Jeremiah 31:31 & the Epistle to the Galatians - You Foolish Galatians, Who Betwitched You? A Crisis in Messianic Judaism?
A Time Will Come When I Will Make A New Covenant With The House Of Israel And The House Of Judah, Not Like The Covenant I Made With Their Fathers (Jeremiah 31:31).
We see the stage being set with current Middle East events for the prophetic fulfilment of Zecheriah 12 & 13 , for the Great Tribulation ("The Time of Jacob's Trouble" in Jeremiah 30), the dawn of The Anti Christ, and the Return of Jesus. At the same time we see the fulfilment of the prophetic predictions of Paul in Romans 11, with the increases in Jews being saved and a rediscovery by many Evangelicals of the Hebrew origins of The Christian Faith.
Concerning this rediscovery, Non Jewish Christians are warned by God's Word in Romans 11 not to boast against Israel, the natural branches, just as Jewish believers are warned not to berate non Jews who believe (Ruth 2: 15, Acts 15:13-19). In The Messiah we are 'One New Man' where cultural differences between the natural Jewish and in-grafted non-Jewish branches, like the socio-economic differences between bond servant and free, or the biological and emotional differences between male and female, constitute no spiritual difference; we all have one salvation, One Saviour, one promise, one bible, One Spirit, and one eternal destiny (Galatians 3:28). So now bond servants are free in The Lord and the free are now The Lord's bond servants. The wife in Christ is now co-heir with the husband (1 Peter 3:7), and believing Gentiles are co heirs with Israel (Ephesians 2:11-14).
As we always note, according to Jeremiah 31:31 , The New Covenant was made with Israel and The Jews, not the church. The church is the spiritual continuation of Israel of the faithful remnant of Israel into which believing non Jews are in-grafted , but not the replacement of literal Israel. Believing non Jews are grafted in while unbelieving Jews rejecting Yeshua as their Messiah have been cut off from their own Olive Tree, but are grafted in again by receiving Him (Romans 11: 17-24). Our readers know these things.
But as we see the prophecies of Zecheriah, Jeremiah, The Olivet Discourse, Daniel and Revelation and the eschatological (end times) prophetic material in the Epistles , coming into fulfilment, we see a confusion and a deception of which God is not author.
In The past we have published article warning against the errors of replacement theology, and of Calvinistic covenant theology (which denigrates The New Covenant by falsely teaching that God only made one covenant with Adam and one with Abraham, and further states that Israel is now the church). We have warned about Post Millenialism (if Satan is bound, when did the 1,000 years begin and more importantly who keeps letting him go?) which when mixed with the charismania of latter day reign/Joel's Army- Manifest Sons hyper Pentecostalism yields the deceptions of The Vinyard Movement and the over realised eschatology of Kingdom Now Theology. Coming from this we have warned of the Christian anti Semitism of The Identity Movement , and the Christian anti Zionism of Rick Godwin, Bryn Joners, and the pro Arafat Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem who preached against Israel recently in the late David Watson's St. Michael Le Belfry in York (now predictably a swamp of Alpha course ecumenical deception, Toronto lunacy etc.). We have warned against the de-Jewishisation of Jesus by the Elim Movement in its 'Jesus Christ had no Jewish blood' article by George Canty published in Elim's tabloid (like St. Michael Bat in Le Belfry, Elim from bogus gold teeth to promotions of apostate money preachers remains a quagmire of deception, still trying to revive the failed Toronto Experience at its conference featuring John Arnott). Again our readers, and other biblically knowledgeable and discerning Christians know these things.
On the other extreme, we have joined David Brickner, Tuvya Zaretsky & Jews For Jesus, and John Ross &Christian Witness to Israel, and Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum and Ariel, and others involved in seeing Jewish souls saved in warning agauinst ministries to the Jews that with hold Christ. We appreciate Arnold Fruchtembaum's recent letter stating that the actions of Ebenezer Fund are not biblical or of God, and as scandal yet again haunts The International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, its new leader, Malcom Hedding produced a tape teaching that Jesus never came to die but that Israel would simply be Born Again without Him going to the cross. Jesus on the contrary Himself said concerning His death and resurrection "For This Purpose I Have Come" (in order to fulfil Isaiah 53, Daniel 9 etc. to make salvation possible), and Romans 6 makes it clear that regeneration unto salvation is impossible without His death. Malcom Hedding , (like the ICEJ founder Jan Willem Van der Hoven) is a complete and unmitigated heretic. As Jeremiah 31:31 states, The New Covenant was made with Israel, and dual covenant beliefs claiming Jews can be saved apart from The New Covenant are a lie of Satan. Those not bringing Israel The New Covenant have a mere social and political gospel which from the view point of scripture is no gospel at all.
The New Dilemma
Now however, we have a new threat to the purposes of God for Israel and The Jews. Replacementists, anti zionists, and anti semites and the Identity Movement inspired Ruckmanites (Aho , Dillen, Howard & Buester) have a new weapon against Jewish believers retaining their God given identity as Jews - and ironically, that weapon is provided by a combination certain Jewish believers and judaised Gentiles from the extreme axis of the messianic movement.
The nomianism (soft legalism) of hyper messianic extremists we have warned against in articles such as 'Satan's Seduction Of The Hebrew Roots Movement", and "Why I Do Not Accept The Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research". The latter was written as a compliment to Andrew Gould's article addressing the precarious and unsubstantiated claims of Messrs Bivin and Blizzard of the gospels bering originally in Hebrew, which were supported by the late Rabbinic scholar David Flusser and Roman Catholic writer Joseph Francovic) . No manuscript evidence exists for these speculations, the linguistic arguments are convoluted and faulty, and the one historic reference from the time of Hegisippus in the post apostolic/early patristic era of Matthew's gospel being originally in Hebrew, if true, could simply have been the Hebrew dialect of Aramaic.
There is a misguided element in the Gentile church , who understandably disgusted with what they see as the distorted Christianity of the contemporary church in the age of ecumenism, Toronto, money preachers and higher criticism - in reaction desire to return to the source of the Christian faith, which is biblically and historically a primordial Jewish faith. Unfortunately, they arrive at the abrupt conclusion that anything Messianic must be right, when in fact there is as much lunacy of every description in the various strands of the Messianic Movement as there are in any other component of The Body of Christ.
One popular expression we have witnessed of this is the use of David Stern's 'Jewish New Testament' and his 'Complete Jewish Bible' (as if there were any other kind). While at one time we did recommend Mr Stern's book "Restoring The Jewishness of The Gospel", Mr Stern's book 'Messianic Manifesto' calling for a "Messianic Sanhedrin to issue chalakik (legal rabinic Jewish)decisions for Jewish believers is too ludicrous a proposition to deserve serious comment. While fine as a reference book , Mr Stern's Jewish New Testament is one of the worst paraphrases from the original Greek I have ever seen. His mistranslation of Ephesians 5 is so absurd that the Jehovahas Witnesses wouldn't go that far in their highly distorted so called 'New World Translation'. Yet too many sincere, yet naïve Christians assume "Oh , if it is the Jewish New Testament it must be the uncorrupted original one", not knowing the translation is badly corrupted.
There are similar reactions among many Southern Baptist and other groups, who in reaction to the avalanche of error in the church revert to Reformed theology, complete with its errors of cessationism and hyper Calvinism, (and sometimes replacementism) because they see it as the diametric opposite of ecumenism and charismania. Thus instead of correcting an error with truth, one error is redressed by another one of the opposite extreme. This same warped and unbiblical reasoning happens when people react against the errors of supercessionism (Replacement theology) with hyper Messianic extremism.
In the last few years, hyper Messianic extremism has reached new heights of erroneous belief with the deity of Yeshua even being rejected in some cases. From crazy conferences lifting up 'Jewishness' instead of 'Jesus-ness' is misplaced and displaces the proper emphasis scripture says we are to have. Jewish believers do not conferences , (usually run by biblically ignorant kooks), telling them how to be Jewish. Jews know how to be Jewish just as Mexicans know how to be Mexican or Koreans know how to be Korean. They need discipleship and biblical exposition telling them how to be followers of their Messiah Yeshua, the same as any other believer.
No one argues with voluntary Jewish observances. They are optional as a matter of personal choice and culture (Roman 14: 4-5, Colossians 2:16-18). Their can be an advantage in observance of Jewish customs a an evangelistic strategy in reaching Jews (1 Corinthians 9: 20) and no place are people called to abandon their culture upon becoming believers in Jesus, but on the contrary are told not to forfeit their identity (1 Corinthians 7:18). Moreover, Jewish ritual fulfilled in Christ is used repeatedly in The New Testament as an illustration of doctrine (1 Corinthians 5:7-8, Hebrews 9: 1-22) and in accordance with biblical and apostolic tradition these observances remain a biblical way to re-enforce and illustrate our understanding of New Testament doctrine. It was the post apostolic and post biblical patristic tradition of the Church Fathers such as the anti semitic John Chrysostom who first opposed such things. The New Testament however never does.
Indeed, as Paul wrote, "all things are lawful, but not all things are helpful". A Jewish berliever eating pork, while lawful, may not be helpful to his or her testimony in reaching Jews being told by rabbis that believing Jews have abandoned being Jewish. Pork or shellfish are now 'kosher' but may hinder to one's testimony, just as taking The Lord's Supper with wine could damage one's testimony in a for instance a Celtic culture where alcohol abuse is so prolific a problem. But when these observances become compulsory (eg. for membership in a Messianic Congregation), or are seen as a means of sanctification in and of themselves one goes back under the law Christ came to free us from. Those finding something inherently wrong in non kosher foods the bible tells us are "weak in faith".
If it is folly to hold conferences telling Jews how to be Jews, it is more ridiculous telling non Jews how to be Jews. Yet, now we see gentiles being brought under the law. There is a messianic group in South Africa urging gentile adult males to undergo ritual Jewish circumcision. Some judaised gentiles such as Israel Hawkes dress like ultra orthodox rabbis , and have begun a highly schismatic belief of cultic proportions believing that it is wrong to call Yeshua Jesus or God anything other than YHWH.
Indeed, what our translations usually call LORD is actually YHWH in the original Hebrew Text, but The New Testament manuscripts translating the spoken Aramaic term Mar, which would have been used by Jesus) employ the term kurios (Lord) repeatedly. If the New Testament has no problem calling YHWH Lord, why should we?
Satan's first efforts to seduce the church were not to paganise it, (that came later with some of the Church Fathers and after Constantine with the papacy), as we see in The New Testament , his first efforts to seduce the Church were to Judaise it.
The Roman Catholic priesthood, Calvinistic Covenant theology, Amillenial Calvinistic Reconstructionism , the Roman Catholic Mass, and The Seventh Day adventists are all examples of a Judaised Christendom. So now are the hyper Messianic Extremists.
This error, a virtual throw back to the Book of Galatians, is being used to fuel the anti messianic rhetoric of the replacementist we have warned against in our article "Watchmen Who Are Not Watchmen" (still available on our web site).
In the past it has been easy to refute replacementists, especially the Ruckmanites. Ruckmanites are people who follow the beliefs of Peter Ruckman, combining debunked Gail Riplinger in support of the extreme KJV Only position with White Supremacist Identity Movement beliefs). Some of these are often willing to lie to achieve their ends in spreading anti Jewish neo nazi propaganda within the church (things about "Jews having different DNA than other people", and 'Jewish conspiracies to take over the Christian church' , and outlandishly "Jews believing only they can interpret the bible, because of having different DNA).
As Rick Godwin and Bryn Jones (both advocates of the Toronto deception) launched a tide of Christian anti zionism among Restorationists extreme charismatics, Ruckmanites like Aho , Buester, Howard and Dillen influenced by the racist and anti Semitic 'Balaam's Ass' web site, where Identity Movement beliefs are repackaged as supposedly "Christian discernment" wage a relentless tirade against Messianic Jews, but the bigoted source of their propaganda and their general biblical ignorance means that they have never been a very serious challenge to God's purposes for the Church in relation to Israel. When biblically and logically refuted , they take bible passages out of context (as Satan did in Matthew 4) and turn them into clichés to hide under. When anyone points to New Testament teachings about believing Jews as the natural branches and the practical advantages of being the people of the covenants and having the oracles of God (Romans 3:1), they respond against the existence of Messianic Jews in the same way as Christian feminists arguing for the ordination of women pastors twisting the same verse out of context. That verse is inevitable Galatians 3:28 "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, neither male nor female".
Do men have babies? Did the institution of slavery not exist in the age of the first century church? The temporal differences all remain, the text in its context is talking about spiritual differences disappearing in Christ. To say Jews no longer exist within the Body of Christ is to say that women don't either, or that Paul was wrong in giving instructions to Christian slaves (1 Corinthians 7:21-22) because there weren't any!
The new tide of heresy among hyper messianic extremists encompassing everything from denial of the deity of Yeshua to financial scandal is providing the Israeli Press and anti Messianic Orthodox Jewish Activists in the Jewish community, and radical replacementists and Christian anti semites , (if that is not a contradiction in terms) in the Christian community with new ammunition that is easy to exploit in the discrediting of the doctrinally sound mainstream of Jewish belief, Jewish evangelism, and a biblical understanding of the prophetic purposes of God concerning Israel and the Jews.
A recent article in the November issue of ISRAEL TODAY featured an article about Messianic Jews debating the deity of Yeshua. It is unfortunate this reached the secular media, but it has. A subsequent article in KIVUN, a Hebrew language messianic periodical carried an article by Udi Tzofef quoting various Israeli messianic leaders saying they do not view Yeshua as God in the the same way as traditional Christian theology but as 'The Son of God' and as the Messianic Redeemer. Some espoused what amounts to the ancient heresy of 'Ebionism' held by the Ebionites - calling Jesus a uniquely inspired man but not God Himself. This caused a backlash with 'ISRAEL TODAY' carrying a follow up piece suggesting that those messianic leaders now backtracking are doing so because they are threatened economically with withdrawal of financial support from abroad.
For some time one congregation in Jerusalem has tolerated Ebionites as members and while its leader in Israel uses abusive language such as "the small of the gentiles"(an odour he cannot find awfully fowl given that the wife and mother of his children is one of them) and has made statements about "the whole gentile church going to hell". It is for sure he does not speak that way ion his fundraising trips to churches in the USA. This congregation combines the influences of the late Moishe Ben Meir, (a graduate of Moody Bible Institute who effectively rejected some of the writings of Paul), and influences from the Church of Christ, a sect holding to baptismal regeneration in a form of sacramentalism usually known as "Campbellite".
Among those quoted as rejecting the deity of Yeshua are Uri Markus of the Nehemiah Trust, which helps needy Israeli believers. While the aim of Nehemiah Fund is itself noble, Moriel sadly and regrettably cannot any longer sanction the support of any ministry under the direction of one no longer upholding the fundamental biblical truth of the deity of Yeshua.
Others quoted as rejecting the deity of Yeshua are Joseph Shulam , Hannah Weiss and Dodo Tel Tsur (Mr Shulam was quoted as saying "those believing Jesus is God have lost their search for faith"). Hanna Weiss and Joseph Shulam claim that their views were misconstrued and misreported out of context and that they do not reject the deity of The Lord, but merely do not express it in accordance with the terminology of the Councils or Creeds of The Gentile Church. There is nothing in scripture mandating that one must accept the creeds of the church or define biblical truths in language and terms alien to the New Testament itself and to the original First Century Jewish Church. If Mr Shulam and Hanna Weiss do indeed uphold the deity of Yeshua, but simply reject helenistic explanations of it, Mr Shulam and Hanna Weiss stand vindicated and publications misrepresenting their beliefs should apologetically retract these damaging misquotations and contextual distortions. Others such as Mr Markus unfortunately defended and reiterate their rejection of The Lord's deity. It is clear however that while most Israeli Messianic Jews believe in the deity of Yeshua , there does exist a neo-Ebionite minority who do not.
Even more bizarre has been judaised gentiles such as Joseph B. Good rejecting the trinity. Peter Michas (whose nonsense was dismissed by eminent apologeticist Dr Ron Rhodes ) not only denies the eternal person-hood of Jesus within the Triune Godhead, but has concocted outlandish teachings such as Jesus and the two thieves being nailed to a tree growing out of the ground, and the Garden of Eden not being in Mesopotamia as Genesis says, but in Jerusalem apparently borrowed from a weird caballistic oddity in mystical Judaism.
Predictably, the most extreme elements of the Messianic Movement have been among my fellow Charismatics & Pentecostals. Dan Juster, leader of The Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC) sadly endorsed the ecumenical Promise Keepers fad and has himself become the victim of hyper charismatic chicanery of the most cruel kind following the tragic death of his son in a terrible fire. The young boy's remains were kept on artificial life support as Mr Juster was receiving phone calls on his mobile telephone telling him that God was going to raise the boy from the dead. After the life support was shut don he was urged not to bury the corpse. Indeed God will raise his son on the last day and indeed God could have raised him at this death if God so willed, but it was not God's purpose. What Brother Juster mistook to be prophetic words from The Lord was the mere clairvoyance of hyper charismatic false prophets and deceivers who played on the emotional vulnerability of a bereaved family. Once leaders of a movement have no discernment, there is little prospect for the movement attaining the better purposes of God. We have been warning for some time that if Cardinal Jean Marie Lustigere of Paris (an ethnic Jew) becomes a future pope, hyper messianic extremists will rejoice that the individual in that anti christ papal office is "a Jewish believer".
It is absolutely amazing to see the same Ebionite heresy with which Satan attempted to destroy the first Messianic Movement in the early centuries of the church making a come back today as God once again turns His grace back towards His ancient people Israel.
It is also amazing to see the same nomianism and legalism with which Satan tried to use hyper messianic extremists in Galatia to subvert the gospel in the First Century Church now resurfacing to subvert it in the Twenty First Century Church. Once the domain of Seventh Day Adventists, this unworkable striving to live under two covenants has now permeated most of the charismatic branch of the Messianic Movement. While representing only a minority of Jewish believers, these highly vocal neo Galatians have appointed themselves spokesmen for all Jewish believers and in peddling their nonsense have forgotten the message of Romans 3: 17-23.
It is furthermore amazing to see Satan raising up the same anti messianic arrogance warned against in Romans 11:18 in the early church appearing again today.
It is additionally amazing to see the vitriolic anti Semitic rhetoric masquerading as Christian doctrine which abounded in the early church in the malicious pulpit propaganda of John Chrysostom (and reiterated through the centuries by popes and Luther alike) now coming from the mouths of Satan's latter day messengers the Ruckmanites.
Last of all, just as Jewish believers like Paul withstood this confusion of the deception of messianic extremism on one hand and Christian anti Semitism and Replacementism on the other in the Early Church, The Lord has once more raised up Jewish believers from Arnold Fruchtenbaum to Stan Telchin to Louis Goldberg - providing a scriptural and balanced response to these twin errors Satan has retrieved from early church history and stirred up again. Of One Thing We May Rest Assure - God Did Not Allow Satan To Succeed Back Then In Ancient Galatia And The Same God Will Not Allow Him To Succeed Now!