LETTER TO YAFFA: A Book Review by Isaac Israel

Refuting Edward Chumney's "Restoring the Two Houses of Israel"

Where Do They Come From?

(Derivational Objections)

I understand there’s a new twist on the old myth about the ten northern tribes of Israel getting lost and turning into European Gentiles. The Messianic Movement, as you know, has been struggling to rid itself of this fairy tale, the followers of which have been joining—I should say infiltrating—Messianic congregations in droves for well over a decade now.

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Their belief is called “Two House”, or “Ephraimite”, but one might call it Anglo-Israelism with a yarmulkeh. The major Messianic Jewish organizations—the MJAA, the UMJC, and the AMC—have all released statements rejecting it as not only scripturally untenable, but anti-Jewish to boot! The fact that there exists an anti-Jewish subculture within a revival raised up by HaShem to bring haB’sorah (the Gospel) to the Jewish people is not only absurd, it’s tragic! HaShem will not tolerate it! Anyone who curses the Jewish people will be cursed by HaShem (Gen. 12:3). That is the promise G-d made to Avraham. Yet, despite the popularity of Anglo Israelism among anti-Semites and Neo Nazis, Messianic congregations all over America are inviting teachers to bring Hebraic versions of this mental disease into their midst.

Yes, anti-Semitism is a mental disease! Islamics caught it in the 1930s, when the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al-Housseini, went to visit Adolf Hitler and embraced anti-Semitism as a political tool of Jihad. Prior to that, it was a sickness confined primarily to European Christendom.

I am about to say some things that many will find offensive. But if they’re among those planting anti-Semitic ideas in a revival sent by G-d to Jewish people —Messianic Judaism—then they must expect to be severely rebuked.

In his book, Anti-Semitism:A Disease of the Mind, Jewish psychiatrist Isaac Rubin, M.D. connects the sickness to envy—to that place where one begins to despise those of whom one is envious.

Why would Christians envy Jews? Because their entire Bible was written by Jews! (Rom.3:2) To the Jews were committed the Oracles of G-d and the Covenants into which they’ve been grafted. Because the “Christ” they worship was Himself a Jew. The subconscious perception seems to be that there’s something special (in a mystical sense) about a people who originated their Christian faith, produced their Messiah, led them to salvation and remained alive, intellectually strong, and materially prosperous for centuries despite every effort by Christendom to snuff them out. This perception can lead them in two directions. The healthy direction is to perceive those blessings as a reflection of G-d’s Ahavah (Love) and Chesed (Grace) toward all of His people—Gentile and Jew alike. One can love the Jewish people and assist them in their struggles as a way of expressing recognition of HaShem’s enduring patience and unchanging love.

Or one can take the unhealthy, carnal path of responding with envy.

Since such an envious Christian is admonished by the Decalogue of the Jewish Torah not to covet, he must therefore suppress his envy as much as possible, thrusting it down deeper and deeper into his subconscious where he is still motivated by it, yet unaware of it. This subconscious envy is expressed by a desire to be a Jew. When that desire is thwarted—since it’s only possible for a Christian to become a Jew through conversion, a denial of his faith in Jesus and, according to Rabban Sha’ul, a fall from grace (Gal.5:4)—the result is not always calm acquiescence. Often it’s an explosion of irrational anger. I’ve personally witnessed Christians turning into instant anti-Semites when their desire to be Jews is challenged. It seems oddly contradictory, but there is a psychological basis for it.

Dr. Rubin makes the following observation:

“The anti-Semite's most buried and unconscious secret—from himself and from others—is the desire to be a Jew. He wants to be free of conscience and inner coercions and believes that Jews are free. He, too, wants to be what he views as the exotic and peculiarly privileged outsider. He wants to be the total and forever expatriate even as he raves about his own patriotism and nationalistic feelings and influences…”

All this turmoil of which Dr. Rubin speaks is occurring at the subconscious level. The individual is unaware of its existence. Therefore, if you were to accuse him of being an anti-Semite, he would vociferously deny the charge.

This is hardly unique to anti-Semites. It’s true of most racists, in fact. I know a man who claims to despise African-Americans. He makes racist remarks constantly. He’s proud of it. And yet his favorite musicians are black, his favorite comedians are black, his favorite writers are black, he admits that blacks dominate in the arena of sports, and he likes to imitate blacks in his manner of speech and behavior. He doesn’t hate African-Americans at all! He admires them greatly. Perhaps too greatly. Since he can’t turn his skin from white to black, he directs resentment and hatred toward the people he admires most. Were he truly a racist he would deny it.

There’s a strong desire among many Christians to be Jews. As a Jew, I don’t take any delight in this. I wish it were not so. Many of them have been able to channel that desire in constructive directions, emigrating to Israel, for example, to help during times of war, to support the people they admire so deeply. Tov mayod! (Very good!) But others channel it in negative ways, the most common of which is the effort to usurp the envied person’s place, to possess what he possesses. There are various stages of this condition. The first stage, according to Dr. Rubin, is:

“Desiring to have something…the other, envied person is believed to possess. This can be a mild wish or an overwhelming preoccupation.

Even at this stage self-hate can be intense and this may be converted to hatred of the envied person who is seen as the depriving enemy. Interestingly, as with all symbol sickness, paradoxes are common. Even as there is hatred for the other person, the desire to trade places may also exist.

Commonly, however, at this stage the patient just wants to own things the other person is represented as having. Invariably the victim also has the feeling that what he or she does possess is second-rate and even worthless. [How many times have I heard Christians say that they felt like second class citizens in Messianic synagogues?]

In this second stage, especially in morbidly dependent people, there is a desire to have everything the other person is believed to have. I have seen cases in which the victim would actually like to trade places and be the other person. This desire often covers a deeply unconscious desire to meld with the other person so as to provide an adequate and more desirable self.”

Dr. Rubin calls the second stage the vindictive stage. “In this stage, the envious person desires to deprive the person he envies of his place and position by usurping them.” And this leads to the third stage, which Dr. Rubin calls the “invidious stage”. We see this stage in evidence at any white supremacist rally.

Most Gentile Christians who persist in their desire to be Jews do not, thanks to Biblical constraints, move beyond the vindictive stage. We see this stage in evidence in the way the “Two Housers” have infiltrated the Messianic movement.

Frustrated by the negative effect of “Two House” on the movement’s witness to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, Jewish members like myself have been leaving it. As the number of Jews decreases, the number of Two Housers increases. They take the places vacated by the Jews and begin to influence other Messianic Gentiles to adopt their Ephraimite view. If this phenomenon continues, they’ll have successfully usurped a revival given by G-d to the Jewish people. Next they’ll attempt to usurp their Covenant of the Land, for many of them are already claiming that, being Israel, they have a right to ten-twelfths of the Holy Land! (Judah will get the remaining two-twelfths, along with the Levites. Hey! Wonderful!)

Well entrenched in the vindictive stage the Two House people have been combing the Word of G-d, most of it written to Jewish people, in order to find proof-scriptures for their belief that they are Israel and that the Jews are Judah. (This has been going on since the mid-nineties, when the arrival of a free copy of Batya Wootten’s book in my mailbox first made me aware of the cult.) Year by year, like good Jehovah’s Witnesses, they’ve been learning how to refute every Scripture used against them.

The fact that a doctrine is persuasive doesn’t make it true!

I met skinheads in prison who thought Mein Kampf was persuasive. Millions have found the doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses persuasive. The JWs have lovely personalities and numerous verses to back up their contention that the Jews are “fleshly Israel” from the “synagogue of Satan” and that they, the JWs, are “spiritual Israel.” Everybody is Israel but the Jews! (Except during the Holocaust, of course, when the only Israelites you could find were Jews.)

I learned a lesson in the mid eighties when I engaged in a series of weekly debates with a Jehovah’s Witness named Joe. These debates, both friendly and respectful, were conducted every Thursday evening for many months. We eventually agreed to disagree and parted as friends, but I was able to see my error. I’d allowed myself to be drawn into Joe’s game. He was trained to debate these subjects and had an entire worldwide organization behind him. He had their books, their tools, their advice and support. When I let him draw me into a verse by verse debate, I was on his ground. I was giving credence to his belief by sitting there with him, week after week, listening to him expound from his New World Translation. Now I meet Jehovah’s Witnesses at my door with kindness and love. I show appreciation for their zeal for “Jehovah” (although that’s not His Name). I make a few statements that strike, not at their hermeneutic, but at their organization and its founder. Then I say goodbye with a smile. But I don’t wish them “G-d-speed” or “Shalom”, and they don’t get past my door (II John 1:10-11).

I insist we play on my ground.

This is why I exhort Messianic Jews and Christians never to involve themselves in classes, debates, or any verse-by-verse discussions with members of cults—including the “Two House” cult!. It lends credence to their doctrine and suggests that their position is worth considering and therefore tenable. The effective way to refute their doctrines is to lovingly admonish them and then leave them alone, not to sit under their teachings in order to catch them in an error or trip them up. The believer has no business wasting the L-rd’s time in a “Two House” Bible study, even if his motive is to learn about it in order to refute it—any more than he has any business in the local tavern, drinking with the sinners, in order to learn how best to refute them. We need to bring the sinner out of the tavern and onto our ground—onto the L-rd’s ground. When he comes to us, he’s making the concession that what we possess is valuable to him. We have the opportunity to influence him. When we enter his territory, we’re conceding to him. Validating his views. He has the advantage and we tend to fail.

It’s my motive in writing this diatribe to assist you and Ya’acov in acquiring information without conceding ground to the Two Housers, without validating their mythology by fighting on their territory. I’ll respond to the letter you recently sent me explaining the frustration both of you are experiencing with “Two House.” In doing so I will address some key statements in Edward Chumney’s book, Restoring the Two Houses of Israel. Since his book reflects the most recent mutation of the disease, I feel I must respond to it. But I intend to go no further than to address those new permutations not already dealt with in papers offered by the MJAA, UMJC, and AMC.

The Intrepid Mr. Chumney

(You Gotta Love Him!)

Edward Chumney, purveyor of the most recent Messianic Jewish version of Anglo-Israelism, displays the resiliency of a Jehovah’s Witness as he knocks every objection raised by the leaders of the Messianic movement back over the net. He’s good. He has his Jewish terminology down solid, and he proceeds with chutzpah (audacity), condemning everyone who doesn’t share his views as working against the Gospel. He moves fast and keeps smiling, making erroneous assertions so quickly that the listener (or reader) finds himself nodding in agreement to such premises as: the purpose for Yeshua’s coming was to reunite the Two Houses of Israel (p.504). If you nod at this assertion you’ll soon find yourself in a corner: You must either be in favor of the “Two House” doctrine or be found working against Yeshua. But, wait a minute! Let’s go back a few steps! The purpose of Yeshua’s coming was not to reunite the Two Houses of Israel. The purpose of Yeshua’s coming was John 3:16!

The sad thing is, Mr. Chumney used to be pretty right on. His book, The Seven Festivals of Messiah, was a good one. He was a fairly solid, reliable teacher in the Messianic movement until he joined the fight to usurp Israel’s blessings. Now, as a leading spokesman for the Messianic version of “Two House,” he has, in the opinion of many, relinquished whatever credibility he might have previously earned.

Letter From Yaffa

(Logical Objections)

2/28/09

Isaac,

Ya’acov and I want you to look at these notes from Eddie Chumney’s 2-house teaching last Shabbat—Ya’acov is burning to give a comprehensive refutation of this error to the people who heard it, particularly the small group that used to meet with us on Erev Shabbat last year. He sort of feels responsible for them. We saw your DVD that dealt with 2-house, and it’s good, but not enough. Ya’acov wants to refute this guy’s arguments point-by-point, using the “correct” understanding of the Scriptures where possible.

My beloved Ya’acov and Yaffa:

How many pins does it take to burst a balloon?

Even if it’s a gigantic and complex balloon made up of a dozen or so individual balloons twisted into shapes that form, say, a huge red dragon—that still doesn’t alter the fact that a single pin, applied at the right points, will burst every balloon and make the whole dragon explode into thin air.

While the subject of Two House is not addressed specifically in the K’tuvim Natz’rim (“New” Testament), a certain principle regarding false teachings is articulated: We are not to spend an inordinate amount of time in dispute with false teachers and their followers, because many of them have willingly deceived themselves and will not hear the truth. We should reprove them (that is, pull out our pin and pop four or five of their doctrinal balloons), and let them go their way. Yeshua Rabbeinu (Jesus our Master) told his talmidim: “…if the people…refuse to hear you, then, as you leave, shake the dust off your feet as a warning to them” (Mark 6:11).

Y’hudah (Jude) advised: “Rebuke some who are disputing; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and to yet others, show mercy, but with fear, hating even the clothes stained by their vices” (Jude 23).

Yochanan (John) wrote: “If someone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, don’t welcome him into your home. Don’t even say, ‘Shalom!’ to him, for the person who says, ‘Shalom!’ to him shares in his evil deeds.”

Now, again, the Sheliachim were not talking about the “Two House” teaching, because such an absurd twisting of Torah had never occurred to them. But the principle is clear:

As to the ones who’ve been deceived by the doctrine, give them a few scriptural facts that strike at the foundation of that teaching, then let them alone to make their choices. Pray for them. Show rachamim (mercy) by trying to snatch them out of the fire, but be extremely cautious that you don’t get drawn into it yourself. As for the teachers of the false doctrine, don’t open the door to them. Don’t even wish them shalom (peace).

This sounded harsh to me as a young believer, so I went off in my own wisdom and began to take on the JWs. I spent an inordinate amount of time studying to refute their doctrines, but soon realized that they were gaining the advantage over me. They were not about to listen to my Scriptures, or be moved by my arguments. They didn’t want the Truth; they had their personal agenda.

Rabban Sha’ul warned Timothy that: “…the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (II Tim. 4:3). HaSătan brings doctrines for itching ears—doctrines that meet certain needs in the hearts of those who, for one reason or another, have not experienced the full depths of Messiah’s ahavah (love). They have needs they feel have not been met in their relationship with Yeshua, and HaSătan, the world’s greatest snake-oil salesman, is right there with the “cure” for a sickness he himself created! (Great work if you can get it.)

The time is here when the L-rd has begun to shake the tree, to see who will cling to the vine and who will fall away. Before the Man of Sin is revealed, there will be a great falling away first (II Thess. 2:6). Those who “heap to themselves teachers” will “turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:4). If they turn away from Truth, it means that they once knew the Truth. Not everyone will remain in the Truth, my beloved friends. Not everyone will endure to the end. Hebrews 6:4-6 says that “when people have once been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, become sharers in the Ruach HaKodesh, and tasted the goodness of G-d’s Word and the powers of the olam haba [the world to come]—and then have fallen away—it is impossible to renew them so that they turn from their sin, as long as for themselves they keep executing the Son of G-d on the stake all over again and keep holding him up to public contempt.” We cannot renew such people—only the Ruach can renew them. “With men it is impossible, but not with G-d: for with G-d all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). Having fallen away myself, I can testify to this.

Prayer is our weapon, not “vain disputations.”

There’s something such as getting too close to the fire, like the moth whose fascination with the flame draws him to destruction. Mr. Chumney was on the narrow path until he went sniffing around in those two houses, right? So be careful about entering into debate with those who are deceived.

I cannot give you a “point-by-point”, “comprehensive” refutation without spending more time in the Pointless Forest than I should. There are many more important things I can be doing for the Master—like working on my Galatians book—than spending hour after hour burning the midnight oil over volumes written by unconscious anti-Semites.

Sha’ul warned Timothy: “Some, by aiming amiss, have wandered off into fruitless discussion. They want to be teachers of Torah, but they understand neither their own words nor the matters about which they make such emphatic pronouncements” (I Tim.1:5-7). He told Titus: “…avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain” (Titus 3:9). He told Timothy: “Therefore, it is my wish that when the men pray, no matter where, they should lift up hands that are holy—they should not become angry or get into arguments.” In short, when our Two House opponents refuse to budge, our debates become “unprofitable and vain.”

It’s quite sufficient to strike at the underpinnings of Mr. Chumney’s doctrine—as we did above with his assertion concerning the purpose of Messiah’s coming—rather than going “point-by-point” with him. (Although I will do that at the end of this review.) If we can prove from Scripture that certain foundational premises

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A Suburban Jewish Kid Looks At Christmas

by Isaac Israel

I'll let you in on a little secret:

As a Jewish kid growing up in the suburbs I thought Christmas was the most beautiful time of year. I never felt offended by manger scenes in the town square, although I couldn't understand why those ceramic Jews were standing around a stable full of animals.

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And why was that Jewish baby in the barn with the animals?

Jewish people aren't crazy about farm animals. They were forbidden to own land in the Middle Ages, so they got into the mercantile trades: buying, selling, lending. Then they made their kids become doctors or lawyers or accountants. Did you ever see an accountant milking a cow?

My mother was always telling me that animals were dirty and you kept them away from the baby. We had dogs, but we shampooed them.

So I found those manger scenes difficult to understand. Two Jewish people named Miryam and Yossef in a stable with their baby because there was no room at the inn? It didn't make sense. When there's no room at the Holiday Inn, you try to find something cheap at a motel. As long as they have clean towels. I mean, this was hard for a suburban Jewish kid to understand.

But I was never offended by it.

If Christians were so obviously delighted with this ceramic Jewish family, what could be the harm in that? I wasn't going to be the one to tell them that there were too many animals in the house. Maybe they liked animals. And if they wanted to imagine that Jewish people felt comfortable with cattle, what was the harm in it?

I don't recall a single Jew ever saying to me, "Aren't you offended by that manger scene?" Nobody ever said that. The only comment I remember hearing from a Jewish person regarding Christmas was when Bernie Jacobs said, "Business is good. I can't complain." What Jewish person would complain about a holiday during which gentiles line up in front of department stores waiting to spend money? Think about it! (In fact, I've always suspected that Santa Claus had actually been some Jewish toy manufacturer back in the Middle Ages. Santa Bloomberg?)

All that anti-Christmas stuff was created by atheists. I liked Christmas. Bernie Jacobs owned the local music store, and I remember buying records like "Do You Hear What I Hear" and "Little Drummer Boy". Didn't Bing Crosby sing that?

I loved that music!

"Silent Night" was one of my favorite songs. I didn't have a clue what it was about, but something about it was deeply spiritual and it spoke to me.

What was all this fuss about a baby named Jesus, born the King of the Jews? And what kind of a name was "Jesus?" Jewish kids had names like Bernie and Solly and Irv. It was a mystery to me. But what a beautiful mystery. All those sparkling colored lights reflecting off the snow. Why didn't Jewish people make a fuss like that over our holidays? A fifty-foot menorah with sparklers for Hanukkah, a sukkah the size of Mammoth Mart for "Tabernacles", or a giant, fuchsia chicken or something. I thought it was wonderful that Christians displayed their religious faith in such a handsome fashion, and with so much chutzpah. I still do.

Jews are not demonstrative. Centuries of persecution, topped off by the Holocaust, can dampen a community's enthusiasm to advertise its presence with a fifty-foot chicken in the public square. But now Christians are being persecuted by secular powers who want to outlaw any public display of Christmas. I think that's a crime. (It's unconstitutional, too.)

Christmas is offensive to no one but a hater of G-d.

I remember standing in the snow, snowflakes falling in my hair and tickling my eyelashes, gazing for long minutes into one of those manger displays, at the infant in the manger, the three kings with their gifts, and those Jewish people with the animals. And I remember pondering that scene and its implications.

Who was this Child?

And why was he so special to those Jewish people?

What was going on in that barn, anyway?

In the silence of those winter evenings, that rustic tableau touched me in a special way I can't describe. Hashem (G-d) was speaking to me through those ceramic actors as they stood frozen in time, frozen in the most miraculous moment in human history, the moment the Torah and the Nevi'im (the Law and the Prophets) had promised, the moment when G-d came to earth in human flesh! When the Ben haM'vorach, the Son of the Blessed One -- Whose Name, Yeshua, means "Salvation" in Hebrew -- came down from Heaven and allowed Himself to be sacrificed for the sins of mankind!

"For unto us a Child is born.

Unto us a Son is given. . . ."

Born to haAlmah (the virgin) in Bet Lechem (or Bethlehem, which means "House of bread"), killed before the destruction of the Temple (Daniel 9:26), as the substitute for our sins (Isaiah 53:8), bringing in the Brit Chadashah (the New Testament, or Renewed Covenant) as promised in Jeremiah 31, the promise that saved my soul.

And so I say, with all the love in my heart, with gratitude to every Christian who so patiently endured my cynicism, who so consistently prayed for my soul, and to every Christian reading these words:

Have a very merry Christmas,

and a happy New Year.

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A Suburban Jewish Kid Looks At Passover

by Isaac Israel

As a Jewish kid growing up in the suburbs, I found Pesach (Passover) a bit weird.

At first it sounded great! A Festival where G-d actually commanded me to eat! Baruch haShem! Praise the L-rd and pass the gravy! That was one mitzvah I'd have no trouble observing. In fact, more holidays like Pesach and I might decide to become a rabbi. Talent for eating was something I had in abundance, and I couldn't wait to show HaShem (G-d) what a potential yeshiva bocher (Talmudic student) I was!

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But then I saw the food! Oy, vey is mir! (Oh, woe is me!)

Everything a kid can't stand sat on that decorative plate before me: Bitter herbs, like scallions and horseradish and stuff; a roasted egg, still in the shell, burned brown and inedible; a leg of lamb with no meat on it; and couple of square pieces of matzah. Unleavened bread. There would be no products made with leaven, or that had even the potential of leavening, for eight whole, terrible days! All bread was out. All cookies and cake were out. Pasta was definitely out. And commercial snacks and candies were out. You name it, it was out. Out, out, out!

OK. So this was a G-d with a sense of humor, right?

Had He given us this holiday in order to make us wish we were gentiles? If so, He was succeeding. I mean, not only did we get two thousand years of persecution and the Holocaust and all that, but we had to eat stuff like this! When the goyim had holidays, they got Christmas cookies and chocolate Easter eggs and stuff.

But I only saw one egg. And it was burned almost beyond recognition.

This was a holiday designed to destroy anyone's appetite. Except the Romans, that is. No one can destroy an Italian's appetite. Back in the days of Herod and Pontius Pilate, when the Roman legions discovered (with horror, I'm sure) that the only bread served in Judea for eight days would be flat, round, crispy wafer-like things, they didn't despair. They just poured tomato sauce and cheese on top of it and called it pizza. You have to hand it to them; they crucified a lot of people but they knew what to do with food. Now that they've invented stuffed crust I forgive them for everything.

There was a long, stultifying service, which Dad chanted in Hebrew from the Haggada. And then, since I was the youngest boy, I had to chant the "Four Questions": "Mah nishtanah halailah hazeh..." Why is this night different from all other nights?" It always gave me stage-fright.

But then Mom brought out the chicken soup with kneidlach (matzah-balls), and a delicious roast chicken dinner, and it turned out okay after all. G-d had been kidding all along.

Between all those cups of kosher wine and hot chicken soup I'd become a little drowsy and head off to bed, wondering what in the world it was all about. A lot had been said in the Haggadah about Mitzrayim (Egypt), and how the L-rd had delivered us from that place of pyramids and led us through the wilderness to the Promised Land. I'd seen pictures of the Egyptians in history books. They were all skinny and wore wigs and funny eye makeup and walked around with their wrists bent and their legs akimbo. If I'd lived in a place where people walked around like that I'd pray to be delivered too!

But that was all I got out of Pesach. That and a little tipsy from the Mogen David.

Decades later, after accepting Yeshua haMashiach (Jesus Christ) as my L-rd and Savior, and after having walked with Him for over thirty years, I have the full understanding of what HaShem was showing me in that Passover service. The rabbis who compiled the Talmud over the centuries limited its meaning to our deliverance from bondage in Mitzrayim. But Mitzrayim was merely a symbol of a greater bondage, the bondage to sin.

G-d had painted us a picture of our deliverance from the bondage of sin, through the sacrifice of Yeshua, and the shedding of His precious Blood. And He had painted this picture with food! When you think of it, though, what could be more intimate and impactful than something we put into our mouths? When HaShem communicated to Shimon Kefa (Simon Peter) that the rabbinic Oral Law that Jews should never enter the houses of gentiles (Mishnah Ohalot 18:7B) was being overturned, didn't He use a vision of food? (Acts 10:9-29)? The food on our table told the entire story of our redemption from sin. Redemption comes not by scrupulous observance of Torah, although that is commendable; it comes only through the shed blood of Yeshua (Jesus), Whose Name means "Salvation" in Hebrew.

The maror, karpas, and chazeret (the bitter herbs) were not only a reminder of the bitterness of slavery in Mitzrayim, but of the bitterness of life in a sinful world, a world where innocent babies starve to death if they're not slaughtered in their mothers' wombs; where men fight senseless wars, drunk with hatred and greed; where teenage runaways become prostitutes and drug-lords rule the streets; where the threat of nuclear desolation looms over our heads; where scientists play G-d with monkeys and sheep; and where people's hearts fail them for fear. When Adam fell, G-d said,

"Cursed is the ground for your sake,

In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.

Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.

And thou shalt eat the herb of the field." (Genesis 3:17,18)

The bitter herb.

But there is more on the plate, Baruch HaShem (praise the L-rd)!

There is the charoset, which was made to resemble the bricks we were forced to make under the crack of the whip.

And yet charoset is sweet.

Why sweet?

To remind us that there is yet hope in the midst of our bondage.

Hope of salvation!

That's where the zeroa (the roasted shank-bone of a lamb) comes in. For the Hagaddah clearly tells us how the blood of a lamb, placed on the doorposts of every Hebrew dwelling, caused the Death Angel to "pass over" them. Not gemillut hasadim, not good deeds, which the prophet Isaiah said are filthy rags in the sight of G-d (Isaiah 64:6).

Only the Blood of the Lamb.

When I see the zeroa I'm reminded of Yochanan haMatbil (John the Immerser), when he pointed to Yeshua by the banks of the Yarden (the Jordan River), shouting,

"Behold the Lamb of G-d, which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29)

And when I take the unleavened bread and the third cup of wine, the Cup of Redemption, I'm reminded of how Yeshua, at his last Pesach meal with His talmidim (disciples), took the matzah, broke it, and said,

"Take, eat; this is My Body."

Of course it would have to be unleavened, since leaven is a symbol of sin, and Yeshua was sinless. The matzah reminds me that He was born in Bet Lechem (or Bethlehem), which means "house of bread" (Micah 5:2 and Matthew 2:1), and that He proclaimed,

"I am the Bread of Life....

I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven.

If anyone eats of this Bread, he shall live forever.

And the Bread that I will give is My Flesh,

Which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:35 and 51)

So I must eat this matzah, this symbol of Yeshua's Body, worthily (I Corinthians 11:27), understanding fully what it symbolizes.

And when I take the third cup of wine, not coincidentally called the "Cup of Redemption, I'm reminded of how Yeshua took that same third cup, recited the b'rochah (blessing) over it, and said,

"Drink from it, all of you.

For this is My Blood of the renewed covenant,

Which is shed for many

For the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:27-28)

This is the Brit Chadashah, the Renewed Covenant, which G-d promised to Israel through the prophet Yiremyahu (Jeremiah 31); and a renewed Ketubah (marriage contract) which the Groom signified by sharing the cup of wine with His Bride.

Pesach, therefore, was the model for the Christian practice of Communion.

Yeshua commanded us to do this in memory of Him (Luke 22:19), and so I take my communion at the Passover Seder.

As an adult, it's a great blessing to understand what G-d is saying to me each year through the food on the Passover table. He's telling me (and the rest of the nation of Israel) that there is a way to eternal life. The beytsah (the roasted egg) symbolizes this newness of life, the resurrection of the body to eternal life with our Messiah Yeshua.

But this comes only through the Blood of the Lamb.

Shalom

Next year in Jerusalem!

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