Does Judaism Stand for Anything?
The shots that rang out in the Tree of Life Synagogue this past Saturday
wounded the entire global Jewish community. Precious lives were taken
and families were shattered at the hands of an evil hater of God’s people.
The memory of the men and women who were slain in this terrible massacre
will forever shine as “kedoshim,” holy martyrs, who lost their lives
because they openly identified as members of God’s witness nation.
So many members of the general community of mankind stood
with us in our grief and shared in our pain. People of all faiths joined
the Jewish community in condemning the evil and in remembering the dead.
This broad outpouring of support is a testimony to the inner goodness of
man and gives us hope that we will soon see the day when all of humanity
will live together in peace and brotherhood.
American politicians from all ends of the spectrum denounced the act of violence
and supported the mourners. As representatives of authority it is their
moral duty to publicly decry the crime that was committed in the land
that they govern. It was in this context that at a political rally
attended by Vice President Pence, a memorial prayer was recited to
commemorate the martyrs.
The sentiment behind the prayer is honorable and true. I believe that
the organizers of the rally meant nothing more and nothing less than to
show solidarity and support for the Jewish community. However, the man
chosen to invoke this prayer was the wrong man and the prayer that he recited was the
wrong prayer. Instead of inviting a rabbi of one of the prominent sects of the Jewish community, the coordinators of the event invited a Messianic “rabbi” to represent the Jewish faith.
This was a mistake. Messianic Jews worship Jesus as a deity, and Jesus
is not the God of the Jewish people. In short; Messianic Judaism is
Christianity, it is not Judaism.
I believe that this was an innocent mistake rooted in good intentions. I
would say; “I appreciate the sentiment, but this man does not represent
my people” and leave it at that.
However, when Dr. Michael Brown wrote an article
explaining why he believes that Messianic Judaism is a valid expression of Judaism I feel
that it is my duty to set the record straight and explain the position of those Jews who are loyal to the God of Israel.
Dr. Brown argues that the first followers of Jesus were Jews whose beliefs were
accepted by their contemporaries as a valid expression of Judaism. It is
only when times changed and “trinitarian beliefs were considered
heretical that these Jewish followers of Jesus were largely excluded
from their Jewish communities.”
Dr. Brown would have us believe that at some point in time Jews accepted
belief in the trinity as a legitimate expression of Jewish faith.
Indeed, Dr. Brown has written (Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus,
vol. 2, pg. 7) that the Jewish rejection of the trinity is the result of
a “gut level negative reaction to anything Christian.” According to
Dr. Brown, Jews in the past, accepted the trinity as a viable expression of their faith but it was their hatred for Christianity that induced them to reject this belief.
Dr. Brown’s words are a real slap in the face to the Jewish community.
Do we stand for nothing? Why are we called a witness nation? What is our
testimony? Is our worship of God rooted in a petty hatred for another
group of people and not in love for God?
The name “Jew” is something that we inherited and the people who
bequeathed it to us did so at great danger to their lives. It wasn’t
easy to be called a Jew in a world that believed John’s Jesus who
described us as “children of the devil” (John 8:44). And those who held
on to that name “Jew” with their very life blood told us what it means to
be a Jew. To be a Jew means to stand in a covenantal relationship with
the One Creator of heaven and earth. At the very least, this covenantal
relationship demands that we do not give our hearts in worship to one of
God’s subjects, and everything under God’s heaven is His subject,
including the Christian Jesus.
Many Jews have abandoned much of the meaning and significance of that
glorious inheritance that was granted to them by virtue of being born
into the nation of Jews. But as long as they haven’t bent their hearts
in worship to one of God’s subjects, they still stand together with their
ancestors on one foundational issue and that is the belief that no one subject of
God ought to worship another of His subjects.
The Christian belief in the trinity involves devotion to a man who walked God’s earth and
breathed His air; one of God’s subjects. This was never considered a
legitimate expression of the Jewish covenant with God. Every bit of historical
evidence that we have tells us that Jews always saw worship of a man, no
matter what the theological justification, to be the very antithesis of
what Jews and Judaism stands for. We reject the trinity because it is
the deepest violation of the covenant that we share with God.
If Dr. Brown would have done his homework he would more readily find
evidence that the first Jewish followers of Jesus were not real
Christians. It goes without saying that they did not believe in the
trinity. It took several hundred years for the Gentile Christians to
develop this theology. There is no reason to believe that the early
Jewish followers of Jesus accepted this idolatrous belief.
But it goes much deeper than that. There is solid evidence which tells
us that the Jewish followers of Jesus did not see his death as an
all-atoning sacrifice. After Jesus’ death, his Jewish disciples were still bringing offerings for the forgiveness of sin in the Jerusalem Temple that operated under the
jurisdiction of the broader Jewish community (Acts 21:23,24). Not only
were they bringing these offerings for the expiation of sin but they
used these offerings to represent their loyalty to the Law. Had they
believed in the core Christian credo which sees Jesus as the sacrifice to end
all sacrifices they would have no need for the offerings in the Jewish
Temple, much less use those offerings as an act that represents their
loyalty to God and His Law.
Messianic Judaism is not real Judaism. Dr. Brown’s attempt to rewrite
history does not change the testimony of the Jewish people. And our
testimony is clear and simple. All Jews who want to stand with their ancestor in this national covenant that we share with God testify to the following truth: That every cause for devotion resides with the One Creator of all and with Him alone.