by Carrie Categories: Bible StuffTags: Bible, Christianity, end times, Feast of Booths, Feast of Tabernacles, Feast of the LORD, Gentiles, Jews, Judaism, prophecy, religion, Sukkot Leave a comment
Throughout this flip-flopped faith journey, many questions have probed not just my mind, but the minds of others. These frequently asked faith questions may help you understand my outlook on this journey as well as challenge yours. Many shalom and blessings as you continue to seek the One True God with all your being!
Who is a Jew?
The term “Jew” comes from Judah as in the tribe of Judah. Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, had twelve sons from various women and each son, such as Judah, became a tribe (Genesis 35:23-26). Years later, due to many rebelling and worshiping pagan gods, the twelve tribes had a family feud and split into two kingdoms in the land of Israel/Canaan (1 Kings 11-12). The Northern Kingdom was comprised of ten tribes while the Southern Kingdom was primarily comprised of the tribe of Judah, but also the tribe of Benjamin, as well as the Levites. Some from the Northern Kingdom relocated to the Southern Kingdom when it became apparent the Northern Kingdom was becoming increasingly rebellious against God’s laws and also worshiping other gods. Eventually, despite prophets like Isaiah warning them to repent, the Northern Kingdom was taken into captivity by the Assyrians and assimilated into the nations never to be regathered again (until a future time unfulfilled just yet, according to Ezekiel 37). Meanwhile, the Southern Kingdom, which evolved into being known as Jews, has withstood not only the Babylonian captivity, but persecutions throughout human history. Despite the never ending oppression and persecution of Jews, they constantly overcome proving God is real as He keeps His eternal covenants.
Interestingly, Abraham, known as the father of the Jews, was not technically Jewish, but rather came from a pagan religion. However, he was called or chosen by God to leave all that he knew to follow God (Genesis 12). Overtime, God revealed more of Himself and His ways to Abraham and his descendants, particularly when they sojourned the wilderness for 40 years. For example, the first instruction God introduced to the Israelites was the importance of resting on Sabbath (see Exodus 16). Equally fascinating is how some Egyptians or those of other religions abandoned all that they knew to enjoin themselves to Israel. Various Scriptures reveal anyone who enjoined themselves with Israel for whatever reason were to also obey the terms of the covenant and were just as blessed (Exodus 12:37-38, 49; Leviticus 18:26; Numbers 14:24,15:13-16,26-31; Ruth 4:11-22; Isaiah 56; Ezekiel 47:21-23, as a few examples).
Like Abraham, others throughout the Bible such as Caleb (Numbers 32:11-12, 14:24) and Ruth (Ruth 1), were not born Jewish, but committed themselves to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as His ways and therefore, are considered Jewish, or what Judaism refers to as “Jews-By-Choice”. Similarly, Isaiah 56 repeatedly refers to foreigners or those not born as Jews or natural Israelites, but choose to enjoin themselves with God, His covenant, and His people, as “better than sons and daughters”. In other words, according to Isaiah 56, and the accounts of Abraham, Caleb, and Ruth, those who are not born into God’s family, but are adopted in, are regarded in high-esteem in God’s opinion. Who chose who? Did us Gentiles choose God or did God not only chose the Israelites, but also the foreigners or strangers to join them?
What are Jews “chosen” for? Chosen to do what exactly?
Scripture tells us the Israelites, who later evolved into being known as Jews, were not chosen because they were great or mighty, but rather just the opposite (Deuteronomy 7:6-11). He chose them because they were small in number, not because of their virtues (Deuteronomy 9:3-5), but more importantly, because He made a promise to their ancestor, Abraham. Moreover, the Israelites/Hebrews, now known as Jews, were chosen to be keepers and teachers of Torah showing the world the way of salvation (Isaiah 42, 49). They were chosen to be the light as they both learn and teach the world how God defines light. Not only is Torah defined as light (Psalm 119:105-106; Proverbs 6:23), the way/path/sacred highway (Psalm 119:1,3,15-16,27,30,33,35; Proverbs 6:23; Isaiah 35:8-10), righteousness (Deuteronomy 6:25; Isaiah 26:8-9), eternal (Psalm 119:160), and so on, but it defines how God wants us to love Him and others for they are all about loving God and or loving others. Eventually, the world not only gravitates to Jews (Zechariah 8), the world/nations/Gentiles realize they inherited lies (Jeremiah 16:9), but also the world “learns righteousness” (Isaiah 26:8-10) as Torah is taught (Isaiah 2; Micah 4; Ezekiel 44) and enforced (Zechariah 14:16+; Ezekiel 44). Jews are chosen to lead in love as they both be and teach the light to the dark world, though some Jews are unaware of such a calling, sadly.
Have you officially converted and if so, what denomination of Judaism do you associate with?
It may surprise some Christians to learn Judaism has several different denominations and movements within Judaism. As a former Christian, I found that a bit daunting trying to discern what the different branches, denominations, or movements believed and why. In fact, I am still learning new perspectives from the different denominations. I have found it interesting and frustrating that some seem to add to God’s Torah making more commandments while others disregard God’s commandments found in Torah something God specifically said not to do in Deuteronomy 13:1 (or Deuteronomy 12:32 if you have a Christian Bible). Nevertheless, I have gleaned valuable insight from all the denominations and still listen to, watch, or read materials from a variety of Jewish sources and denominations within Judaism. If I had to label myself by a particular denomination or Jewish movement it might be Karaite, the minority within the minority, with Renewal or Reform style of music. More importantly, I strive to follow God’s instructions found in Torah and reiterated or demonstrated in other Biblical texts such as the prophets, psalms, proverbs, etc. Technically, I have not converted to any form of Judaism as conversion as it is known today is more or less a man-made process whereas the Tanakh doesn’t detail a conversion process other than committing oneself to God’s terms found in the covenant and circumcision. As a woman, circumcision does not apply to me, but I have committed myself to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and uphold the terms of the covenant to the best of my ability. Therefore, in God’s eyes, I have converted though not necessarily according to man’s standards.
Do you believe Gentiles are only obligated to adhere to the Noahide Laws?
I have written a detailed article with a plethora of Scripture explaining my understanding of Scripture regarding obeying God’s commands, whether Jewish or Gentile. Essentially, considering I believe Scripture reveals the purpose of a Jew is chosen to teach Torah to the world, I believe God’s instructions are for everyone. Jews are simply commissioned to lead in example as teachers. Unfortunately, both Jews and Torah, and by default God, are often rejected primarily because people struggle to respect boundaries. Nevertheless, Scripture reveals one fine day the world, both Jew and Gentile, will adhere to Torah as discussed above. To read an article I wrote proving Noahide Laws are not the only laws Gentiles are to obey, click here.
Do you adhere to the teachings of Talmud or other Jewish writings?
While I certainly believe valuable insight can be gleaned from the Talmud and other Jewish writings, I don’t believe they are the inspired word of God to be considered on the same authoritative level of the Torah and the rest of the Tanakh. Nevertheless, insights shared in the Talmud and other sources can certainly be useful and valuable tools to ponder and apply.
Do you eat kosher?
My food choices are based off God’s instructions outlined in Leviticus 11, Deuteronomy 14, and Isaiah 65-66. What God defines as food, I define as food. What He defines as clean, I define as clean. I do not have a traditional kosher kitchen with separate dishwashers, refrigerators, or dishes exclusively for meat or dairy. I don’t have an issue with mixing meat with dairy so long as they are from clean animals. Such restrictions are interpretations various rabbis over the years documented in the Talmud.
As a female Jew-By-Choice, do you cover your hair or only wear skirts as Orthodox women do? What are your thoughts on female Jews wearing a kippah, tzitzits, or tefillin as some women do in liberal denominations of Judaism? Do you light Shabbat candles and do Havdalah?
Because I have not discovered commands in Torah instructing women to cover their hair, at this time, I do not feel obligated or compelled to do so, but I respect Jewish women as well as other women of faith for covering their hair in whatever form they see fit as an act of modesty and or worship. When I would pray publicly in Jewish worship services, I would cover my hair out of respect, but in my day-to-day operations, I don’t cover my hair. In regards to my dress code, I wear skirts, ladies slacks, ladies jeans, ladies t-shirts, ladies shoes (size 8 if you want to donate – haha), etc. I do not wear men’s clothing. I believe the command found in Deuteronomy 22:5 indicates God wants men to be distinctly male and women to be distinctly feminine as He created an individual to embrace and be His work of art, but I personally do not interpret this verse to mean women may only wear skirts/dresses always for in various cultures garments that look like skirts or dresses are also men’s garments. It’s about being distinctly female or male within your culture’s clothing options.
In regards to women wearing a kippah or teffilin as a form of expressing their faith, I am neither against it or for it, but understand why many, whether male or female, do wear such items as reminders of Who they serve. The only item that I can find in Torah as being instructed to wear as a visible and tangible reminder of God’s commands is the strings at the end of the four corners (Numbers 15:37-41), what is known today as tzitzits. Whether this applies to women as well I suppose depends on the interpretation of the text. The teffilin concept comes from the text of Deuteronomy 6:8 to bind God’s law as a sign on your hand and symbol on your forehead, which I interpret to mean to think about and obey Torah. Not to literally attempt to bind 613 commands to your forehead and right arm physically; although, the practice of teffilin dates back to 2nd Century BCE and has been an ongoing debate. At this time, in my faith journey and as a woman, I don’t wear a kippah, teffilin, or tzitzits, but respect those who do.
Even though lighting Shabbat candles just before/at the beginning of Shabbat or holding a Havdalah ceremony at the close of Shabbat are not commands in Torah, I do generally do such traditional rituals as a means to help me distinguish and keep Shabbat special. Lighting the candles helps me to remember to be the light. But if I don’t for whatever reason, I don’t chide myself for failing to do so as it is not an actual command, but just a meaningful reminder to rest when the world is busy and to be the light.
In summary, if God has an instruction recorded for us in Torah, then I strive to obey it willingly and diligently and have consequently, been blessed by it. However, if it is a Jewish custom or additional tradition not detailed in Torah, then I perceive it as optional. With that said, some commands can be difficult to understand how to fulfill so insight from the Talmud or other Jewish sources can be useful in discerning said Scriptures. More importantly, I don’t obey God’s instructions for life to get something from Him such as a blessing, rather, I obey to bless Him. In turn, I am blessed abundantly.
Do you celebrate Jewish holidays / feasts such as Pesach/Passover, Pentecost/Shavuot/Feast of Weeks, Feast of Tabernacles/Booths/Sukkot, and others?
Yes, I strive to celebrate the Feasts of the LORD detailed in various passages, but namely Leviticus 23 to the best of my ability as a woman while not living in the land of Israel. With that said, I do not stress about some of the additional rabbinic interpretations as to how a Lulav should be shook in various directions during Sukkot, as an example, but I do remove leaven from my home before Pesach as instructed by God, as another example. If it is detailed in Tanakh, I strive to obey it, if not, I don’t worry about it.
Note: Specific commands are for specific genders or roles such as priests as well as specific commands are for living in the land while others apply to those living outside of Israel; additionally, sacrifices, which are apart of the feasts according to Leviticus 23, can only be done in the land of Israel within the temple in Jerusalem, which currently does not exist (and no, sacrifices cannot be made in your backyard or campground. Haha!).
Liberal Judaism typically does not believe in prophecies such as a Messiah, the third temple, resuming sacrifices, the world adhering to Torah, etc., what is your position?
If it is written in the Tanakh, or what Christians would call the Old Testament, then I believe in it. I do believe a day will come when all Jews as well as the scattered, lost, Northern Kingdom, or ten tribes will all be not just resurrected, but regathered to the land of Israel one fine day (Ezekiel 36-37). I believe as Scripture foretells, there will be a third temple, animal and other sacrifices will once again be part of worship, God will pour out His spirit, all of Israel as well as surviving Gentiles will “learn righteousness” as Torah is dispensed and enforced (Isaiah 2, 11, 26, 51, 65-66; Zechariah 14; Ezekiel 36-48; Micah 4).
Additionally, I believe God’s presence will dwell in Jerusalem permanently while the resurrected David will be ruler of Israel. Unlike Orthodox Jews, I do not believe the numerous times prophecies in Scripture details “David” as being king/prince or shepherd that it is by default referring to someone in David’s lineage as I have yet to see a Scripture that prophesized a person’s name, but meant someone else or within someone’s lineage. For example, when the Prophet Isaiah foretold of a Gentile King named Cyrus would help restore the Jews back to Jerusalem and aid them in building another temple, history revealed it was an actual Gentile King named Cyrus who did exactly that not a descendant of someone named Cyrus. Similarly, when the Prophet Jeremiah prophesized of a specific place such as Babylon would take the Southern Kingdom captive should they not repent, it was precisely the Babylonian Empire that conquered the Southern Kingdom and took Jews captive to Babylon. Nor do I see examples of Scripture refraining from stating the lineage of someone such as Isaiah 2 says from the “rod (lineage) of Jesse” a ruler will manifest and Micah 5 proclaims that ruler “one whose origin is from of old, from ancient times” (David) will have been born in Bethlehem, which David was. When the prophets detail specific names of people or places or timelines, that is indeed what manifests so I do not perceive or await for a mysterious anointed messiah from the line of David, who also must be born in Bethlehem, and I certainly don’t believe Jesus is the Messiah, for I believe, Scripture repeatedly states literally the resurrected David will be ruler/shepherd of Israel (Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23-24; 37:24; Hosea 3:5), which fulfills God’s covenant with David. I suppose time will tell.
Note: Click here to read a detailed article with much Scripture revealing David will be “Messiah”. I did not pen this article, but found it insightful.
Christianity teaches all mankind is destined for hell when they die by default, but in order to be “saved” from eternal tormenting hell you must believe in Jesus as Messiah. Aren’t you worried you will go to hell when you die? And what is your perspective of the afterlife?
Christianity certainly declares people will perish in their sins and consequently go to hell unless they confess Jesus is their god, their savior, messiah, etc. How else are you going to fill pews? Christianity is easy to sell when you make people believe they’re going to hell – especially when it is something impossible to prove either way. Ironically, this concept of heaven or hell is largely read into the New Testament as Jesus Himself says no one has been to heaven in John 3:13 and Acts 2 indicates King David is still dead and buried not in heaven. But the New Testament does repeatedly teach about the concept of resurrection as does the Tanakh. The resurrection is actually the eternal life Jesus allegedly references not beaming one up to heaven when they die. In regards to what I believe now that I no longer worship Jesus, the Hebrew Bible, being the Tanakh, doesn’t say anything about when you die you go to hell or heaven. It does, however, indicate when one dies, whether righteous or wicked, they go to Sheol or the underworld like a holding tank awaiting the resurrection (Psalm 16:10, 30:4, 49:15; 1 Samuel 2:6; 2 Samuel 22; Jonah 2:2; Hosea 13:14). In fact, the Tanakh essentially says when you are dead, you are dead, your life-breath returns to God, but there is a hope in the resurrection (Psalm 49:6-16, 115:17; Ecclesiastes 7:1, 9:5, 12:7). Moreover, Scripture indicates at the end of the world as we know it, the world will be against Israel worse than ever before in human history (Daniel 12:1), which is difficult to imagine post-Holocaust. One particular verse in Daniel indicates Israel will be rescued, as in literally and physically saved from their oppressors, and all mankind will be resurrected and then judged based off their deeds (Daniel 12:2; Zechariah 12-14). Those who came against Israel will be doomed (Zechariah 14). Moreover, the Scriptures reveal an enormous earthquake, burning, and melting will occur as God essentially destroys the earth through that ordeal, but spares some Gentiles (those that didn’t come against Israel) and literally rescues Israel from their enemies. The House of Israel (the lost Northern Kingdom 10 tribes) as well as the House of Judah (the Southern Kingdom) will be resurrected if dead or regathered if alive and brought back to the land of Israel (Isaiah 25:8-9, 26:19, 35:8-10, 44:23, 51:11; Hosea 13:14; Ezekiel 37; Jeremiah 29-31; Psalm 49:6-16). The world will be shocked to see the most hated people being Israel will be esteemed (Isaiah 26, 35, 52:13-15, 54-56,60-62; Jeremiah 29-31; Ezekiel 36-48; Joel 2-4; Zephaniah 1-3; Zechariah 8, 14).
Is your husband Jewish or anyone in your family? How have your loved ones responded to such a drastic change in your “flip-flopped” faith?
Neither my husband or anyone in my family is Jewish that I am aware of; however, I am a descendant of German Jews on both my mother and father’s side from numerous generations ago.
My husband has been OK with most of the transition he saw in my life such as resting on Sabbath, celebrating the feasts, but not celebrating pagan holidays like Halloween, Christmas, Easter, etc. The one issue he had with my “flip-flopped” faith was not eating bacon. For about a year or so, he was passive-aggressive about not eating pork, specifically bacon. Nearly every time we visited a family member or friend’s home, he would announce that “Carrie doesn’t eat pork!” and would do so eagerly even when food was not the topic at all. He was covertly trying to get different family members or friends to reprimand me for my new belief so he could eat bacon without feeling guilty. I, however, would express to him he can live as he sees fit, but I am choosing this path. I asked him to refrain from attempting to ostracize or humiliate me to justify his habits or food choices. Eventually, he stopped and rarely eats anything unclean now. He typically rests on Sabbath as well and supports me in my faith.
Thus far, most family members have been supportive – perhaps not over-joyed, but at least generally supportive and not confrontational about it. Only one or two have manifested some antisemitism and their disapproval, but it is not uncommon for those same family members to behave poorly should one set boundaries or express themselves – particularly if it is differently than their ideologies.
Evangelical Christians or the devout Christians, whether Protestant or Catholic, seem to have the hardest time accepting my “flip-flopped” faith. Many have been so deeply brainwashed without realizing it that it is hard for them to critically think or look at various passages without Christian filters or preconceived notions. Many have been conditioned to read into the text rather than letting the text interpret itself like any other book. Meanwhile other former Evangelical, “born again”, or “Spirit-led” and Catholic Christians have traversed a similar path and ultimately came to the same conclusions as I have. It has been neat to see testimonies on YouTube of former Christians, even Pastors and Bible teachers, also abstaining from idolatry and turning to the One True God.
Most people, whether family, friends, or coworkers, respect my faith and I respect theirs. Healthy people can respect others while not sacrificing their own lifestyle choices. It is interesting to connect the boundaries God has established to help us relate to Him and others while recognizing unhealthy people hate boundaries set by God or others.
Also, when one person strives to walk in God’s ways, can easily debunk typical Christian doctrine, and is happy and blessed while doing so, it challenges the faith of others. Usually when people manifest in disapproval or hostility it is because they are feeling threatened and or convicted, but hopefully, they will investigate newly introduced concepts for themselves. Regardless, I choose to serve the One True Living God, be His light, a keeper and teacher of Torah.
Miracles: Evidence Jesus is God?
Many Christians feel Jesus must be God and or The Messiah simply because he performed miracles or because the Christian has witnessed or personally experienced a miracle such as a healing, for example. I also have had various spiritual experiences, which seem to solidify one’s faith in say, Jesus. But what if God, in His abundant love, simply allows miracles to help you along your faith journey while not validating “Jesus” or whatever you believe in is absolute truth? Many religions currently and throughout history have had documented miracles of various kinds or spiritual experiences , not just Christianity.
In fact, according to an article by Britannica titled “Miracles In The Religions of The World”, they write:
“Hellenistic religion presents one of the best examples of a civilization in which miracles play a major part. The intervention of the gods in the affairs of the Homeric heroes takes place in a cosmos in which the divine and human spheres still interact. Later Hellenistic syncretism conceived of the sublunar world as a distinct sphere, though higher powers could miraculously irrupt into it. Miraculous cures (e.g., at the sanctuary of Asclepius at Epidaurus), divine manifestations of various kinds (e.g., voices, dreams, and theophanies), and even virgin births and resurrections were widely reported.”
It is said one reason Christianity was an “easy-sell” to the Greeks or Gentiles is because some of their gods were born of a virgin and or died and were resurrected. In other words, miracles, including alleged miracles of virgin births and resurrections, were well-known and reported due to Greek mythology or Hellenism.
Additionally, according to the above linked article as well as many others, faiths like Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and a variety of pagan religions over the centuries, including witchcraft, all report miracles – not just Christianity. In other words, thinking Jesus must be God by passionately saying, “in Jesus’ name!” as if it is a magic charm and then seeing a miracle manifest is not exclusive or indicative as one must know the One True God or be the One True God. If you recall from the Exodus story found in Exodus 6-15, you will notice the Egyptian magicians could conjure up many of the same miracles God’s prophets, Moses and Aaron, did (see Exodus 7: 10-11,22; 8:7). In fact, God warns in Deuteronomy 13 that He will specifically send false prophets or false messiahs, or magicians, if you will, to test your heart to see if you will turn away from the absolute truth of the One True Living God and His documented voice, His instructions for life and love, found in Torah (first 5 books of Bible). For God warns if a person comes along performing miracles or signs that actually manifest, but then implores you to worship them or another god and or instructs you to do away with God’s Torah, His law, then you should NOT follow, NOT believe, NOT trust in that person or religion for it is false and simply a test to know what is in truly in your heart. Notice the verses specifically states “Follow none but Adonai (the LORD) your God, revere none but Him, and only follow His commandments” – not Jesus’ commands, not Paul’s or any other person’s – especially if their instructions or epistles contradict God’s!
So while other religions or people come along proclaiming and manifesting fascinating miracles, which inevitably will continue to happen, consider the following possibilities:
- It is a test as just discussed.
- Even though it is a test to see if a person who already knows the One True God will remain faithful to their Abba Father (God) and His word (aka Jews), God can use any illness or any healing miracle, or even false prophets for His glory (read the story of Balaam, a false prophet, in Numbers 22-24), or an oppressive leader like Nebuchadnezzar, as documented in the Books of Jeremiah and Daniel, to make His true name known to a person and others who learn of such miracles or events. God specializes in making His name known. Read the plethora of stories and statements made by God in the law and prophets. God says over and over again – He is all about making Himself, His name, made known for He is the ultimate Educator! So whether you are Jew or Gentile, God loves you and can and will allow illness or oppression, as a couple of examples, as well as miracles or deliverance, as a means to make Himself known to you in a meaningful and personal level.
- Know that whatever false prophet, false teacher, false messiah, seeming despair, seeming miracle, government leader, etc. that manifests, God may be using it as a test, and a means to reveal more of Himself to you, and has always been after circumcised hearts and wants a relationship with you. Therefore, He often allows said things as a means to draw you closer unto Him.
In conclusion, God graciously allows miracles in a variety of people, places, and even of differing faiths to ultimately bring us closer to Him, guiding us into more of who He is and His truth, not to necessarily validate a specific person or ideology is indeed abiding in His unchanging, absolute truth. Likewise, God graciously allows ailments or seemingly unfortunate circumstances in our lives to also bring us closer to Him, guiding us and others into more accurate truth of who He is and His will for us (just read the Book of Job), not to necessarily punish us for some wrong belief or sin. Moreover, according to the Prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 55:8 and the overall theme of the Book of Ecclesiastes, God’s thoughts and plans, or His will, don’t always align with our will or make sense to us, but for whatever reason, He allows, creates, and manifests such things as He deems. As the final verse of Ecclesiastes proclaims:
Learning to trust Him, surrendering to Him and His will, even when it doesn’t align with ours, that is the real miracle and authentic faith made manifest.
Much love, shalom, and blessings.
Carrie R. Turner, 10.4.2020
(Exactly 14 years after I cried out, “JESUS, SAVE ME!” – Thank you, God, for hearing my prayer and miraculously saving me anyway.)
What Is Salvation According to the Christian and Hebrew Bibles?
Christianity is easy to sell when you make people believe they’re going to hell. And yet, conveniently unable to prove. Whether Catholic or Protestant, Christianity teaches one must believe in Jesus Christ, or put another way, that Jesus is the Messiah, in order to be saved from a default destiny of doom. Depending on the particular path of Christianity you are sojourning, in addition to accepting the concept that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the definition of salvation may emphasize doing good works, being baptized, and or receiving the Holy Spirit or all of the above as qualifying you as having been “saved” or will be saved (John 3:16; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38-39). To be clear, the motivation in said events is to be saved from burning in hell when you die or at some point in the future. Most Christians believe when you die, you instantly are ushered into heaven or hell, but what determines if you are saved from being sent to hell by default is your faith in Jesus, or you believed in Jesus AND were baptized, or whether you believed in Jesus, were baptized PLUS received the Holy Spirit, and or whether you were in general a good person, etc, etc. Naturally, the variety of salvation doctrines or man-induced formulas never cease to exist and reproduce, but at the heart of them all is you must believe in Jesus. Otherwise, you are definitely going to hell and even part of the Anti-Christ spirit, according to the Christian faith, a faith I once believed and belonged to. Hence, the overall spiritual version of the salvation concept or one’s guaranteed ticket to heaven plan. Being us humans tend to avoid pain and suffering, it is not difficult to get people to believe in someone or something if it means we will forever avoid tormenting flames and instead can be strumming harps or lounging on clouds in heaven. Faith in Jesus is easy to sell if it means you’ll avoid burning in hell. Similarly, naive children innocently believe Santa will come down their chimney to deliver them gifts, if only they believe in him and be good. All lies wrapped in dazzling packaging. The truth is most of the world, including myself, have been sold many lies.
When I scavenged through the Hebrew Bible, or what Christians would call the “Old” Testament, however, I discovered a different definition of salvation unfolded before my eyes. First of all, there is absolutely no mention of one must believe in a future Messiah let alone you must believe in a man-God as Messiah to be saved. I found that omission surprising as the Lord does nothing without revealing it to His prophets first (Amos 3:7). Surely, they would have written about such critical beliefs in advance. Rather, what I did find was an overwhelming amount of times God says He is it, the end all be all, there is no one other than Him, no other savior, no other redeemer. Please take the time to review the following verses: Isaiah 42:8, 43:3, 10-11, 15; 44:6, 8; 45:5-7, 11, 14-18, 21-25; 46:9; 47:4; 48:12,17; 49:26; 59:20; 60:16; Hosea 13:4. Here are what a few of these verses convey:
Additionally, God’s Torah makes it clear anyone who believes in someone who claims to be God or worships an image in the likeness of a man or other being or uses an item or festivity not prescribed by God as if it is God or all about God, it is considered idolatrous for God intentionally did not reveal Himself in any definitive form so that His people would not make an image like Him and then worship it as if it is Him (Deuteronomy 4:15-24; 12-13). And yet, Christianity teaches that Jesus is God, specifically found in the Gospel of John, the author expresses Jesus is God’s only Son, in fact a definitive version of God Himself and Jesus is God’s Torah or Word manifested in physical flesh. Doesn’t that contradict everything God said before? Why would God come in the likeness of man when He inexplicably said previously He intentionally did not reveal Himself in any form like a man in Deuteronomy 4? Doesn’t that go against the concept of faith or trusting in God alone? Why would God go out of His way to repeatedly state there is no one else but Him in the prophets like Moses, Isaiah, and Hosea? Why does He also state in Micah 3:6 He does not change and yet Christianity proclaims everything has changed? Indeed, the doctrines of man found in Christianity has changed everything to avoid any resemblance of being Jewish and moreover, to go against the One True God. Suddenly, some several hundreds years post-Jesus, as more and more Gentiles believed in Jesus, the Sabbath changed to Sunday, to align with the pagan worship of the Roman sun god, things God specifically said are not permissible to eat are deemed food (see Leviticus 11, Deuteronomy 14) to fit the appetite of the pagans, the pagan concepts of polytheism is merged into a Trinity doctrine, feasts of the LORD changed to feasts of the Roman Catholic church, the Passover was changed to the Eucharist/communion, and instead of obeying God’s laws, it is taught to hate God’s law, but rather embrace Roman law, all the while hating God’s people in exchange for claiming the Church is now God’s chosen people, and so on. Out with the “Old” and in with the “New”. Perhaps by having prophets like Moses, Isaiah, and Hosea scribe such warnings over and over again, God knew His people would come against many false gods or false messiahs claiming to be God as well as many false doctrines that blatantly contradict God’s ways.
Furthermore, repeatedly throughout the Hebrew Bible, but more specifically in Psalms and the Book of Isaiah, I read concepts of a literal salvation from physical oppression and harm as well as the understanding that this physical blessing of salvation is simply a result of striving to obey God and His instructions detailed in Torah, the first 5 books of the Bible. By listening and obeying God’s Voice, which is His eternal word, His instructions in Torah (see Deuteronomy 28:1), we are walking in the way of life eternal (Psalm 119:89-94), we are learning and walking in righteousness (Isaiah 2:2-4, 26:9-10). In other words, righteousness, which is by walking uprightly, genuinely striving to do what God says to do, will be rewarded with salvation or eternal life in the form of resurrection or reuniting with Him one fine day here on earth. Conversely, modern day mainstream Christianity says you can do anything, break any of God’s laws, and still go to heaven as long as you say you mentally believe in a guy named Jesus died for your sins. Much of modern day Christianity teaches your physical actions need not match your word much less God’s word! However, please review how God defines salvation in Psalm 50:
Notice in Psalm 50, David explains a person who actively is engaged in honoring God’s Torah, His way, by authentically seeking to obey Him, God will save that person. In the next chapter, Psalm 51, David likewise describes repentance as a means to have ones sins blotted out, to having God’s Holy Spirit dwelling with him, and consequently causing him to instruct others in God’s ways found in His law, His Torah. David goes on to explain it’s not sacrifices for sin God is interested in, but rather, God is longing for people with a repentant, broken, circumcised heart that seek Him and His will for their lives. Psalm 103 reiterates the same concept of repentance for breaking God’s law and forgiveness providing everlasting mercy to those who remember to do His commands. Read it for yourself in both the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) version as well as the New King James Version (NKJV):
In addition to learning God’s grace has always been made available and He is not as interested in sacrificial atonement as He is more interested in a heart that seeks Him and wants to obey Him, He will gladly forgive us or blot out our sins (also visit Isaiah 1:16-20; Psalm 109:14-15). There never is a mention of someone needing to die for our sins much less an image in the likeness of God such as Jesus to do so. Christianity teaches Jesus HAD to die for our sins, but according to the Hebrew Bible, God’s word, another person cannot die for another’s sins rather each person is held accountable for themselves (see Deuteronomy 24:16, Ezekiel 18 and 33:12-20). Shocking I know! Therefore, the concept of a deity dying and rising from the dead is a farce and comes directly from Greco-Roman mythology as well as many other pagan religions. In fact, Justin Martyr wrote, “when we say … Jesus Christ, our teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propose nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you consider sons of Zeus.” (1 Apol. 21). I encourage you to seek out this theme in many pagan religions. Naturally, the well-circulated foundation of pagan religions made it easy for Gentiles to believe in Jesus, a man-deity that allegedly overcame death. Is it not suspicious the “New” testament is written in Greek while the “Old” is in Hebrew? I suppose God changed what He deems a “pure language” too (Zephaniah 3:9)- from Hebrew to Greek?
Moreover, the definition of salvation in the Hebrew Bible is consistently connected with being saved from physical persecution, abuse, oppression, and harm (Psalm 53, 54, 78, 80, 85, 91, 126; Isaiah 51, 60-62; Ezekiel 34-39; Jeremiah 29-32; Zephaniah 3) while literally being restored to Israel, specifically Mount Zion or Jerusalem, where God’s presence will permanently dwell. In other words, it’s not being saved to some mystical heaven, but rather being saved to be apart of heaven on earth (Psalm 53:6, Isaiah 11, 54-56, 65-66, Zechariah 14).
Fascinatingly enough, upon reading prophecies penned by Jeremiah and Ezekiel, I found it interesting that many Jews will be literally saved from evil oppression and tyranny, restored to their rightful land and place, be cleansed with water, and receive God’s Spirit of Holiness causing them to want to obey God’s instructions with their whole heart (see Ezekiel 11:14-21; 36:24-29; Jeremiah 30-31; Isaiah 43:25-29; 44:1-5, 21-22; 46:12-13). It’s as if it is the Jews/Israel experience the exact reverse of how Christianity defines the salvation experience (i.e. baptism, receiving the Holy Spirit, then believe and obey). Upon being resurrected and regathered, many Jews will be you could say, “born again”. When I simply read the various Scriptures for what they said instead of through my Christian filter while also reading them in context and looking at the repetitive theme, a varying definition of salvation emerged similar, yet quite different, from the Christian explanation. Additionally, Isaiah 56 says even the non-Jews who obey’s God’s holy covenant by keeping Sabbath for example are taken to Mount Zion. Likewise, Psalm 67:2 hints that God’s Torah, also known as His way, will be known among the earth; therefore, salvation will be among all the nations of the earth (also see Isaiah 2, 11, 42, 49, 51; Micah 4; Zechariah 14:16+).
To recap, the wicked indeed are held accountable to some extent deemed by God for their rejection and rebellion towards God and His word, His law, His Torah, which are His instructions for living. However, those who believe in God enough to actually attempt to obey Him and are humble enough to repent when they fail, both Jew and Gentile/foreigner, will be considered righteous and rewarded, which also is deemed by God. Everyone is eventually physically resurrected to be judged (Daniel 12:2-3, 13) and or physically regathered to Israel one fine day (Ezekiel 34-48; Zechariah 14). This is the Hebrew Bible’s repetitive definition of salvation and heaven on earth.
What Is the Torah Portion & Haftarah About?
Did you know when Jesus / Yeshua read Isaiah 61 in the synagogue on Shabbat (Sabbath/Saturday), which we can read about in Luke 4:16-30), He was reading from that specific week’s “Haftarah” portion? For thousands of years, those of the Judaism faith have read from the Torah and Haftarah. A major part of the Jewish worship service since the days of escaping Babylonian captivity (see books of Ezra & Nehemiah), is the public reading of the Torah.For the Jewish people learned the hard way while under Babylonian captivity to forsake God’s instructions will inevitably lead to physical and spiritual bondage. The Torah is the first five books of the Bible, also known as the Law, or God’s instructions for life. Each week, in today’s congregations of Judaism, Messianic Judaism, and many Hebrew Roots’ congregations read a certain portion of the Torah in their services. So the whole world (of those groups) is studying the same portions in unity. However, many years ago, circa 175 BC, when Antiochus Epiphanes conquered the temple, he outlawed the public reading of the Torah, replaced the holy artifacts with pagan gods within the temple, slaughtered pig, an unclean and abomination according to Leviticus 11, Deut 14, and Isaiah 65-66, as a means to mock God’s ordained sacrificial system, and even tormented and killed Jews for holding to their belief in the one true God and their desire to adhere to His laws. All of this was an “abomination of desolation”, which will happen again according to prophecies found in the Books of Daniel, Matthew, and Revelation. Consequently, the rabbis of those days researched and prescribed related passages of the Torah found in the Prophets to be read each week instead of the Torah during that tumultuous time. This became known as “Haftarah”, which means “conclude”. After that horrific time, the practice of reading from the Prophets stuck so today, passages called portions from the Torah and the Haftarah, which are related are read. In Messianic Judaism (and possibly Hebrew Roots too), related portions from the Brit Chadesha (Renewed/New Covenant) are read as well. This photo captures this week’s. The Torah portion’s title is selected from the first few words of the passage. You will notice all of these passages have to do with sending out (i.e. spies & apostles). I hope you had a peacful, wholesome #Shabbat!
Will People Be “Raptured” To Heaven?
Many Christians, though not all, believe in something called “the rapture” where the dead Christians will be resurrected and the Christians alive at that time will all be whisked away to heaven when Jesus returns for them and then Jesus and “his saints” will hide out in heaven for 7 years or so while God pours out His wrath on Earth to those who rejected Jesus. Then, according to this doctrine taught throughout some evangelical protestant denominations, Jesus will come back to Earth for technically a third time and bring all his peeps with him to rule and reign.
Amos 3:7 tells us G!d does nothing without revealing it to His prophets first.
THE THREE R’S
The prophets of the Hebrew Bible say nothing about people who must believe in a Messiah to be saved, forgiven, or to have eternal life. Nor do they say anything about a rapture of believers in a Messiah. The prophets do, however, predict people will be resurrected, rescued, and restored.
Let’s take a look at some Scriptures within the prophetic books that speak to a resurrection. The text we are reviewing can be found in Daniel 12:1-2, Isaiah 26:18-19, Ezekiel 37:12.
The prophetic book of Daniel was penned during the time that the Jews were in living in exile in Babylon. So when this angel relays these words to Daniel, the angel is referring to Jews as “your people” way in the future, a time which still has not manifested yet. Specifically, this prophecy is believed to be referring to the Battle led by Gog of Magog. Clearly, the angel is telling Daniel with the intention he will write it down for future generations to know and be encouraged that during that awful time Jews will be rescued if they are not blotted out of the book of life, meaning if they are still alive at this time. Zechariah 14 and Ezekiel 38 also describe this horrific battle. In regards to the expression, inscribed in the book, other passages within the Hebrew Bible equate that expression to mean an Israelite, now known as Jews, are alive essentially because they haven’t transgressed the Torah, G!d’s instructions. In other words, to intentionally violate G!d’s boundaries means one will be removed or blotted out from the Book of Life. This is why on Yom Kippur, Jews strive to be inscribed in the book of life for another year. That in itself is an entirely different teaching perhaps we can explore at another time. For now, I have put some of those Scriptures in the description if you want to look them up later. So, those Jews which are alive will be rescued, whereas many of those that are dead, will be resurrected.
We touched on Jews being rescued, but let’s take a closer look in these passages of Jeremiah 16:14-16, Ezekiel 34:27-29, and Zechariah 8 and 12.
This particular text in Jeremiah 16 is interesting because it reveals this rescue operation of the Jews will make the original Exodus story look like nothing compared to this greater exodus to come. I didn’t type out the entire text, but I also wanted to point out how G!d says through the prophet Jeremiah that it will be as if G!d is sending fishermen to haul out Jews or a helicopter rescue squad rescuing people who’ve gone overboard. What exactly that looks like is to be determined, but you get the idea G!d loves Jews very much and promises to rescue us at that terrible moment. It’s going to be epic!
G!d is all about making His Name known or His Presence and authority known. He’s all about taking people from a culture of worshiping many false gods to a culture of worshipping Him the One True G!d. Just as He made Himself known to both the Israelites and Egyptians in the Book of Exodus, He will do so again when He rescues Jews in the future.
Here we have yet again (see above), G!d saying through a different prophet that He will rescue Jews from wherever they are in the globe, and notice the text says they will be brought to Jerusalem to permanently dwell. It says nothing about saving Jews to live in heaven, but rather heaven on earth, if you will, in Jerusalem.
This verse I included because it speaks to how much G!d loves Jerusalem inferring Jews living in that holy city. It also validates what G!d told Abraham when He said in Genesis 12:3, I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.
Although Isaiah 56 doesn’t specifically refer to Jews being rescued, I’m including it within this teaching, because it does state that anyone who chooses to keep G!d’s covenant, meaning live by the instructions He gave Israel at Mt. Sinai, will also be brought to Israel. It infers these Jews-By-Choice or converts such as myself will also be rescued. This chapter of Isaiah 56 says those adopted in as Jews will be considered even better than sons and daughters, meaning natural Jews.
Although the prophets don’t directly state how the rescued Jews will travel to Jerusalem, there are hints particularly in the Book of Isaiah that they may travel by foot on a sacred highway or road of sorts. In other passages, it describes a worldwide earthquake, mountains crumbling, and land moving, so it is plausible Jews (and later Gentiles) will be able to get to Jerusalem by road similar to how G!d paved an unexpected path through the Reed Sea when the Israelites fled Egypt. In Zechariah 14:16-21, Gentiles must come to Jerusalem to celebrate and worship G!d for the holy holiday of Sukkot, also known as Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Booth. Presumably, both the Jew and Gentile could travel to Jerusalem using the new and improved Interstate-66 known as the “Sacred Highway”.
In addition to the prophets revealing a resurrection and rescue of Jews, they also reveal that the physical wealth of Jews will be restored in Israel. “Double for your trouble” you could say. I have listed only a few passages that refer to this concept, but there are many more.
Isaiah repeatedly speaks to the fact that leaders of other nations, kings, will fall in line as they will be subservient to the kingdom of Israel (see above). With that said, we will eventually study Isaiah 52 and 53 to understand how kings or leaders of other nations will be shocked to see Israel, the once suffering servant is elevated. That’s right, Isaiah 53 isn’t describing Jesus, but rather Isaiah clearly identifies several times leading up to that infamous and misunderstood passage that Israel is the servant. But that is for another teaching.
In this passage of Jeremiah 30 (see below), we once again see yet a different prophet refers to Israel as “outcast” whereas Isaiah chose “suffering servant”, but Jews are not despised forever. For here, as in many other passages, G!d encourages Jews to let them know He has a plan to restore, rebuilt, and replant. Moreover, elevate Jews and the nation of Israel.
Yet another passage reiterates that though you, being Jews, were once despised, you will be restored and live in security.
As highlighted earlier, G!d reveals His plans through His prophets (Amos 3:7). Isn’t it strange that there are no texts in the entire Hebrew Bible about Gentiles being raptured to heaven or anything pertaining to such doctrine? Interestingly, the prophet Jeremiah says that at that time the Gentiles will be shocked and realize they were taught lies. Notice it doesn’t say Jews will be shocked, but specifically, the prophets declare the Gentiles will be surprised. I know I sure was upon realizing all of this.
In conclusion, the prophets of the Hebrew Bible make no mention of people being raptured to Heaven but do frequently refer to Jews being resurrected, rescued, and restored to Israel.
To study this topic more, I invite you to review the following passages in addition to the ones already presented:
- Deuteronomy 30:3-4;
- 1 Chronicles 16:35;
- Nehemiah 1:9;
- Psalms 2:6; 48:1-2; 74:2; 78:68; 87:1-7; 102:16; 106:47; 107:2-3; 125:1; 132:13-14; 147:2;
- Isaiah 2:3; 11:11-12; 43:5; 56:8; 59:20
- Jeremiah 3:14-18; 29:14; 31:8,10; 32:37;
- Ezekiel 11:17; 20:34-41; 28:25; 34:13; 37:21; 39:27-28;
- Hosea 11:10;
- Micah 2:12; 4:2;
- Zephaniah 3:20;
- Zechariah 10:10.
To investigate passages referring to being ‘inscribed in the book’ or being ‘blotted out’ meaning those living or dead, see these Scriptures:
- Daniel 12:1-2
- Exodus 17:14; 32:32-33
- Deuteronomy 25:6,19
- Psalm 9:5-6; 56:8; 69:27-28; 139:16
- Malachi 3:16
To study this teaching packet at home, download the PDF provided below.