Monday, June 1, 2009

A Christian's Response Part II: The Jewish Requirements for Maschiach

In my post last Friday, I introduced a topic that some of you may be very familiar with, and others may barely know as an issue: the Jewish requirements for Messiah (Maschiach) and, in particular, Jesus' failure to meet them to the Jew's liking. Read the full list in part one of this two-part post. As I very quickly addressed this list on Friday, there were three topics that I promised to address in a more lengthy response later. Well, it's later... and this is the lengthy response.

As you might expect, the vast majority of the Messianic requirements held out by the Jews are not disagreeable for the Christian. After all, we do reference the same prophets. Now, before I begin, I do want to state that this article is very clearly pertaining to the specific set of Jewish requirements for the Messiah, and as such, does not represent the full scope of expanded Christian messianism. For more details on the three offices of "the annointed" according to Christology, read Who Else by Christ and also reference the Week 4 lecture of the Person and Work of Christ class.

Now, back to the topic at hand. The three most pivotal points at which Jews argue Christ fails to fulfill their Messianic requirements are these:
  1. To be a king in the line of David. You see, Christ was not actually a son of Joseph, and so His paternal lineage--the lineage through which tribal bloodline is established--cannot be linked to David.
  2. That Christ was not an observant Jewish man. There are many layers to this dispute: first, the Jewish position that there cannot be a God-Man. Second, the Jewish position that Jesus violated the Jewish Law.
  3. Finally, the position most vehemently defended by Jews, is that there is no place for a Messiah who comes, does part of His job, dies and comes back later to finish it.
The son of David...

First, let's address Jesus' lineage. I want to first point out that this objection was not developed as an argument until long after the establishment of the church. It was not an objection of Jesus' Jewish contemporaries. That is not to say, however, that later inspiration cannot be valid. The point which I believe is most notable is that in the time of Jesus, genetic recombination was hardly the measure by which parental lineage was tested. There was no paternity tests administed in DNA labs.

Jesus was given as a son to Joseph and Mary, raised in their household, and given every legal claim to the firstborn sonship without question of the seminal contributor (which is in fact a crucial part of the seminal view of original sin, but I digress). The point is that the definition of "son" was not dependent on genetic criteria. Jesus was in every way a son of Joseph. In Luke 2:23, Joseph accepted fatherhood of the boy by fulfilling the Law's requirement to consecrate his firstborn to the Lord.

And, if such irregularity in the passing of inheritance and bloodline is disagreeable, I would submit that God's purposes have been shown several times over not to follow man's tradition. Take Jacob, for example, who inhereted the blessing and promise despite the fact that he was not the first born--overturning the tradition of primogeniture.

Finally, perhaps in God's infinite wisdom, He did not provide a law of lineage. There was nothing in the Law that established an irreversible statute of paternity.

The Jewish God-Man

Where do I begin? I have already written much on the humanity and deity of Christ. I do not dare to think that I could convince a Jew of this point outside of the acceptance of such a mystery that comes--even for the most educated Christian--purely by faith. Let me simply point to previous works on the topic of the Kenosis. Christ the Mediator, An Attitude the Same as Christ, and We Beheld his Glory.

So, accepting that Jesus is God in the flesh, who emptied Himself by adding such limitations as the flesh, not out of weakness but out of love, we arrive at the conclusion that Jesus was a man.

But, was He an observant Jew? If not, then He is a lawbreaker and can be neither the Jewish Messiah nor our Spotless Lamb. But Jesus did not break the Law. He broke the legalistic stipulations of the contemporary Jewish hypocrites, but not the Law of God. Reference Matthew 12:1-13 for an understanding of His so-accused Sabbath breaking.

The key to understanding this point is in realizing the difference between the Jewish Law and the Jewish Traditions that prevailed in the 1st century. In Matt. 15:1-3, for example, the Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the Law. But His defense, undeniably accurate, was that He had not broken any Laws, but rather, their traditions.

Jesus, in fact, taught that the Law had more to do with one's heart than with legalistic obedience. His teachings in the sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) actually expound on the Law making it even harder to obey, for many, by applying it to thought and attitude.

I would charge Jews to simply analyze their traditional view of Jesus. Read the accounts of Christ's life on earth (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Ask for yourself, where did He break the Law? Especially bear in mind that even the Jew's teach "Torah is not viewed as a literal document in Judaism. Rather, it is something that can be understood, read and interpreted on many different levels" (A Jew with a View).

The Second Coming

If you've been following along in any of the comment strings that have prompted me to write this post, you've seen over and over that there "is no place in Judaism for a Messiah who comes, fulfills part of the requirements, dies, and comes back to finish it."

This is, perhaps, the simplest to address and yet the hardest to explain. It is simple because I can simply say this: Christians do not teach that Christ fulfilled ANY of the traditional Jewish Maschiach requirements (except for His lineage). I believe the greatest misconception--no doubt spurred on by the many Christians who themselves do not fully understand Christology--is that Jesus was the Anointed (Maschiach) King of the Jews.

The Christian belief is that we await the return of Jesus to assume His reign--a reign that so closely resembles what Jews await in their Maschiach the parallel is undeniable. In fact, as I've stated before, I even ascribe to the position that ethnic and national Israel has a particular place of blessing in this new kingdom, and that Gentiles are in fact "grafted in."

So, as I said, this is simple to state but difficult to explain. It's difficult to explain because we must then delve into the purpose of Jesus first coming 2000 years ago. His first coming and claiming the title "Annointed" throws confusion into the topic because that term carries a specific connotation to the Jew... a connotation that Jesus did not fulfull. And yet, the term is nonetheless applicable.

If a Jew is to accept the term Messiah placed on Jesus, they have to accept the doctrine of a New Covenant, established in Jesus' blood. That He was "annointed" to the office of prophet and of priest FIRST, declaring and mediating a new covenant. That He will be anointed the earthly politcial ruler, the King on David's throne (not in Heaven but on Earth) at a later time, but that this fulfillment of prophecy is dependent on those prophecies that Jews have not associated with their Maschiach. The prophecies that foretold His first coming.

Too much needs to be said about the covenants and Christ's first coming than can be stated here. I must leave you waiting for yet another future article in which I will dive deeper into the covenant purposes of Jesus first coming.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

A Christian's Response: The Jewish Requirements for Maschiach

This post comes in response to a comment on a previous post, Will the Real Messiah Please Stand Up, by a Jew with the charge that Jesus did not meet the full list of requirements for the Maschiach (Messiah). I asked and was given this list by Tabatha aka "A Jew with a View" and so I've decided to post it here with some brief commentary. In a later post, I will provide a more detailed outline of Christian Messianism as it relates to the Jewish criticism of Jesus' claims to the Messiah title, "Anointed One."

My comments here will be color coded:
Already met in Jesus
Promised at Jesus' return
Incorrect exegesis resulting in a false criterion
  • He will be descended from King David (Isaiah 11:1) via King Solomon (1 Chron. 22:8-10)
    Realizing that Jews reject Jesus' lineage because he is not a son of Joseph, I will address this point in a later post, but for here, state simply that Christian theology accepts this as being met in Jesus.

  • The Moshiach will be a man of this world, an observant Jew with “fear of God” (Isaiah 11:2)
    This is the mysterious Kenosis, also rejected by Jews. However, I want to challenge the meaning of "an observant Jew." Observant of Jewish traditional legalism, or of God's law?


  • Evil and tyranny will not be able to stand before his leadership (Isaiah 11:4)
    That's what we're waiting for!

  • There will be no more hunger or illness, and death will cease (Isaiah 25:8)
    That's what we're waiting for!

  • All of the dead will rise again (Isaiah 26:19)
    Unless, of course, you're a Sadducce :-)

  • The Jewish people will experience eternal joy and gladness (Isaiah 51:11)
    According to Romans, it's the remnant that will experience this. Just as it was the righteous Remnant who God saved from exile in the Old Testament.

  • He will be a messenger of peace (Isaiah 52:7)
    In principle, I believe Christians agree with this. However, He will wage war to destroy the enemy before peace can be established.

  • The ruined cities of Israel will be restored (Ezekiel 16:55)
    Close, but not quite. This text does not promise a restoration for all of the cities of Israel, but rather We await the restoration of Jerusalem.

  • Weapons of war will be destroyed (Ezekiel 39:9)
    Umm... ok, I guess. Not one that Christians emphasize greatly, but probably goes hand-in-hand with the perfect peace that will be established.

  • The Temple will be rebuilt (Ezekiel 40) resuming many of the suspended mitzvot.
    That's what we're waiting for! The Temple represents God's glory on earth. Even though there's some difficulty around the presence of animal sacrifice in view of Christ's eternal sacrifice, but Dr. Constable gives a good description in his commentary.

  • He will then perfect the entire world to serve God together (Zephaniah 3:9)
    What's left after judgment, yes.

  • Jews will know the Torah without Study (Jeremiah 31:33)
    Many view this as having happened, at least partially, with the indwelling. However, this, along with the following verse 34, will happen in perfection when we receive our resurrected bodies at His return.

  • He will give you all the desires of your heart (Psalms 37:4)
    Umm... ok, I guess. But, I do like John Piper's definition that the true desires of our heart are for God Himself.

  • He will take the barren land and make it abundant and fruitful (Isaiah 51:3, Amos 9:13-15, Ezekiel 36:29-30, Isaiah 11:6-9).
    That's what we're waiting for!

  • Once he is King, leaders of other nations will look to him for guidance. (Isaiah 2:4)
    Close, but rather we hold that He will rule over all nations Himself.

  • The whole world will worship the One God of Israel (Isaiah 2:17)
    What's left after judgment, yes.

  • The peoples of the world will turn to the Jews for spiritual guidance (Zechariah 8:23)
    I agree. I am of the persuasion, based on Romans 10-11, that ethnic and national Israel will hold a position of higher importance in the Millenial Kingdom.

  • Nations will end up recognizing the wrongs they did to Israel (Isaiah 52:13-53:5)
    And to Christ. Just before they're judged, yes.

  • He will include and attract people from all cultures and nations (Isaiah 11:10).
    Hi, I'm a gentile, and I believe in the Messiah :-)

  • Knowledge of God will fill the world (Isaiah 11:9)
    Can't wait!

  • The Sanhedrin will be re-established (Isaiah 1:26)
    Close, but what Isaiah had in mind was not the Sanhedrin of Jesus' day. He clearly says, judges as in days of old.

  • All Israelites will be returned to their homeland (Isaiah 11:12)
    I agree. I am of the persuasion, based on Romans 10-11, that ethnic and national Israel will hold a position of higher importance in the Millenial Kingdom.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Five Things Every Christian Should Know About the Kingdom of God

In our continued study of the Person and Work of Christ, we come this week to Jesus' earthly ministry. I've been rather enjoying this week of preparation in the gospels, seeing anew the old stories I thought I had learned as a child. Of particular interest has been the topic of the Kingdom of God, and seeing as how I wrote a book on the topic, you might say I have a special fondness for it. This morning, let me share with you 5 things I think every believer should know about the Kingdom of God.

  1. It's within you.
    In Luke 17:21, Jesus says that "the kingdom of God is within you." Now, though Christ has ascended, the Spirit remains to rule in our own hearts. In the Kingdom of Eden, Adam was able not to sin (posse non peccare). Prior to the giving of the Spirit, men were not able to not sin(non posse non peccare). In the present age of the inaugurated Kingdom, His subjects are able not to sin as Adam once was. But, as we will see below, we await a final consummation of all the Kingdom promises when we will be not able to sin (non posse peccare).
  2. It's among you.
    An alternate translation of Luke 17:21 might rightly read, "the Kingdom of God is among you." In fact, I believe this translation is more likely what Christ meant as He spoke and what Luke intended to communicate. Remember, at the time Jesus spoke these words, the Spirit had not yet come. In fact, Luke's gospel places little emphasis on the coming Spirit, it's in John that we find strong teaching on the role of the Spirit. The Kingdom of God was "among you" when Christ was here because the King was here. How could they fast with the King present? Why were the Pharisees asking when it would come while their King was among them?
  3. It's already come.
    As I mentioned in the first point, the Kingdom has been inaugurated now. We live in an age of Christ's rule on earth unlike any in history. He is transforming His people via the sanctifying work of the Spirit to be conformed to His likeness. In this present Kingdom, with our sins now forgiven we can approach the throne of God confidently. In fact, for those who wait for "the resurrection," it, too, has also begun as Christ was resurrected so that He might be the first.
  4. It's yet to come.
    Christ spent most of His earthly ministry filling the role of a Prophet to Israel. As a prophet, His message was to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God. He taught His disciples to pray saying, "your kingdom come" (Luke 11:12). He warned them about what would happen "in those days" (Mark 13:17). Even after Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension, Paul wrote, "our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there" (Phil. 3:20). There are numerous promises that we are waiting to be fulfilled in the final consummation of God's Kingdom on earth.
  5. It's the same thing as the Kingdom of Heaven
    A little anticlimactic, I know, but I had to slip this little tidbit into the top 5 list so that no believer would be led astray by false dispensational teachings on Matthew's use of "Kingdom of Heaven." As Matthew wrote to his Jewish readers, he respected their reverence for the name of God and substituted the word heaven in it's stead. Be assured, Christ's message recorded in Matthew on the Kingdom of Heaven is one in the same with Mark and Luke's account of the Kingdom of God.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Thy Kingdom Come: A Prayer of Victory


This short, quick-read book is meant for the non-believer investigating the Bible as well as any christian interested in seeing a cohesive view, cover-to-cover, of Biblical narrative with relation to Christ, the Covenant, and salvation. The book begins in Eden and ends in Revelation tying fundamental concepts of the gospel and biblical theology together.

Purchase "Thy Kingdom Come: A Prayer of Victory" as a gift for a friend or for yourself. As an evangelical tool, it's a very easy read (only 100 pages and large type) that won't be too daunting for the seeker.

I would also like to invite you to let your friends know about the book through one of the best social media outlets available to our generation: Join the Facebook Group.

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