after a series of events and truths through which G-d continues to seek to draw the person to Himself, one does acknowledge the depths of one’s own sin and need for a new heart—TRULY sees it. And falls to his knees—without claims of having at least maintained some form of goodness or loyalty or tainted righteousness or anything else that merits G-d’s mercy—to trust in HIS Work alone. Such a person brings the broken laws and broken promises to G-d with a humble heart and confesses that the reason he commits SINS is that he is a SINNER through and through. Not that he is primarily capable and needs only G-d’s mercy to begin again, but rather that he is a failure in his own strength and needs G-d to wash his filth and create in him a new heart that finally hears and sees and understands.

    I also believe G-d is a G-d of many chances. Although He may at some point let a person go his own way (Psalms 81:12–13), He also expresses repeatedly His desire to take back those who stray. I believe that where there is a life, there is hope that the person will repent of the self-exaltation of human reasoning that is in all of us. And repentance and submission to His Truth alone is G-d’s desire for each one of us.

    2. You said: So is it appropriate or not for a pre-new-heart Godly man to declare that he performed all of God’s commandments without straying from them – in context of also admitting to having sinned?

    Well, first, did David declare that he observed all of G-d’s commands to anyone other than to G-d?

    From what I read in Scripture, what I understand his claim to be (to G-d alone) is that he had made specific choices that merited earthly blessing/reward (i.e., protection, defense).
    Yet even in his claims of studying and loving and observing G-d’s laws, judgments, and precepts, he asks for mercy and admits failure:
    “Would that my ways were firm in keeping Your laws…” (Psalms 119:5)
    “Remove all false ways from me; favor me with Your teaching” (verse 29)
    “Turn my heart to Your decrees and not to love of gain” (verse 36)
    “I have considered my ways and have turned back to Your decrees” (verse 59)
    “Before I was humbled, I went astray…” (verse 67)
    “I know, O LORD, that Your rulings are just; rightly have You humbled me” (verse 75)

    And so on. What strikes me as the heart of his words as I read through the many Psalms is not his claim of righteousness but rather his working through the many dilemmas in seeing deep injustices, with the ultimate submission of heart that G-d was RIGHT and JUST even in the face of difficulties. Sometimes this (as well as his many confessions of failure) did include his telling G-d that He was longing after, studying, observing, loving all of G-d’s commands and precepts and judgments. But he was telling this to G-d, not to humans. And this declaration, I think, was meant to depict his conclusion about G-d (that His every law was just and right, no matter what—which is why David sought them), not his conclusion about himself.

    Saul is the one I see claiming to other humans that he had done what the LORD commanded, not David (1Samuel 15). What are your thoughts on this?

    3. You said: Jeremiah 22:16 refers to Josiah – did Josiah come to intimacy with God through caring for the poor?

    No, I do not think that is what G-d is saying there. In the full context, G-d is actually talking to Josiah’s son, and the message is primarily that his son does NOT know G-d, as seen by his ungodly actions in comparison with those of Josiah. G-d is giving him a measure by which to note that he is NOT righteous.

    If you think about it, Friend, to say otherwise would be to say that if a person (no matter how evil or of what belief system, even if he hates G-d) simply reaches out to the poor, he is intimate with G-d.

    What I do think is that the lack of caring for the poor is a G-d-given indicator that one is NOT following G-d. I have often thought this in regard to various religious groups that eventually become so focused on their own organization running smoothly that they begin to despise the dirty, sick, unpleasant-smelling individuals they perhaps once imagined they desired to serve. The LACK of caring for the poor is a measure—one of many—that should alert one that one’s heart is NOT where it should be.

    4. You said: So do you believe that there is NO hoping to God during the exile on Israel’s part?

    That is not what I was trying to say. I was merely trying to read the various verses of Scripture in context and within their actual timeframe. I do certainly think there are individuals who humbly trust in the LORD and hope to Him during the exile as well.

    However, if you are asking what I believe about the nation’s condition as a whole, I think G-d is clear that with or without any perceived loyalty, as a nation she did not know Him. Perhaps they were loyal to who they imagined G-d was, but His assessment is that the name she thought was His was actually Baal (Hosea 2:18–19) and that she did not know Him (Hosea 2:22 “And I will betroth you to Me with faith, and you shall know the Lord.” This seems to say that NOW she will know Him, but before she did not).

    He also distinctly said that she did not know Him in Isaiah 1:3 and also referred to a lack of knowledge in Isaiah 5:13, Hosea 4:6, Malachi 2:7–8, and several others as well.

    He also said in Isaiah 65:2 “I constantly spread out my hands to a disloyal people…”

    He gave the same assessment in Isaiah chapter 30 as well:
    “Oh, disloyal sons!—declares the LORD” (verse 1)
    “For it is a rebellious people, faithless children…who said to the seers, ‘Do not see,” to the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy truth to us; speak to us falsehoods, prophesy delusions…let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel!” (verses 8–11).

    And so on. I do not say these things to be unkind, Friend, and please note these are not my assessments but rather are Hashem’s Words. I seek to bring my views in line with Scripture, and what I believe I see is that there will always be some who do indeed humbly seek Him and love His Word and accept what He says even when it is difficult to hear. But as a nation, she did not maintain loyalty overall to Who He really is. Perhaps to who she thought He was, but not to Who HE said He is, the G-d of Scripture.

    That said, it is important to note that although I am responding specifically to your question, as honestly as I know how, I also recognize and love the fact that G-d is and always has been devoted to Israel, even in His anger and even when that devotion meant noting that she was committing sins against Him. He notices. He cares. He continues to watch, to be grieved, to express devotion and intimacy to her as a nation in ways that He expresses to none other. And the end of the story is that He will draw her back to Himself forever, and her sins He will remember no more. He will wash her and redeem her and give her a new heart and a new covenant. It is important to also note that ending.

    5. You said: Wouldn’t you agree that there is a more straightforward definition of idolatry found in Scripture other than your extrapolation that Ezekiel 36 says that Israel is idolatrous so that means Israel must be guilty of idolatry now?

    No, I really am not going by Ezekiel 36 here. I am going by ALL of G-d’s many assessments, time after time, in which He repeatedly declares her idolatrous. As I mentioned above, there is Hosea 2:18–19, in which He declares that He will remove the names of idols from her mouth (that will happen at the time of the New Covenant). There is also Ezekiel chapters 22 and 23, Isaiah 1–5 (and throughout Isaiah in various places that reference both the future and the past), Jeremiah 2:11–36, 3:12–14, 8:19; and the entire chapters 16 and 17. And there are many, many other Scriptures that say the same. I am not pulling out an isolated verse and claiming Israel is idolatrous; I am honestly looking at these many verses that all have the same message and truthfully asking: What is G-d’s definition of idolatry? That is important, and that is what I am seeking to find.

    With regard to my questions, I would like to ask more about your response to question #2.
    You said: Isaiah 48:6 is referring to the destruction of Babylon as is explained in verse 14.

    I do not believe this explanation is sufficient in this chapter/context (Isaiah 48:3–15) because of the following:

    He said in Isaiah 48:3–6a that He had already announced many things as of old so that she could not say that her idol caused them. In verses 6b through 8, He says He is announcing NEW things she has never heard before.

    He already told of the destruction of Babylon throughout Isaiah, starting in chapter 13, so the destruction itself is not new. (Isaiah 13:1 “The Babylon Pronouncement, a prophecy of Isaiah son of Amoz”… Isaiah 13:19 “And Babylon, glory of kingdoms, proud splendor of the Chaldeans, shall become like Sodom and Gomorrah overturned by God.”)

    In Isaiah 48:14–15, He then says, “…He whom the LORD loves shall work His will against Babylon…I, I predicted, and I called him…”

    So what exactly is the new aspect that they have never before heard (Isaiah 48:6–8)? It cannot be the destruction of Babylon itself, because that was already predicted not only in Isaiah chapter 13 but also in chapter 14, chapter 21, chapter 43, chapter 47…?

  63. Freedom
    1 – You make a distinction between acts and heart – where do you see this distinction In Scripture? (I fully recognize that acts that don’t emanate from a heart humbled to God are not “obedience” just as you must admit that a heart that claims to have faith in God but if that “faith” doesn’t find expression in works then it is empty)

    2 – So is it appropriate or not for a pre-new-heart Godly man to declare that he performed all of God’s commandments without straying from them – in context of also admitting to having sinned?

    You didn’t answer my question – the point I am making is that just as we know that David sinned – yet he still was able to tell God that he did not stray from His statutes – so it is with Israel in Psalm 44

    3 – Here I believe that you are fighting with God’s word – the point that God is making is that caring for the poor IS in and of itself intimacy with God – (I understand that this may not apply to everyone in every situation – but it did apply to Josiah as the prophet testifies)

    4 – Your interpretation of Hosea 2:18 is completely backward

    5 – So you think that Ezekiel 36 is the definition of idolatry?! That being the case you will have to acknowledge that Micah 4:5 is also a definition of idolatry – then can you tell me what is the idolatry of Christianity? See also the distinction made between ALL men and Israel in Jeremiah 14 thru 16

    6 – One more question – is the new covenant for everyone or is it just for Israel?

    As for Isaiah 48 – do you believe the “new thing” in chapter 48 is different than the “new thing” in chapter 42?

    • Friend,
      I will reply to your message tomorrow in greater detail, but I am wondering if you can clarify a couple of things before I do so.
      1. I do indeed see Scriptural basis for distinction between the heart and acts (although of course I agree with you that a heart that is right will be evidenced by right acts). I can provide the Scriptures for the basis I mentioned – but I am wondering what exactly you are disagreeing with in this point? Do you think the heart and acts are the same thing? Or what exactly are you saying?

      2. I am sorry I didn’t understand the question properly the first time. Indeed I see huge differences between David’s claim and the claim of Psalms 44. One difference is that David always concluded by noting G-d’s righteousness and justice in EVERYTHING, while the claim of Psalms 44 is essentially that G-d has NOT responded to righteousness and has instead made Israel a byword among the nations seemingly for no reason. (Honestly, that contradicts all of G-d’s promises in Scripture as well as His own arguments against this very claim… in Isaiah 49-50, Malachi 2:17, and several others.)

      Second, G-d reiterated David’s claim (David did indeed understand heart submission and saw all of G-d’s judgments, precepts, and laws as Just and Right); conversely, G-d contradicted Israel’s claim every single time that He responded to it. (Can you provide a single Scripture in which He agreed with Israel’s claim that she had been true to His Covenant and had not reached to a foreign god yet He rejected her? Honestly – that contradicts everything I see G-d saying in Scripture, so I would like to see Scriptures in which HE says these things are true – especially because every time He responds, He says that kind of claim ISN’T true and in fact goes into lengthy arguments about all of the sins she is committing against Him.)

      The reason I did not recognize this question as relating at all to Psalms 44, though, is that Psalms 44 ISN’T in the context of admitting having sinned. So I don’t really see how this is even relevant.

      3. I am not fighting with G-d’s Word at all here. G-d is indeed saying that what knowing Him looks like in action is caring for the poor (which I also mentioned in my first response to this), but His primary focus here is to point out that the one to whom He is speaking is NOT righteous. I am not really clear on what you think I am disagreeing with or fighting with on this. Of course what intimacy with G-d looks like in action is going to be an outpouring of G-d’s love. So I’m really not sure what the issue is here.

      4. In what way is this backward? The entire chapter of Hosea chapter 2 deals with G-d wooing Israel back from her idolatry while she is still seeking other lovers. He then says He will remove the names of Baalim from her mouth and she will never again mention them, and that now she will know him. He also clearly said in Isaiah 1:3 that Israel did not know Him.

      What is your view of Hosea chapter 2, then, verse by verse?

      5. No, Friend, I already said I am NOT referring to Ezekiel 36 as the definition of idolatry. I am referring to the HUNDREDS of verses in the Tanakh in which G-d clearly says Israel is worshipping idols or engaged in idolatry. I do not understand why you continue to speak as though I am referring to Ezekiel 36. I am asking what is G-d’s definition of idolatry, because He so CLEARLY says, so MANY times throughout Scripture, that Israel is guilty of it. I am happy to move to your question after we settle this issue, but this claim G-d makes of Israel’s idolatry really is very prevalent throughout Scripture, so I think it is important to take it seriously before moving to something else.

      6. In Isaiah 49:6 He says His salvation would reach the ends of the earth. Certainly His Covenant is made with Israel, but He also promised to gather all the nations and tongues to behold His glory (Isaiah 66:18) and said that they would bring brothers “out of all the nations…just as the Israelites bring an offering in a pure vessel to the House of the LORD” (verse 20) and that from them, likewise, he will “take some to be levitical priests, said the LORD” (verse 21). He repeatedly said that His message is that all the earth turn to Him and be saved (Isaiah 45:22), and so forth. I think you already agree on this, so I will not continue to list verses… the Covenant is made with Israel, but He extends His salvation to all the ends of the earth and desires that all know Him.

      You said: As for Isaiah 48 – do you believe the “new thing” in chapter 48 is different than the “new thing” in chapter 42?
      I am still waiting for your answer on this one, Friend. This (Isaiah 48) was my question. What is the “new thing” of Isaiah 48:3-15, the thing that Israel has never before heard?

      • P.S. With regard to #5, can you clarify which verses in Jeremiah 14-16 you refer to? The verse preceding chapter 14 is this:
        Chapter 13:27. Your adulteries and your neighings, and the thoughts of your harlotry; on hills in the field have I seen your abominations; woe to you, Jerusalem, you shall not become purified. After when shall it ever be?

        Obviously, the next chapter then also begins by talking about Jerusalem and Judah, and G-d says they have loved to wander and that He will punish.

        In Jeremiah 15:5-7 He then says this:
        5. For, who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem, and who will lament over you, and who will turn aside to ask of your welfare?
        6. You have forsaken Me, says the Lord. You shall go backwards, and I have stretched out My hand over you and destroyed you. I am weary of repenting.
        (http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16012)

        In Jeremiah 16:10. And it shall be, that you shall tell this people all these things, and they shall say to you, “For what did the Lord speak about us all this great evil, and what is our iniquity and what is our sin that we have sinned to the Lord our God?”
        11. And you shall say to them, “Because your fathers have forsaken Me, says the Lord, and they followed other gods and worshipped them and prostrated themselves before them, but they forsook Me, and did not keep My Torah.
        12. And you have done worse than your fathers, and behold, you are going, each one after the view of his evil heart, not to hearken to Me.
        13. And I will cast you off this land to a land that you and your fathers did not know, and you shall serve there other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.
        (http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16013)

        I am wondering what exactly you refer to in bringing these chapters up? Certainly other nations are evil, as are all men — that is clear in Scripture. But I am not sure exactly what you refer to in mentioning these particular chapters. After I understand which verses you refer to, I will be happy to discuss with you which ones refer to Israel and which to others. Then I can proceed with greater clarity in a response. Thank you, Friend.

  64. David
    This is in response for your comment about the alleged goodness of the central character of the Christian Scriptures
    https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/judge-not/
    In short the central character of the Christian Scriptures reminds me of Micah 3:5 where the key criteria for the false prophet to define if a person is “good” or “bad” is the if the person supports them – automatically that person is “good” and if not than automatically that person is “bad”

    • David says:

      You’ve got it backwards about who posted what. You, NOT ME, started off by posting in part: “the character portrayed in the Christian Scriptures does not sound like a good person to me.”

      You’ve been unable to put together even one scripturally based coherent argument as to why for example you believe Moses to be good and Jesus not.

      You did however put forth this flawed statement:
      “…claiming to be sinless and then telling everyone who doesn’t buy your claim to sinlessness to be a child of the devil is taking things too far.”

      I countered specifically to your flawed claim and showed where your statement is baseless. I pointed out several of your errors including the fact that Jesus called out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees not based on YOUR made up reason (that they didn’t buy his claims of sinlessness, which he never claimed), but because they were trying to kill him, and which exemplifies how hypocritical they in fact were. And why were they trying to kill him? Because he claimed to be the son of God. Is that a reason for death in your scripture? Jesus said: is it not said that we are all sons of God? I further pointed out that they eventually succeeded in bringing about his death which only proves Jesus’ point. They were hypocritical as proven by the fact that they pretended to follow God’s law outwardly but inwardly they were evil with murder on their minds. Abraham was not like that.

      To recap then, Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, behaving more like sons of the Devil rather than sons of Abraham. Exposing hypocritical behavior is consistent with the actions of a good person. But you say: “… the character portrayed in the Christian Scriptures does not sound like a good person to me.” And then you cite the exchange between Jesus and the hypocritical Pharisees as an example which actually proves their hypocrisy.

      Since you can not or will not cite anything, nothing, zip, zero, in Scripture which points to anything not even the slightest little iota of anything bad that Jesus ever said or did, then I am left to conclude the following:

      You are unfairly biased against Jesus and have decided to view him as “… not a good person” regardless of the evidence to the contrary.

      • David
        I have no problem with you thinking of me as biased and as someone who ignores evidence – I don’t think it is my responsibility to get you to share my view of the central character in the Christian Scriptures – if you want to know my personal opinion about him write to me at iblumenthal@yeshivanet.com – I will say this however – John 8:44 is talking to people who believe in him – not the “Pharisees” and if you read verses 34 and 35 you will see that he was claiming sinlessness – Furthermore the parable that I discuss in “Judge Not” is pretty bad as well. but my arguments are not based on these verses alone – so if you want to know my opinion write to me

  65. Freedom
    1 – You ask where I am coming from with my challenge to you to provide a Scriptural basis for the distinction between faith and acts
    I see that in your world-view there is a great distinction between these two – In Scripture I see that these are basically the same – this tells me that your world-view has nothing to do with the Jewish Scriptures

    2 – I read Psalm 44 in context of all of the Psalms – David is Israel’s king and his words and attitudes are what makes him Israel’s king – all of David’s attitudes are Israel’s attitudes – also I read Psalm 44 in context of Psalm 106:6
    The fact that you could take a Godly Psalm and see it as evil tells me that you have nothing to do with the spirit of Scripture
    You ask for Scripture that speaks positively of Israel and of her loyalty to God? Isaiah 49:23; 51:7; Song of Solomon 4:7; 8:5; Daniel 7:21; Jeremiah 2:1.

    3 – The issue here is that Scripture is teaching that good works are in and of themselves intimacy with God – you are trying to resist that – the Scripture is NOT saying that this is a result of intimacy with God but that it is THE intimacy with God

    4 – Hosea 2:18 is NOT saying that Israel had misidentified God – but that she will enter into a closer relationship with God

    5 – Did it occur to you that Ezekiel 36 is perhaps referring to the stain of the sin that remains after the sin is no longer being committed (as in 2Kings 23:26) or perhaps it is referring to a lesser aspect of idolatry as in trusting in other powers and not to outright idolatry such as worship of Jesus or Buddha or perhaps it is referring to the sins of a few and the entire nation is held accountable as in Joshua 7:11 or perhaps a combination of these?

    In any case you should be worried about your own idolatry as per Micah 4:5 and Jeremiah 10:14-16

    6 – Isaiah 66:21 simply means that the Jews who are being brought back from exile by the Gentiles will be found pure enough to serve as priests (see Ezekiel 44:15) – it is NOT saying that Gentiles will serve as priests – this would contradict Isaiah 61:6
    So if you think that the new covenant is extended to the Gentiles then what was Jeremiah saying 31:32? or Ezekiel in 36:28and 37:28? – Did it occur to you perhaps that the salvation extended to the Gentiles is NOT the new covenant but something else?

    7 – I answered your question about Isaiah 48:6 – I told you that the context of the chapter tells me that it is talking of the destruction of Babylon – you didn’t like my answer and you said that Isaiah already spoke about this so it is not new – I simply pointed out that your argument is fallacious because then you would have to say that there are two new things one in chapter 42 and one in chapter 48 – the fact that Isaiah already mentioned it doesn’t make it not new – it is new in contrast to the redemption from Egypt

    8 – One more question – do you think that Jeremiah 29:13 is conditional?

    • Friend,
      I hope you are well. I will respond to each point in turn.

      1. You said: You ask where I am coming from with my challenge to you to provide a Scriptural basis for the distinction between faith and acts
      I see that in your world-view there is a great distinction between these two – In Scripture I see that these are basically the same – this tells me that your world-view has nothing to do with the Jewish Scriptures.

      I take such an accusation very seriously. So let me back up and actually look at these Scriptures to determine whether my worldview has anything to do with Jewish Scriptures.

      What I said (copy and paste) is this:
      “But in terms of complete faith in G-d being counted for righteousness, I don’t consider that to be an act. The “observance of every law,” in that case, refers to the submission of the heart in choosing to accept EVERY LAST judgment, precept, and law G-d gives and does as Just and Right—it relates to Him as a Whole, in other words. And it relates to those hard choices—when one’s own human tendency and reasoning is to try to find worthiness in self or ways to explain away things G-d said that are difficult to accept—to instead bow the knee before a Holy and Pure and Perfect G-d and acknowledge that HE is G-d regardless of whether He does things as I would have thought He should do them. As to whether this CAN involve specific acts—yes, I believe so. But the issue there is the heart.”

      Why do I conclude that the primary issue is the heart? Because of the Jewish Scriptures:
      Isaiah 29:13–14: “My LORD said: Because that people has approached [Me] with its mouth and honored Me with its lips, but has KEPT ITS HEART FROM ME, and its worship of Me has been a commandment of men, learned by rote—Truly, I shall further baffle that people…and the wisdom of its wise shall fail, and the prudence of its prudent shall vanish” [emphasis mine].

      2 Chronicles 25:2: “He did what was pleasing to the LORD, but not with a whole heart.”
      Did G-d notice his heart? Yes, He did. In fact, He commented on it.

      As I said in my previous post, heart submission most certainly can involve specific acts. But the FIRST issue is the heart.

      Psalms 78:8 “and not be like their fathers, a wayward and defiant generation, a generation whose HEART was inconstant, whose SPIRIT was not true to God.”
      or as Psalms 78:8 is translated on chabad.org, they did NOT PREPARE their heart.

      In David’s Psalms, when he works through the many injustices he sees, it is his HEART that continually determines that G-d is JUST and RIGHT, no matter what. In determining that ALL of G-d’s judgments and laws and precepts are RIGHT—rather than his own reasoning—he followed G-d with all his HEART.

      We also see this same issue in Isaiah chapter 1: “Come, let us reach an understanding, —says the LORD. Be your sins like crimson, they can turn snow-white; be they red as dyed wool, they can become like fleece.” If, then, YOU AGREE AND GIVE HEED, you will eat the good things of the earth…” (verses 18–19) [emphasis mine]. We see that the first thing that must change is the heart. One must first AGREE that G-d’s assessment of us is correct—that we are sinful. That change begins in the heart.

      Jeremiah 17:5 “So says the Lord: Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, and whose HEART turns away from the Lord.”

      And what happened to King Solomon in his later days? His HEART was turned away from the LORD. G-d says in 1 Kings 11:9 that the reason He was angry with Solomon was that his HEART turned away from the LORD. Does a heart turning to or away from the LORD also result in acts one way or the other? Absolutely. But the heart is where is begins.

      What David asked G-d to create for him anew was a new HEART, not new acts (Psalms 51), and he knew that what G-d desired was a crushed and broken HEART, not acts that he could do according to the Law.

      We see the same with Josiah. Did the acts of Josiah reflect his heart, which he humbled before G-d? Of course! But what did G-d say when the scrolls were read to Josiah? “Because your HEART was softened and you humbled yourself…” (2 Kings 22:19)

      And what did G-d say He SEARCHES to give everyone the fruit of his deeds? The HEART (Jeremiah 17:9–10).

      This concept of heart submission, Friend, comes directly from the Jewish Scriptures. One need not read very far to see instance after instance of Israel’s sins listed—with the explanation that “their heart was not right.” Conversely, in David we see a man who, though a sinner like the rest of us, humbled his HEART to know what a sinner he was and to AGREE with G-d about ALL of G-d’s judgments and precepts and laws. As Isaiah chapter 1 makes so very clear, we must AGREE with the LORD about our sin. And the heart is where we do that. The right acts will then flow from a right heart, not vice versa.

      Isaiah 29:13-14 makes it clear that it is possible to worship G-d outwardly while keeping one’s heart from Him. But what G-d desires is our hearts.

      2. You said: You ask for Scripture that speaks positively of Israel and of her loyalty to God? Isaiah 49:23; 51:7; Song of Solomon 4:7; 8:5; Daniel 7:21; Jeremiah 2:1.

      Friend, not one of the Scriptures you listed above even remotely addressed my question. I asked for Scriptures in which G-d REPLIED to Israel’s claim that He abandoned her even though she maintained righteousness (any Scripture AT ALL in which He agrees that claim is true), and not one of these has anything at all to do with that.

      The truth is that in EVERY SINGLE SCRIPTURE in which He replies to such a claim, He says it is false, even giving lengthy arguments about how she has sinned against Him (Isaiah 49–50 is a gentle example of this). How do you explain Isaiah 30, in which He directly calls Israel disloyal? And Isaiah 65:2?

      I most certainly do not see Psalms 44 as evil at all, so please do not write such things. It was not evil at all; it was a TRUE prophecy of what the psalmists foresaw the people claiming to G-d (and it was not David, incidentally, but rather the sons of Korah who wrote Psalms 44, though I, too, had previously assumed it was David; see here: http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16265/jewish/Chapter-44.htm)

      When the people claimed in Ezekiel 18 that G-d was unfair, was that portion of Scripture evil? Of course not! It is a true account of the people’s perspective. G-d does happen to reply there in the same passage and contradicts their claim, so we know their claim is inaccurate. But that is in fact what the people thought and said, and G-d recorded it for us as it happened.

      In Psalms 44, we do not have G-d’s response to the people’s claim. In numerous other Scriptures, we DO have His response. What is His response there? In Malachi 2:17?

      3. You said: The issue here is that Scripture is teaching that good works are in and of themselves intimacy with God – you are trying to resist that – the Scripture is NOT saying that this is a result of intimacy with God but that it is THE intimacy with God

      No. G-d pointed out in various Scriptures that it DID indeed matter if one’s heart was far from Him.

      Isaiah 29:13–14: “My LORD said: Because that people has approached [Me] with its mouth and honored Me with its lips, but has KEPT ITS HEART FROM ME, and its worship of Me has been a commandment of men, learned by rote—Truly, I shall further baffle that people…and the wisdom of its wise shall fail, and the prudence of its prudent shall vanish” [emphasis mine].

      Was keeping the Sabbath a good thing? Of course. Yet Keeping the Sabbath is not, in itself, intimacy with G-d either (see Isaiah 1:13). Obeying G-d by offering the sacrifices G-d said to offer was also a good act, right? Yet Psalms 51 and Isaiah 1:11 both clarify that the HEART was G-d’s concern there as well. Doing any of these acts, in themselves, does not equate to intimacy with G-d.

      But where the heart has submitted itself to acknowledge its deep sin (as David did, and as Josiah did—both of whom fully acknowledged that G-d was Just and Right in all His judgments and precepts, regardless of human reasoning)—that heart will indeed pour forth intimacy with G-d. What G-d said in response to Josiah’s weeping when the words of the scroll were read was nothing to do with Josiah’s acts: “Because your HEART was softened and you humbled yourself…” (2 Kings 22:19)

      Did Josiah indeed know intimacy with G-d, and were his actions part of that? Yes indeed. But the story of Josiah is longer than the one verse you quoted. And when we read Josiah’s life in context, we see a HEART response to His G-d—a tender and humble heart that acknowledged G-d was right in His judgments. It is people whose HEART is intimate with G-d whose acts also are intimate.

      4. You said: Hosea 2:18 is NOT saying that Israel had misidentified God – but that she will enter into a closer relationship with God.

      Friend, He actually SAYS outright that she will no longer call Him “my Baal” in Hosea 2:18–19. And I asked for your explanation of the entire chapter, which you didn’t provide. Does He or does He not say in that chapter that He seeks her out while she is going after other lovers and then removes the names of idols from her mouth and draws her back to Himself—after which she will know Him? Can you explain this? I don’t want to hear it explained away; I would like to hear a truthful rendition of what Scripture actually does say in that chapter, verse by verse.

      5. You said: Did it occur to you that Ezekiel 36 is perhaps referring to the stain of the sin that remains after the sin is no longer being committed (as in 2Kings 23:26) or perhaps it is referring to a lesser aspect of idolatry as in trusting in other powers and not to outright idolatry such as worship of Jesus or Buddha or perhaps it is referring to the sins of a few and the entire nation is held accountable as in Joshua 7:11 or perhaps a combination of these?

      Friend, you are continuing speak as though I’m referring to Ezekiel 36 even after I’ve told you repeatedly that I’m referring NOT to Ezekiel 36 but rather to the HUNDREDS of passages in which G-d clearly proclaims Israel as idolatrous. He proclaims it in the past tense, in the present tense, and in the prophecies of the future tense. He says there was no one righteous; He then REPEATS that there was no one righteous, and He calls them disloyal and idolatrous, over and over. Do I need to list dozens of such Scriptures again? As I said before, this is not an isolated chapter or verse—it is a PERVASIVE issue that G-d repeatedly claims throughout the entire Tanakh…in the Torah, in the Scriptures, and in the Prophecies.

      So again—what is G-d’s definition of idolatry in His repeated declarations that Israel goes after other lovers and other gods and practices idolatry? Trying to change the subject does not address the issue, Friend. We need to seriously think about this. If G-d said it so many, many times, it surely is important? It would be an insult to Him to ignore His repeated claims of Israel’s idolatry.

      6. You said: Isaiah 66:21 simply means that the Jews who are being brought back from exile by the Gentiles will be found pure enough to serve as priests (see Ezekiel 44:15) – it is NOT saying that Gentiles will serve as priests – this would contradict Isaiah 61:6
      So if you think that the new covenant is extended to the Gentiles then what was Jeremiah saying 31:32? or Ezekiel in 36:28and 37:28? – Did it occur to you perhaps that the salvation extended to the Gentiles is NOT the new covenant but something else?

      I am not going to argue about who is going to be levitical priests because I don’t see it as relevant to any real issue we are discussing. To me, the mere fact that G-d says they will bring offerings “just as the Israelites bring an offering…” (Isaiah 66:20) clearly shows He is not referring only to Israel… and He also says He wants His salvation to reach the ends of the earth (Isaiah 49:6). Nonetheless, the issue of who will serve as levitical priests is not what I am concerned with.

      Although G-d called Abraham and established a special covenant with him, Abraham himself offered tithes to the high priest of Salem (Genesis 14:18). This was ABRAHAM, the father of all Israel, who did this—one of the few G-d specifically mentioned as His friend and one who truly sought Him. (And this priest, Malchizedek, was mentioned again in Psalms 110 in relation to the Messiah.)

      There were a number of godly foreigners mentioned in the Tanakh after the establishment of Israel as a nation, too: in Ezra and Nehemiah, more than 600 people who could not prove their Israelite family heritage returned with the Israelites. Before that, Hushai the Archite was not only King David’s friend but also his beloved counselor. Ittai the Gittite was a leader of one-third of David’s army. And so on. These were prominent people in Israel, even though they were foreigners.

      That said, the issue really isn’t who will or won’t serve as levitical priests. The fact is that G-d repeatedly showed that He is the G-d of all. Certainly His Covenant was made with Israel as His bride, but those who knew and loved Him—whether originating from Israel or from elsewhere—were also known and loved.

      7. You said: I answered your question about Isaiah 48:6 – I told you that the context of the chapter tells me that it is talking of the destruction of Babylon – you didn’t like my answer and you said that Isaiah already spoke about this so it is not new – I simply pointed out that your argument is fallacious because then you would have to say that there are two new things one in chapter 42 and one in chapter 48 – the fact that Isaiah already mentioned it doesn’t make it not new – it is new in contrast to the redemption from Egypt

      No, you didn’t answer my question here. Clearly, the destruction of Babylon itself is NOT new at all (see Isaiah chapter 13 and later chapters). And G-d is not saying it is new in contrast to the redemption from Egypt (He had already discussed both issues previously, so neither one is new). He even REPEATS Himself in saying “you have never heard this before, so you cannot say that you have.” I don’t honestly see what part of “you have not heard this before” and “you cannot say that you have heard it before” is hard to understand.

      Given that the destruction of Babylon is NOT the only thing mentioned in this context of announcing new things, then, obviously the “new” issue is something different (G-d did not lie when he said—and repeated—that what He was saying now was something she had never heard before).

      Yes—there were new things He told in Isaiah 42 also. But that is irrelevant to this question; you still haven’t answered what was “new” in Isaiah 48–49 (G-d often continues His thought into the next chapter) that she had never heard before. In Isaiah 48–49, NOT Isaiah 42.

      8. You said: One more question – do you think that Jeremiah 29:13 is conditional?

      Jeremiah 29:13 reads as follows in the JPS Tanakh: “You will search for Me and find Me, IF ONLY you seek Me wholeheartedly” [emphasis mine]. Obviously, “if” is a condition, yes. And the entire context, if you read it from beginning to end, is one that is primarily of their exile to Babylon but also of their exile to “all nations” (verse 14).

      The beautiful thing is that, as Daniel confessed to G-d, even though the deliverance was NOT merited (Daniel 9:18), and even though Israel AGAIN sinned against the LORD almost immediately after being returned from exile (Ezra chapter 9), G-d STILL had mercy! He is indeed abundant in mercy despite the wickedness of all of our hearts.

      The point is, Friend, any way you want to look at this, the TRUTH is that we have Scripture after Scripture in which G-d clearly tells us that in fact Israel WILL NOT fulfill the Torah before He gives her a new heart and a new covenant. His assessment when He gives the New Covenant will be that she broke it, NOT that she fulfilled it (Jeremiah 31:32). And His assessment when He gives the New Covenant will also be that she has profaned the land since she came, NOT that she was loyal to Him and sought Him with a whole heart. We have these assessments in many, many chapters throughout many, many books. We already know His future assessment through the prophesies He gave…and this should give us all the more reason to come to Him as David did, with a heart that accepts ALL His judgments and precepts as good and right, leaving our self-exaltation of human reasoning behind.

      Shalom

      • Freedom
        I haven’t addressed this point in previous comments but I will now. You finished your comment by encouraging me to accept, like David, all of God’s judgments and precepts as good and right and not exalt our own reasoning.
        Where did I write something that gives you to understand that I disagree with this? In fact the whole point of the original post is to read David’s Psalms and let them tell us what to sing about before God. My entire disagreement with you is because I see your position as one that is based on human reasoning and not on the word of God.

        1 – When I spoke about acts versus heart I was not referring to acts that do not come forth from a heart humbled before God as I made clear so your lengthy response is irrelevant. You stated that even when acts DO emanate from a heart humbled before God that they are not rewarded eternally and that they don’t bring about holiness – there is no Scriptural basis for this negative attitude towards practical obedience towards God – for every one of the verses you quoted concerning heart – you will find another concerning action often within a verse or two of the quotation concerning heart.
        In short – what I see from scripture is that both the heart and the actions need to be subjected to God – completely and totally – it is not easy for man to do these – and the one is not easier than the other and the one helps out the other.
        You seem to be under the impression that it is easy to submit your heart to God and in fact you compared your own faith to that of Abraham – My understanding of Scripture is that submitting your heart to God is something that you can only start doing and without help from God you won’t get too far – convincing yourself that you are equal to Abraham is not a step in the right direction

        2 – When I said that you say Psalm 44 is evil I meant that you read it as a prophecy about an arrogant people – I read it as a guide to a Godly prayer to God – notice that the Psalm ends with a plea to God to redeem us – not for the sake of our righteousness – but for the sake of His kindness – I brought you Scripture that shows that Israel maintains a certain loyalty to God – I recognize that there are also Scriptures which seem to contradict this – I pointed out that this same contradiction is found in Scripture concerning David – my understanding – based on Scripture is that God judges people on different levels – you resolve this contradiction by explaining away the passages that speak of Israel and David’s loyalty – I think that the explanation I am offering is in line with the spirit of Scripture while yours is not.

        3 – At no point did I say that the heart does not matter – what I did say is that when a person whose heart is humbled before God – such as Josiah – then such a person’s actions generate intimacy with God – this is what the Jewish Scriptures teach – and this is something that you can’t seem to tolerate

        4 – Hosea 2;18 says that Israel will no longer call God my Ba’al which is one word for husband – a word that denotes one type of relationship instead they will call God “ishi” which denotes a closer relationship –
        For you to demand a verse by verse explanation adding that you don’t want it “explained away” is a bit too much

        5 – You accuse me of not taking God’s accusations about Israel’s idolatry seriously – I do take them seriously perhaps not in the way you would like – I still don’t see how you take God’s accusation against Gentile idolatry seriously

        6 – When God speaks of the new covenant He explicitly says that this will happen with Israel – where did you pick up the idea that this particular blessing will extend to the Gentiles as well? – Note I am not denying that the Gentiles will be blessed – but this particular blessing is described as something that is exclusive to Israel – so where did you pick up the idea that Gentiles will get the new covenant?

        7 – When Isaiah says that God is speaking about something new he is referring to something that was not clearly predicted by other prophets before him – Isaiah is not saying that what he is saying in chapter 48 was not stated in chapter 42 or other previous chapters of this book

        8 – So do you believe that Jeremiah 29:13 was not fulfilled at all? – Would you not consider Nehemiah chapter 10 to be at least a partial fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy

        • Friend,
          While you may believe my position is based on human reasoning and not on the Word of G-d, a review of our conversation reveals otherwise. This is not to say that I am correct at all times or that I have remembered every Scripture (and its author) at every point in time, but I think it is clear that I am willing to look at what Scripture actually DOES say, not what I would like for it to say.

          I do not recall having mentioned anything about you, particularly, needing to accept, like David, all of God’s judgments and precepts as good and right and not exalt our own reasoning. I believe I said that is what all of us need to do. But since you have brought it up, let me clarify that when anyone skips over the hundreds of verses in which G-d clearly addresses idolatry in Israel (present, past, and future) as well as rebellion (which He equates to witchcraft in Scripture) and lack of loyalty (Isaiah chapter 30, chapter 65:2, and many, many others), choosing instead to focus on the opposite, that may well be an aspect of elevating human reasoning over G-d’s Word.

          As for acts/faith, what you actually said was that you saw them as basically the same and that my view of them as NOT the same is not founded on Jewish Scripture. If that’s not what you meant, I cannot help that; I was responding to what you actually said. And in Scripture, He DOES say He looks at the heart that the acts come from (and in fact also says in Isaiah 29 that a person can indeed sometimes outwardly worship Him — “good acts” — while keeping the heart from Him). So acts and a heart response are not necessarily the same thing at all, even though a heart response will certainly produce a change in actions.

          Regarding Abraham, what I actually said is that we see there (Genesis 15:6) that G-d indeed counted his faith as righteousness. And that the same G-d who counted Abraham’s faith in His future promise as righteousness will do the same for me (and for all others who trust in Him). That is a statement about who G-d is, not about who I am.

          You did not bring me any Scripture that says Israel maintains loyalty to G-d. You pointed out Scriptures in the future time frame in which (after having recognized and agreed with G-d regarding her sin) she rejoices, knowing that just as He requited her misdeeds, so He will establish His goodness for her forever. And so she will wait, at that time. But these Scriptures must be read IN THEIR CONTEXT AND TIME FRAME, not pulled out to say what one wants them to say. In the time frames that precede those verses, it is made clear that in fact G-d says they have been disobedient and disloyal and have profaned the land (until the time of the New Covenant). To say otherwise is to deny the many Prophets G-d sent precisely so that we would know the truth.

          Very honestly, I ask myself how you would respond to Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel were G-d to allow them to visit you today. I wonder whether you would be among the many who rejected them and their clear pronouncements of Israel’s sin.

          Yes, G-d does indeed specify that His Covenants were for Israel. I have never argued that. My point is that those foreigners (and many of them prominent both with Abraham, the father of Israel, and in Israel itself as a mighty nation) who worshipped G-d were obviously treated the same as the Israelites. Uriah the Hittite — a foreigner — was one of David’s mighty men. When David sinned against him, G-d punished David just as He would have punished him for sinning against an Israelite. Hushai the Archite was King David’s friend and beloved counselor. Ittai the Gittite, another foreigner, was a leader of one-third of David’s army. In addition to all of these issues clearly demonstrated to be true by example, we have G-d’s outright statement in Zechariah 7:10 categorizing a sin against a foreigner the same as a sin against the widow, the orphan, and the poor. The verse that follows (Zechariah 7:11) says Israel refused to give heed, turning a deaf ear. And all of these sins (and others) incurred G-d’s wrath (verses 9-14).

          So, again, my point is not WITH WHOM the Covenant is made but rather WHO will be blessed. And the answer is ALL of those who trust in the LORD G-d of Israel. Under the Old Covenant, that is how it has always been. Under the New Covenant, G-d will still be the same G-d.

          With regard to “partial fulfillment” and so forth, Friend, I am simply not going to get into that; it leads nowhere other than around and around, avoiding G-d’s clear Word. The point is that we already have G-d’s future assessment that tells us Israel DID NOT fulfill the Covenant. At the time He gives the New Covenant, He says that clearly (future). So I am going to rely on G-d’s Word and not on human reasoning.

          The fact is that ALL of us are sinful beings. ALL of us have broken the Covenant. And ALL of us need to look the hard verses, the difficult themes that tell us of clear sin, in the face as David did and acknowledge that ALL of His precepts and judgments and laws are Just and Right — including His many, many verses that tell us His past, present, and future assessments of mankind’s sin. That is not something I am encouraging you, specifically, to do. It is something I encourage myself to do — and you, and everyone else. The rest of the nations were worse than Israel, not better. So G-d’s repeated pronouncements of Israel’s idolatry and rebellion and disloyalty and wickedness was most certainly a pronouncement of the fallen nature of ALL, not just of Israel. But as we agree with G-d (Isaiah 1:18-19) we can surely all also know His blessing…because of His mercy.

          Shalom

          • Freedom
            You say that a review of our conversation reveals that you are willing to look at Scripture for what it does say and not for what you would like it to say – I find that statement quite sad. When I brought up Psalm 18 you first said that David was referring to a specific situation even though you had not a shred of Scriptural evidence to back up your theory, then when I pointed to David’s declarations in Psalm 119 you jumped to the theory that obedience to the Law only applies to reward in this world – also without a shred of Biblical evidence. When I pointed out that Daniel calls Israel “holy exalted ones” you came up with a theory that this is somehow talking about the future – when I pointed out to you that this is talking about Israel who suffers under the hand of the fourth beast you came up with a new theory where somehow they are retroactively counted as righteous on the basis of some future event – all without a shred of Biblical evidence.
            No Freedom, you are living in a world of self-delusion.

            You accuse me of skipping over the verses that accuse Israel of idolatry – what you are actually saying is that I don’t read those verses the way you would want me to read them. I gave you a clear Scriptural explanation for my position on this while all you have done is repeat the same verses again and again.

            (About acts and heart) If you want to take one sentence of what I wrote – ignore the context – and respond to that one isolated sentence – I feel honored – you put me in the same company as the prophets of the Bible – you do the same to them

            I know what you said about the faith of Abraham – for you to think that your faith is somehow equal to Abraham’s is the height of self-righteous arrogance. Do you not recognize that there are many levels to faith?

            You tell me that I did not bring Scripture that speaks of Israel’s loyalty to God – because you say that all the Scriptures that I brought need to be read in their context – Yes they need to be read in their Biblical context and in the social context into which God placed them – not in the context that you insist on putting them into.

            You say that you ask yourself how I would respond to Isaiah Jeremiah and Ezekiel. I find it very strange that you are worried about how I would respond – How would you respond? – Oh! of-course you accept everything the prophet’s say because you have “faith” – you never allow your own agenda to color the way you read the words of the prophets –

            By the way if my community would not have accepted the words of the prophets you would never have heard of them.

            Your “explaining away” your misplaced faith in the new covenant which is not for you is another example of you reading into Scripture what you want to see there.

            You finish by saying that All of us are sinful and we all need to look at the hard verses
            Fine – I explained how I read the verses which speak of Israel’s idolatry – you still did not explain how you understand the verses that speak of your own idolatry.

            One last question – how do you explain Psalm 147:19,20?

          • Friend,

            What I said in response to Psalms 18 (a chapter that, as recorded in all of the ancient manuscripts—see chabad.org—was a response to G-d’s deliverance to David from his enemies and specifically Saul) and in response to Psalms 119 was not what you say. What I said was this (copy and paste):

            You: I asked you a simple Scriptural question – is there any room in a pre-new-heart Godly man’s life to make the declarations that David does in Psalm 18 or Psalm 119 concerning obedience to ALL of the Law?

            Me: The short answer: yes. In fact, I believe the ONLY choice the pre-new-heart can really make with regard to true obedience is to EITHER observe all of G-d’s laws, judgments, and precepts (i.e., accept ALL of what He says as True, and Himself as Just and Right no matter what) OR reject them/some of them (and thus elevate one’s own human reasoning to being of equal weight with G-d’s Word).

            What I mean is this: David clearly was not in any way suggesting (in any of the Psalms) that he didn’t sin. We know this as we compare Scripture with Scripture. His claim in Psalms 32 is that the one whose sin is COVERED is blessed. He then refers to himself as this blessed man. And repeatedly, we see His confessions of sin, of having strayed, of having transgressed, of his need for a new heart.

            But importantly, what we also see is that David’s conclusion, following his every struggle (and some of them very detailed), is always that G-D WAS RIGHT. And in that, we see his humble submission in obedience to ALL that G-d said.
            In contrast, Saul listened to G-d only inasmuch as G-d’s Word made sense to him. When his own reasoning seemed like a better plan, he “compromised” to make G-d’s instructions fit with human reasoning (1 Samuel 15).

            Now, with regard to this topic, as previously commented, I do think it is important to note the context and what exactly is being discussed in these Scriptures you mention; there is a difference between claiming merit in one’s own redemption (which David never, ever did) and acknowledging that specific, deliberate human choices to follow G-d’s ways merit earthly rewards (which David did). The latter is the context of Psalms 18.

            But with regard to your overall question: can the pre-new-heart godly man make the declarations that David made (elsewhere in Psalms) concerning obedience to ALL of G-d’s Laws—yes, absolutely. And making THAT CHOICE is in itself what makes him godly. Because that choice means deliberately rejecting one’s own reasoning and choosing to believe that G-d’s Words and Ways and Judgments and Precepts and Laws are true and right and just—ALL of them…even when they do not seem to be that way. It is obedience of the heart, submission of the soul and mind. If there were time and space, I would love to discuss this issue further with regard to instance after instance that we see of David’s human struggles with this very concept as revealed to us in Scriptures (what a blessing to have been given these play-by-play accounts of this godly man’s thoughts and cries to G-d!) and his final conclusions each time that G-D’S WAYS were right, no matter what.

            There are times when one sees injustices in humanity that suck out one’s very breath. In those moments, when you see hurts and abuses and suffering that no one can cure, and there is nothing you can do, it is so horrific that you are literally silenced. You suddenly hear small sounds you didn’t know the world made—a world that suddenly seems both vast and suffocating at the same time—and your chest hurts when you try to breathe.

            I feel that the Psalmist expressed something of this in Psalms 38 and 39.
            But those are also often the defining moments when you choose which way you will go. Will you put your trust in G-d, that ALL of His Ways and ALL of His Words and ALL of His Laws and ALL of His Precepts are True and Just and Right, with your faith in His Word alone? Or will you decide that THIS issue cannot possibly have anything to do with G-d… a good G-d could not allow this, perhaps refusing to face the issue at all? That choice—either to trust and obey and submit with the heart or to continue down the path of human reasoning—is what it comes down to in the end.

            I also said this, regarding Psalms 119:
            Yet even in [David’s] claims of studying and loving and observing G-d’s laws, judgments, and precepts, he asks for mercy and admits failure:
            “Would that my ways were firm in keeping Your laws…” (Psalms 119:5)
            “Remove all false ways from me; favor me with Your teaching” (verse 29)
            “Turn my heart to Your decrees and not to love of gain” (verse 36)
            “I have considered my ways and have turned back to Your decrees” (verse 59)
            “Before I was humbled, I went astray…” (verse 67)
            “I know, O LORD, that Your rulings are just; rightly have You humbled me” (verse 75)
            And so on. What strikes me as the heart of his words as I read through the many Psalms is not his claim of righteousness but rather his working through the many dilemmas in seeing deep injustices, with the ultimate submission of heart that G-d was RIGHT and JUST even in the face of difficulties. Sometimes this (as well as his many confessions of failure) did include his telling G-d that He was longing after, studying, observing, loving all of G-d’s commands and precepts and judgments. But he was telling this to G-d, not to humans. And this declaration, I think, was meant to depict his conclusion about G-d (that His every law was just and right, no matter what—which is why David sought them), not his conclusion about himself.

            Now, that is very different from what you are making my response sound like, so I thought I would paste it here again, to be clear.

            You said: Question – how do you explain Psalm 147:19,20?

            I love these verses! Israel indeed was the only nation to whom G-d gave His statutes and precepts! Israel is G-d’s bride and one He will cleanse and redeem and draw back to Himself forever! He will forgive all of her broken promises and broken covenant; He will replace her sinful heart with a new heart. And although He will not deny the truth of her utter sin and disloyalty and profanity and idolatry (Isaiah 1-5, Isaiah 30, Ezekiel 36 Hosea 2, and so on), He will forgive her! She will be His holy bride!

            There are individuals from all nations who have in the past and still today do dearly love the LORD, and as I already mentioned in my previous reply, we see over and over G-d love and vindication of them as individuals as well (Uriah the Hittite, Hushai the Archite, Ittai the Gittite…backing up, there was also Malchizedek, whom Abraham honored, and so forth). Yet as a NATION, Israel is the only one with whom G-d interacted and revealed Himself through Scriptures. It is through G-d’s relationship with ISRAEL that we who do know and love Him have come to know Him! That is how we have learned of His great Mercy and Justice and Love—and it is beautiful!

            Nonetheless, only those who have trusted in HIS Redemption alone (as David did) are holy. Only those who have seen and understood the depth of their own sin and unworthiness…but also G-d’s Love and Redemption. Denying these truths (the entire chapters of Isaiah 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 29, 30, 43, 48, 49, 50…and so on, and Ezekiel chapters 22, 23, 36, 37…and many other prophets—such as Hosea) while pretending there is really loyalty and “tainted righteousness” is to deny the clear message from G-d through the Prophets. To pretend the entire chapter of Hosea 2 really just refers to Israel coming into a “closer relationship” with G-d rather than what it actually says—that she worshipped other idols and went after other lovers—is to contradict the ENTIRE message of the chapter. It’s not “one verse” that I refer to, Friend. It’s that entire chapter…and the next, and the next, and the next. Let us read these messages by the book, Friend…not pulling out a verse here and there that sound pretty but rather the entire book…and fall on our knees in humble repentance before a Holy and Just and Righteous G-d who offers unimaginably enduring Mercy.

            Shalom

  66. tabright says:

    Annelise: I believe obedience is a result of intimacy with God, and this is why. I’ve seen people who don’t believe in God at all doing “good works”. But just the acts alone have no bearing on their relationship with Him. Those people do these things because they want to feel good about themselves, it’s a matter of pride and rebellion against God. They set themselves up as “good” people because of the things they do that help others. Unless a person loves God they are elevating themselves to what they perceive as righteousness and worshiping themselves, not what God says is righteousness and worshiping Him. So, no, I don’t believe that doing good things are enough on their own. Not that a person won’t reap blessings, because we reap what we sow. But without that intimacy with God, they can only reap things of this world. Because we are physical and spiritual beings, we have a spiritual need of God. But the people who don’t believe in Him try to fill that spiritual void with doing things because we’re all created to serve Him, even though they don’t believe what they’re doing is out of that empty void.

    • Tabright
      I will take the liberty of responding even though you were addressing Annelise
      – yes acts could be empty and self-exalting – but the same thing can happen with faith – when people go around parading their faith that can also be self-exalting and not something that is true closeness to God – it is easy to fool yourself about the root of your faith – God demands both faith and action and they work together to bring intimacy with Him

      • David says:

        The requirement of faith and works together is also consistent with the NT.

      • I absolutely agree that parading one’s faith can be a form of self-righteousness! Trusting in one’s own “knowledge” or faith, or in one’s own “work” of having faith, can truly be just another form of trusting in one’s own works.

        It is a heart issue, I think. We must truly come to understand that in ourselves is not any goodness (Psalms 16:2) but rather in Him alone. As Rashi explains this verse in his commentary on Chabad.org “The benefits that You do for me, it is not incumbent upon You to bestow [them] upon me, because You do not benefit me on account of my righteousness.”

        This, I think, is the attitude with which we must also view our faith; we have not “earned” merit from G-d because of faith, either. True faith means understanding that despite our sin, despite our disloyalty, despite our failures…HE has redeemed us for HE alone is Good. It is about HIM, not about us.

        Shalom

  67. Dina says:

    Rabbi B., this is awesome!

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