TYVM – From a Jew to a Christian
You seem to be disturbed that my heart is bent toward the One Creator of heaven and earth and to Him alone. You would have me bend my heart toward the central character in the Christian Bible as well. I understand that this desire of yours is an expression of your care for me. You believe that if I do not bend my heart toward this character then I will be missing out on God and on Messiah. You would have me add the Christian Bible to the canon of Scripture and you would want me to join the community of “believers”. And lastly you believe that with my refusal to bend my heart toward this character I will have no hope.
I would tell you that your suggestion would have me violate Exodus 20:3 as well as Deuteronomy 13:4. But I realize that you are not such a stickler for the “Law”. So I decided to try to explain why your perspective on what I lack is unfounded.
I have a God thank you very much. My God loves me more than it is possible for any other entity to love me. Every breath that I take is a kiss from my God. Every one of my heartbeats is a personal caress from Him. You see; it was He who designed my body and soul and it is He who sustains them every second. But even if I were a rock I would still know that my God loves me. It was my God who brought every iota of existence into being. He loved me before I existed. And it is only His love that allows existence to continue to exist.
Any love that anyone else has for me is a gift from my God. Even if someone were to lay down their life for me they would still not love me as much as my God loves me. After all; no one really owns anything but my God. The life of everyone else aside from God Himself belongs to my God and to Him alone. If anyone has feelings toward me it is because my God planted them in his or her heart and if anyone gives me anything it can only be something that my God had first given to them.
The entire panorama of activity all takes place in the arena that my God created and all of the characters in the play of life are subjects of my God. There is not one spot in the entire range of existence that does not belong completely and absolutely to the Rock of my Heart.
Let me spell this out for you. Everything that your hero did was done in the world that my God created, while my God was sustaining him, and with gifts that my God freely granted him and for which he paid nothing.
My God is a forgiving God. When I fall short, and that happens all the time, all I need to do is to open my heart to the One who created my heart. I know that He loves me and hears my prayer; I know that He listens even before I talk and I know that he forgives my sins.
I can’t ask for a better God, a more loving God or for a closer God. All goodness, all kindness, all holiness, all truth and all love reside in Him and in Him alone.
There is nothing that I lack with my God.
I have a Messiah as well thank you very much. His name is David. God anointed him through the prophet Samuel so that makes him a “Messiah”; an anointed one. I couldn’t ask for a better king. He laid out his entire heart for me in the book of Psalms. In these songs he shows me how a subject of God ought to live. In David’s life and in the words of his song he leads me in submission to my God.
My king takes the simple truth of life and shows me how it is the deepest song of my heart. The straightforward fact that God is the Master of all becomes an incredible journey on the strings of my king’s harp. And it is on this journey that I want to live my life and it is on this journey that I want to spend eternity.
All of the righteous descendants of David passed on his torch. God promised that it is the dynasty of David which will retain the position of the leader of men. And it is to this dynasty that I pledged my heart.
David lived his life in awe and appreciation of God’s sovereignty and he taught us to do the same. His descendant that will rightfully occupy his throne will further that cause and bring it to all of the nations. The man who directed all attention to himself and used the “glory of the Father” as an empty catch-phrase is the very antithesis of David and his dynasty.
When the long awaited for descendant of David appears he will not need a new pledge of loyalty from my community because we have already pledged our allegiance to the crown of David. And as David before him, he will not try to stand between me and my God. Instead he will stand where my King stands today; that is, right beside me facing God.
I have a Law from my God. It is a perfect and just law (Psalm 19; 119). It teaches me right from wrong and it is the light of my life.
Now you want me to place a Greek book right there alongside the teaching of my God.
I cannot do this.
The same witnesses who testified that the Law I possess is truly the Law of God taught me that your book is not. But please allow me to take this one step further.
The book that you hold runs contrary to the word of God in so many different ways. Your book completely ignores the national relationship that my nation shares with God. Your book shows a disdain for the laws of my God. And your book contains some teachings that are simply not right according to the sense of justice that God planted in all of our hearts. Let me provide two illustrations.
In the book of John Jesus teaches that those who reject him do so out of their hatred for light while those who accept him are lovers of light (John 3:19-21). In the same book Jesus goes on to say that those who don’t believe him are “of the devil” while those who are “of God” hear his words (John 8:44-47). The obvious implication is that acceptance of Jesus is some sort of litmus test to see whether one loves the light and is of God or if one hates the light and is of the devil.
Let us step back for a minute. Is it morally correct to accept the claims for the divinity of a man before he has proven himself? Even Christian theology which allows for a man to be divine would still not have us simply accepting anyone’s claims for divinity. Christianity acknowledges that if Jesus’ claims conflicted with the Jewish Scriptures then the Jewish people were duty-bound to reject him. The morally correct approach to Jesus’ claims, even according to Christian theology, ought to be an approach of caution and skepticism.
But John’s Jesus completely ignores this truth. He ignores the fact that his audience was obligated by the word of God that they had already received to greet his claims with skepticism (if not outright rejection). Instead he applies a manipulative tactic. “If you don’t believe in me then you must be a rotten apple from the beginning.” Who benefits from this teaching? The ones who don’t believe in him don’t care for his evaluation of their spiritual ancestry. Those who do believe in him don’t need this teaching. It is to those who are on the fence that this teaching is directed. This is an effort to get them to make a decision on the basis of not wanting to be seen as “wicked” by Jesus or by those who believe in his words.
Is this a reason to believe in Jesus? Even according to Christian theology is it right for a person to accept Jesus so as to “prove” that he was a “child of light” all along? In any case the historical ramification of this teaching was that the followers of Jesus redefined their view of humanity in a very negative way. For many dark centuries the believers of John’s Jesus defined the goodness of man, not by the practice of justice or mercy, but by belief in Jesus or lack thereof.
No; your book does not belong next to the words of my God.
I belong to a community that stands in a covenantal relationship with God. My community has been under judgment for the past 2000 years but we have also been incredibly blessed by God. The survival of my community as a distinct entity, both physical and spiritual, is an open miracle. My community has been blessed with moral giants, men and women who lived lives of Godliness. These holy people impacted my community and guided us in our relationship with God. God chose to preserve His testimony in the heart of my community. For the past 2500 years my community, as a community, has not succumbed to the lure of idolatry. This is true despite the fact that before that time idolatry was a deep problem in the hearts of my people. I don’t believe that this is a human achievement. I believe that it is a gift from God to my community. It was God who poured courage into the hearts of my people so that they can withstand the persecutions and the torture and remain loyal to our calling as a witness nation before God.
God preserved the covenantal sign of Sabbath in my community (Exodus 31:17). This tells me that the sanctity that my community experiences is not a delusion but a blessing from God.
What kind of community would you have me join? A community that produced haters and killers of God’s firstborn son? Oh yes, I know that you disassociate yourself from hatred of Jews. You tell me that those evil men were not “real Christians”. If that is the case then why do their books still fill your libraries? Why do their teachings still fill your universities? Did your community ever stop and do some serious soul-searching, asking yourselves, how it is that Jesus’ message got derailed? (if it ever did). Did your community ever stop to ask themselves if the theological seeds which sprouted those hateful fruit are still present in the orchard of your theology? Or do you just satisfy yourself with the pat assurance that those were not “real Christians”?
No; your people are not my people.
I don’t have everything I want. My nation is still in exile and I would want nothing more than that my God restore His presence in our midst in an open and manifest way. My people are still suffering from confusion and persecution. In my own life I fall short of God’s light and truth. But my God promised me that these will come to an end. God promised that our mourning will end and that His glory will return to dwell in Jerusalem as in the days of yore. And He promised to circumcise our heart after He brings us back into His beloved land.
The hope that God gave me goes much further than that. God promised that His testimony will not depart from the lips of my people (Isaiah 59:21). God promised that our loyalty to Him in these dark days of exile and confusion will play a role in His plan for all mankind (Isaiah 49:23). And God promised us that His light will shine through us to illuminate the world (Isaiah 60:3).
I am not trading in these Divine promises for an offer of “personal salvation”.
Thank you very much.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
Yisroel, on the subject of the Sabbath, have you considered the significance of the expression שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן (Ex.31.15)?
As you know it is also used of Yom Kippur (Lev.16.31), a day now voided in Jewish experience of its very heart. Here is the essence of Shabbat.
How can one know rest from one’s own corrupt works, without solid assurance of forgiveness for sin?
How can one know forgiveness for sin without a Divinely validated atonement?
It is of the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, but those mercies have a foundation and a reason, they are not capricious. Justice too has been satisfied not just compassion (Ps.85.10).
The people must look on, but the High Priest alone works out salvation, but no ordinary high priest will suffice, being corrupt (Zech.3.1-9), he is the Branch and of a different tribe than Levi and of the order of Melchizedek (Ps.110).
Charles Soper God’s oath is good enough for me. I trust Him, He is honest and just. He swore that if we repent, He will forgive. You can trust Him too.
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