Tag Archive | Pharisees

The Dilemma of the Ger, Part 3: Dealing with the Kinslaying

This is the third part of a dialogue with Dr. Rivkah Adler of Breaking Israel News on the question of whether the biblical concept of ger, or foreigner, could be considered as a possible status for Torah-keeping non-Jews.  It began with Rivkah’s article, “Are We Witnessing the Restoration of an Ancient Biblical Status for Non-Jews?”, followed by my commentary, “The Dilemma of the Ger, and her observations in “A Jewish Response to the Dilemma of the Ger.

Dealing with the Kinslaying

Albert J. McCarn
April 16,2017

The Kinslaying at Alqualondë, by Ted Nasmith. Used by permission.

A motif running through J.R.R. Tolkien’s fiction works is the exile of the Elves from Valinor, the Blessed Realm of the Valar, the gods of Tolkien’s world.  Those who read The Lord of the Rings first encounter the exiles as the High Elves who aid Frodo and his companions in their flight from the Shire.  Readers who venture into The Silmarillion learn that the High Elves are the Noldor, one of three Elven clans who answered the Valar’s invitation to leave Middle Earth and live in Valinor.  The Vanyar and Teleri – the other two clans – remained in Valinor, but the Noldor rebelled against the Valar and returned to Middle Earth to fight against Morgoth, Tolkien’s equivalent of Satan.

The Noldor had justification for their actions.  Morgoth had stolen the Silmarils, the matchless jewels fashioned by Fëanor, greatest of the Elven craftsmen, and had killed Finwë, Fëanor’s father and king of the Noldor.  Nevertheless, their rebellion under Fëanor’s leadership incurred a sentence of exile and separation from any help the Valar could offer.  Over the next several centuries the Noldor and their allies among the Elves and Men of Middle Earth proved unable to defeat Morgoth, and they suffered a long defeat.  At the end of their strength, the humbled remnant repented and begged help from the Valar.  When help came, Morgoth was defeated and the Valar granted clemency for the Noldor to return to the Blessed Realm, bringing with them the remaining Elves of Middle Earth who had never seen Valinor.

This is the unseen backdrop for the Elves appearing in Tolkien’s later and more popular works.  Those who pick up the story with The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings meet wise Elrond, stern yet kindly Thranduil, and gentle Galadriel, but they have no understanding of their history.  Galadriel, for example, was Fëanor’s niece, and along with his sons and her brothers led the Noldor in rebellion.  Upon passing the test of refusing the Ring of Power when Frodo offers it to her, she proves that she, the only surviving rebel leader, is indeed ready to return home as a humble penitent.

In Galadriel’s story we see the stunning panorama flowing through the body of Tolkien’s works.  Yet there is one missing detail:  he never tells us what happens when the exiles return.  It is a significant omission.  We can imagine the scenes of reconciliation as the Noldor made amends with the eternal Valar, but we do not know what happens when they encountered the brethren they had wronged.  At the beginning of their flight from Valinor, the Noldor demanded of their kin, the Teleri, use of their ships.  The Teleri refused, resulting in a terrible battle known thereafter as the Kinslaying.  As Tolkien describes it, “Thus at last the Teleri were overcome, and a great part of their mariners that dwelt in Alqualondë were wickedly slain.”  If that were not enough, when they arrived on the shores of Middle Earth, Fëanor gave orders to burn the wondrous Telerian ships, craft of great beauty the like of which could never be made again.

What happens when the prodigal Noldor return home is a tale we do not know.  We hope they are reconciled with their brethren, but achieving reconciliation requires conscious effort to overcome the debt of blood between them.  Until that debt is paid or forgiven, the bliss of the Blessed Realm remains unbearably diminished.

Tolkien’s epic thus becomes a parable for us, the returning exiles of the House of Yosef (Joseph).  Like the Noldor, we are guilty not only of rebellion against our God and the king He had anointed, but also of an endless Kinslaying of our brethren of Judah.

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It Is Often Said: “Two Thousand Years of Christianity Cannot be Wrong!”

The Prophet Hosea James Tissot

The Prophet Hosea
James Tissot

The Lord’s controversy with the House of Israel as proclaimed by the Prophet Hosea includes this charge:

I have written for him the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing.  (Hosea 8:12 NKJV)

What does He mean by this?  Very simply that the wise and powerful things the Lord explained in His Torah (Law) are things that His people chose to disregard.  Do His people still disregard His Torah?  Yes, and no.  There are many things from YHVH’s Torah which His people follow, and other things which they consider no longer applicable in one way or another.

But who are God’s people?  Let us consider for a moment that they are both Jews and Christians, people who claim allegiance to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  For centuries they have progressed down separate paths, clinging to what they each consider the fullness of the revelation of God.  Sadly, the things He has revealed to Christians are things that Jews consider abominable, and the things He has revealed to Jews are things Christians consider a burden.  How else are we to understand the Jewish rejection of Yeshua of Nazareth as Messiah, and the Christian rejection of the Torah which Yeshua proclaimed and taught by example?  It is a sad state of affairs when God’s people refuse even to talk with one another about the great things He has revealed to each so that all may be healed and strengthened.

This is something Tim Hegg addresses in his article, “It is Often Said, “Two Thousand Years of Christianity Cannot be Wrong!'”  This article first appeared on Torah Resource in 2006, and is contained in a series of booklets entitled It is Often Said, which is available from the Torah Resource online store at:

 http://store.torahresource.com/It_Is_Often_Said_Full_Set_p/iios480.htm.

Messianic Publications republished the article in 2011, and it is published again here by permission.

Tim’s focus is on the Christian objections to Torah.  As you will see, the Christian position for most of the history of the church has been far more accepting of the greater part of Torah than is commonly supposed.  In other words, the Torah of God is not such a strange thing after all once one understands what His Torah actually is.

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Thanksgiving in the Kingdom, Part II

The various offerings for guilt, trespass, or sin were important elements of the Temple service, but they were only a small part of the many types of offerings God specified for His table.  (The Sin Offering, Christian Image Source)

The various offerings for guilt, trespass, or sin were important elements of the Temple service, but they were only a small part of the many types of offerings God specified for His table. (The Sin Offering, Christian Image Source)

More Than Just Sin

At the heart of our misunderstanding of the sacrificial system is the assumption that it is all about sin.  Since the blood of the animals foreshadowed the atonement that would come in Messiah’s sacrifice, and since that atonement came to pass through Messiah’s sinless death on the cross, the assumption is that sacrifices are no longer necessary.  Sadly, such reasoning betrays incomprehension of the reason God instituted sacrifices.  Messiah Yeshua did indeed die as the “Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29-34; see also Isaiah 53 and Revelation 5).  His death most certainly provides the only provision for willful, rebellious sin against our Creator (Genesis 22:6-8; Numbers 15:27-31; Hebrews 10:26-31).  However, the sacrificial system included many more offerings than those which had connection to sin.

If we are to understand the full nature of the Temple sacrifices, we should start with the meaning of the words used for the items offered on the Altar.  “Sacrifice” and “offering” are the usual English translations, and quite often the meanings are not entirely distinct in the minds of English-speaking readers.  The English definition of “sacrifice” refers to something valuable offered, often to a deity, in exchange for something or someone else.  A sacrifice also means something that is “written off”, or lost for good.  In that sense, the olah would be considered a sacrifice because it is a burnt offering intended to be entirely consumed on the Altar.  Yet that is not the intent for everything presented to God, which is why the term “offering” is important.  The Hebrew word in this case is korban (קָרְבָּן; Strongs H7133), a term usually translated as “offering”, but occasionally rendered as “sacrifice”.  Christians should recognize the term from one of Yeshua’s key confrontations with the Pharisees:

He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.  For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”  (Mark 7:9-13 NASB, emphasis added)

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Thanksgiving in the Kingdom, Part I

Doing Business With God

Messiah Yeshua said something very peculiar when His disciples asked for the sign of His return at the end of the age.  He mentioned one unambiguous event that would signal the beginning of what is generally called the Tribulation:

Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.  (Matthew 24:15-16 NASB)

What makes Yeshua’s statement peculiar is not that this Abomination of Desolation first occurred nearly two centuries before He spoke these words, nor that something like it happened again a generation later.  The peculiarity is that this unambiguous sign of Messiah’s return concerns the Temple in Jerusalem and the sacrificial system of worship codified by God through Moses in the Torah.  A consistent theme in Christian doctrine is that the death and resurrection of Yeshua made the sacrificial system obsolete.  Why, then, does Yeshua ratify Daniel’s description of this interruption of the sacrifices as the “Abomination of Desolation”?  Why is it an abomination if the sacrifices no longer matter to God?  Why is it a desolation?  Who or what is made desolate, and why?  These questions direct us to look closer at the sacrificial system of worship so we can understand more clearly how our God does business with humanity.

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Fox Byte #29: An Eye For. . . .

BFB141008 Three MonkeysFrom what we have seen so far in the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua is indeed correcting our understanding of what His Father really meant when He gave His Law (Torah) to Moses.  The attitude of our heart is the most important thing.  Specific commandments like, ”You shall not murder”, and “Bring your gift to the altar”, help us measure how far our heart has come toward operating the way God designed.  After all, that’s really what the Law is:  God’s operating instructions.  If we operate within the parameters of the Law (choose life), we get all kinds of good things (blessings); but if we operate outside His design parameters (choose death), we suffer all manner of consequences (curses). (Deuteronomy 30:11-20James 1:22-2:13).  If our heart is right with our Creator, then we will do His commandments naturally, as an act of love for Him.  And that is the exactly what the Apostle John, the Apostle Paul, and Yeshua Himself told us.

Yeshua continues his teaching by addressing another sticky point of human nature:

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Fox Byte #28: An Acceptable Sacrifice

When Abel and Cain offered sacrifices, both had meaning, but only one was acceptable.  (Bible Card illustration, "The Story of Cain and Abel")

When Abel and Cain offered sacrifices, both had meaning, but only one was acceptable. (Bible Card illustration, “The Story of Cain and Abel”)

If Yeshua really did make it possible to understand and live out God’s commandments (Torah) as our Creator originally intended, then we would expect Him to give us a few examples.  And in fact He did.  It’s all a matter of going beyond the “letter of the Law” and getting to the Spirit behind it.  Consider what Yeshua said right after He told His audience that their righteousness should exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees:

You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.”  But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.  And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!” shall be in danger of the council.  But whoever says, “You fool!” shall be in danger of hell fire.  Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way.  First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.  Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.  (Matthew 5:21-26 NKJV)

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Fox Byte #27: About That New Heart

The Tin Man's new "heart" was really a symbol of the change that had already happened in him.  Perhaps that is not too different from what happens in the heart transplant God accomplishes in His people.

The Tin Man’s new “heart” was really a symbol of the change that had already happened in him. Perhaps that is not too different from what happens in the heart transplant God accomplishes in His people.

What did Yeshua mean when He said He had come to fulfill the Law (Torah)?  Some people would say that He came to complete the Law so that it no longer applied to His followers.  But is that really what He meant?  Look again at what He said:

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.  I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.  (Matthew 5:17-18 NKJV, emphasis added)

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What We Missed About Pentecost

"The Numbering of the Israelites" Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux

The Numbering of the Israelites
Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux

Here are some things that seldom come together in the same sentence:  genealogy, Israel’s tribes, Apostle Paul, Moses and Aaron, Ruth and Boaz, the Holy Spirit, and Torah.  What could these all have in common?  They all come together in the Feast of Weeks, known in Hebrew as Shavuot, and in Greek as Pentecost.  Together they reveal to us is God’s plan to bless every family and nation on earth.

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The Apostle Paul Revisited: Paul’s Argument with Jesus, Part IV

This is the final part of a series comparing the words of Yeshua and Paul regarding the Law (Torah) of God.

Salvation:  The Great Question

What especially upset the Jewish establishment was the message Yeshua and His followers preached that salvation comes by grace through faith, not by works.  In keeping with the division of the world between Jews and Gentiles, the prevailing understanding of the day was that anyone who wanted to be reconciled to God and learn His ways needed to convert to Judaism.  Formal, legal conversion required circumcision, mikvah (baptism), and presentation of a sacrifice at the Temple (when possible).  Gentiles who went through that process were called “proselytes”.  Sadly, the conversion process also involved complete immersion in the Jewish traditions to the point that the proselytes adhered more to the doctrines of the men who had instructed them than the Torah itself.  That is why Yeshua included an indictment of this process in His confrontation with the Pharisees:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.  (Matthew 23:15 NKJV)

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The Apostle Paul Revisited: Paul’s Argument with Jesus, Part III

This is the third in a series comparing the words of Yeshua and Paul regarding the Law (Torah) of God.

The Very Jewish Paul

Was Paul hopelessly confused on the question of the Law of God?  No, not at all.  The confusion comes when we attempt to view him as a man who walked away from Judaism after he met Yeshua on the road to Damascus.  That is not true.  Paul remained an observant Jew until the end of his life, as we know from his own words:

But Paul said, “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people.”  (Acts 21:39 NKJV, emphasis added)

But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!”  (Acts 23:6 NKJV, emphasis added)

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