Monday, April 21, 2008

Enfleshing the Gospels

On Sunday we had another Mosaic book club where we are going through The Forgotten Ways. This is the second time I have been through the book. This time fleshing out the ideas of the book is a lot less esoteric. I see that the Mosaic Community has the potential to challenge and change Wellington. We are desiring to learn and put in the hard. This is actually the book that led me into thinking about joining Mosaic when I read it. I was reading it and I was going through the desire for Movement. That was my theme word at the time, and I needed to move forward and to flesh out what God had layed on my heart at that time.

So I’ve digressed, why have I called this blog enfleshing the gospel. We went through a discussion on the chapter the “missional-incarnational impulse.” If anyone knows me you will realise that I believe contextualisation is a highly important concept to me. Many times I have summed this up in the idea of “relevance.” That as Christians we need to be relevant to the culture that we live in, we have to speak the language and follow embed into the culture. The problem with the concept of “relevance” is its limitation – which I struggle with. If we are to be relevant, we can quickly fall to the woes of syncretism, becoming watered down and P.C, losing our impulse and our message. Rather than being relevant, we are to enflesh to gospel.

Enfleshment is a different idea. The heart of this is enfleshing the key message of the Gospels. Enfleshment means that we live out a life that shows the key values and moral framework. For this to happen though we must know what our key values are, otherwise if we don’t, they will sure shaped by the world around us (trust me I know this all too well.) So, one of the key things for Mosaic to do is to find out what its key values are and what its DNA is. Luckily, as being part of a bigger movement we have been helped up big time. As a community, we are to be a community of faith, known by love and we are to be a voice of home in the world. These core values go to the heart of what we intend to be. A community of Christ followers transforming the world around us by living out the Jesus story in the way we act and lives. To do this we need to know our saviour, we need to know the gospels. Not intellectually knowing Jesus, but intimately knowing Jesus. Constantly being transformed by Jesus we are continually sent into the world. As one missional movement tells us, we are living out Acts 29 today.

We have to remember our DNA. The heart of the Christian DNA is the story of Jesus and the gospels. If we forget this, we will lose our heart.

So what does enfleshment mean for us as Christians. We it means that we are to be incarnational. Living out Christ in the World. As Christians we believe that God became human and lived amongst us. He came in on our turf and lived amonst us to bring salvation and to radically identify with us. Hirsh says in his book “The Incarnation not only qualifies God’s acts in the worlds, but must also qualify ours If God’s central way of reaching the world was to incarnate himself in Jesus, the our way of reaching the world should likewise be incarnational. To act incrationally therefore will mean in part that our mission to those outside the faith we will need to exercise affinity with those we are attempting to reach. At the very least it will mean moving into common geography/space and so set up an abiding presence amongth the group. But the basic motive of incarnational ministry is also revelatory – that they may come to know God through Jesus. (authors emphasis).

There are four Ps that some up incarnational lifestyle; they are Presence, proximity, powerlessness and proclamation.

Presence: Presence meanings to out a normal human life and living a profoundly disturbingly normal way. But engaging in mission through normality. As the Vineyard forefather John Wimber says, we are to be “Naturally Supernatural.” We are to be in relationship, relationship is the key means to transfer the message of the gospel and engage in mission. Our lives embody and enflesh the message and we naturally tell a story to the people around us of redemption, hope and restoration. We tell people through the way we live that they have worth and that God loves them and wants to spend time with them.

Proximity: As Christians we are to mix with every level of society. Jesus engaged with every level of society and found disciples at every level of society. As people we are not only present, but we are genuinely available. We need to from genuine relationships, be part of the activities that others are involved in, have lunch with people, engage in intentional relationship.

Powerlessness: This means that we are not imperialistic. We take on a shape of humility in the world. We have to be willing to form relationships with people who are completely antagonistic to what we hold on to and be willing to truly love through it all, as Jesus did. I think as I continue to read the gospels I really realise just how far Jesus would go to love his enemies and also to try to rescue even those who did not accept his message. It is totally revolutionary. Jesus humbly came as a servant to all, to seek and save the lost.

Proclamation: We can never forget the message of the gospel and realise that is what we have been put here for. We are called to share the gospel in real ways. We are called to live out the gospel minute by minute, day by day.

We are figuring out what this means for our community, actually we will always be re-evaluating this and finding out what it means to live out the gospel in our context.


Yehudi01 said...

Shalom, Nathanael! Let me ask you..not being argumentative, but you see the evangelism of Jews as a high priority? If so, do you pattern your conduct and perspective after the church fathers like Martin Luther?

Nathanael Baker said...

Hi Yehudi. First of all I want to say I have total respect for Judaism, I myself follow the yoke of a Jewish Rabbi, in this case Jesus of Nazareth. I read the Jewish scriptures of the torah and beleive in YHWH.

On the other part of this question. I beleive that Jesus was teaching salvation both to the Jew and the Gentile. I beleive that Jesus was coming to show the Jewish people back to the original intention of their calling, to be a blessing to all nations and people, and that in his death and ressurection he showed the way for both the Jew and Gentile to be part of Gods mission of restoration on the earth.

I do not follow the pattern and conduct of Martin Luther, but I beleive that Jesus is the saviour of both Jews and Gentiles.

I hope this answers your questions, if it doesn't ask them again. I confess this is an area I wrestle with Yehudi and I havn't got the answers.

Yehudi01 said...

Shalom, Nathanael! First, you said that you read the Jewish scriptures of the Torah. Do you read Hebrew? If not, you lose alot in translation.

You said, "I beleive that Jesus is the saviour of both Jews and Gentiles." Do you believe that one must have faith in J-sus to have a place in the World To Come? Is Heaven only reserved for Christians? I appreciate the dialogue!

L'Shalom, Yehudi

Nathanael Baker said...

No I cannot read hebrew, unluckilly - I would like a better understanding of the torah and talmud, and yes I do beleive that having faith in Jesus is necessary for salvation. Thanks for the dialogue

Nathanael Baker said...

Yehudi, "Faith" for me is about being transformed by the work of Jesus on the cross. This leads us into a relationship with God, following his commands to love him and love those around me. It means i live to make the world a better place and bring the love, faith and hope to the world around me. Hope you continue with the dialogue

Nathanael Baker

Yehudi01 said...

So let me present you with a difficult scenario: Just prior to his execution, Adolf Eichmann met with a priest, who later said that Eichmann had repented for killing millions of Jews, and would spend eternity in Heaven. When the same priest was asked where the millions of Jews were that perished by his hand, the priest reply, "They died in unbelief and are now in hell." You can obviously see my reticence to give Christianity any thought whatsoever. Many members of my family were among those who were sent to the ovens. I am not dwelling on the evils of the Nazis, but rather discussing the theological position of a belief system that says you can commit unthinkable atrocities and then say 'I'm sorry' five minutes before you die and then get to spend eternity with Hashem.

Yehudi01 said...

Are you familiar with Martin Luther?

Yehudi01 said...

What happened, Nathanael? Why aren't you responding to my questions? Please tell me that you're not afraid or intimidated by dialogue...

Nathanael Baker said...

Hi Yehudi

I'm not afraid or intimidated by dialogue, I'm just thinking through things. I know your passionate about your people and about your views and I want to respect that and be honest in my response. Also knowing my own inadequacy in my responses earlier

Nathanael Baker said...


I beleive that It was arogant what that preist said about your people. At the end of the day salvation is Gods prerogative. Jesus teaches that God doesn't look at what we have done but at our heart. I'm not arrogant enough to say that your brothers are going to hell but I know that everyone is offered salvation.

Yehudi01 said...

Nathanael, thank you for responding. I appreciated your response...I have other questions for you, if you don't mind. I have to go right now, however, I would like to continue this tomorrow. My questions are apologetic in nature. Any objections?

Yehudi01 said...

BTW, I just finished a new post. Drop by and tell me what you think.

Nathanael Baker said...

I don't mind Yehudi, I might just be a bit slow to respond if I'm busy or I have to think through some things

Yehudi01 said...

Ok, Nathanael. I have studied about the 'sacrifice' of Jesus, and it doesn't mesh with the Torah and other Hebrew sciptures in the Tanakh.

"Then the LORD said, 'I do forgive, just as you have asked.'"
Numbers 14:20 (NRS)

And so, we are to believe that Jesus dying on the cross fulfilled the requirements of a blood sacrifice.

There are a number of requirements for a sacrifice to be valid or it is completely disqualified and will be an abomination to G-d. These requirements are as follows:

1. The sin offering must be brought forth by the person seeking atonement, and slaughtered either by the sinner or by the priest.
2. Death must be caused by a sharp, perfect blade cutting across the neck, resulting in blood loss and swift death.
3. The offering must be physically unblemished.
4. In the case of mammal offerings (bulls, lambs, etc.) the offering must be less than one year old.
5. In the case of mammal offerings, the mammal must have cloven hooves and chew cud.
6. The sacrifice must be brought at the Temple
7. The sacrifice must have its blood taken by a priest and sprinkled on the altar.
8. The sacrifice must be salted.

Since Jesus did not fulfill even one of the eight precepts listed above, it's clear that his death could not be the atoning sacrifice Christians claim it is.

Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish [ought] from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your G-d which I command you. (KJV)

Deuteronomy 12:32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. (KJV)

Twice we see a prohibition of going against the Torah’s precepts. This should tell you it’s an important law to follow. Does G-d desire human sacrifice?

Deuteronomy 12:31 Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy G-d: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. (KJV)
So, we see just how highly the Almighty thinks of human sacrifice.

The New Testament quoted the following Psalm:

Psalms 40:6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. (KJV)

This Psalm carries an important message. Coupled with other verses from throughout the Bible, we learn that while G-d does place an importance on blood sacrifice, He puts more importance on penitence and the resolve to do better. This Psalm presented a theological problem for the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews:

Hebrews 10:5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: [6] In burnt offerings and [sacrifices] for sin thou hast had no pleasure. (KJV)

How does "mine ears hast thou opened" change to "but a body hast thou prepared me?" This is not the only time one will come across this kind of behavior went into the penning of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the entire New Testament for that matter. How are we to trust a document that exhibits this sort of behavior?

Christian apologists will argue that Jesus was unblemished of sin. To be frank, this dogma genuinely frightens me. This is the logic that pagan societies used in offering up their children in human sacrifices -- they reasoned that their children were sinless.

The Diaspora was prophesied, such as in this passage:

Hosea 3:4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and [without] teraphim: [5] Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their G-d, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days. (KJV)

Now, when we see this, a Christian will try to fix this into a problem for the Jews, saying, "but without blood sacrifice, how do you receive atonement for your sins?" After all, you have this verse below:

Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. (KJV)

With this verse, the author successfully placed the new Christian theology outside of Judaism, because this in no way is a Jewish concept. Nowhere in the Jewish Scriptures do you find the message that without blood there is no remission. Time and time again, the prophets preached repentence and obedience, placing these things above sacrifice.

1 Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD [as great] delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice, [and] to hearken than the fat of rams. (KJV)

Given how often this theme is given (such as in the Psalm quoted above) the Christian position of there being no atonement without blood becomes a little puzzling. Hosea also gave a startling message that prayer can take the place of sacrifices:

Hosea 14:1 O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. [2] Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive [us] graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. (KJV)

Now, given the language that KJV used in its translation, this is likely rather confusing. For that reason, let us use the American Standard Version's translation:

Hosea 14:1 O Israel, return unto J---vah thy G-d; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. [2] Take with you words, and return unto J---vah: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and accept that which is good: so will we render [as] bullocks [the offering of] our lips. (ASV)

So, the prophet is telling us that prayer can substitute for sacrifice. Surely, this creates a dilemma for Christian theology, so let's see how they deal with this:

Hosea 14:1 Return, O Israel, to the Lord your G-d, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity. [2] Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him, "Take away all iniquity And receive us graciously, That we may present the fruit of our lips. (NAS)

So, we see that Christian Bible translators will resort to word changing. Are we to trust a translation that exhibits this sort of behavior?

For those who still believe that without blood, there is no atonement, think about the Babylonian Exile. The Jews committed sins that caused the first Temple to be destroyed and the citizenry to be exiled from the land of Israel. Do you really think that G-d would punish us for our sins in such a manner as which we would be unable to atone for them? G-d wouldn't set us up to fall forever into a pit. The only response I've ever gotten for this problem is "Jesus was offered to the Babylonian Exiles and that's how they got their atonement." This has no textual corroboration.

One of Christianity's Compelling Prooftexts

Now we come to what Christians feel is the number one Torah prooftext that blood is the only means of sin expiation.

Leviticus 17:11 For the life of the flesh [is] in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it [is] the blood [that] maketh an atonement for the soul. (KJV)

Those who find this a compelling proof should examine the verse more carefully. Like just about every other Christian prooftext, this one is flawed, and taken completely out of context. While this verse does illustrate an aspect of importance in blood sacrifice, nowhere does it say that blood is the only means of expiation. Also, notice the first word in this verse, "for." In other translations, you'll also find this translated as "because." Verse 11 is an explanation, not an imperative.

Leviticus 17:10 And whatsoever man [there be] of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. [11] For the life of the flesh [is] in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it [is] the blood [that] maketh an atonement for the soul. [12] Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood,neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood. (KJV)

It's the blood that makes atonement, as opposed to using the intestines, the kidneys, the brains the muscle tissue. It's the blood. So don't consume it. That's all there is to it. Additionally, if Christians are going to be context to take verse 11 out of context the way in which they do, they must take all of it. Verse 11 specifically says "upon the altar." A sacrifice without the priest taking the blood and sprinkling it on the altar is completely pointless. It's like a movie with a beginning, middle, but no ending.

Do you really need blood sacrifice?

Psalms 51:16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give [it]: thou delightest not in burnt offering. [17] The sacrifices of G-d [are] a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O G-d, thou wilt not despise. (KJV)

Psalms 69:30 I will praise the name of G-d with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. [31] [This] also shall please the LORD better than an ox [or] bullock that hath horns and hoofs. (KJV)

Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked [is] an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright [is] His delight. [9] The way of the wicked [is] an abomination unto the LORD: but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness. (KJV)

Proverbs 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. (KJV)

Isaiah 58:3 Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. (KJV)

Isaiah 58:5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? (KJV)

See also Jeremiah 4:1-2, 7:3, 7:22-23, 25:5, 26:3-6, 36:3, 36:7, and 50:20!

Micah 7:18 Who is a G-d like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. [19] He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. [20] Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old. (KJV)

Daniel 4:27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity. (KJV)

Exodus 30:16 And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls. (KJV)

Atonement money? Monetary sacrifice serves for atonement?

Numbers 14:20 And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word. (KJV)

This verse makes it plainly clear that the Lord accepts prayer for expiation of sin.

Jonah 3:5 So the people of Nineveh believed G-d, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. [6] For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. [7] And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: [8] But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto G-d: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. [9] Who can tell if G-d will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? [10] And G-d saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and G-d repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. (KJV)

Nineveh was forgiven of their evil deeds by fasting and repentance, and without sacrifice.

Jonah 4:10 Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: [11] And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle? (KJV)

2 Chronicles 6:24 And if thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee; and shall return and confess thy name, and pray and make supplication before thee in this house; [25] Then hear thou from the heavens, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest to them and to their fathers. [26] When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them; [27] Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance. [28] If there be dearth in the land, if there be pestilence, if there be blasting, or mildew, locusts, or caterpillers; if their enemies besiege them in the cities of their land; whatsoever sore or whatsoever sickness there be: [29] Then what prayer or what supplication soever shall be made of any man, or of all thy people Israel, when every one shall know his own sore and his own grief, and shall spread forth his hands in this house: [30] Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou knowest the hearts of the children of men) [31] That they may fear thee, to walk in thy ways, so long as they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers. (KJV)

Since the Bible clearly states that Solomon is the wisest man to ever live, logic should tell us that he would not be in error on such a fundamental issue like sin and atonement.

2 Chronicles 6:36 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near; [37] Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly; [38] If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name: [39] Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee. [40] Now, my G-d, let, I beseech thee, thine eyes be open, and let thine ears be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. (KJV)

2 Chronicles 7:13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; [14] If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (KJV)

And the Lord agreed.

I am interested in your take on the matter, Nathanael.



Nathanael Baker said...

Yehudi, I'm going to come back to you with some thoughts on this. It may take a bit of time.


Mike said...


Yehudi01 said...

Mike, if you have any ideas on what I wrote, please feel free to weigh-in.

Mike said...

Yehudi01 - Two reasons for my comment, "Wow!"

First, it was my honest response to the conversation that I had just read Nathanael trying to have with you. Reading the whole thing after it was already typed gave me an advantage that Nathanael didn't have during the exchange. It became obvious to me that you had an agenda in which you slowly built up to and baited Nathaneal into. Nowhere in his post does he mention anything about Judaism or evangelizing specifically to Jews.

And even though you say in your first comment that you don't want to be argumentative, you clearly appear to be. You don't seem open to a discussion but rather to building up to an intimidating theological monologue that seemed to come out of nowhere at the end.

(BTW - I don't dispute that you believe this from your Jewish viewpoint. That's great! But I can't agree with your conclusions from a Christian viewpoint. And, I'm pretty confident that we will have to agree to disagree on this one.)

Second, I'm confused about your identity. You claim to "among the few integrity-driven people in the auto business" on your blog. Yet your answer appears to be plagiarized, as found the same exact thing written in 2001 by Michael Levy at:

So maybe I'm better off buying a car from you??

Yehudi01 said...

Mike, thank you for getting involved. First, I didnot enter 'with an agenda.' The post was about living out the gospels so that you can missionize the people around you. He said, "We can never forget the message of the gospel and realise that is what we have been put here for. We are called to share the gospel in real ways." Are Jews exempt? Are you referring to your fellow goyyim that live near you? This is definately a hot button for the Jewish community world-wide.

Secondly, I decided to present a pasuk that I was curious about how a christian, (who is obviously educated and quite intelligent), would respond and answer it. Yes, I cut and pasted it from MessiahTruth because it saved me alot of time typing. I can freely quote all of those scriptures and many more off the cuff if you would like, (in english or Hebrew. Can you?) You have proven to me that you have no answers. You simply got defensive and showed that instead of coming up with an intelligent answer and debating scripture which could benefit both of us, you stuck out your bottom lip. I think you realize that you need to take a hard look at some very fundamental premises of christianity and ask yourself, "Is this truth, or regurgitated fluff that's been handed down for the last 2000 yrs or so?"

What say you?

Mike said...

:-) I will not be baited into debating scripture with you - off the cuff or not. That would not be representative of my Rabbi. I now leave this conversation in peace. God's speed my friend.

Yehudi01 said...

Mike, (and Nathanael, too), when you study Talmud Torah at a yeshiva, you cannot present an opinion or argument without being able to back it with scripture and supporting rabbinical commentary.

If you, as blogging christians, can't defend the most basic of precepts in your faith, then where does that leave you? If I am a Jew that is intrigued by the possibility that J-sus may be my Mashiach and I want to know the answers to some basic questions, I should be able to ask you, right? If you can't answer my questions, just say so. I wish you well.

Kol Tuv,

Big Daddy Jew said...

I found my way to your blog through BlogRush, and I'm glad I did! I have been a fan of Yehudi's blog for a long time, though we don't share the same opinion about a few things. If i could interject here about what you, (Yehudi), are talking about:

Your basic objection sounds like, "God alone is our Savior. Jews don't need or recognize any other saviors." Isaiah 43:11 says:

11"I, even I, am the LORD, And there is no savior besides Me."

Isaiah 43:11 is written is reference to 'other gods,' and it teaches emphatically that the Jewish people will not be saved by any other so-called god or deliverer. This is clear. It is also clear that God saves through whom he wills to save-whether it be earthly deliverers (such as kings or warriors), angelic messengers, or the Messiah.

The answer to this objection is self-evident if we consult a Hebrew concordance, since the word moshi'a (savior) occurs more than thirty times in the Bible, almost every time with reference to someone other than God. So, for example, it is written in Judges 3:9 that when the Israelites cried out to the Lord, he raised up a savior (or deliverer) for them (cf. also Judg. 3:15; 12:3) and in Isaiah 19:20, God promises that He will one day send Egypt a savior and defender who will rescue them-again with reference to someone other than the Lord. In a similar way, Isaiah 33:22 says that God is our Lawgiver, Judge, and King, but we know of course, that He used Moses to give us the Law, that He raised up numerous judges for Israel, and that the Messiah is known as King Messiah.

The simple point is this: God, the only Savior, uses whom He will to deliver His people, and both traditional Judaism and the New Testament recognized taht the Messiah would be the Lord's appointed Savior, par excellence. Thus, the prayer for the Davidic Messiah in the Amidah, (also called the Shemoneh Esreh, i.e. the eighteen foundational petitions in Judaism) talks about waiting for God's salvation to come through His Messiah, the one literally called, "the horn of Salvation." In fact, the footnote to this benediction in the Artscroll Siddur (reflecting traditional Jewish scholarship) reads, "Here we are taught that the ultimate salvation of the Jewish people is possible only through the Davidic Messiah."

Yehudi01 said...

BDJ, I don't doubt that Hashem will send the self-respecting Jew would argue that point. My point is that J-sus could not be mashiach. Reference RAMBAM's Mishneh Torah and tractate Sanhedrin.

Yehudi01 said...

BDJ, in case you're confused about whether Jews need J-sus to make it to Heaven, here's more proof that all we need is Hashem:

“That every man will turn from his evil way, then I will forgive their iniquity and their sin.” (Jeremiah 36:3)

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:7)

“I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, `I will confess my transgressions to the Lord', and You did forgive the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5)

“And if My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14)

“But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has practiced he shall live...When a wicked man turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practices justice and righteousness, he will save his life...Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you (Ezekiel 18:21- 22, 27, 30)

“By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for...” (Proverbs 16:6)

“If you return to God you will be restored; if you remove unrighteousness far from your tent...then you will delight in God...” (Job 22:23-27)

“Depart from evil, and do good, so you will abide forever.” (Psalm 37:27, cf. Ezekiel 33, Zechariah 1:3, Jeremiah 26:13)

Neither does blood sacrifice count without proper teshuva.

“What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me? says the Lord. I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed cattle. And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats...Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come let us reason together says the Lord, Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they will be like wool, if you consent and obey...” (Isaiah 1:11-18)

“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord.” (Proverbs 15:8)

“To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” (Proverbs 21:3). “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)

“Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken more than the fat of rams.” (I Samuel 15:22)

“With what shall I come to the Lord, and bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:6-8,cf. Amos 5:22- 24, Jeremiah 7, Psalm 69:31-32)

No one can die for the sins of another. Judaism believes in personal responsibility meaning that one must do teshuva for this own sins.

"Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book." Exodus 32:32-33 (KJV)

"The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin." Deuteronomy 24:16 (KJV)

"In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge." Jeremiah 31:29-30 (KJV)

"Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die." Ezekiel 18:4 (KJV)

"The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him." Ezekiel 18:20 (KJV) Repeats Verse 4 in Ezekiel 18. (above)

Christians, where does that leave you? Nathanael, where did you go?

Yehudi01 said...

Mike, have you nothing to say now?

Big Daddy Jew said...

Yehudi, I'm not confused about anything...All of us know that God is not interested in human sacrifice. But are you aware that the Hebrew Scriptures, the Talmud, as well as the New Testament clearly teach that the death of the righteous has atoning power? When the Messiah, the totally righteous one, laid down his life, it was the ultimate act of atonement in human history.

What you are about to read could change your life! But first I want to give you a little background. In 1962, twenty-eight year old Don Richardson, with his wife and baby, went as a missionary to the head-hunting Sawis of Irian Jaya, New Guinea. These were tribal people who, for all intents and purposes, were still living in the stone age. They had never seen a metal tool, let alone a flashlight. They were intrigued by this young white family who now lived in their midst, and little by little, they accepted the Richardsons.

The missionaries painstakingly learned the language and culture of the Sawi people, patiently sharing with them the good news about the One True God. But the natives were completely insensitive. In fact, when they heard about Judas betraying Yeshua, they hooted with joy. Deciet was a virtue in their culture! It seemed that Don Richardson had hit a brick wall.

Then, after many months of futility, Don experienced a dramatic breakthrough. In order to resolve a conflict between two warring tribes-there was constant strife and violence between the various tribal groups-an ancient custom was followed. The leader of one tribe gave his firstborn son to the other tribe for life. The son was called a "peace child," and the giving of this son brought reconcilliation betwen the two warring factions. Suddenly, Richardson had his opening: "God gave his own son as a peace child! God gave Yeshua to bring about reconcilliation between Himself and sinful mankind." At last the natives began to understand.

In the years that followed, thousands of these idol-worshipping, murderous people were wonderfully transformed, and Don Richardson amde a discovery: In different religions and cultures throughout the world, God has strategically placed what Richardson calls, "redemptive analogies"-examples of spiritual truth that point clearly to the message of the gospel. What Richardson may not have known was this: God has placed these "redemptive analogies" in Judaism more than any other eligion or culture, and the most important of all these redemptive analogies found in Judaism is that the death of the righteous brings atonement to the world.

Here are the words of a respected Orthodox Jewish historian, Rabbi Beren Wein. How was it that the Jewish people survived the horrors of the massacres of eastern Europe in the seventeenth century? According to Rabbi Wein:

Another consideration tinged the Jewish response to the slaughter of its people. It was an old Jewish tradition dating back to Biblical times that the death of the righteous and innocent served as an expiation for the sins of the nation or the world. The stories of Isaac and of Nadav and Avihu, the prophetic description of Israel as the long-suffering servant of the Lord, the sacrificial service in the Temple-all served to reinforce this basic concept of the death of the righteous as an atonement for the sins of other men.
Jews nurtured this classic idea of death as an atonement, and this attitude towards their own tragedies was their constant companion throughout their turbulent exile. Therefore, the wholly bleak picture of unreasonning slaughter was somewhat relieved by the fact that the innocent did not die in vain and that the betterment of Israel and humankind somehow was advanced by their "stretching their neck to be slaughtered." What is amazing is that this abstract, sophisticated, theological thought should have become so ingrained in the psyche of the people that even the least educated and the most simplistic of Jews understood the lesson and acted upon it, giving up precious life in a soaring act of belief and affirmation of the better tomorrow. This spirit of the Jews is truly reflected in the historical chronical of the time:
"Would the Holy One, blessed is He, dispense judgement without justice? But we may say that he whom God loves will be chastised. For since the day the Holy Temple was destroyed, the righteous are seized by death for the iniquities of the generation" (Yeven Metzulah, end of Chapter 15).

Do you grasp the significance of what you just read? An Orthodox rabbi who most definately does not believe in Yeshua is telling us that according to the Bible and Jewish tradition the death of the righteous serves as an atonement for the sinsof other men, "as an expiation for the sins of the nation or the world." And notice carefully the words of the midevil chronical Yeven Metzulah: It was since the destruction of the Temple that the righteous were "seized by death for the iniquities of their generation." The connection is clear: Since there are no more sacrifices of atonement, it is the death of the righteous that atones. In similar fashion, the Zohar, the most sacred book of Jewish mysticism, states, "As long as Israel dwelt in the Holy Land, the rituals and the sacrifices they performed [in the Temple] removed all those diseases from the world; now the Messiah removes them from the children of the world. (2:212a)" This is not some new doctrine that the "Christian church" created. This is thoroughly Scriptural and quite Jewish. It explains the purpose and meaning of Yeshua's death.

Before we look into the Hebrew Bible, however, I want to point out that on several occasions the Talmud itself teaches that "the death of the righteous atones" (mitatan shel tsaddikim mekapperet). In a well-known discussion (b. Mo'ed Qatan 28a), the Talmud asks why the Book of Numbers records the death of Miriam immediately after the section of the red heifer, (see Num 19:1-20:1). And why, the Talmud asks, is the death of Aaron recorded in conjunction with the Torah's reference to the preistly garments (see Num 20:25-28)? The answer is, just as the garments of the high priest atone (see Exodus 28, especially verse 38), so also the death of the righteous atones. (Some of the Rabbinic texts reads "atones for Israel" in all the cases just cited.)

This theme is actually fairly common in Rabbinic literature. Look, for example, at Leviticus Rabbah 20:12, repeated elsewhere verbatim (e.g. y. Yoma 2:1, Pesikta deRav Kahana 26:16): "Rabbi Hiyya Bar Abba said: The sons of Aaron [i.e., Nadab and Abihu] died the first day of Nisan. Why then does the Torah mention their death in cinjunction with the Day of Atonement [which occurred on the tenth of Tishrei; see Lev 16:1]? It is to teach that just as the Day of Atonement atones, so also the death of the righteous atones."

What is the Scriptural support offered for this view? It is 2 Samuel 21:14: They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul's father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king commanded. After that God answered prayer in behalf of the land."

Here is the background to this verse: There had been a famine in the land for three years, causing David to earnestly seek the Lord. God informed him, "It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death" (2 Sam 21:1). So in order to appease the Gibeonites, David turned over to them seven of Saul's decendants, whom the Gibeonites killed, leaving their bodies exposed and unburied. Two of the men were sons of Rizpah, Saul's concubine, and she stayed with the corpses day and night, even in soaking rain. When David heard this,
he went and took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. (They had taken them secretly from the public square at Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them after they struck Saul down on Gilboa.) David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up. They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul's father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king commanded. After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land. [2 Samuel 21:12-14]

The death of these men appeased the Gibeonites, and the God answered prayer on behalf of the land, from which the Talmud deduces that "the death of the righteous atones." Other Rabbinic sources state that just as the sacrifices and rituals of the Day of Atonement were effective for only those who repented, so also the death of the righteous secured atonement only for those who repented. It seems to me that the "Christian apostles" wrote about this several hundred years earlier, pointing to the only true righteous one, the Messiah.

An interesting passage in the Midrash reads, "Moses said to God, 'Will not the time come when Israel shall have neither Tabernacle nor Temple? What will happen with them then?' The divine reply was, 'I will then take one of their righteous men and keep him as a pledge on their behalf so I may pardon [or atone for] all their sins" (Exodus Rabbah, Terumah 35:4). We have the same theme stated once again: When there is neither Tabernacle nor Temple, the life and death of the righteous will make atonement , just as we read earlier in Yeven Metzulah. The Zohar supports this concept with a citation from Isaiah 53, the Messianic prophecy most widely quoted ny Christians and Messianic Jews.

The children of the world are members of one another, and when the Holy One desires to give healing to the world, He smites just one man amongst them, and for his sake heals all the rest. Whence do we learn this? From the saying, "He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities" [Isaiah 53:5], i.e., by the letting of his blood-as when a man bleeds his arm-there was healing for us-for all the members of the body. In general a just person is only smitten in order to procure healing and atonement for a whole generation.

Talk about redemptive analogies! A Christian evangelist couldn't have said it any better. This is the very heart of the gospel message: The Messiah - the holy and righteous servant of the Lord - was smitten for the sins of the world, and through his death we can receive atonement for our sins and healing for our souls. As stated in Midrash Assereth Memrot:

The Messiah, in order to atone for them both [for Adam and David], will make his soul a trespass offering, as it is written next to this, in the Parashah. Behold my servant [Isaiah 52:13-53:12]: 'shm [guilt-offering], i.e. cabalistically [i.e. using Rabbinic Bible numerics], Menahem son of Ammiel [a title for the Messiah in the Talmud].

The Messiah took our place. We sinned. He died. We were guilty. He was punished. We deserved death. He gave his life. We rejected him. He accepted us. What an incredible message. It seems far too good to be true. But it is true, and it's biblical. It's Jewish too.

Nathanael Baker said...

Yehudi, to be honest I do not want the argument. I want honest dialogue, what do you struggle with in your faith, why isn't Jesus the messiah to you. Why can't he fit in?

I recommend that you read NT Wrights works, he has some of the best summary of New Testament theology around today. He's accessible and will discribe where I stand. You can access his essays at

Your view of attonement is very limited if you beleive that its only about blood sacrifice. It goes much further than that, it is only one metaphor. I suggest that you look at the numerous models of atonement before you limit it to just one small view of penal substitutionary atonment. Narrative christus victor and christus victor will give you a picture of the rich tradition of atonement theology that christians draw from.

Jesus for me is the Messiah, the rescuer of the Jew and the Gentile from sin and death. He died on the cross so that he could conquer evil, sin and brokenness and rescue you and me.

I'm not going to reply anymore yehudi.

Yehudi01 said...

Nathanael, I find it absolutely ridiculous that you would say that my understanding of atonement is "very limited," while you presume to understand better than I. You don't speak Hebrew, therefore you can't even do a study of the concept.

It also very clear to me that you have no clue regarding the very roots of your faith, or your 'savior.' Your image of J-sus is so westernized it's insulting.
I would be embarassed to publically call myself a christian because you can't provide simple answers regarding why you believe what you believe. I would restate the title of your blog and remove the bit about arguing your point and perspective at 'whatever the cost.' You couldn't argue even the simplest point...I didn't even ask you a difficult question. Good luck.


My Perspective for one avenue of atonement is that an individual should overcome the yetzer Hara.
Second to that IMO would be to walk as a Tzadik or Chasidim before Ha’Shem' therein they will then be able to enter the KaDosh Ha’kadoshim and receive the fullness of the benefits outlined in the Scrolls.
Trukly until we learn the fullness of Echad in the MASTER' we cannot have the unity of the Faith written of.
How can two walk together unless they are agreed.
We are in a time of fullfillment of Yehezqel [Ezekiel 37:15-28]
It is no longer a time for foolishness, It is however a time to Come up higher in the Shekinah.

My two mites worth