Good friend, Ken Rank has written a seminal paper titled Evangelizing the Jews that deals with many of the ingrained paradigms we carry based in millennia of tradition and improper understanding of Scripture. Sure to rattle some cages, this is a read well worth your time. I pray you process and wrestle.
What if long ago certain conclusions were made by leaders who may have been sincere but who failed to look upon the Jews with much favor? Perhaps their bias didn’t allow them to fully see God’s plan as revealed in the Prophets. Their conclusions were passed on to subsequent generations and came to form the tradition of how we today perceive the Jewish people: with a slightly negative undertone that causes many to view them in a manner inconsistent with God’s truth.
The complete article is posted at United2Restore.com.
Please post comments here as well as at United2Restore.
Am I missing something? Can you help a brother out? I am having a very difficult time, trying to understand a couple things. To start, I am concerned with the way this teaching has been worded … how we have been “set up”, so to say. You attempt to make a point by saying “if we seek truth and have a teachable spirit” … as if to say that if we do not agree with what you are presenting, we are not seeking truth and we do not have a teachable spirit. Point, set, match … game over. How can we disagree with what you have said when you word things this way?
Below, please find a few references to things that were stated in this article … and then followed with what could be called a “clarification” … a matter of setting the record straight. It should be noted that these things were pointed out by my children. They brought their concerns to me. The first part of a “portion”, is what was written by Ken … the following comments are from my children.
1. Our tradition tells us that we are to offer them salvation through Yeshua. Yet what if that tradition lacked a depth of understanding? What if long ago certain conclusions were made by leaders who may have been sincere but who failed to look upon the Jews with much favor? Perhaps their bias didn’t allow them to fully see God’s plan as revealed in the Prophets. Their conclusions were passed on to subsequent generations and came to form the tradition of how we today perceive the Jewish people: with a slightly negative undertone that causes many to view them in a manner inconsistent with God’s truth.
1A Just a logical error … Christianity has been focused on evangelizing all of humanity, not just the Jews. Evangelism, as we are defining it, is sharing Yeshua with those who do not believe in Him. If sharing Yeshua with the Jewish people is the result of an anti-semitic attitude or looking at them in a “slightly negative undertone”, it is only logical to assume the same purpose is motivating those evangelists who reach out to the non-Jewish people groups. Thus all evangelism is a product of erroneous tradition.
2. Throughout most of the last two thousand years, many Jews have seen Yeshua as the promised Messiah . . . but it is true that most haven’t. And if most haven’t, and if our God-ordained job were to convert them to our understanding of Scripture, then some important questions would surface. Have we failed? And in light of the fact that the Holy Spirit was given at Shavuot (Pentecost) to those who followed Yeshua, has God failed?
2A Romans 11:25 “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”
3. If today we understand ourselves to be Ephraim, then we know that when Yeshua said, “I have not been sent except to the lost sheep of the House of Israel”
3A. Yeshua was speaking to a Canaanite woman, not a Jewish person. He was making the distinction between His people (Israel as a whole) and those who were not part of them. If He were only sent to Ephraim and not Judah, why would He spend any time and effort on the Jewish people?
He also instructed his disciples whom He was sending out, in Matthew 10, “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Obviously He was not referring to scattered Ephraim, as we know them today, but to those in the nearby areas who were part of Israel – BOTH to remnants of Ephraim and to Judah.
Moreover, if you are going to use the argument that Yeshua was only sent to Ephraim, then the Jews who accepted Him obviously made a mistake. And what about those Gentiles who are not descendants of Israel at all? Are they not allowed to inherit eternal life?
And on that note, it is self-contradictory to say that we know Yeshua was speaking about us (Ephraim) and not Judah when He said ““I have not been sent except to the lost sheep of the House of Israel” … and then say “Since Yeshua singled out Israel in the nations and not Judah, does this exclude Judah from needing the work of Yeshua? God forbid!”
4. “which is why He stated He was coming to call the lost sheep of the Northern Kingdom”
4A. He did not say this. He used the term “Israel” which was also used to refer to the Jewish people (John 3:10, Acts 2, Acts 4) or to the physical land (Luke 4).
5. He placed so much weight on that call that when He sent His disciples out, He told them not to go to Samaria, the former capital of the Northern Kingdom and a place Israel could not be found, but instead to the lost sheep of the House of Israel in the nations. This is why the Great Commission is to go to the nations and make disciples.
5A. The word being used for “nations” in the Great Commission is the same word used in Matthew 10 when He told them to not go to the “nations”. If the “nations” of the Great Commission were actually lost sheep of the house of Israel, then Matthew 10 should really be written, “Do not go into the way of the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” ???
6. “but a practicing Jew follows God’s Torah out of love, not because he thinks doing so earns him salvation.”
6A. Maybe not a big deal but the accuracy of this statement is very questionable. I know that many religious Jews can testify to the fact that following “Torah” did not give them peace and fulfillment and accepting Yeshua did.
7. It has also filled us with pride to the extent that after coming to Jesus, many of us were directed by pastors and teachers to “provoke the Jews to jealousy,” completely missing the context of Romans 11:11 by assuming the verse is speaking of provoking Jews to jealousy. It isn’t. It is speaking about provoking the House of Israel to jealousy, the ones in the nations who are without hope. Since Isaiah 11:13 declares that Ephraim is jealous of Judah, how can we provoke the Jewish people to jealousy when it is prophesied we will be jealous of them?
7A. This chapter is speaking of Jewish Israel and not Ephraim, as we can see in the first verse when Sha’ul says, “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” As a Benjaminite, Sha’ul identified with Judah, not northern Israel.
8. So when Yeshua said, “I have not come to call those who conform to divine law,” who else but righteous Jews fit that description?
8A. Considering that many of Yeshua’s words were directed against these “righteous Jews” (i.e. scribes and Pharisees, as that is to whom He was referring in all three texts) … and that He spoke very strongly about their manmade rules and regulations, about them making the law of no effect through their traditions, about their fathers killing their prophets, about them being whitewashed tombs … I think it a little presumptuous to say that He was condoning them in these passages!
If they really were righteous, why would He have directed so much of His ministry against their religious system? It makes much more sense to believe that He was saying this with irony, because they believed themselves to be righteous. Also consider John 7:19 – ““Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?”” It does not seem to be an accurate statement to say that these Jewish people to whom He was referring were “conforming to divine law” – in fact, He says quite the opposite!
The HUGE issue that was not addressed is: what about secular Jewish people who do not keep the Torah? If Yeshua didn’t come for the Jews because they are “conforming to divine law” and “Righteousness is following God’s instructions, God’s laws” therefore they are “righteous” … the MAJORITY of people today who claim Jewish heritage would fall in the “unrighteous” category. Jews who follow the Torah (and that’s even a questionable claim) are by far the minority. So what about all the rest? Based on the premise that has been put forth, they obviously are “unrighteous”, therefore they are the ones for whom Yeshua came. So it is okay to share the Gospel with them, just not with the religious “practicing” Jews, right?
Also just a few references that indicate the fallacy of the doctrine that the Jewish people are righteous because of their observance of Torah …
Acts 13:38,39, ““Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.” These were Paul’s words to a synagogue … to Jewish people.
Romans 3:20-22, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Yeshua Messiah, to all and on all who believe.”
Romans 9:30-33, “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
So that is my children’s “brief” take on the subject. I would also add that we Ephraimites seem to forget that in Acts 2, Peter was talking to religious, observant Jews who were in Jerusalem to observe the Feast. He said that they need to repent and be baptized in the name of Yeshua the Messiah. We forget that Paul says that he is not ashamed of the Good News of Yeshua the Messiah, because it is the power of God for salvation, for everyone who believes, for the Jew first …
My children see that it seems that too many people are ashamed, because they are not only refraining from following in the footsteps of Peter and Paul … they are forbidding others to do so. It is one thing to say that we need to be wise in our words and actions and not follow in the footsteps of those well meaning Christians … and maybe not so well meaning. It is another thing to frame the argument in such a way that makes someone seem ignorant … stuck in their traditions … in error … following in the paths of those who have “evangelized” in error … not understanding the text … etc.
I want to be clear and say that I understand that we do not necessarily need to proclaim verbally, in every conversation with our cousins from Judah, that Yeshua is the Messiah. I can say that you might be in error to not be doing it at all. I can say that you are dead wrong to forbid others to do so. Maybe you haven’t worded things that strongly … “I forbid you to share Yeshua” … but to be a part of some organizations, you have to take an oath that you will not “proselytize”. Would you like the names of many Jewish people I know personally, who are eternally thankful that someone “proselytized” them?
I will leave you with something that one of my daughters wrote. She said, “I’m not sure if this should be addressed or not, but I believe that we as a family have probably experienced “Israeli Judah” on a much larger spectrum than anyone else involved with BYNA right now. We’ve connected with them on many different levels … whether shopping in the shuk or meeting with Rabbi Greenbaum. It’s not like we’re just expressing thoughts or ideas – we are drawing on personal experiences and the knowledge that many Jewish people WANT to hear about our faith and respect and love us even more when we share. We’re also drawing on our experiences of having witnessed corruption and unrighteousness among many so called observant Jews. I don’t think anyone else has had these experiences … and it would be important for them, especially the leaders, to expand their view of and experience with Jewry instead of just Hanoch, or those who want to come raise funds among “evangelicals”.
If you have any comments, concerns, questions, gentle reproofs or harsh rebukes, please let me know. Shalom to your hearts and homes, Tom
EINENI BOSH! (I am not ashamed) Romans 1:16…… Here is link to a song below, Eineni Bosh, written by a friend of ours who is a Messianic Pastor in Israel, Tony Sperandeo, and sung by Chuck King. Enjoy!
Tom, we appreciate and agree with much of you and your children’s comments here. If our motives are right, in line with Yah’s word, and we are filled and led by the Ruach HaKodesh, we will be speaking the Truth in Love, being wise as serpents, gentle as doves, being quick to listen and slow to speak, ready to give an answer to anyone who asks…..
….Romans 1;16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”
…1 Peter 3:14-16 But even if you do suffer for being righteous, you are blessed! Moreover, don’t fear what they fear or be disturbed, 15 but treat the Messiah as holy, as Lord in your hearts;[a] while remaining always ready to give a reasoned answer to anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you — yet with humility and fear,16 keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are spoken against, those who abuse the good behavior flowing from your union with the Messiah may be put to shame.
…2 Corinthians 2:15-17 For to God we are the aroma of the Messiah, both among those being saved and among those being lost; 16 to the latter, we are the smell of death leading only to more death; but to the former, we are the sweet smell of life leading to more life. Who is equal to such a task? 17 For we are not like a lot of folks who go about huckstering God’s message for a fee; on the contrary, we speak out of a sincere heart, as people sent by God, standing in God’s presence, living in union with the Messiah.
In Acts 26:15-20 it states that Paul was rescued from BOTH Jewish people AND Gentiles and then sent to them BOTH to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan(Belial) which these verses in acts seem to correlate with the words in 2 Corinthians 15:14-15. The commission Paul was sent with is in Acts 26:19, was to declare to both Jew and Gentile that they should repent and turn to God, performing the deeds appropriate to repentance. Paul was one that kept the commandments and had the testimony of Yeshua and was sent to BOTH groups, but aligned/partnered himself with neither as did others such as Peter, and because of this position both suffered much as did our Messiah and we are told we will as well….as the dragon will be against those who keep BOTH the commandments of Yahweh AND have the testimony of Yeshua, Revelations 12:17.
Continued blessings upon you and your family. Keep shining your lights for all to see and being living examples of walking out the gospel of Messiah Yeshua.
Love in Yeshua,
Bill and Laura Jarvis
Correction. Where 2 Corinthians 15:14-15 is mentioned this should say 2 Corinthians 6:14-15.