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Rebuttal #1 to Reason #1 (Part One)

SPECIAL NOTE: This post was originally written in 2008; however, I am bringing it out as a commenter recommended this book as a good response to Christian missionaries. Actually, this book is not very well written and is easily debunked; however, I am taking the time to bring it back out for discussion. 

We are finally able to begin posting a rebuttal to Asher Norman’s Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus.  We had to go through several posts on prefatory materials (see earlier posts).  However, and for now, we will look at each reason given by Norman along with a brief response to him.  Because of space, a full and detailed response is not possible; however, and because of the desire to keep each post a manageable read, some of the rebuttals to the reasons will require two or three parts.

Norman’s “First Reason” is his argument that Christianity and Judaism are not compatible and that faith in Jesus is not “completed” Judaism. I would like to begin my response with the following statement:

Before I get into his argument phase for his reason, I would like to point out two or three important things to consider.  First, if one fails to consider the Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament) roots of the Christian faith then our faith is shallow.  Believers in Jesus cannot have a faith in Jesus without seeing His fulfillment of Tanakh prophecies, feasts, etc.  Second, the phrase “completed Jew” is an unfortunate phrase and I believe that Norman is reacting to it.  You will never see this blog use that phrase except to contradict its argument.  Jewish believers in Jesus are not more Jewish than anyone else; however, they are not as Norman will argue less Jewish.  They are simple Jewish people who believe in the truth of Messiah Jesus.

Okay?!  Now for Norman’s arguments for Reason #1 (along with a brief rebuttal):

  • Norman argues that the Jewish Bible provides the case that Jewish people are bound by the 613 Torah Laws while Gentiles are responsible to abide by the Noahide Covenant.

First, I would like to ask him where this is stated in the Hebrew Scriptures (OT).  Norman makes a lot of claims but never validates his arguments with Scriptures.  Second, as has already been shown in previous posts it is impossible for Gentile Christians to follow the Noahide Covenant because we affirm the truth that Jesus is God the Son or the Son of God (take your pick!).  Therefore, if Norman truly believed this statement should he not be leading out the call to Christendom to abandon this faith instead of allowing us to follow what he sees as heresy.  Because, and the third reason, the Jewish people were called in Isaiah 42 to be a light to the nations and to bring the truth of God to the rest of the world.  Their failure to do so is one of the root causes for the Babylonian Captivity.  Scripture contradicts Norman’s argument as well as logical reasoning.

  • Norman also argues that there is no sense of the Messiah coming to die for the sins of the people and that faith in this belief is silly.

Have to give credit to Norman on this cleverly worded paragraph.  He focuses on Messiah ben David (2nd Coming of Jesus) and neglects the ancient intertestamental arguments that Messiah ben Joseph (1st Coming) would come to be a sacrificial servant — Isaiah 53 — for the people.  BTW, this argument of Messiah ben Joseph was prevalent until the time of Rambam and Rashi.

Regarding the issue of faith.  Norman fails to consider the arguments of Habbakuk 2:4 and Hosea 6:6.  Habbakuk reminds us that the righteous will live by faith but Isaiah 64:6 reminds us that our righteousness is as filthy rags before God.  Therefore, the faith that we can have is not through our own merits but through the righteousness of God himself.  A righteousness that is impossible for humanity to achieve without the sacrifice of someone greater than ourselves.  Furthermore, our efforts at sacrifice and holiness don’t cut it as Hosea 6:6 reminds us.  We can put on a good show of fidelity but God knows the heart and it is wicked without the sacrificial gift of Messiah Jesus on the cross and His triumphant resurrection.

Part two of Rebuttal #1 will deal with the writer’s incomplete understanding of Sin, the Torah, and a good definition of God.  FYI — This might be a long series!

Rebuttal #P2 to 26 Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus (Part Two of the Prefatory Material)

SPECIAL NOTE: This post was originally written in 2008; however, I am bringing it out as a commenter recommended this book as a good response to Christian missionaries. Actually, this book is not very well written and is easily debunked; however, I am taking the time to bring it back out for discussion. Additionally, the first re-post of P1 apparently touched a nerve with a particular anti-missionary; however, we will only pray for her…

Despite the best of intentions, it is necessary to have one final rebuttal to the prefatory material written by Asher Norman in his work, Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus.  Part one of the rebuttal is available here and the introductory post about the book is available here.  We are going to follow the same pattern as #P1 of quotation/paraphrase and rebuttal.  If you have a better idea, please let me know.

  • Asher Norman provides an interesting statement about the fact that God gave the Jewish people a particular mission that was critical for the “spirituality” of everyone (p. xxix, xxxiii, xxxiv).

Norman is absolutely correct, although he will disagree with my interpretation, and Walter Kaiser discusses this mission in his work Mission in the Old Testament:  Israel as a Light to the Nations.  But just what should this mission look like?  Should it appear as Norman describes as a requirement for Gentiles to follow the Noahide Covenant which is impossible for those who affirm the divinity and deity of Jesus?  Or should it appear as Norman advocates that he is not attempting to denigrate the Christian faith?  If Jesus is not the Messiah for the Jewish people he is not the Messiah for any of us?  And if Norman truly believes that he is not, the mission that he advocates should be to warn the rest of us of our folly.

In an interesting twist, one of the reasons for the captivities by the Assyrians and Babylonians in Old Testament times was because the Jewish people had failed to be a light to the nations and to the call the world to monotheism and true faith.  Surely Norman does not wish to be guilty of the same sins as his forefathers?  Obviously the answer is no.  But Norman would not agree that true obedience to this call in Isaiah is found in sharing the truth of Messiah Jesus with all peoples (but first to the Jewish people) of the world.  The writer of this work is attempting to straddle the fence on the issue but ultimately just demonstrates that truly one cannot have it both ways without a lot of awkwardness.

  • Norman states that God only demands that the people keep the law to the best of their ability (p. xxx).

Interesting argument, and one that truly has a great deal of appeal, but is that what God and the Torah state in Leviticus or Deuteronomy?  Leviticus states six times (11:44; 11:45; 19:2; 20:7; 20:26; and 21:8) that we are to be holy because God himself is holy.  The word holy (Kadosh) is the same in reference to both humanity and God.  We are to strive not for what is acceptable but for holiness.

As a corollary to this demand for holiness, that is impossible for humanity to achieve through our own efforts, God recounts the 613 Torah Laws in Deuteronomy.  There is not an option about which laws to fulfill or to do so to the best of our ability.  They are all demanded to be kept and the consequences of failure is punishment … unless a sacrifice is given that assuages God’s wrath.  This sacrifice was Jesus on the cross who came not to abolish but to fulfill every aspect of the Law (Matthew 5:17-20).

More could be written regarding the author’s attempt to split hairs and create nuances where none exist.  However, it is time to develop a counter-argument to the 26 reasons.  It is important to do so not only to defend the faith of Messiah Jesus but also to provide support for Jewish people who are discovering the freedom of grace in which they do not have to give up their Jewishness but also receive who Jesus is.

Rebuttal #P1 to 26 Reasons Why Jews Don't Believe in Jesus (Part One of the Prefatory Material)

SPECIAL NOTE: This post was originally written in 2008; however, I am bringing it out as a commenter recommended this book as a good response to Christian missionaries. Actually, this book is not very well written and is easily debunked; however, I am taking the time to bring it back out for discussion.

As mentioned in the introductory post on this issue, Asher Norman wrote Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus as an anti-missionary response to those (i.e., me and others) who long to see the Jewish people realize the glorious truth that Jesus is the Jewish (and Gentile) Messiah.

Obviously it would be easier to go response for each reason; however, Norman very cleverly writes out some very crucial comments in the prefatory material that must be responded to as well.  Therefore, this post (Rebuttal #P1) and the next one (to be called Rebuttal #P2) will begin where Norman begins “at the very beginning.”  For convenience’s sake, I am going to bullet point Norman’s statements and then block off my rebuttal argument.  Hope that makes sense … we shall see!  Let me know.

  • Norman contends that he bears no animosity towards American Christians and does not desire to convert them to Judaism (page xxi).

Interesting statement which I could examine in greater detail.  However, he contradicts himself in later sections in which he argues that non-Jewish people are redeemed by the Noahide Covenant.  In order to affirm the Noahide Covenant, Christians would have to deny the deity of Jesus.  Something that is impossible for us to do.  Therefore, and in order to defend the claims of Rabbinic Judaism, Norman must attempt to undermine the faith of Christians … except of course he does not wish for Christians to read this book (see previous post).

  • The writer suggests the absurd sum of over one billion dollars has been given to missionary organizations dedicated to Jewish evangelism (p. xxi).

Where does this large dollar amount come from?  There is no citation.  There is no evidence to back up his claim.  In reality, and this is a great tragedy, many churches and Christians give little evidence that they are concerned over the salvation of God’s Chosen Ones.  I realize that this is a good claim (albeit unprovable) to make but the evidence is just not there.  If it was true, the work of Jewish missions would not be as difficult as it is.

  • Norman advocates that Jewish people are awaiting the arrival of Messiah ben David to usher in the Messianic Era as this man is a descendant of King David (p. xxiv).

In another part of this series, I will respond in greater detail about the anti-missionary claim that Jesus’ lineage is suspect (it is not!).  However, the interesting focus in this sentence is on the Messiah ben David argument.  The question left hanging by Norman is whatever happened to the concept of Messiah ben Joseph from intertestamental times in which everyone understood that the Messiah must come first to suffer for His people?  Isaiah 53 anyone?   Jesus anyone?

  • The writer acknowledges that Christian missionaries to the Jewish people are both good at debate but are unaffected by “rational” arguments.  Norman even admits that there are translations of the Tanakh that “superficially appear to refer to Jesus” [emphasis mine] (p. xxiv-xxv).

Wow …!  I feel both complimented and insulted all in the same sentence.  I also appreciate his begrudging admission that just perhaps it could be interpreted that Jesus does appear to be present in the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures and/or Jewish Bible) … but more on that later.

I pray this series will be both informative, enlightening, and provide evidence that the Jewish Messiah is none other than Jesus the carpenter from Nazareth.  I also pray that these words will be written in compassion and love and kindness.

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Romans 1:16 Pledge

As Israel and the Jewish people are facing opposition from every side, it is time for churches and Christians to renew their commitment to Jewish evangelism and Romans 1:16 … “to the Jew first.”

Will you join with Tzedakah Ministries and sign the #Rom116TTJF Pledge to signify to the world that even though the world might turn against the Jewish people and Israel, you will stand with them in their darkest hour and pledge that the strongest support they can receive is to hear the message of Messiah Jesus for themselves?


Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem … What Does It Really Mean?

What does it really mean to pray for the peace of Jerusalem? Find out more here.Day of Prayer Logo (2016)

Never Forget. Never Again

Jack BassI have been blessed in my life to become friends with six survivors of the Shoah (Holocaust). Four of the six have passed into eternity while two still remain alive, including my dear friend Jack who is pictured with me to the left. I treasure my time with each of these precious individuals because they taught me so much about perseverance, endurance, survival, and forgiveness.

William, Rosalie, Agnes and Josef lost their families in the camps. Jack lost his father and would have died himself without the amazing fortitude of his mother. Vera is a testimony of survival that is beyond the imagination. They are heroes and I am a better person for having had these amazing individuals pass through my life.

Tomorrow (27 January 2015) is International Holocaust Remembrance Day as it commemorates the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945. It has been 70 years since that horrible Death Camp was liberated and the survivors are growing older in age and fewer in number with each passing day. One questions if there will be any survivors at the 80th anniversary in 2025 and one wonders if the world will even care about the Holocaust in 2025.

Well … I care and I will never forget the legacy of “Wilson,” “Rosa,” “Agatha,” “Joseph,” Jack and Vera. I will never forget the message they shared with me. I will never forget sitting with them and hearing their stories of survival. I will never forget how I held Jack in my arms as he cried over the losses of his past. I will never forget how Jack encouraged me after this experience because I was overcome by what had happened to him. I will never forget. I will do all that I can to ensure that it never happens again. (Please note that some of the names have been changed for privacy’s sake)

Tzedakah Ministries will also work to share the truth of Messiah Jesus with the Jewish people, and this will not be a popular paragraph when read by many, because this is the highest means by which we can honor the Jewish people … by sharing/returning their Messiah back to them. For this is what Tzedakah Ministries affirms:

  • We as Christian churches cannot change the past but we must acknowledge the sins of the past
  • We as Christian churches must not allow our guilt of the past to cloud the present need of Jewish souls to hear the message of Messiah Jesus
  • We as Christian churches must fight against the twin heresies of replacement theology and dual covenantalism in the Modern Church
  • We as Christian churches must be prepared to respond to modern anti-Semitism and the next Hitler on the horizon

This is because Tzedakah Ministries affirms the argument of Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer who not only fought against Hitler and died a martyr’s death but also believed in Jewish evangelism when he stated:

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil:  God will not hold us guiltless.  Not to speak is to speak.  Not to act is to act.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Tzedakah Ministries cannot be silent when the world is growing increasingly anti-Semitic. Tzedakah Ministries cannot be silent when the Jewish people need Jesus so desperately. Tzedakah Ministries cannot be silent because we can never forget that Jesus is Jewish as well.

SPECIAL NOTE: My friend Vera Schlamm who survived Bergen-Belsen was a Jewish believer in Jesus and this truth can be found along with her testimony at the Shoah Foundation. A brief snippet of her testimony was once posted on this blog and can be seen here again. Please also check out her whole autobiography entitled Pursued. I am also overjoyed because Jack became a believer in Jesus as well a few years ago.

The Jewish View of the End Times (Day of Prayer 2015)

SPECIAL NOTE:  This is the final blog post for Tzedakah Ministries‘ evangelistic/prayer outreach Day of Prayer for the Salvation of the Jewish People (2015) that culminated on 16 January 2015. Each of the blog posts were specially tailored to serve as a devotional guide on how to pray for the Jewish people for on each particular day that led up to January 16th and now today. Tzedakah Ministries hopes that these blogs will assist you in praying for the Jewish people and will equip in knowing how to share Messiah Jesus with the people for whom Jesus first came … #Rom116TTJF!


The Jewish View of the End Times

The modern Jewish understanding of the afterlife is complex, convoluted and confusing. If you asked three Jewish individuals, you would get probably five to six answers on what they think might happen to you after you die.  This reality surprises many Christians and churches because the common assumption is that the Jewish perception of the hereafter (and coincidentally the “End Times”) is very similar to our own. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Heaven-hellReform Judaism refuses to take an official position on eternity while basically inferring that when one dies … that is it and there is nothing after the final breath (http://www.reformjudaism.org/judaism-what-believed-happen-someone-after-they-die). Most of the other streams of Judaism see the world to come (“Olam Haba”) as something not to worry about because we should focus more on the here and now. The Orthodox strand might place more value on eternity but even then you are eligible only if one follows an impossible labyrinth of Talmudic laws. Mystical Judaism (i.e., Kabbalah) allows for four chances to get it right – in other words a form of reincarnation. In other words … “THE END” of it all is a vague and little understood concept within Judaism and this is a tragedy that Christians and churches must address, especially given the reality of Hebrews 9:27 – “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”

However, there is a Biblical passage, specifically involving David and Solomon, that could invaluable as a resource for sharing the truth of life, death, and eternity to the Jewish people for Christians and churches. This Biblical passage is read once a year in the synagogue and it is time that the truth of this passage be brought to life.

1 Kings 2:1-12 is intriguing. We have David imparting his final words to Solomon before his death. Word of admonitions regarding the need to keep the conditional Mosaic covenant in order that the unconditional Davidic covenant will not be in doubt (i.e., Jeremiah’s curse to Coniah/Jeconiah).   We also have David instructing Solomon to seek vengeance on Joab and Shimei for what they had done against David. Verses 6 and 9 leads to the idea of the afterlife – “Do therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace … NowHebrew Bible therefore hold him not guiltless: for thou [art] a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him; but his hoar head bring thou down to the grave with blood.”   Those verses are different than how David’s death is described; however, all the verses are dealing with death and what happens … NEXT. Regarding David it is said in verses 1-2 and 10, “Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; … So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.”   David slept or rested (shakab שָׁכַב with his fathers while David wanted Joab and Shimei to go to Sheol that is translated as grave) in blood and without peace. Does that not imply there are two states for the dead? Does David not indicate there is reward for the righteous and punishment for the evil?  David knew there was life after death, you can also see this when his son from the sin with Bathsheba died and so should the Jewish people. 

Therefore, and perhaps, Christians and churches can use 1 Kings 2:1-12 to begin a discussion on this most important of topics and devotional thoughts – What happens when someone dies? And where will they go?

True Meaning of Jewish Atonement (Day of Prayer 2015)

SPECIAL NOTE:  The blog posts for the next two days, and the previous six days, are connected to Tzedakah Ministries‘ evangelistic/prayer outreach Day of Prayer for the Salvation of the Jewish People (2015) that culminates on 16 January 2015. Each of the blog posts are specially tailored to serve as a devotional guide on how to pray for the Jewish people for on each particular day leading up to today, January 16th, and tomorrow. Tzedakah Ministries hopes that these blogs will assist you in praying for the Jewish people and will equip in knowing how to share Messiah Jesus with the people for whom Jesus first came … #Rom116TTJF!



??????????Today is the day! I do hope that the previous devotional thoughts have prepared you for this Day of Prayer for the Salvation of the Jewish People (2015)! I pray you are spending this day seeking God for the atonement/salvation of the Jewish people. They were/are/will always be chosen by God to be His People; however, they must come to redemption just like the rest of the world … through Messiah Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). There is no exception. There is no other way around or “Dual Covenant” approach to God for the Jewish people. There is only ONE WAY and His Name is Jesus the Messiah!

Rabbinic Judaism offers a path to atonement that is not based on the Biblical precept found in Leviticus  –

“Sanctify yourselves therefore, AND BE YE HOLY: for I [am] the LORD your God” (20:7) and “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”  (17:11) .

Instead, Rabbinic Judaism has adopted some noble concepts – fasting, prayer, and repentance/reconciliation with your fellow individuals as a way to achieve atonement – as the means to achieve atonement with God.

However, none of these satisfy God’s requirement from Leviticus which require a blood sacrifice for atonement. LeviticusIncidentally, this is why some of the more Orthodox Jewish communities are so desperate for the Temple in Jerusalem to be rebuilt as they know they are “making do” with a form of Judaism that will not ultimately satisfy God’s requirements in the Torah.

Those among the Orthodox Jewish communities, perhaps secretly,  recognize the truth of Isaiah 64:6 (verse 5 in the Jewish Bible) “But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” We as humans cannot make atonement for our sins through our own power. We as humans cannot achieve our salvation through our own good works. We can pray. We can fast. We can apologize every year to those we offend and we will still be unrighteous before God because the need for blood of a perfect atoning sacrifice is still necessary.

This is why Jesus came to earth to be our Messiah and Redeemer and King. He came to die for our sins so that we might live forever with Him. And this is the message that we as churches and Christians must share TODAY with the Jewish people. Jesus was/is their Messiah first (Rom. 1:16) and our hearts desire should be for their salvation (Rom. 10:1). Our prayers should not just be for their physical peace but for their spiritual and eternal peace (Psalm 122:6). For no other message matters but the fact that Messiah Jesus is the atonement for our sins and for the sins of all the Jewish people … if only they knew the message He came to bring.

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption [for us]. – Hebrews 9:11-12

Who Is Jesus and What Does His Name Mean (Day of Prayer 2015)

SPECIAL NOTE:  The blog posts for the next three days, and the previous five days, are connected to Tzedakah Ministries‘ evangelistic/prayer outreach Day of Prayer for the Salvation of the Jewish People (2015) that culminates on 16 January 2015. Each of the blog posts are specially tailored to serve as a devotional guide on how to pray for the Jewish people for on each particular day leading up to January 16th and the next day. Tzedakah Ministries hopes that these blogs will assist you in praying for the Jewish people and will equip in knowing how to share Messiah Jesus with the people for whom Jesus first came … #Rom116TTJF!


Who Is Jesus and What Does His Name Mean?

k0249251A few years ago I was sitting in a traditional Jewish synagogue with a friend who is currently angry with me because Tzedakah Ministries won’t stop sharing Messiah Jesus. We were sitting together because she had invited me to her synagogue after attending the Messianic Congregation I attend in Dallas when I am not traveling for the ministry (Adat Shalom Messianic Congregation that was started as a mission by W. A. Criswell and FBC Dallas).  

She was impressed that I could follow the Hebrew liturgy that was in the Siddur (Jewish Prayer Book) but felt the need to point out to me that the words of salvation requested in Hebrew was not what I was thinking it meant. I pointed out to her that indeed it was and Messiah Jesus was only waiting for her to figure it out … especially the 15th Amidah Blessing which has been loosely translated here  (http://www.egrc.net/articles/other/amidah.html):

Speedily cause the offspring of your servant David to flourish,  and let him be exalted by your saving power,  for we wait all day long for your salvation.  Blessed are you, O Lord, who causes salvation to flourish.

For you see, the word for salvation in Hebrew is YESHUA (יְשׁוּעָה) and the Hebrew name for Jesus is YESHUA. This is why my friend was reacting to the word … because she knew how I would react to it. And, indeed, I did!

Jesus is the essence and purpose and point of salvation “to the Jew first” and also for the rest of the world. There is no other way around it – regardless of what “Religious Correctness” might seek to say.  This might be an uncomfortable argument to make, especially as we consider the lost spiritual condition of the Jewish people; however, it must be stated plainly and without hesitation. There is no other salvation unless one recognizes that eternal atonement comes only through receiving Messiah Jesus as your Redeemer.

My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation [is] from him. He only [is] my rock and my salvation: [he is] my defence; I shall not be moved. In God [is] my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, [and] my refuge, [is] in God. – Psalm 62:5-7

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. – Isaiah 53:4-6

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. – John 3:16-18

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. – John 14:6

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. – Acts 4:12