history medical studies have concluded that prayer helps to heal the sick. Many political meetings begin with a prayer and American currency has the words “In God We Trust” imprinted on its face. Around the world God is a powerful deity and one that has historically led entire societies to make decisions based on God’s word. While God has been the single deity that leads and guides societies in their decisions both on an individual and collective basis there are many different concepts of what God is and entails. Two large worldwide faiths have many similarities and differences in God and its meaning. The faith of Christianity as well as the faith of Judaism both believe in a single God. The faiths are based in the word of that God and their followers respect and revere the God of their faith. While both faiths believe in a single God there are many differences in the way that God is portrayed and implemented in their worlds. This paper will present a detailed examination of each faith and its ideas about God. The paper will explore the concept of God in a general sense and then compare and contrast the concept of God in the faiths of Christianity and Judaism. The writer will explore not only the abstract concepts of God with each faith but also the tangible beliefs and practices that are surrounding the concept of God.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. The general concept of God
2. Historic evolvement of God
3. Some of the changes that have been witnessed
4. How God is used in worldwide faiths
The Jewish Faith
5. How God is perceived in the Jewish Faith?
6. What are some of the abstract beliefs regarding God?
7. What are some of the tangible beliefs regarding God?
8. What are some of the practices about God?
The Christian Faith
9. How is God perceived in the Christian Faith?
10. What are some of the abstract beliefs regarding God?
11. What are some of the tangible beliefs regarding God?
12. What are some of the practices regarding God?
To gather an understanding of how the concept of God differs between the Christian and Jewish faith it is important to first have a understanding of the general concept of God historically. The concept of God was developed over a period of ages and the historic journey helps to define where and when and how the differences within the two religions occurred. The concept of an actual God regardless of the various differences within the concept or within faiths about that concept started with the development of religious faith.
The general concept of a monolithic God involves the belief in one deity who was the creator of all living things. This God is believed to have power, and to have the ability to cause things to happen both good and bad. God in this sense is believed to be all loving and all powerful and the faiths that believe in a single God believe the God is to be worshipped and that He is to be first and foremost in all that one does.
“The beginnings of religion may have preceded the first member of our species — Homo Sapiens. Neanderthals reverently buried their dead with a ritual that seems to show that they anticipated life after death, in some form. They might have had based this belief on some concept of the supernatural.”
There were many steps that led to the concept of religious faith and therefore the concept of a God that were attained well before individual religious beliefs. They included the steps of mankind that (HOW THE CONCEPTS OF GOD DEVELOPED OVER THE AGES
“Attained a fully developed self-consciousness.
Developed a moral sense.
Developed a spirit of community that was much more advanced than any other species.
Developed methods of communication — again highly developed.
Became aware of the finite nature of their life span, and of their own impending death.
Developed an enlarged brain with a very different internal structure. This facilitated abstract thinking. Unfortunately, the size of the brain made childbirth much more difficult and hazardous for both woman and fetus.
According to most paleontologists and anthropologists, fully developed humans with these abilities and knowledge emerged, perhaps fifty thousand to one hundred thousand years ago (HOW THE CONCEPTS OF GOD DEVELOPED OVER THE AGEShttp://www.religioustolerance.org/god_devel.htm).”
As the development of mankind progressed it dovetailed with the development that the theory of evolution follows. According to those who do not believe in evolution and instead believe in creation through a God the above qualities were provided by the God concept. However those who believe in evolution also believe there is a similar list of attained elements that occurred throughout history including:
“The development of a moral sense.
An awareness of their personal death.
Painful and hazardous childbirth (HOW THE CONCEPTS OF GOD DEVELOPED OVER THE AGEShttp://www.religioustolerance.org/god_devel.htm).”
The concept of a monolithic God as for the purposes of the Christian and the Jewish faith believed that Adam was the first human and he was tainted when he and his counterpart Eve ate fruit from the forbidden fruit tree and opened the world to the concept of sin. This is an important concept in the study of differences between the faith of Judaism and Christianity because this is one of the areas where the beliefs in God purpose and actions and ideas separate.
Adam and Eve ate the fruit and presumably became:
“Capable of recognizing the difference between good and evil.
Capable of developing an ethical sense.
Being aware of their own impending personal death (HOW THE CONCEPTS OF GOD DEVELOPED OVER THE AGES
Another important understanding in the conceptual study of God is the belief by both faiths that God separated humans and animals in the ability to develop self-consciousness.
The earliest concepts of God according to some experts came from a need by mankind to have morals and values with clout. “Many theologians and anthropologists feel that our first fully human ancestors developed primitive concepts of God in order to lessen their anxiety about the future. Thus began the first religion, Animism. This was, and is, typically found in hunter-gatherer societies. Having developed self-consciousness in themselves, they may have assumed that the rest of the world was equally self-conscious. The began to believe that the rocks, mountains, rivers, sun, moon, trees, land animals, birds, etc. all contained vital powers, each animated by a spirit (HOW THE CONCEPTS OF GOD DEVELOPED OVER THE AGES
When hunting and gathering gave way to agriculture and raising animals for food religious ideas took a new direction. Fertility was the new buzzword when it came to the concept of God and fertility was needed for survival therefore pleased for from the God that was worshipped at the time.
As the world continued to grow and thrive religions began to develop and several of them became monotheistic in nature while some remained henotheistic.
The major religions which have survived to the present day are mostly monotheistic or henotheistic. They include (in alphabetic order):
“Baha’i World Faith: This religion teaches that there is only one transcendent and unknowable God who is the source of all creation. He has sent ten Great Manifestations of God — inspired prophets — to humanity: Adam, Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, The Bab and Baha’u’llah.
Christianity: Most Christians, at least since the late fourth century CE, generally recognize God as composed of a Trinity, which is in turn composed of a Father (Jehovah), Son (Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit. The Trinity includes three personalities within a single deity.
Hinduism: Hindus recognize a single supreme God: Brahma who is simultaneously visualized as a triad: Brahma the Creator, Vishnu (Krishna) the Preserver and Siva the destroyer. Hinduism is a henotheistic religion which recognizes other gods and goddesses as facets or manifestations or aspects of the one supreme God.
Islam: Muslims recognize Allah as the only deity, and Muhammad as his prophet. The Shahadah, which is recited at least daily by most Muslims reflects this: “There is no God but God and Muhammad is his Prophet”).
Judaism: Jews recognize Jehovah as the sole deity, who has selected them to be his chosen people.
Sikhism: Sikhs believe in a single, Formless God, with many names, who can be known through meditation (HOW THE CONCEPTS OF GOD DEVELOPED OVER THE AGES
These faiths continue to exist and grow today with the Christian and Jewish faith being two of the strongest. Both faiths believe in the concept of one God while each faith believes that concept to mean different things and to teach different lessons.
While both the Jewish faith and the Christian faith believe in and follow the Old Testament (Hebrew scriptures), there are many differences in the two faiths when it comes to later biblical tales and beliefs (HOW THE CONCEPTS OF GOD DEVELOPED OVER THE AGES
“Each religion hold very diverse beliefs about their God. They generally regard their own beliefs about their God to be accurate, and the beliefs of other religions to be partly or completely false (HOW THE CONCEPTS OF GOD DEVELOPED OVER THE AGEShttp://www.religioustolerance.org/god_devel.htm).”
One of the most interesting aspects of comparing the Jewish faith and the Christian faith and their belief in and following of God is that they believe they are following the same God, while the element of Jesus is the dividing factor and the nature of God is argued.
There are historical dates that can be used to mark the changes taking place between the Jewish and the Christian faith.
A Dispensational Chart
While the above chart can document the years and the separations that occurred throughout history in the various religious evolvements it does not examine what the differences are in the everyday belief of the concept of God. The Jewish and the Christian faith are closely bound and linked by their belief in what they think is the same God, and equally separated in their belief by individual elements.
The Jewish Faith
5. How God is perceived in the Jewish Faith?
6. What are some of the abstract beliefs regarding God?
7. What are some of the tangible beliefs regarding God?
8. What are some of the practices about God?
One of the first things one will notice in the study of the Jewish faith and the conceptual belief in God is the faith’s belief that it is disrespectful to spell out the name in its entirety. The Jewish Faith mandates that the spelling leave out the O. In the world and spell it with God instead. For the purpose of this paper respect for that belief when discussing the beliefs of the Jewish will be shown.
There is a strongly held belief that is taught in the Jewish Faith that the people were led by Moses. He was a leader chosen by God according to the faith history and as the leader of the Jewish people he was given directions by God in which to have them follow him therefore following God (DESCRIPTION OF JUDAISM http://www.religioustolerance.org/jud_desc.htm).
According to the Jews Moses “led his people out of captivity in Egypt, and received the Law from God. After decades of wandering through wilderness, Joshua led the tribes into the promised land, driving out the Canaanites through a series of military battles (DESCRIPTION OF JUDAISM http://www.religioustolerance.org/jud_desc.htm).”
One of the things that makes the study of the two faiths interesting from an expert standpoint is the fact that they all started out as part of the same population and the same faith. Christianity itself began as a Jewish faith sect.
“Christianity was established initially as a Jewish sect, centered in Jerusalem. Paul broke with this tradition and spread the religion to the Gentiles (non-Jews) (DESCRIPTION OF JUDAISM http://www.religioustolerance.org/jud_desc.htm). Many mini-revolts led to the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in 70 CE. The Jewish Christians were wiped out or scattered at this time. The movement started by Paul flourished and quickly evolved into the religion of Christianity. Jews were scattered throughout the known world. Their religion was no longer centered in Jerusalem; Jews were prohibited from setting foot there. Judaism became decentralized and stopped seeking converts. The local synagogue became the new center of Jewish life, and authority shifted from the centralized priesthood to local scholars and teachers, giving rise to Rabbinic Judaism.” This is where the division began and the differences became self evident in the two faiths in relation to their belief in the concept of their God (DESCRIPTION OF JUDAISM http://www.religioustolerance.org/jud_desc.htm).
Today there are almost 20 million Jews worldwide. The bulk of the world Jewish population however resides in America with a roster of approximately 7 million., Second to the states is the Israel Jewish population with a total of 4.5 million believers (DESCRIPTION OF JUDAISM http://www.religioustolerance.org/jud_desc.htm).
The Jewish faith revolves around 13 basic beliefs and principles that are founded in the understanding of the concept of God from a Jewish standpoint (DESCRIPTION OF JUDAISM http://www.religioustolerance.org/jud_desc.htm).
“The Thirteen Principles fall into three general categories:
(a) The nature of belief in God (The 13 Basic Jewish beliefs: http://www.hanefesh.com/Thirteen_Principles.htm).
(b) The authenticity of the Torah, its validity and immutability.
(c) man’s responsibility and ultimate reward (The 13 Basic Jewish beliefs: http://www.hanefesh.com/Thirteen_Principles.htm).”
The idea of the nature and the belief in God is important as it relates to the differences between the Jewish and the Christian faith as well because it details many of the exact elements of the belief in God regarding the Jewish faith which can be compared to the beliefs of God in the Christian faith (The 13 Basic Jewish beliefs: http://www.hanefesh.com/Thirteen_Principles.htm).
The belief in God for the Jewish faith is similar to the Christian faith in that the Jewish believe there is only one creator of all things and that creator is God or the concept of God. God’s existence excludes any idea of a partnership in creation according to the Jewish faith and this belief dovetails exactly with the belief of the Christian faith in its God (The 13 Basic Jewish beliefs: http://www.hanefesh.com/Thirteen_Principles.htm).
Another belief in the Jewish concept of God is the understanding that the world and the universe were only created by one God and they are only allowed to remain in existence because of the one God.
In the further study of the Jewish belief of God the Jewish believe that their God is one unity. The God of the Jewish faith is one unity in the understanding that he is not a collection of arms and legs. He does not have eyes, ears and a nose and he does not breath in and out the way humans do. The concept of God in the faith of Judaism believes that he cannot be divided into elements or sections the way all other tangible things on earth can (The 13 Basic Jewish beliefs: http://www.hanefesh.com/Thirteen_Principles.htm).
“This is the concept expressed in the first verse of the Shema. [ed. note- the Shema is the prayer which expresses the core belief of Judaism: “Hear, o Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. Blessed be the name of His glorious Kingdom forever and ever.] (The 13 Basic Jewish beliefs: http://www.hanefesh.com/Thirteen_Principles.htm)”
The next belief in the Jewish faith pertaining to the concept and the reality of the deity of God is the belief that God is not something physical. One cannot seen God according to the faith beliefs nor can his greatness be measured or imagined by human beings or the human mind and imagination.
The humans can try to understand the concept of God and in the way humans are able and capable humans will gather an understanding that is within the realm of human imagination and reality. However, the Jewish faith believes that there is no way to fully understand, grasp or appreciate the basic concept of the greatness or the faith of God (The 13 Basic Jewish beliefs: http://www.hanefesh.com/Thirteen_Principles.htm).
In addition to the inability to know the full unity of God is matched in the Jewish faith with the belief that God is eternal and the First Source of all creation in the universe.
While all things can be measured by time the Jewish believe the fact that God created the concept of time God transcends all time. This is a similar belief with the Christian belief that God transcends all time as well (The 13 Basic Jewish beliefs: http://www.hanefesh.com/Thirteen_Principles.htm).
The Jewish faith mandates that any and all prayers be directed to God. There are many faiths in the world that send prayers to God and also use other elements to send those prayers including the Christian faith’s belief that they can be sent and should be sent in the name of Jesus Christ. The Jewish faith has a strict and narrow belief that there is only one way to pray and it is to pray directly to God and nothing and no one else can be involved (The 13 Basic Jewish beliefs: http://www.hanefesh.com/Thirteen_Principles.htm).
According to the Jewish Faith: “Prayers should be directed to God It is tempting to beseech the angels or such mighty forces as the sun or constellations, because God has entrusted them with carrying out His will. None of them have any power independent of what God assigns them. Therefore, prayers should only be directed towards God Himself (The 13 Basic Jewish beliefs: http://www.hanefesh.com/Thirteen_Principles.htm).”
(Book Review: Concept of God as shepherd is Jewish paradigm
DOUGLAS BEN AVROHOM http://www.jewishsf.com/bk980731/etgod.htm)
Parched by thirst and oppressed by the blazing sun of the Midian desert, a lamb disobeyed its shepherd by wandering away from the flock. Although it found a resting place beneath shady palms and a brimming water well, it was also in danger from hungry jackals and predators. Later, the shepherd found the lamb. But when he realized that it merely ran away because of thirst, the shepherd carried the lamb on his shoulders.
According to the Midrash (Exodus Rabbah 2:2), the shepherd was Moses, who was attending sheep for Jethro, his father-in-law. From the story, readers learn an attribute about God’s character through the actions of a great prophet.
In “The Lord is My Shepherd,” Rabbi Michael Samuel writes that the famous 23rd Psalm attributed to King David was inspired by biblical and talmudic narratives such as the story of Moses as a young shepherd.
“The meaning of the shepherd metaphor may be discerned through the scriptural narratives that inspired it,” writes Samuel, the former spiritual leader of Orthodox Congregation Chevra Thilim in San Francisco. The San Francisco native, who received a doctorate of ministry from the San Francisco Theological Seminary, currently lives in Glens Falls, N.Y.
In the book, he discusses how meditation on the psalm can provide a primer for a living, spiritual Judaism. He also says the prophets and patriarchs are God’s appointed guardians,
The walk through the darkest of valleys described in the psalm pertains to the sufferings, griefs and losses faced throughout life. If a lamb falls into one of those pits, “only the shepherd’s staff can rescue it,” Samuel writes. Despite this dark warning, he says what “may well be the most important affirmation in Psalm 23 is that we are not prey to an impersonal force called fate or chance or scientific determinism.”
With examples from such Jewish theologians as Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) and the contemporary kabbalist, the late Aryeh Kaplan, Samuel shows how Psalm 23 acts as a sort of mantra when it comes to meditating and connecting with the heavens.
Samuel, a Lubavitch-trained rabbi and licensed pastoral therapist, draws from a variety of sources from the Bible to Chassidism. He also breaks the psalm into special sections so that the reader can understand how the psalmist constructed this song so one can connect to God.
After reading this book, I went to the beach and sang the sacred psalm, and to make things even more official, I learned the niggun to it from a rabbi and even sang the entire psalm in Hebrew. I can tell you that the formula worked and I felt God within me in a way I’ve never felt before.
In Judaism, the concept of God as a shepherd is ancient. Nonetheless, Samuel writes, “many Jews do not consider the shepherd metaphor as particularly Jewish.” The author mentions that many of his Orthodox rabbinical colleagues perceive the shepherd as a Christian concept.
Because Psalm 23 is often recited at Christian burials and because of numerous artistic renditions of Jesus carrying a lost lamb over his shoulder, many Jews understandably associate Psalm 23 with Christianity. In addition, many educated people, he writes, find it pejorative to be compared to “dumb sheep’…passive and timid creates that are easily manipulated and easily led to their slaughter.”
But Samuel assures that the words “The Lord is my Shepherd” actually signify “that a personal and intimate relationship is possible with God.” The shepherd metaphor has been used by the patriarchs to explain God’s attributes of charity, kindness and harmony. Most importantly, the idea of having a personal relationship with God has always been a Jewish concept.
“The Lord Is My Shepherd, The Theology of a Caring God” by Michael Samuel (267 pages Jason Aronson Inc., $25).
Copyright Notice (c) 1998, San Francisco Jewish Community Publications Inc., dba Jewish Bulletin of Northern California. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
THE JEWISH CONCEPT OF THE MESSIAH
“I am certain, with complete certainty, that the Moshiach will come. And even though it takes a long time, even so I anticipate his coming every day.”
What Is The Moshiach?
The word moshiach means “anointed.” It is commonly translated as “messiah.” The Moshiach will be a very righteous man from the family of King David with a total commitment to the Torah. He will be anointed as king of the Jewish people. He will reestablish the dynasty of King David, rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and gather together all the Jews from throughout the world to the land of Israel directing all of them to properly observe all of HaShem’s laws. He will reestablish the laws of a Jewish Kingdom, including the sacrificial service and other practices. Finally, he will perfect the world, leading all humanity to serve HaShem in unity. The entire world will realize that HaShem is the only God and they will all worship HaShem together. The world will be completely at peace.
The Torah describes the time of Moshiach:
HaShem your God will bring back your remnants and have mercy on you, and He will gather you in from all the peoples to which HaShem your God has scattered you. If your dispersed will be at the ends of the heavens, from there HaShem your God will gather you and from there He will take you. And HaShem your God will bring you to the land your fathers inhabited and you shall inhabit it, and He will be good to you and you will increase even more than your fathers. HaShem your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring to love HaShem your God with all your heart and with all your soul that you may live. HaShem your God will place these curses upon your enemies and upon your haters who pursued you. And you will return and listen to the voice of HaShem and you will do all His commandments which I have commanded you today. HaShem will make you abundant in all the work of your hands, in the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your animals, and the fruit of your ground, for the good; for HaShem will again rejoice in you for good as He rejoiced in your forefathers. (Devarim 30)
How Do We Identify The Moshiach?
When a person comes forth and claims to be the Moshiach, how can we know if he is the real thing? Unfortunately, Jewish history has had several false claimants to the title of Moshiach. Some of these false messiahs caused great turmoil and suffering. Christianity was founded by the followers of one such false Moshiach. So we see that it is very important to have clear rules to identify the real Moshiach.
There are two stages in the identification of the Moshiach. The first stage is when someone first comes and claims to be Moshiach. He must fulfill the following conditions:
He must be a father-to-son descendant of King David. Therefore, a Kohein, Levi, or a convert (and his children) cannot be Moshiach.
He must be completely immersed in the study of Torah, just like his ancestor David.
He must follow the entire Torah, both the Written and the Oral.
He must lead all the Jews back to the Torah, so that they follow all its laws.
If a man comes who fulfills all of these conditions, then we assume that he is the Moshiach. This is the first stage of the identification of Moshiach.
The second stage is completed when the presumed Moshiach succeeds in rebuilding the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and gathering all the Jewish people in the land of Israel. At that point we know that he is certainly Moshiach.
These are the minimum requirements. Until a person succeeds in fulfilling all the requirements of the first stage, we are not allowed to accept him as Moshiach.
It is also important to know that the Moshiach does not have to perform miracles to prove that he is the Moshiach. If he fulfills the requirements listed above then he is the Moshiach, even if he never performed a single miracle. Nevertheless, the Moshiach will be a great prophet. His level of prophecy will be higher than any other prophet except Moses.
What Moshiach Is Not
There are many false ideas about Moshiach in the world. Many of these ideas have been spread by Christianity. It is therefore important to clarify some of these points:
Moshiach will be a normal human being born from human parents. He will not be a god, or a “son of god.”
Moshiach will be mortal. He will not live forever. When he dies he will be succeeded by his son, like any normal king.
Moshiach will not atone for our sins. Every person must atone for his own sins; no one else can do it for you.
Moshiach will not change the laws of the Torah in any way. If he attempts to do so then we know that he is a false messiah.
All of these issues point to a fundamental belief of Judaism. We must recognize that the Moshiach is only a person who is a messenger from HaShem. He is not our actual redeemer, for redemption only comes from HaShem. The Moshiach will be like Moses who took us out of Egypt. It was really HaShem who took us out of Egypt, not Moses. That is one reason why we never even mention Moses in the entire Haggadah which we read at the Pesach Seder. Moses only served as a prophet, conveying the news of redemption to the Jewish people and to Pharaoh and the Egyptians. The Moshiach will serve the same function. It is important that we always focus on HaShem as our savior, and not on any human being. It is especially important that we never pray to any human being instead of HaShem.
The Messianic Era
When the Moshiach completes his task all mankind will recognize that HaSHem is the one true God, and all human beings will come to serve HaShem with all their hearts. People will abandon warfare and serve HaShem in complete peace.
The prophet Isaiah tells us:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the HaShem’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. And many people shall go and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of HaShem, to the Temple of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths; for from Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of HaShem from Jerusalem. And he [Moshiach] shall judge among the nations, and shall decide for many people; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2)
Jerusalem will be established as the spiritual capital of the world. The Jewish people will be the teachers and priests for the entire world, fulfilling our destiny to be a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6) and a “light to the nations” (Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6).
Jealousy and warfare will cease. All nations and peoples will live in harmony. The prophet Isaiah expresses this in a famous allegory:
The wolf shall live with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11)
However, the laws of nature will not be changed. People will still need to grow food and make clothing and fix broken machinery. However, the world will be blessed with plenty and no person will suffer from poverty.
How Do We Bring Moshiach?
HaShem has promised us that Moshiach will come at some time. We do not know when this time will be. We are also not allowed to try to predict the time when Moshiach will come. However, we should do whatever we can to bring Moshiach sooner. How can we do this?
The Torah says:
It will be that when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse that I have presented to you, then you will reflect upon it among all the nations where HaShem your God has scattered you. And you will return to HaShem your God and you will obey His voice according to everything I have commanded you today, you and your children with all your heart and with all your soul. And HaShem your God will bring back your remnants and have mercy on you, and He will gather you in from all the peoples to which HaShem your God has scattered you. (Devarim 30)
From here we see that Moshiach will be brought by the return of the Jewish people to serving HaShem and following all the laws of the Torah. Particular emphasis should be placed on those laws which caused us to go into exile. These are:
Unjustified hatred of our fellow Jews. We should all work to feel love our fellow Jews, and also for all human beings.
Murder. We should work on ourselves to respect our fellow man and see in him the image of God which exists in every person. Even publicly shaming another person is likened to murder.
Idolatry. We should recognize that only HaShem is the cause of good and bad. No person or thing can hurt you or help you unless it is HaShem’s wish. Nothing else has any real power in the world. We should also focus on developing our relationship with HaShem and to realize that He cares about you personally and hears your prayers.
Sexual Immorality. We should train ourselves to avoid circumstances which might tempt us to engage in acts of immorality.
Torah study. We must recognize that the Torah is HaShem’s direct revelation to us. As such, it is fundamentally different from all other forms of knowledge. All the other sciences are the product of human knowledge and thought and can only express partial truth. New knowledge is constantly being found, and old knowledge is proven incorrect. However, the Torah is from HaShem. HaShem is perfect and knows all. Therefore the Torah is also perfect. From the Torah we learn what our purpose is in this world and how to achieve that purpose. Our attitude towards the Torah must express this recognition. We should not treat the Torah like just another form of study.
May we merit the speedy coming of Moshiach in our days.
Â© Eliezer C. Abrahamson
Related Books Available from Barnes & Noble:
Tzipisa LeYeshua – “Waiting for Salvation”: The Chofetz Chaim on awaiting Moshiach. Includes a complete translation of the Chofetz Chaim’s classic essay on the subject plus a collection of his other related writings
HaSheeloosh HaKadosh: The Holy Trinity
It is crucial to know who God really is. If we would have true spiritual power, if we would experience God’s blessing, and if we would have eternal life, we must think of God as He is, not as we think He is. Idolatry does not consist only in bowing before statues. The essence of idolatry is having thoughts about God that are untrue and unworthy of Him.
The knowledge of the HaSheeloosh HaKadosh (the Holy Trinity) does not come from nature, but from divine revelation. Reason may lead us to believe in the oneness of God, but it takes God’s self-disclosure to reveal His Tri-unity, His Three-in-Oneness. It took special revelation, God’s self-disclosure in His Word, to reveal that His nature is one of Plurality-in-Singleness, Trinity-in-Unity, Three-in-Oneness. Since God has revealed His unique Tri-une nature, it is essential that we think of God as He is or suffer the most dire consequences.
There are many people who reject everything that they cannot understand or explain. They toss out anything that does not make sense to them, or does not seem reasonable. Applying this principle to Almighty God (for whom nothing is impossible), they conclude that it is impossible that He can be Three and yet One. They deny the Trinity on the grounds that it doesn’t make sense to them.
These people forget that their whole life is surrounded by mysteries they do not understand. They fail to consider that any real explanation of even the simplest phenomenon in nature lies in hidden obscurity, beyond their comprehension. Despite the great advancements in science over the past five hundred years we still can’t answer most of the questions that the Almighty posed to Job: Have you ever commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place? Have you walked in the recesses of the deep? Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth a constellation in its season, and guide the Bear with her satellites? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens, or fix their rule over the earth? Do you give the horse his might? Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars, stretching his wings? Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up?
Do you know why your nose appreciates the smell of a rose but is repulsed by the odor of rotting garbage? Do you understand how your eye can see? Do you understand why electrons spinning around the nucleus of an atom don’t go flying off into space? Do you understand the zoo of subatomic particles like protons, neutrons, electrons, leptons, baryons, gluons, muons, taus, neutrinos, mesons, and the various quarks that are the basic building blocks of energy and matter? We don’t fully understand the workings of a simple cell in our bodies, or how a seed grows. We don’t understand why a baby takes its first breath. Most of us don’t know why a rainbow forms the way does, or how a beautiful sunset takes shape, or how a computer computes, or how a fax faxes. This universe, even after all our advances in science, is still an inscrutable mystery.
Since we can’t understand the fall of a leaf from a tree, the hatching of a robin’s egg in our front yard, the mystery of a caterpillar spinning a cocoon and emerging as a spectacular butterfly, how a spider knows to spin a complex, strong and beautiful web, how a salmon returns to the exact spot in the river where it was born three years earlier, why should we expect to fathom the greatest mystery of all, the eternal, all powerful, all knowing and all wise Three-in-One? No finite being is capable of understanding an infinite God.
The fact that the Trinity cannot be satisfactorily explained is actually a strong argument in its favor, because the Uncreated is ultimately unknowable by any created thing. One wise man observed this: We think more loftily of God by knowing that He is incomprehensible and above our understanding than by conceiving Him according to our crude understanding. God cannot be fully known by man, unless the unknowable could be known, and the invisible seen, and the inaccessible attained, and the incomprehensible understood. If we could understand God, then He would have to be less than God.
In fact God’s divine revelation, the Bible, affirms the total inability of the human mind to come to know the mystery of the Holy Trinity. He dwells in unapproachable light whom no man has seen or can see (1 Tim. 6:16). The Lord can never be comprehended as He is in Himself. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it wise King David admitted (Psalm 139:6). Our best efforts to grasp the mystery of the Trinity will always be futile. Only by faith, by trusting and believing God’s special revelation, the Bible, can we come anywhere close to knowing Him.
The Trinity was first hinted at in the Tenach (the Hebrew Scriptures): In the first verse of the Jewish Bible, God is revealed as a unity with a plurality.
Plural Name: “Elohim” is the third word of the Hebrew Scriptures: In the beginning “Elohim” – “God” (Genesis 1:1). Elohim comes from a root that means “strength, might, or power.” “Elohim” is the most common word for “God” and is used over 2300 times in the Scriptures. “Elohim” is plural and can be literally translated as “gods.” Exodus 12:12 refers to “all the elohim (gods) of Egypt.” “Eloah” is the singular form of “Elohim,” but it is used much less frequently – only 250 times. This plural name that is applied to the One God is a hint of the plural/singular nature of God that is more fully revealed in the rest of the Scriptures.
Plural Verbs: Normally the plural name “Elohim” is followed by a singular verb. But there are several fascinating instances when “Elohim” is accompanied by a plural verb. Genesis 20:13 literally says in Hebrew that Elohim (God) they caused me to wander from my father’s house… And in Genesis 35:7 Elohim (God) they appeared to him. 2 Samuel 7:23 says: What nation on the earth is like Your people Israel, whom Elohim they went to redeem for Himself. Psalm 58:11 declares that surely there is a God they judge the earth.
Plural Pronouns: There are times when plural pronouns are used to describe the One God. The Lord God, speaking in Genesis 1:26 says: Let Us make man in Our image according to Our likeness. (See also Genesis 3:22, 11:7 and Isaiah 6:8 for other instances of plural pronouns that refer to God).
Plural Nouns: There are several intriguing occurrences where plural nouns refer to the one God: The LORD… He is a holy God [literally holy Gods] (Joshua 24:19). Remember your Creator [literally Creators] in the days of your youth (Ec. 12:1). Let Israel rejoice in his Maker [literally Makers] (Psalm 149:2). For your Maker [literally Makers] is your husband [literally husbands] (Isaiah 54:5).
Plural Descriptions: In the Tenach there are mysterious plural descriptions of the Three-in-One God. King David writes: The Lord (Adonai) says to my Lord: sit at my right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet (Psalm 110:1). Psalm 45:6-7 records this: Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness, therefore God, Your God has anointed You with the oil of joy more than Your fellows. The apostle to the Messianic Jews applies this passage to Messiah, declaring that Yeshua is God, and that His Father is God (see Hebrews 1:8-9).
In Genesis 1:1-3 God (Elohim, which is a plural), the Spirit of God and the Word of God (and God said…), are all involved in the creation of the universe.
In Isaiah 48 One speaks who calls Himself the first and the last, and the One who founded the earth. He goes on to say that from the first I have not spoken in secret, from the time it took place I was there. And now the Lord God has sent Me, and His Spirit (Isaiah 48:12-16). The Creator who is speaking claims to have been sent by the Lord God and His Spirit!
In the Jewish Bible God is pictured sitting on His throne in Heaven, and at the same time He is present everywhere throughout the universe (where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your Presence? – Psalm 139:7), and at the same time the Spirit of God was dwelling in the prophets, and at the same time the Shechinah (God’s Dwelling Presence, the Glory of God, the Holy Spirit) was manifested in the Jerusalem Temple (1 Kings 8:27)!
From time to time God manifested Himself as the enigmatic Angel of the Lord, a mysterious messenger being (angel means messenger) who appeared throughout our people’s history. When He appeared this mysterious angel was treated as God Himself. He possessed divine prerogatives, He had divine authority, and He received divine worship. When Manoah, the father of Samson, finally realized that he was dealing with the Angel of the Lord, he said to his wife, we shall surely die, for we have seen God (Judges 13:21-22). In that same chapter, God is mentioned, the Angel of the Lord (who is called God), is mentioned, and the Spirit of God is mentioned. (See Genesis 16:7, 9, 11, Exodus 3:2-6, Judges 2:1-4, 6:11-22, for other appearances of this mysterious Angel of the Lord).
What about the Shema? Some have objected that the Shema (Hear O. Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One – Deut. 6:4) reveals that God can only be a simple unity. But there are two Hebrew words for “one” – “echad” and “yachid.” “Echad,” which is used to describe the oneness of God in the Shema, connotes a composite oneness, as in the unity of a husband and wife, which are said to be “one” flesh (Genesis 2:24). “Yachid,” which is not used in the Shema, connotes an absolute oneness, as that of an only son (Genesis 22:2). The Shema teaches the unity of God, based on a oneness that allows for a composite Three-In-Oneness.
HaSheeloosh HaKadosh was clearly revealed by Messiah Yeshua: God’s singular/plural nature was hinted at, but not fully understood by the holy Jewish prophets and priests in the Tenach. It took the revelation of the Son of God to clearly and fully reveal God’s Three-in-Oneness.
In many ways Messiah Yeshua claimed equality with God: Messiah Yeshua did not hesitate to use the plural when speaking of Himself along with the Father. We will come to Him and make Our abode with him (John 14:23). I and My Father are One (John 10:30). He stated that the person who had seen Him had seen God (John 14:8-9). He told us that we are to be immersed in the name (singular) of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). When Yeshua told a group of Jewish leaders, Before Abraham was, I Am (John 8:58), He claimed to be the same eternal “I Am” God that appeared to Moses at the burning bush (See Exodus 3:14). He claimed to be omnipresent, which is only applicable to God. He stated that wherever two or three are gathered in His name, He is there in their midst (Matt. 18:20). He promised to be with each one of His followers to the end of time (Matt. 28:20). He claimed the attribute of omnipotence when He said that all authority in heaven and on earth has been entrusted to Him, and that He has power over all things (Matt. 28:18). Even though honor and worship is something that only God can receive, Yeshua instructed us that He was to be equally worshipped along with the Father. All are to honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him (John 5:23). He claimed to be the proper object of our faith, and that if we believed in Him we would live forever but if we didn’t we would miss eternal life (John 3:16, 8:24).
Yeshua claimed to do mighty works that only God can do: He claimed that He is the source of life (John 14:6), and that He gives eternal life to whom He wishes (John 5:2), when God alone is the Source and Giver of life. Even though God is the only one that prayer may be directed to, Yeshua claimed that He hears and answers prayers from all people at all times in all places. Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If You ask Me anything in My name, I will do it (John 14:13-14). He claimed that He sends the Holy Spirit (John 15:26), something that only God can do. He claimed that He indwells all believers (John 14:23), something that only God can do. He claimed that He will be the One who raises the dead on the Last Day (John 10:37-38, 11:25), something that only God will do. He claimed that on the Day of Judgement all human beings will appear before Him for their judgement (John 5:22, 27), something that only God will do. He claimed to have authority to forgive sins, something that only God can do (Luke 5:17-26).
Messiah Yeshua made these claims about Himself. By doing so He was the first to clearly reveal these truths about the unique unity of nature and relationship between Him and His Father. Then He proved His claims by doing signs and wonders and mighty acts of power that demonstrated that He was supernaturally sent and empowered by God. Yeshua demonstrated His power to heal. He showed His power to raise the dead. He demonstrated His power over nature. He manifested His power over Satan and all the hosts of hell. He proved that He had authority over His own life, authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. Since God would never allow a liar or a deceiver to be raised from the dead, Yeshua’s resurrection from the dead was the final demonstration that everything that He said and did and claimed was done with God’s blessing and approval, and that what Messiah Yeshua said was the absolute truth. That is why a leading rabbi like Nicodemus could say to Him: Rabbi, we know that you come from God as a teacher, for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with Him (John 3:2). However, most of the Jewish leaders were not like good rabbi Nicodemus. Many were furious with Yeshua because they understood that He was a man who was making Himself out to be God (John 10:33). It was not Yeshua’s claim to be the Messiah that led to His crucifixion; it was His claim to have equality with the Father, to be God in the flesh, that outraged the religious leaders of His day. They rejected His claim of oneness with God, which led to the most dire consequences in their own lives and the life of the entire nation of Israel that has lasted to this day.
Knowing that the Trinity was hinted at in the Tenach and made clear by Messiah Yeshua demonstrates that the Old and New Testaments are in perfect agreement, and that the New Testament is the true spiritual heir of the Old Testament.
Not only was the Three-in-Oneness of God hinted at in the Tenach (the Hebrew Scriptures), and made clear by Messiah Yeshua, but His Jewish Apostles taught that Yeshua is God in human form, and therefore the Trinity is true: Even though these Jewish men were trained in the Shema (Deut. 6:4 – Hear O. Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one) and the first and second commandments, they state as absolute fact that Yeshua is the source of all life (something that is only true of God – see John 1:4, 5:21, 14:6). They claim that He created all things (see John 1:3). They taught that He preceded all things; that all things were created by Him and for Him; that He upholds all things, and in Him all things hold together (Col. 1:16-17, Hebrews 1:3). They claim that in the future Yeshua will first dissolve and then remake the entire universe (something that only God can do – see Heb. 1:10-12, Phil. 3:21, Rev. 21:5). They claim that like God, Messiah Yeshua is immutable – He never changes – He is the same yesterday, today and forever (see Heb. 13:8). They taught that Yeshua has the very form of God, which means He has God’s essential attributes. He possesses inwardly and displays outwardly the very essence and nature of God; Messiah Yeshua is God’s equal, and possesses complete equality with God (Phil. 2:6-8). They taught that Messiah Yeshua radiates God’s glory and exactly represents God’s nature (Heb. 1:3). They claim that the Lord God was pleased for all His fullness to dwell in Yeshua (Col. 1:19), and that in Yeshua all the fullness of God dwells in bodily form (Col. 2:9).
These Jewish apostles taught the Tri-une nature of God by the worship Messiah Yeshua receives: It is very clear from Holy Scripture that God alone is to be worshipped. No man, woman, saint, angel, or any created being is ever to be worshipped. But these Jewish emissaries testify that since He is equal to God, Messiah Yeshua is to be worshipped by both angels and men: Let all the angels of God worship Him (Heb. 1:6). Those who were with Him in the boat worshiped Him saying, You are certainly God’s Son! (Matt. 14:33). These apostles declare that throughout eternity Messiah Yeshua will be worshipped by all created beings: At the name of Yeshua every knee will bow of those who are in heaven, and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Yeshua the Messiah is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:10-11). To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever (Rev. 5:13).
The Tri-unity of God is seen by the titles these Jewish apostles call Him: They called Him the Savior (a title which can only apply to God – see Is. 45:21, Acts 4:12, 2 Peter 2:20). They refer to Him as the Redeemer (which properly applies to the God of Israel – see Is. 41:14, Col. 1:14, Titus 2:13-14). Like the God of Israel, Yeshua is called the First and the Last (see Isaiah 44:6, Rev. 1:17). Like Israel’s God, Yeshua is the Holy One of Israel (see Isaiah 43:14, Acts 3:14). They recognized that Yeshua is the unique Son of God, the One who bears the same divine nature as His Father (see Psalm 2:7-12, Matt. 16:16, 26:61-64).
These Jewish emissaries called Yeshua “Lord” in the Brit Chadasha (New Testament) with the same frequency and regularity that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is called “Lord” in the Tenach (Hebrew Scriptures). Yes Lord, you know that I love you. Yes, Lord, I have believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God. Lord Yeshua receive my spirit. Believe in the Lord Yeshua and you shall be saved. And the Lord said “I am Yeshua.” The grace of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah be with you. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the Lord of all, the Lord of the living and the dead, the Lord of all who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth. These Jewish apostles are in complete agreement with the prophet Jeremiah who said that the Messiah’s name (“name” means nature, essential characteristics) is “Adonai Tzidkaynu,” “the Lord our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
Perhaps strongest of all, these Jewish apostles claimed that Messiah Yeshua was “God”: These Jewish men sent by the Master of the Universe claimed that Yeshua was eternally with God (In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God), and that He is completely, totally, and fully identified as God, and that He is in fact God (and the Word was God – see John 1:1-2). My Lord and my God declared Thomas when he saw the resurrected Yeshua (John 20:28). The apostle to the Messianic Jews writes: But of the Son He (God) says, Thy throne O. God is forever and ever (Heb 1:8). In other words, God the Father acknowledged that His Son was truly God.
The apostles looked forward to the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Messiah Yeshua (Titus 2:13). These Jewish apostles are in perfect harmony with the prophet Isaiah, who wrote that the Messiah will be the son that is born to us and “El Gibor,” the “Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
One modern rabbi made this observation: “Is your master God? For now I realize only God can demand of me what Yeshua is asking. (A Rabbi Talks With Jesus, Doubleday, 1993, pp. 53-54).
The attack on the doctrine of the Trinity in the fourth century by Arius and others was aimed at this claim to Messiah Yeshua’s deity and therefore the doctrine of the Trinity. During the Arian controversy many of leaders of the Church met at Nicea and adopted a statement of faith dealing with the Three-in-One nature of God. I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And I believe in one Lord, Yeshua the Messiah, the only begotten Son of God. Born of the Father before all ages, God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God. Begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made.
The Nicene Creed also declares that the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, is fully God, and equal to the Father and the Son: And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified. For more than 1600 years this statement has stood as the final test of orthodoxy and genuine Biblical faith, for it condenses and expresses in theological language the teaching of both the Tenach and the New Testament, concerning Yeshua’s divinity and the truth of God’s Three-in-One nature.
How does the truth of the Trinity harmonize with the statement of Yeshua: My Father is greater than I (John 14:28)? The old theologians knew, and wrote in another creed: He is equal to His Father as touching His Godhead; He is less than the Father as touching His manhood. Since God can never become less than Himself, it was impossible for Yeshua to surrender anything of His essential deity. When God took upon Himself the nature of man, Yeshua did not become less than God. In the incarnation the Son of God added humanity (which was already made in God’s image), but He did not diminish His essential deity. When Yeshua became a man He veiled His deity, but He did not void it.
God the Father, Messiah Yeshua, and the Spirit have a single will: A popular belief among some Christians divides the work of God between the Three, assigning a specific part to each One. For instance, creation is attributed to the Father, redemption to the Son, and regeneration to the Holy Spirit. But God cannot divide Himself so that the Father works while the Son doesn’t. The Tri-une God always works together. The smallest act is never done by One without the instant agreement of the other Two. Every act of God is done by the Trinity in perfect unity. Don’t think of the Father, the Son and the Spirit conferring with one another, huddling together like some football team. Think rather of a perfect sharing of mind, a complete oneness of will, a total unity of purpose, an infinite unified wisdom, perfect mutual understanding, taking place instantaneously and eternally.
The Tri-une God works in perfect unity in all the mighty works that are done throughout the universe. The work of creation is attributed to the Father (Gen. 1:1), and to the Son (Col. 1:16), and to the Spirit (Gen. 1:2, Psalm 33:6). The Incarnation is shown to have been accomplished by the Father and the Son and the Spirit working in one accord, although only the Messiah became flesh to dwell among us (Luke 1:35). At Messiah’s tevilah (baptism) the Son came up out of the water, the Spirit descended on Him, and the Father’s voice spoke from heaven (Mt. 3:16-17). The resurrection of Messiah is likewise attributed to the Father (Acts 2:32), and to the Son (John 10:17-18), and to the Holy Spirit (Rom. 1:4). One of the most beautiful descriptions of the work of atonement is found in Hebrews 9:14, where it is stated that Messiah Yeshua, through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without blemish to God. The salvation of each individual is shown by Simon Peter to be the work of the Holy Trinity. Peter informs us that we are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for the purpose that we may obey Messiah Yeshua (1 Pet. 1:2). Each child of God is said to be indwelt by the Three-in-One God. Messiah Yeshua promised us: I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He (the Spirit) may be with you forever… I will come to you… We (Yeshua and His Father) will come to you and make Our abode with you (John 14:15-23).
The true Messianic Community has not hesitated to teach the Tri-unity of God. Without pretending to understand this mystery, the community of saints has given its witness to this revealed truth and repeated what the Holy Scriptures teach. Just as the presence of God was in the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day leading the people of Israel, declaring to all the world, “These are My people,” so belief in the Trinity has since the days of the Apostles, shone above the true Messianic Community as she journeyed through the years. Purity and power have followed this faith. Under this banner have gone forth Jewish apostles and prophets, pastors and teachers, martyrs and songwriters, reformers and evangelists. God’s approval and blessing has rested on their lives and labors. However they may have differed on minor matters, the knowledge of the Trinity bound them together. But error, heresy, apostasy and destruction have come to those who deny this Biblical truth. The mystery of the Holy Trinity. Understand it? Never! So humble your limited, finite human understanding, become like a child and simply believe what God has revealed in His Holy Scriptures about His Three-In-Oneness.
[I am indebted to The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer, and Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum for much of this article]
Is Jesus Really the Jewish Messiah? http://www.angelfire.com/ri2/gideonbernstein/
Let’s examine the facts from a Jewish point-of-view. Not only do the Christians believe that Jesus is their Messiah, but they think that he is the Messiah as foretold by the Jewish Prophets of the Bible, and they try to prove it with quotes from the Bible and missionary organizations such as the Jews for Jesus, which try to entice Jews into converting to Christianity by telling them that they can accept Jesus as their Messiah and still be Jews. Because of these false claims by these missionary groups, Jews must have the facts in order to reaffirm our belief that all the Christian claims that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah is false.
Here are some of the points which demonstrate the blatant discrepancies and inconsistancies in the Missionaries’ arguments in favor of Jesus.
The Jewish Messiah is to be a mortal human being born to two mortal parents. He is neither to be a god, nor a man born of supernatural or virgin birth. There is nothing in the Bible that states that the Messiah would be a god or God-like, or that he would be born to a virgin. The concept of the former contradicts the Jewish concept of God being above and beyond taking human form and limitations. Jews believe that only God should be worshipped, not a being of His creation, not even the Messiah himself. Besides, nowhere in the Bible is there any virgins giving birth. This idea is only found in pagan mythology, where virgins often bare offsping of gods. The only purpose of the concept of virgin birth is to attract pagans to Christianity.
The Jewish Messiah is supposed to return the Jews to the Holy Land, but Jesus lived while the Jews were still there before they were exiled by the Romans. How can he return them to their land if they were still living in it?
The Messiah is to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple, but Jesus lived while the Temple was still standing.
The Bible states that the Messiah will redeem Israel, but 30 years after Jesus died, Jerusalem was destroyed, and the Jews were exiled by the Roman to suffer 1900 years of persecution, mostly by the followers of Jesus.
The Prophets of the Bible foretold that all the nations of the world will acknowlege and worship the one true God (Isaiah 11.9, 45, and Zephaniah 3), but nothing like this happened after Jesus died; in fact, Islam develpoed and became the religion of many nations while Christianity splintered into many sects which constantly fight each other, and almost two-thirds of the human race worships idols. The world is very far from monotheism even to this day.
The Messiah’s influence will extend to all who will worship God in the Jerusalem Temple. As the Prophet states, “My House will become the House of Prayer for all the Nations. This has clearly not taken place yet; therefore, the Messiah hasn’t come yet.
A new spirit will fill the world man will no longer sin or commit crimes, especially the Jews (Deutteronomy 30: 6, Isaiah 60:21, Jeremiah 50:20, and Ezekiel 36:21). Soon after the days of Jesus, ignorance of God, science, and philosophy filled the earth, and the Dark Ages began.
If Jesus was God, why did he pray to and talk to himself?
The true Messiah will reign as King of the Jews. Jesus’ carrer as a wandering preacher and “faith healer” lasted only three years until he was crucified by the Romans as a common criminal without any official postition or authority whatsoever.
One of the Messiah’s main tasks is to bring world peace by ending wars and arms manufacturing (Isaiah 2:4). Yet, Christian nations are very war-like, and wars continue to be fought to this day.
Mark 13:30 and Matthew 4 states that the prophecies about the Messiah would take place during Jesus’ generation, but nothing was accomplished after 2,000 years.
Nohwere does the Bible say that the Messiah would come once, die, and return in a “second coming.” Such a concept was a Christian concept meant to rationalize Jesus’ failure to function in any way as the Messiah or fulfill the Hebrew Bible’s prophecies.
The Bible says that the Messiah would be descened from King David. If Jesus is the “Son of God,” how could he be descened from King David from his father’s side?
Missionaries constantly and deliberatly distort the meaning of the prophets’ words in order to substantiate their claims; for example, the Hebrew term in Isaiah, “almah” means “young woman,” not “virgin.” Honest Christian scholars now admit this is a “pious fraud,” and they translate the word correctly in the “Reverse Standard Version” of the Bible.
If Jesus’ raising from the dead was so important to demonstrate who he was, why did it take place in secret instead of in the presence of his “thousands’ of followers?
Jesus claimed that he didn’t intend to change the laws of Moses (Matthew 5), but he later abrogated some of the laws, and his followers later abolished or changed nearly all of them; for example, Christians still eat pork and fail to celebrate Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashanna despite what the Torah says. The Torah constantly says that its laws are eternal, and they can’t be abolished or changed.
Judaism believes that God is eternal, above, and beyond time. He can’t be born, die, suffer, “become flesh,” or be divivded into sections (“Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”).
If Jesus was the Messiah, why does the New Testiment admit that not one of the rabbis of the time accept his claim? Why did all the educated men and prominent men reject him?
If Jesus was the Messiah, why did most of his own people, the Jews of that time, reject him, including his own family? Why did his followers consist almost completely of a handful of poorly educated people?
Jesus ordered his followers to preach to the Jews only, not the Gentiles (Matthew 10), but his followers did the exact opposite. He clearly considered himself th Messiah of the Jews only, but he is accepted by foreign nations, and not the Jews.
The purpose of the Messiah is to bring us to the day when all the Jews will observe the Torah and to teach it to all humankind who will accept its truths. Nowhere in the Torah does it state that the Messiah will abolish it. The Torah is eternal.
Nowhere in the Torah does it state that forgivness of a person’s sins can be brought about by someone else’s death. Each man isaccountable for his own sins, and each man must repent of his own sins by changing his ways and seeking God’s forgiveness.
Matthew 1 and Luke 3 both give different accounts of Jesus being descended from King David through his father Joseph.
If Jesus was the “Son of God,” why did he say on the cross, “My God, my God, why did thou foresake me?” instead of “My Father”?
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY
There are many substantial and vital distinctions between Judaism and Christianity. Of course, there are many similarities as well, primarily because Christianity emerged from Judaism. However, the emergence was not a direct line. Christianity broke from Judaism, forming a new religion, so it is misleading, however comfortable the thought might be, to believe that the two religions are essentially the same, or to see Christianity as the natural continuation of Judaism.
The differences between the two religions will be explored in this section. As a preface, it is useful to repeat Judaism’s central belief that the people of all religions are children of God, and therefore equal before God. All people have God’s love, mercy, and help. In particular, Judaism does not require that a person convert to Judaism in order to achieve salvation. The only requirement for that, as understood by Jews, is to be ethical. While Judaism accepts the worth of all people regardless of religion, it also allows people who are not Jewish but who voluntarily wish to join the Jewish people to do so.
It is not really possible to summarize either Judaism or Christianity fairly in this section, so further study is encouraged. Also, the formal positions of Judaism on various issues should be discussed with a rabbi. The beliefs described in this section are mainstream Christian and Jewish beliefs. Individual Christian and Jewish thinkers may differ, sometimes considerably, with the positions described here. It is nonetheless useful, even with all these limitations, to consider the differences. One book that is excellent on this subject is JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY: THE DIFFERENCES, by Trude Weiss-Rosmarin (Jonathan David, 1981).
Judaism insists on a notion of monotheism, the idea that there is one God. As Judaism understands this idea, God cannot be made up of parts, even if those parts are mysteriously united. The Christian notion of trinitarianism is that God is made up of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Such a view, even if called monotheistic because the three parts are, by divine mystery, only one God, is incompatible with the Jewish view that such a division is not possible. The Jewish revolutionary idea is that God is one. This idea allows for God’s unity and uniqueness as a creative force. Thus, for Jews, God is the creator of all that we like and all that we don’t. There is no evil force with an ability to create equal to God’s. Judaism sees Christianity’s trinitarianism as a weakening of the idea of God’s oneness. Jews don’t have a set group of beliefs about the nature of God; therefore, there is considerable, and approved, debate within Judaism about God. However, all mainstream Jewish groups reject the idea of God’s having three parts. Indeed, many Jews see an attempt to divide God as a partial throwback, or compromise with, the pagan conception of many gods.
THE JEWISH VIEW OF JESUS
To Christians, the central tenet of their religion is the belief that Jesus is the Son of God, part of the trinity, the savior of souls who is the messiah. He is God’s revelation through flesh. Jesus was, in Christian terms, God incarnate, God in the flesh who came to Earth to absorb the sins of humans and therefore free from sin those who accepted his divinity.
To Jews, whatever wonderful teacher and storyteller Jesus may have been, he was just a human, not the son of God (except in the metaphorical sense in which all humans are children of God). In the Jewish view, Jesus cannot save souls; only God can. Jesus did not, in the Jewish view, rise from the dead.
He also did not absorb the sins of people. For Jews, sins are removed not by Jesus’ atonement but by seeking forgiveness. Jews seek forgiveness from God for sins against God and from other people (not just God) for sins against those people. Seeking forgiveness requires a sincere sense of repenting but also seeking directly to redress the wrong done to someone. Sins are partially removed through prayer which replaced animal sacrifice as a way of relieving sins. They are also removed by correcting errors against others.
Jesus, for Christians, replaced Jewish law. For traditional Jews, the commandments (mitzvot) and Jewish law (halacha) are still binding.
Jesus is not seen as the messiah. In the Jewish view, the messiah is a human being who will usher in an era of peace. We can tell the messiah by looking at the world and seeing if it is at peace. From the Jewish view, this clearly did not happen when Jesus was on Earth or anytime after his death.
Jews vary about what they think of Jesus as a man. Some respect him as an ethical teacher who accepted Jewish law, as someone who didn’t even see himself as the messiah, who didn’t want to start a new religion at all. Rather, Jesus is seen by these Jews as someone who challenged the religious authorities of his day for their practices. In this view, he meant to improve Judaism according to his own understanding not to break with it. Whatever the Jewish response is, one point is crucial. No one who is Jewish, no born Jew and no one who converts to Judaism, can believe in Jesus as the literal son of God or as the messiah. For the Jewish people, there is no God but God.
The Basic Concept of Christianity by Bill McGinnis
“If you are ready to receive these thoughts, I pray the Lord will deliver them to you.”
1. There is one God, Creator of the universe and everything within it.
God exists outside of time and has total power over all things.
2. For His own reasons, God created mankind and gave us free will, to make choices without interference from Him.
3. The very first thing we did was to use this free will to rebel from God, that is, to go against His instructions to us. By our rebellion, we alienated ourselves from Him and cut ourselves off from the wonderful existence He had prepared for us with Him in His kingdom.
4. In the life of every person, there is a cosmic drama going on: Will
this person end his rebellion against the will of God and return to God, or will he persist in rebellion and be forever cut off from fellowship with God? God is very interested in this drama, and He
wants each of us to choose to come back to Him. But He will not interfere, and He will not make Himself so obvious that only one choice is possible.
5. The means for us to return to God is this: Accept His son Jesus
as our personal saviour, give up our rebellion, repent of our offenses against His will, and let the personality of Jesus take control of our life. (The personality of Jesus is called
“the Holy Spirit.”) If we do these things, we will be forgiven for all of our wrongdoing, the Holy Spirit
will dominate within us, and we will return to joyful fellowship with God, forever, in His kingdom.
6. God has provided us with complete instructions for our life, and these are contained within His Word, that is, the Bible, in its present form as we have it today. Without the Holy Spirit in us
it is very difficult (maybe impossible) to understand the Bible.
With the Holy Spirit, however, we will be given understanding of parts of the Bible as we need it and are ready for it.
7. Our proper relationship with God is this: He is God, we are the humans. He is the Creator, we are the created. He is the boss, we are the servants. Our only purpose is to please Him. If we voluntarily accept His plan for us, and go along with His
program, He will provide for all of our needs and give us happiness beyond our fondest dreams forever. If not, we will be totally cut off from Him and filled with bitter regret, forever. The key to the whole thing is accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of our life.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
CONCEPT OF GOD IN CHRISTIANITY by Dr. Zakir Naik
Position of Jesus (pbuh) in Islam:
Islam is the only non-Christian faith, which makes it an article of faith to believe in Jesus (pbuh). No Muslim is a Muslim if he does not believe in Jesus (pbuh).
We believe that he was one of the mightiest Messengers of Allah (swt).
We believe that he was born miraculously, without any male intervention, which many modern day Christians do not believe.
We believe he was the Messiah translated Christ (pbuh).
We believe that he gave life to the dead with God’s permission.
We believe that he healed those born blind, and the lepers with God’s permission.
CONCEPT OF GOD IN CHRISTIANITY:
Jesus Christ (pbuh) never claimed Divinity
One may ask, if both Muslims and Christians love and respect Jesus (pbuh), where exactly is the parting of ways? The major difference between Islam and Christianity is the Christians’ insistence on the supposed divinity of Christ (pbuh). A study of the Christian scriptures reveals that Jesus (pbuh) never claimed divinity. In fact there is not a single unequivocal statement in the entire Bible where Jesus (pbuh) himself says, “I am God” or where he says, “worship me.” In fact the Bible contains statements attributed to Jesus (pbuh) in which he preached quite the contrary. The following statements in the Bible are attributed to Jesus Christ (pbuh):
(i) “My Father is greater than I.”
[The Bible, John 14:28]
(ii) “My Father is greater than all.”
[The Bible, John 10:29]
(iii) “â€¦I cast out devils by the Spirit of Godâ€¦.”
[The Bible, Matthew 12:28]
(iv) “â€¦I with the finger of God cast out devilsâ€¦.”
[The Bible, Luke 11:20]
(v) “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgement is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”
[The Bible, John 5:30]
The Mission of Jesus Christ (pbuh) — to Fulfill the Law
Jesus (pbuh) never claimed divinity for himself. He clearly announced the nature of his mission. Jesus (pbuh) was sent by God to confirm the previous Judaic law. This is clearly evident in the following statements attributed to Jesus (pbuh) in the Gospel of Matthew:
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
[The Bible, Matthew 5:17-20]
God Sent Jesus’ (pbuh)
The Bible mentions the prophetic nature of Jesus (pbuh) mission in the following verses:
“â€¦ and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.”
[The Bible, John 14:24
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.”
[The Bible, John 17:3]
Jesus Refuted even the Remotest Suggestion of his Divinity
Consider the following incident mentioned in the Bible:
“And behold, one came and said unto him, ‘Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?’
And he said unto him, ‘Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’ ”
[The Bible, Matthew 19:16-17]
Jesus (pbuh) did not say that to have the eternal life of paradise, man should believe in him as Almighty God or worship him as God, or believe that Jesus (pbuh) would die for his sins. On the contrary he said that the path to salvation was through keeping the commandments. It is indeed striking to note the difference between the words of Jesus Christ (pbuh) and the Christian dogma of salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus (pbuh).
Jesus (pbuh) of Nazareth — a Man Approved of God
The following statement from the Bible supports the Islamic belief that Jesus (pbuh) was a prophet of God.
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know.”
[The Bible, Acts 2:22]
The First Commandment is that God is One
The Bible does not support the Christian belief in trinity at all. One of the scribes once asked Jesus (pbuh) as to which was the first commandment of all, to which Jesus (pbuh) merely repeated what Moses (pbuh) had said earlier:
“Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adonai Ikhad.”
This is a Hebrew quotation, which means:
“Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord.”
[The Bible, Mark 12:29]
It is striking that the basic teachings of the Church such as Trinity and vicarious atonement find no mention in the Bible. In fact, various verses of the Bible point to Jesus’ (pbuh) actual mission, which was to fulfill the law revealed to Prophet Moses (pbuh). Indeed Jesus (pbuh) rejected any suggestions that attributed divinity to him, and explained his miracles as the power of the One True God.
Jesus (pbuh) thus reiterated the message of monotheism that was given by all earlier prophets of Almighty God.
NOTE: All quotations of the Bible are taken from the King James Version.
CONCEPT OF GOD IN OLD TESTAMENT:
God is One
The following verse from the book of Deuteronomy contains an exhortation from Moses (pbuh):
“Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adna Ikhad.”
It is a Hebrew quotation which means:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord”
[The Bible, Deuteronomy 6:4]
Unity of God in the Book of Isaiah
The following verses are from the Book of Isaiah:
“I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.”
[The Bible, Isaiah 43:11
“I am Lord, and there is none else, there is no God besides me.”
[The Bible, Isaiah 45:5
“I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.”
[The Bible, Isaiah 46:9]
Old Testament condemns idol worship
Old Testament condemns idol worship in the following verses:
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:”
“Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.”
[The Bible, Exodus 20:3-5
A similar message is repeated in the book of Deuteronomy:
“Thou shalt have none other gods before me.”
“Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that in the earth beneath, or that is in the water beneath the earth.”
“Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.”
J.S. Spong, “A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith is Dying & How a New Faith is Being Born,” HarperSanFrancisco, (2001), Pages 37 & 38.
THE JEWISH CONCEPT OF THE MESSIAH
Book Review: Concept of God as shepherd is Jewish paradigm
DOUGLAS BEN AVROHOM http://www.jewishsf.com/bk980731/etgod.htm
HaSheeloosh HaKadosh: The Holy Trinity
Is Jesus Really the Jewish Messiah?
The 13 Basic Jewish beliefs: http://www.hanefesh.com/Thirteen_Principles.htm
Recorded and classified by Maimonides
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY
The Basic Concept of Christianity by Bill McGinnis
CONCEPT OF GOD IN CHRISTIANITY by Dr. Zakir Naik
HOW THE CONCEPTS OF GOD DEVELOPED OVER THE AGES
DESCRIPTION OF JUDAISM http://www.religioustolerance.org/jud_desc.htm
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