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Tuesday, 22 August 2017
Yom Shlishi, 30 Av 5777

 



 







Starting January 2012, In the Rabbis Dust will be posted here in audio format. Look out for it soon!

 

 

 

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“The New Testament misquotes and misinterprets the Old Testament. At times it manufactures verses to suit its purposes.”

Answer: “There is no truth to this claim. You must remember that all the New Testament authors were Jews—with one probable exception—and they were sometimes writing to Jewish readers who knew their Scriptures well. To manufacture, misquote, or misinterpret verses from the Tanakh would be absolutely self-defeating. The fact is, these authors spent much time meditating on the Tanakh, and you would be amazed to see just how insightful their quotations and interpretations are, not to mention how much they are in keeping with the ancient Jewish methods of scriptural hermeneutics.”

 

 “According to Matthew 2:15, when the little boy Jesus, along with Joseph and Mary, fled to Egypt to escape from Herod, this “fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’” But Matthew only quoted the second half of the verse in Hosea. What the prophet really said was this: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.” The verse has to do with Israel, not Jesus, and it is recounting a historical event, not giving a prophecy. And you claim that Matthew was inspired. Hardly!”

Answer: “When Matthew quoted the second half of Hosea 11:1, he took for granted that his Jewish readers would know the whole verse. (Remember that many of Matthew’s intended readers knew large portions of the Hebrew Scriptures by heart, and quoting just part of a verse was a common Jewish practice of the day.) What he was saying was clear: Just as it happened to Israel, God’s national “son,” so also it happened to Jesus, God’s Messianic Son, and the ideal representative of the nation. Both were called out of Egypt in their childhood.”

 

 “Matthew 2:23 says that when Jesus moved to the town of Nazareth, this “fulfilled what was said through the prophets: ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’” There’s only one problem. The prophets never said this! Matthew actually made it up.”

Answer: “If you’ll look closely at the text, you’ll see that Matthew does not use his normal quotation formula for citing verses from the Hebrew Bible. Normally he would say something like, “to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet,” making reference to a specific text in a specific prophetic book. In 2:23 he says, “so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled,” indicating that he is dealing with a theme (or play on words) that occurs in several prophetic books as opposed to only one text in a specific prophetic book. With this in mind, it’s not difficult to see the sections from the Tanakh that Matthew had in mind. As always with Matthew, his insights are deep.”

 

 “Matthew 27:910 is totally confused. First Matthew quotes part of a prophecy from Zechariah, then he says it comes from Jeremiah, and then he takes the whole thing totally out of context. What a mess!”

Answer: “Allow me to respond to your objection with a question of my own: If you were a traditional Jew and found a similar citation in the Talmud not with reference to Yeshua, but with reference to some halakhic or haggadic subject would you say that it was “totally confused,” or would you say that it was a difficult passage but one that could certainly be resolved through careful study? No doubt, you would say that it could be resolved. In fairness, then, let me show you how these verses in Matthew can also be explained through careful study, looking at the deeper themes of his book and not just at this one passage in isolation. Once again, you will see that Matthew is anything but confused in his reading of the Tanakh.”

 

 “Hebrews 10:5 is one of the worst examples of New Testament Scripture-twisting. The writer quotes from Psalm 40, where the psalmist says, “You have opened my ears,” but he applies it to Jesus and changes the words to read, “A body you have prepared for me.” Could you imagine anything more dishonest?”

Answer: “Actually, the writer to the Hebrews was simply quoting from the Septuagint the Greek version of the Scriptures made by and for Greek-speaking Jews as he generally does throughout his book. In this particular case, the exact meaning of the original Hebrew is somewhat unclear, and the Septuagint offered an interpretive rendering. So, neither the Septuagint nor Hebrews were in the least bit dishonest or misleading. Also, it’s interesting that Hebrews does not major on the part of the verse that was supposedly changed but puts the emphasis on other parts of the quote.”

 

“The New Testament is full of historical inaccuracies.”

Answer:“Actually, where the New Testament accounts can be verified or checked by external, contemporary sources, they are consistently accurate. (If they can’t be verified or checked, and they bear the marks of good history writing which they do how can anyone claim that they are inaccurate?) So, the real question is: What contemporary historical records are there that contradict the New Testament authors? In point of fact, there are none. It should also be pointed out that out of all ancient documents, the New Testament was the best preserved.”

 

 “None of the important historical writers of the period—Roman or Jewish—make mention of Jesus. It’s questionable whether he even existed.”

Answer: “No reputable scholar in the world denies that Jesus existed. You might as well as deny the existence of George Washington or Julius Caesar. As for Roman and Jewish historians, there are important ancient testimonies from key authors who write of Jesus as well as his early followers.. You might also be surprised to know that almost all of these sources tell us more about Jesus than they do about any contemporary Rabbinic leaders. Does this mean that these famous rabbis never existed?”

 

 “Modern scholars are in complete agreement that the Gospels portray a mythical Jesus. There is very little that we can really know about his life.

Answer: “The real myth is that we cannot know anything certain about the life of Jesus! The issue is one of presuppositions. Those scholars who are skeptical about knowing anything certain about the life of Jesus presuppose that the Gospel accounts are not reliable, just as they presuppose that the accounts in the Hebrew Bible about Abraham, Moses, or David are not reliable. The same scholars who deny the resurrection of Jesus also deny the exodus from Egypt. In any case, a strong case can actually be made for the historical reliability of the New Testament accounts.”

 

 “Jesus was not born of a virgin. In fact, we have traditions that actually tell us who Jesus’ real father was—and it wasn’t Joseph! Anyway, the idea of a god being born to a virgin is just one of several pagan myths that made its way into the New Testament.”

Answer: “The fact of the virgin birth was something that made the ministry of Jesus harder, not easier. You try telling someone that your Master and Teacher was born of a virgin! Everyone thought that Joseph was his real father, and it was known that Joseph was a descendant of David, something which could have only helped, not hurt, Jesus’ cause. If not for the virgin birth being a fact and one which was also foreshadowed in the Hebrew Scriptures the New Testament writers would have never created such a story. As for the virgin birth being a borrowed pagan myth, could you tell me which pagan myth you are referring to? There is none!”

 

 “The genealogies of Jesus given by Matthew and Luke are hopelessly contradictory.”

Answer: “There do appear to be some contradictions in these genealogies, just as there appear to be contradictions in some of the genealogies in the Hebrew Scriptures. But there are very reasonable answers that resolve the conflicts without having to advance any farfetched or implausible theories. Common sense would also tell you that the followers of Jesus, who were totally dedicated to demonstrating to both Jews and Gentiles that he was truly the Messiah and Savior, would not preserve and pass on two impossibly contradictory genealogies. In fact, this very suggestion directly contradicts the common objection that the New Testament authors rewrote the accounts of the Gospels in order to make Jesus look like he was the Messiah (see below, 5.14). The reality is that they accurately reported the story of his life and were careful to include two important genealogies in presenting the account of his ancestry and birth.”

 

 “The Messiah is David’s son. If Jesus were really born of a virgin, then Joseph was not his father and he is really not a descendant of David, even according to Matthew’s genealogy. And if you claim that Luke’s genealogy is that of Mary, Jesus still doesn’t qualify, since the genealogy in Luke goes through David’s son Nathan, whereas the Messianic promises must go through David’s son Solomon. Therefore, Jesus cannot be the Messiah.”

Answer: “Obviously, you don’t believe in the virgin birth, otherwise you wouldn’t be raising this objection. Therefore, you believe that the disciples invented the myth of the virgin birth—a myth totally unique in the history of religion (see above, 5:9) even though you argue that this “myth” completely undercut their claim that Jesus was the son of David. Wouldn’t this be totally self-defeating? As we demonstrated above (see again 5.9), no one would make up an account like this, especially when the people in Jesus’ hometown thought he was the son of Joseph (and therefore a descendant of David) while the crowds hailed Jesus as the son of David when he entered Jerusalem. To the contrary, it is the truth of the virgin birth that explains the unique Messianic qualifications of Yeshua—both the son of David and yet greater than David while his actual, physical descent from David is also taught in the New Testament. As for the Messiah having to come through Solomon, that is not correct according to the Scriptures or even according to some Rabbinic tradition.”

 

 “Jesus cannot be the Messiah because he is a descendant of King Jehoiachin. God cursed both this king and his offspring, saying that none of his descendants would ever sit on the throne of David.”

Answer: “There are some Bible teachers who argue that only Jesus is qualified to be the Messiah because of the curse on Jehoiachin. In other words, it is argued that the Messiah should have come through the royal line of Jehoiachin but that king’s descendants were disqualified from sitting on the throne. Therefore, it is only through the virgin birth that the curse of Jehoiachin’s descendants can be bypassed. In reality, however, there is no need to raise this argument, since the curse on Jehoiachin may only have referred to his own sons and, more importantly, the Hebrew Bible gives strong indications that he repented and the curse was reversed. This understanding of the text is actually confirmed by Rabbinic tradition.”

 

“Jesus did work some miracles, but they were not by God’s power. We have traditions that tell us he learned magical arts in Egypt..”

Answer: “Aside from the fact that it is highly unlikely to say the least! that someone could raise the dead and open the eyes of people born blind by demonic or magical power these were the kinds of miracles that Jesus performed, and they demonstrated the power of God, not the power of demons the idea that Jesus learned magical arts in Egypt has as much factual or historical support as the claim that Santa Claus delivers gifts through the chimney on Christmas Eve. In fact, the Talmudic account that claims that a certain “Jesus” practiced magic actually places that “Jesus” in the wrong century! Also, the miracles of Jesus resulted in multitudes of Jews praising and worshiping the God of Israel, to whom Jesus pointed all people. To this day, around the world, genuine miracles take place as followers of Jesus simply pray to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the name of Yeshua the Messiah. This is hardly magic!”

 

 “Jesus didn’t fulfill any of the Messianic prophecies. We know that the New Covenant writers actually reconstructed the life of Jesus so as to harmonize it with certain predictions made by the prophets.”

Answer: “We have demonstrated elsewhere that Jesus, in fact, did fulfill all the Messianic prophecies that had to be fulfilled before the Second Temple was destroyed in the year 70 C.E. We have also shown the historical reliability of the Gospels. But there is a problem with your whole objection. It is self-contradictory! Why would the New Covenant writers intentionally rewrite the events of Yeshua’s life so as to make him fulfill predictions that were not really Messianic? If the prophecies which they quoted were really non-Messianic (or, if they had to be wrenched out of context to be used), then why did they “make” Yeshua’s life conform to them? I should also point out that there is not ounce of verifiable evidence that you can provide to support your claim.”

 

“When Jesus failed to fulfill the prophecies, his followers invented the myth of his substitutionary death, his resurrection, and finally, his second coming, which, of course, they completely expected in his lifetime.”

Answer: “In order to make this claim, you virtually have to rewrite the entire New Testament, since a central theme of those writings, from their earliest strata on, is that Jesus had to go to the cross and suffer and die and then rise from the dead. This was his sacred mission! And Jesus frequently taught about his departure from this world and his eventual return, also indicating that he would be away for a long time. Not only so, but his substitutionary death also helped explain a number of passages in the Tanakh that spoke of the vicarious suffering of God’s righteous servant. Would you argue that the followers of Jesus also invented those passages?”

 

 “Do you want irrefutable proof that the authors of the New Testament didn’t know what they were talking about? Well, look at Matthew 23:35, where Jesus states that the last martyr spoken of in the Hebrew Scriptures was Zechariah son of Berechiah. Actually, that was the name of the biblical prophet (see Zech. 1:1); the last martyr was Zechariah son of Jehoiada (see 2 Chron. 24:2022). So, either Jesus, your alleged Messiah, didn’t know his Bible, or else Matthew (or the final editor of his book) didn’t know the Tanakh. Either way, this is a glaring error that cannot be ignored.”

Answer: “Actually, there are simple solutions to this apparent discrepancy which are totally reasonable and which completely resolve the problem. I should point out, however, that the force of your objection is exaggerated, since there are similar difficulties in some ancient Rabbinic citations of Scripture, one of which also seems to confuse these two Zechariahs. Do you therefore conclude that the ancient rabbis didn't know what they were talking about? As for the verse in Matthew, there are several possible explanations for apparent discrepancy. It is possible that Zechariah son of Berechiah was also martyred, but it is most likely that the text is referring to Zechariah son of Jehoiada. However, the Targum to Lamentations conflates Zechariah son of Jehoiada with Zechariah the son of Berechiah (perhaps the name of his grandfather), and it is possible that Matthew does this as well. Another possibility is that, as often happens with ancient literature; a small copying error crept into many New Testament manuscripts. There exist a minority of Greek manuscripts of Matthew that contain the name Zechariah son of Jehoiada while some later Hebrew copies of Matthew simply read Zechariah, etc., suggesting that the words son of Berechiah may not have been in the original.”

 

 “The New Testament is self-contradictory (especially the Gospels)!”

Answer: “This subject has been addressed thousands of times in commentaries and books dealing with apparent contradictions in the Bible, and the same fair and honest methods that resolve problems like this in the Hebrew Scriptures also resolve similar problems in the New Covenant Writings.”

 

 “Matthew claims that when Jesus died on the cross, “the tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people” (Matt. 27:5253). This is obviously complete nonsense, without any hint of historical support. If such an incredible event ever took place—something like “the night of the living dead” in ancient Jerusalem—someone would have recorded it.”

Answer: “Someone did record it: Matthew! The question is, Do you believe what he wrote? Or, perhaps a better question is, Is this account credible? Could such a thing have happened? The fact is, the death of the Messiah for the sins of the world was one of the most important events in world history. Why should it be surprising that such an event would be attended with all kinds of unusual phenomena? The whole account in Matthew may seem incredible, but it is hardly impossible.”

 

 “The teachings of Jesus are impossible, dangerous, and un-Jewish (“Hate your mother and father,” “Let the dead bury their own dead,” “Give to whoever asks you,” etc.). There’s no way he should be followed.”

Answer: “As the Messiah and Son of God, Yeshua had the right to make serious demands of his followers, in keeping with God’s demands on Israel in the Hebrew Scriptures. Still, some of his teachings have been misunderstood on occasion, ironically enough, because of a lack of appreciation for the Jewish background of his words while there are parallel accounts in traditional Jewish literature, until this very day, calling for radical commitment to Torah study, often to the dismay of family and friends. If this is justifiable, how much more justifiable is a wholehearted commitment to the Messiah? Those who know him and follow can testify firsthand that his ways are ways of life and what he demands of us, in the end, is for our good.”

 

 “The New Covenant is anti-Semitic. It is filled with negative references to the Jewish people, and it blames them for the death of Jesus.”

Answer: “The New Testament reflects internal tensions and differences between different groups of religious Jews some of whom followed Jesus the Messiah, and some (or, most) of whom rejected him as Messiah. These writings are no more anti-Semitic than the Hebrew Scriptures where both God and the prophets call the people of Israel stiff-necked and obstinate rebels. It is also important to understand that the Greek word translated “Jews” can also mean Judeans or Jewish leaders, so that, in context, many of John’s negative statements about “the Jews” are limited to specific groups or leaders. You might also be surprised to know that the New Testament has many wonderful things to say about the Jewish people, including God’s present love and care for them and His promise of a very bright future for them. As for Jewish guilt in rejecting Jesus, I’m sorry to say that it is a shameful fact of our history that some of our religious leaders played a key role in turning him over to the Romans to be crucified.. We as individual Jews should repudiate that error by embracing Jesus the Messiah. This is all addressed at length in volume 1, 2.8.”

 

 “The Jesus of the New Testament is hardly Jewish. In fact, he even refers to the Torah as “your Law” precisely because it was not his own.”

Answer: “Jesus stated emphatically that he did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets but rather to fulfill them, and the primary focus of his earthly ministry was on reaching the lost sheep of the house of Israel. In all his teaching, he made reference to the Hebrew Scriptures, even stating to the Jewish leaders that if they truly believed Moses, they would believe him. After his death and resurrection, his followers continued in this pattern, living as Torah-observant Jews and pointing back to the Tanakh to support the Messianic claims of Jesus. How then can you possibly argue that this very same Law was not his own?”

 

 “Jesus was a false prophet. He claimed that his apostles would live to see his return, a prediction he missed by two thousand years. He also predicted that not one stone in Jerusalem would be left standing when the Romans destroyed it. Well, have you ever heard of the Wailing Wall?”

Answer: “The reason the New Testament writers preserved the prophecies of Jesus was because they were so accurate. This is a matter of common sense. There would be no reason to preserve and perpetuate his words if they were obviously false. To state that he predicted that his apostles would live to see his return is to misunderstand the clear context of his words and again, it begs the question of why those very apostles would pass those words on to posterity if they were completely false. As for his prophecies concerning the fall of Jerusalem, they are so accurate that some critics have argued that they must have been written after 70 C.E., when the Temple was burned down and the city destroyed by the Romans. In other words, because these scholars don’t believe in prophecy, they have to say that the words of Jesus were not really his at all but were written years later, after the fact. That’s how accurate his prophecies actually were! As for alleged exaggerations or misstatements, it is commonly known that the prophets of Israel often used hyperbole in their predictions, declaring that the country would be totally destroyed without any inhabitants left whereas in reality the many parts of the country were badly damaged with many people going into exile and no one called them false prophets. In comparison with the biblical prophets who went before him, Jesus’ prophecies show only the slightest hint of hyperbole, and if the use of hyperbole makes him a false prophet, then great prophets like Jeremiah and Ezekiel must also be called false prophets.”

 

 “Jesus was a cruel and undisciplined man. He violated the Torah by cursing—and hence, destroying a perfectly good fig tree for not bearing figs even though the New Testament writers tell us that it was not the time for figs. So much for your wonderful Messiah! He even called a Gentile woman a dog when she approached him for help.”

Answer: “Of course, this objection completely contradicts other common Jewish objections that recognize Jesus as a great teacher and exemplary rabbi but that claim that the departure from Torah devotion began with Paul (see 5.26 and 5.29). Nonetheless, to answer your objection, five points should be made: (1) During his ministry and at his trial, no such accusations were brought against Yeshua. If he was guilty of violating the Torah in these ways, surely some witness would have been found to attack him for this. (2) There is no record of any such accusations being made against him in the Rabbinic polemics against him in the first centuries of this era. (3) His cursing the fig tree was a prophetic sign and was not in violation of Torah law. (4) As for calling a Gentile woman a dog, he actually went many miles out of his way just to heal her daughter—such was his compassion! and he did this immediately after giving an important teaching that hinted at God pronouncing the Gentiles “clean” through the Messiah. (5) There are well-known Rabbinic statements over many centuries that would make the rabbis look like proud, self-righteous haters of the Gentiles if those statements were read without further Rabbinic commentary and explanation. In comparison with the Rabbinic statements, the words and actions of Jesus are very easily explained as truly representing the loving heart of his heavenly Father. And never forget that this Jesus whom you criticize as cruel and undisciplined laid down his life for you, as well as for every Jew and Gentile in the world.”


 Actually, Jesus also taught that salvation came through obeying the Law. Just read Matthew 5:1720; 7:21; 19:1630; 25:3146. This whole “gospel of grace” message is the invention of Paul and the other writers.”

Answer: “The same Gospels that preserve teachings of Jesus that you have just quoted state categorically that he came to save us from our sins (Matt. 1:21), that he gave his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), that his blood was the blood of the new covenant, poured out for us (Luke 22:20), and that the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins had to be preached in his name (Luke 24:46-47). This hardly fits the description of someone who taught that complete salvation came through obeying the Law! Rather, Jesus used the Torah as a standard of righteousness and a means of convicting us of our sins and exposing our lack of obedience before ushering in the new covenant which granted us complete and total forgiveness through his death and through which we are called to a higher level of obedience than was possible through keeping the Law.”

 

“The teachings of the New Testament may have started out Jewish, but before long, they became totally pagan. This was done intentionally, since the Jews rejected Jesus as Messiah and only the pagans would listen to the message.”

Answer: “This objection is fatally flawed from beginning to end. First, modern scholars, both Jewish and Christian, are increasingly recognizing that the teachings of the New Testament can only be rightly understood when they are read against their Jewish background. Second, all the major themes of the New Testament can be traced back to Yeshua himself and, beyond that, to the Tanakh. Third, plenty of Jews did listen to the message. Fourth, by the time the message of Jesus the Messiah had fully made its way into the Gentile world, the New Testament writings were already completed.”

 

“Jesus was really all right. He was a good Jew and a fine rabbi. It was Paul who messed everything up and founded Christianity.”

Answer: “I’m glad you recognize that Jesus was a good Jew. But Paul (Saul) was a good Jew as well, faithful to Israel’s Torah and faithful to Israel’s Messiah. His teachings are in complete harmony with the teachings of Jesus, despite the assertions of some authors who claim that Paul deviated from the pattern established by Jesus and his disciples, founding an alien new religion called Christianity. The consistent testimony of the New Testament—which includes the things Paul said about himself as well as the things that others said about him affirms this point. What was unique about Paul was his calling to the spread the good news about Jesus to the Gentiles, but even in this, he passed on to them the truths he had received as opposed to creating his own innovations—and always kept Israel’s salvation foremost in his mind.”

 

 “If you study world religions, you will see that the teachings of Jesus borrow extensively from Hinduism and Buddhism.”

Answer: “There is absolutely no substance to this argument, and it can easily be refuted. First, there are parallels that exist in all world religions, and you could just as well argue that the traditional rabbis borrowed extensively from Hinduism and Buddhism as you could argue that Jesus did. Second, there is a not a stitch of scholarly evidence that Jesus had any connection or contact with these religions. Third and most importantly, his teachings clearly contradict these religions in many foundational, irreconcilable ways.”

 

“Jesus abolished the Law.”

Answer: “As Messiah, Yeshua was the ultimate Torah teacher, showing us how the entire Hebrew Bible reached fulfillment in him and also giving us deep spiritual insights into how the Torah could remain relevant for the Jewish people in generations to come, even when we would be scattered throughout the world, without a Temple, a sacrificial system, or a functioning (earthly) priesthood and he did all this without the need for an endlessly growing corpus of laws and traditions. Once the Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E. only two major systems of faith remained for the Jewish people, that of the Pharisees, developing into Talmudic Judaism, and that of the Messiah, developing into the Messianic Jewish/Christian faith. Although there is much beauty and wisdom in Talmudic Judaism, Messiah has given us a better way.”

 

 “Paul abolished the Law.”

Answer: “I understand why you hold to this position, but it is actually a serious misconception based on several factors: (1) Paul (whose Hebrew name was Saul) took the message of the Messiah to the Gentiles without requiring them to follow the Torah; (2) Paul clearly explained that we are ultimately made right with God through faith (which is followed by a pattern of good works) rather than by our good works themselves, since none of us can fully live up to the Law’s requirements; (3) some of Paul’s teachings are quite deep and complex and have therefore been misunderstood; and (4) Paul emphasized how God had broken down the barrier that separated Jews from the Gentiles, uniting them in one spiritual family in the Messiah; (5) Paul clearly viewed the Torah from a different perspective in light of the inbreaking of the Messianic era. But this does not mean that Paul taught that the Torah was now null and void. To the contrary, Paul lived and died as a Torah-observant Jew and never taught that Jewish believers in the Messiah should abandon the Torah, although it appears that if taking the good news of the Messiah to the Gentiles meant that he sometimes had to break a certain law or tradition—such as a dietary restriction then he would be willing to do that for the sake of their salvation, a principle that could even be deduced from Rabbinic thinking as well.”

 

 “The Torah is forever, every jot and tittle, and only traditional Jews keep it. In fact, even the so-called new covenant of Jeremiah 31 says that God will put the Torah in our hearts. Therefore, since Jesus abolished the Torah, he cannot be the Messiah.”

Answer: “We addressed this in 5.2829, refuting the objections that Jesus and Paul abolished the Torah. As for traditional Jews being the only ones who keep the Law, they are to be commended for their tremendous zeal and devotion to the Law, but they must be challenged as to the endless human traditions they have added in the name of the Law (see vol. 5, 6.1, 35), and they must be questioned as to their missing the one of whom the Law and the Prophets spoke. Regarding the new covenant, see below, 5.34.”

 

“Anyone who changes the Law no matter what signs or wonders he performs is a false prophet. That applies to Jesus!”

Answer: “Jesus made it very clear that he did not come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it, and that is exactly what he did (see above, 5.28, for a further explanation of this). And all his miracles drew attention to his heavenly Father, strengthening the people’s faith in God and his Word (see vol. 2, 3.4). As for changing the Torah, it could be just as well argued that the Rabbinic authorities changed the Law with their modification and adjustments.”

 

 “Observance of the Sabbath has been the hallmark of the Jewish people, separating us from other nations and identifying us with the covenant of God. Since Christianity changed the Sabbath, Christianity is obviously not for the Jewish people.”

Answer: “Hundreds of years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, when the official “church” had separated itself from its biblical roots, Christendom did, indeed, change the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. But that has absolutely nothing to do with the teachings of the New Testament, which is why it is common for Messianic Jews today to hold worship service on Saturday rather than Sunday and to celebrate Shabbat with newfound meaning through the teaching and example of the Messiah. As for Gentile Christians setting aside Sunday as a special day of rest and worship, what is wrong with this?”

 

“According to Mark 7:19, Jesus abolished the dietary laws.”

Answer: “Did you ever read this chapter, along with the parallel account in Matthew 15? Jesus was exposing the error of being scrupulous in terms of outward, ritual purity (specifically, practicing ritual handwashing before eating) while having filthy hearts and minds. As he explained: “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’” (Matt. 15:11) It is the thoughts of the heart that defile someone, not whether or not they follow the Rabbinic traditions and wash their hands before they eat. In principle, then, this makes all foods “clean”—in other words, no food can make you spiritually impure, which is the point of Mark 7:19. But there is no evidence that the disciples of Jesus heard these words and threw out the dietary laws. Rather, they grasped the meaning of Jesus’ words and continued to live as Torah-observant Jews. However, because they understood the spiritual principles the Messiah was teaching, they would be willing to be in an environment where they ate nonkosher food in order to teach Gentiles about the one true God. Doesn’t this seem right to you? Over time, they also realized another spiritual principle based on Yeshua’s words, namely, “If God pronounces someone ‘clean’—in this case, meaning, if he accepts the Gentiles as his own people through faith in the Messiah then we have no right to call them ‘unclean’ meaning, rejecting them as fellow-heirs of our heavenly Father and as spiritual brothers and sisters.” Having said all this, I’m fully aware that many Christian scholars would argue that Jesus did, in fact, change the dietary laws, but even if this were the case, there are Rabbinic traditions stating that in the world to come (and/or the Messianic era), some of the dietary laws will be changed.”

 

 “If the death of Jesus really inaugurated the new covenant spoken of by Jeremiah the prophet, then why hasn’t it been fulfilled?”

Answer: “It is clear that we are living in a transition age, a time that can be characterized as “already but not yet,” a time in which the Messianic era has been inaugurated but not fully consummated. Not only are there Rabbinic traditions that point to this transition age (see vol. 1, 2.1), but many of the major prophecies of the Tanakh can only be explained in this way. In short, the new covenant was established 2,000 years ago in incipient form and it continues to advance towards its ultimate fulfillment.”