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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.
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.