Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Shocking, but true nonetheless --
Yeshua the Messiah Was NOT a "Christian"!
Shocking as it may seem, history and the Bible prove that Yeshua the Messiah was a devout Jew who did not come to abolish the faith of Judaism or the Law of his Father, but to magnify and expand them! Modern day "Christianity" has very little in common with the carpenter's son from Nazareth, whom they claim as the founder of their "faith"! Yeshua did not teach or observe the major "Christian" holidays of Christmas, Easter, but considered them pagan. He observed the Jewish holy days of Passover, Tabernacles, and Pentecost. Just what did Yeshua the Messiah of Nazareth teach? And why was he violently persecuted by the religious leaders who were in control during his day? What did he really teach about the Laws of YEHOVAH God?
For many months we have wanted to write upon this topic. Bruce Barton calls Yeshua the Messiah the man "nobody knows," and that seems to be the truth! In his book entitled The Man Nobody Knows, Barton pointed out that the Messiah of the New Testament was very unlike the common conception people have of him. He was not sanctimonious, wimpy, namby-pamby, weak, whining, or effeminate. Not only was he muscular and strong, physically, having worked for years as a carpenter and mason, but he was bold, courageous, and active, even throwing the money changers out of the Temple of YEHOVAH God.
But, Yeshua the Messiah was unlike the common conception of him in many other ways, also. The truth is, he was NOTHING LIKE the modern representation or idea people have of him! Truly, as the apostle Paul warned was beginning to happen 1,900 years ago, the world has embraced "ANOTHER JESUS" -- a totally different "Jesus" from the one revealed in Scripture! Paul warned the Corinthian church, "But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough" (II Cor. 11:3-4, NIV).
The Yeshua of modern-day Christianity all too often seems to be one who hated his Father's law, especially the Sabbath day, and abolished it. He hated the holy days of YEHOVAH God, and abolished them. He came preaching a gospel which virtually abolished the entire Old Testament, the Laws of YEHOVAH God, and ridiculed and condemned all the religious leaders of the Jews. But is this portrait of Yeshua the Messiah accurate?
Who is the "real Jesus"?
Will the Real Yeshua, Please Stand Up?
The truth is, the "Jesus" just described is 180% opposite from the Yeshua of the Scriptures! He is a FALSE YESHUA, a false "god," which was foisted upon the world by a devious and cunning Satan, who has indeed deceived the "whole world" (Rev. 12:9).
The Yeshua of the New Testament did not hate his Father's Law. In fact, to clarify this very point, he told his disciples in no uncertain terms: "Do NOT think that I have come to ABOLISH THE LAW or the Prophets; I have not coame to abolish them but to FULFILL them" -- that is, to fill them to the full, to bring to them their full spiritual scope and intent! (Matt. 5:17). Yeshua went on, explaining: "I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished" (verse 18).
Has that day come yet? Has everything been accomplished? Have the new heavens and new earth appeared yet (Rev. 21:1)? Has the heavenly Jerusalem already come down from heaven to the earth (Rev. 21:2)? Has Satan already been punished and cast into the lake of fire? (Rev. 20:10.) Has the Great White Throne Judgment occurred already? (Rev. 20:11-12.) Have Yeshua the Messiah and YEHOVAH God the Father already returned and established the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God? (Rev. 10:1-7 and Rev. 19:6, 11-16).
The answer is obvious. Therefore, by Yeshua's own admission, the LAWS OF YEHOVAH GOD are still in force today! He did not come to abolish the LEAST little law or commandment! Rather, he came to make the law of YEHOVAH God even MORE binding, in spirit, and not just in the letter!
Read Matthew 5, to the very end of the chapter. Notice. Yeshua did not just condemn the act of murder, but he added, "But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment" (verse 22). Yeshua did not merely condemn the act of adultery, but he went much further, saying, "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (verse 28). Although the law of Moses allowed divorce through a "certificate of divorce," Yeshua tightened and strengthened the divorce law of YEHOVAH God. He said, "But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for MARITAL UNFAITHFULNESS, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery" (verse 32).
Yeshua and the Law
Does this sound as if Yeshua rescinded or abolished the commandments of YEHOVAH God? NOT AT ALL! Rather, he amplified and expanded their meaning, showing us the full spiritual intent of YEHOVAH's Law. As Isaiah the prophet spoke of him, "It pleased the LORD [through the agency of the Messiah] for the sake of his righteousness to make his law great and glorious" (Isa. 42:21). The Living Bible has this verse, "The LORD [through the agency of the Messiah] has magnified his law and made it truly glorious." A possible rendering of the original Hebrew of this passage is: "He will enlarge and advance the Torah, and make it expanded." In other words, Yeshua's intent was not to abolish or weaken or emasculate the Laws of YEHOVAH God, revealed in the Old Testament, but to expand and magnify them to their full spiritual intent and conclusion -- to show their full meaning, purpose, and relevance -- to reveal their spiritual and supernatural nature and basis -- to show that the commandments lead us by necessity to FAITH in him as the Messiah. We do not earn salvation by works of law, but by Faith in Yeshua the Messiah, who died for our sins and transgression of the Law, and who now gives us his spirit to enable us to fulfill the righteousness of the Law (Acts 2:38; 5:32; Gal. 2:20). The Messiah did not replace the Law of YEHOVAH God with Faith alone, but rather gives us inward Faith, through his spirit, to enable us to observe the holy commandments of YEHOVAH God!
The apostle Paul knew this truth. He wrote to the believers in Rome, "Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we UPHOLD the law" (Rom. 3:31). Not one iota, not one jot or tittle, is abolished from the Law of YEHOVAH God.
But what about offering animal sacrifices, one might ask. Aren't animal sacrifices abolished? This is a much misunderstood area of Yeshua's teaching. Protestants and Catholics and many others assume that the entire Law of YEHOVAH God is abolished, and they point to animal sacrifices as an example of that. But what is the truth? Is it so simple as all that? Why are animal sacrifices not done today?
What about the Law of Moses?
When a leper came to Yeshua and asked to be made clean, Yeshua had compassion on him and healed him. At once he was cured. Then Yeshua commanded him, "See that you don't tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and OFFER THE SACRIFICES THAT MOSES COMMANDED for your cleansing, as a testimony to them" (Mark 1:40-44). Here was Yeshua's perfect opportunity to tell the poor man that it wasn't necessary any more for him to offer sacrifices prescribed in the Law. But he didn't do it! Why? Because, although those sacrifices did not forgive sin, their performance would be a TESTIMONY to all the people that a wonderful miracle had been accomplished -- a marvelous, miraculous HEALING!
At that time the Temple of YEHOVAH God was still standing. The Levitical priesthood was still in operation and functioning. Therefore, the Laws involving the Temple, priesthood, and sacrifices were STILL APPLICABLE and in force!
In 60 A.D., 29 years after the crucifixion of the Messiah, the apostle Paul returned to Jerusalem from his journeys in Europe, preaching the gospel. Upon his return the elders of the Church of YEHOVAH God in Jerusalem welcomed him, and heard his report of the miracles and wonders YEHOVAH had done among the Gentiles (Acts 21:17-19).
Now notice what happened next. "When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: 'You see, brother, how many THOUSANDS of Jews have BELIEVED [the gospel], and ALL OF THEM ARE ZEALOUS FOR THE LAW. They have been informed [or misinformed by persecutors among the Jews who hated Paul] that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a VOW. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is NO TRUTH IN THESE REPORTS about you, but that you yourself are living IN OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW" (Acts 21:20-24).
Obviously, it was not wrong to live according to the laws of YEHOVAH God, and even to perform the ceremonies of the ritual law and sacrificial law. Paul, being a Jew, therefore took part in this ceremony. However, it was not needful for Gentiles to do such things as were required in the ceremonial and ritualistic law (verse 25).
"The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them" (verse 26). This must have been the law of the Nazarite vow which is given in Numbers 6, when a man vows to separate himself to YEHOVAH God for a period of time. During that time, he cannot cut his hair or use a razor, or drink wine or vinegar, grape juice or eat grapes, or drink any other fermented drink. When the period of separation was over, he was to go to the Tent of Meeting, or the Temple. "There he is to present his offering to the LORD: a year-old male lamb without defect for a burnt offering, a year-old ewe lamb without defect for a sin offering, a ram without defect for a fellowship offering, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings, and a basket of bread made without yeast -- cakes made of fine flour mixed with oil, and wafers spread with oil" (Num. 6:13-15).
The priest was to present these offerings before the LORD and make the sin offering and burnt offering (verse 16). He was to present the basket of unleavened bread, and to sacrifice the ram for a fellowship offering, together with the grain offering and drink offering (verse 17). Then the Nazarite's hair, which had not been cut for the duration of the vow, was to be shaved off and put in the fire under the sacrifice of the fellowship offering (v. 18). The priest then was to place in his hands a boiled shoulder of the ram, and a cake and a wafer from the basket (unleavened). "The priest shall then wave them before the LORD as a wave offering; they are holy and belong to the priest, together with the bread that was waved and the thigh that was presented. After that, the Nazarite may drink wine" (Num. 6:20).
If this "law of God" were abolished by Yeshua the Messiah, then WHY did the apostle Paul observe it with four other Church men in Jerusalem 29 years AFTER the crucifixion of the Messiah? Obviously, this ceremony had NOT been abolished in any way whatsoever. If there were a Temple of YEHOVAH God in Jerusalem, today, and a Levitical priesthood, then it would NOT BE WRONG for a true believer in the Messiah to observe this same ritual and ceremony TODAY!
Law Versus Lawlessness
What does this tell us, then, about the true religion that Yeshua the Messiah, proclaimed? What does it tell us about his true gospel, good news, or message? The apostle Paul wrote, "What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, 'Do not covet' " (Rom. 7:7). Paul went on, "So then, the law is HOLY, and the commandment is HOLY, RIGHTEOUS and GOOD" (verse 12). He went on to say that YEHOVAH's Law is spiritual (Rom. 7:14) -- and that which is spiritual is eternal. As Paul also wrote, "For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (II Cor. 4:18). If the Laws of YEHOVAH God were all abolished, as some believe, then Yeshua did away with what was clearly holy, righteous, good, and spiritual. How ridiculous!
The sad truth is that the religion which today calls itself "Christian" in the world and which claims the laws of YEHOVAH God are abolished IS NOT TRULY CHRISTIAN AT ALL! It is a PAGAN perversion of the truth of YEHOVAH God. Its origin is not in the Scriptures of the Bible, but in the ancient pagan Mystery religion of ancient Babylon, with its false Messiah, its pagan customs and beliefs, and its hatred of the laws and customs of YEHOVAH God, which have been preserved in part by the Jews only!
That is why we say, in the title of this article, that Yeshua the Messiah was NO CHRISTIAN! He never observed Christmas (see our article, Is Christmas Christian?), which is the pagan celebration of the winter solstice and the birth of the "sun god." He wasn't born anywhere near December 25! He never observed Easter Sunday, named after the pagan goddess of sex and fertility, called "EESTER" (phonetic spelling) but spelled Astarte, or Ishtar, by the pagans.
Furthermore, Yeshua the Messiah never once in his entire life observed "Sunday" every consecutive week as a day of rest, nor did he ever command his followers to observe it! Sunday is the pagan day of worship of the SUN GOD! It carries its very meaning in its name. True followers of the Messiah do not worship on the "day of the sun" every consecutive week, but keep the Sabbath according to the lunar calendar as YEHOVAH God commanded, and which can fall on any day of the week! Consecutive Sunday worship stamps people as worshipping the false "god of this world," Satan (II Cor. 4:4), who has blinded the minds of those who believe not the truth of the Scriptures. Satan comes disguised as an "angel of light," as Paul wrote.
Those who teach contrary to the Law of YEHOVAH God, which Yeshua upheld, and Paul also taught, are false ministers, serving in false Churches, exploiting the "name" of Yeshua to cover over their pagan roots and origins. Paul writes of them, "For such are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve" (II Cor. 11:13-15). For more proof about this incredible deception which has pulled the wool over the eyes of MILLIONS of people who think they worship the Messiah, read our article Is the Law of YEHOVAH God Nailed to the Cross?
The True Teachings of the Messiah
First and foremost, we need to understand that Yeshua the Messiah was a Jew. He was born the son of Mary and Joseph, both of whom were devout Jews. Joseph was a "righteous man" (Matt. 1:19), which means he observed the laws of YEHOVAH God faithfully (see Psalm 119:172). When the magi came to see the Messiah, they asked Herod, "Where is the one who has been born king of the JEWS?" (Matt. 2:2).
Yeshua was brought up in the faith of his fathers, the faith of Joseph and Mary -- the teachings of 1st. Century Judaism. The Church which existed in Judea at that time was the "congregation of Israel," and the teachers of the Church were known as Pharisees. The Sadducees were a small, offshoot cult which numbered some members among the priesthood and the well-to-do. They were politically motivated, and harsh in their teachings. However, the whole nation of Judea followed the teachings of the Pharisees, who created the system of synagogue worship throughout the land. Even the Sadducees feared the Pharisees, because all the multitudes followed them. They preserved the religious faith of Israel, the Scriptures, and the laws of YEHOVAH God, handed down from generation to generation.
There were only three religious "sects" known of in Judea at that time. The third sect was the Essenes, who withdrew from society and lived in communes down by the Dead Sea, in the desert. They developed their own calendar, rejected the priesthood and the Temple worship, and sort of lived unto themselves, as a class of "hermits" with very strict codes and regulations.
The Pharisees, however, were the teachers and scribes of the Law. They were the predominant religious group in Judea. They preserved the religion of Israel, descended from the time of Ezra the scribe. Their very name means the "separated ones." They preserved the truth of YEHOVAH God during the apostacy of the priesthood and Hellenists during the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. You can read more about them in our article, Who Were the Pharisees?
Since Joseph and Mary lived by the tenets of the religion of their forefathers, they lived by the laws of Judaism. They observed all the holy days of YEHOVAH God, and the true (lunar) Sabbath day. They were devout. After the birth of Yeshua, we read: "When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, 'Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord'), and to OFFER A SACRIFICE in keeping with what is said in the Law of the LORD: 'a pair of doves or two young pigeons' " (Luke 2:22-24).
Another devout Pharisee of that time was Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. We read, "In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. But of them were UPRIGHT in the sight of God, OBSERVING ALL THE LORD'S COMMANDMENTS AND REGULATIONS BLAMELESSLY" (Luke 1:5-6). These were law-abiding, devout Jews -- Pharisees who practiced the religion commonly known as "Judaism." However, be aware that the "Judaism" of the Messiah's day was far different to the Judaism practiced today.
Another righteous Jew, or Pharisee, of that time, was "Simeon, who was RIGHTEOUS AND DEVOUT. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the holy spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the spirit, he went into the TEMPLE COURTS. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the CUSTOM OF THE LAW REQUIRED, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 'Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel' " (Luke 2:25-32).
Joseph and Mary observed the Passover festival every year. "Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, ACCORDING TO THE CUSTOM" (Luke 2:41-42).
Yeshua and the Pharisaic Leaders of His Time
As Yeshua the Messiah was brought up, therefore, and taught as a youth, he was obviously brought up in the teachings and doctrine of the Pharisees! Very likely he was educated by Rabbis who were of the School of Hillel. We know that his wisdom and knowledge, even when he was 12 years old, astonished the doctors of the Law and Pharisees. When he was twelve, his parents took him to Jerusalem to observe the Passover. When the Feast was over, they returned home, unaware that he was still in Jerusalem. A day after they left, they discovered he was missing, and returned to Jerusalem to find him. "After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers" (Luke 2:41-47).
When Yeshua began his ministry, however, many of the Pharisees did not accept him. Many who were in power and authority in Jerusalem looked upon him as an "outsider," an interloper, as one who threatened their power and security. They vehemently denounced him. When they saw his miracles, they ridiculed them. When Yeshua healed a demon-possessed man who was both blind and mute, the common people were astonished, and wondered, "Could this be the Son of David?" But the majority of the Pharisees, who by this time had been infiltrated by hypocrites and wicked men, rejected the evidence before their very eyes, and exclaimed, "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons" (Matt. 12:22-23).
In the time of the Messiah, there were two major schools among the Pharisees -- the school of Hillel, and the school of Shamai. Many among the school of Shamai were very strict, legalistic, and harsh in judgment. They stressed minutae, and legalism, adding many extra burdensome laws to the Sabbath, for example.
We read of this kind of Pharisee when Matthew records: "Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 'Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!' Jesus replied, 'And why do you break the COMMAND OF GOD for the sake of your tradition? For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received is a gift devoted to God,' he is not to honor his father with it. Thus you NULLIFY THE WORD OF GOD for the sake of your tradition. You HYPOCRITES! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in VAIN; their teachings are but rules taught by men' " (Matt. 15:1-9).
Yeshua had many encounters with these apostate renegades among the Pharisees. By the time his ministry had begun, the Pharisees as a whole had degenerated into a thieving, greedy, conniving bunch of rascals and scoundrels. The majority of them had become wicked and self-righteous, vain and selfish, lusting after praise, honor and glory from men.
A Pharisee Named Gamaliel
One, however, who was not among this apostate group was Gamaliel. He was a "doctor of the Torah," a grandson of the famous Hillel who had founded the School of Hillel. Gamaliel is mentioned favorably in the New Testament. Luke records that when Peter and John had been brought before the Sanhedrin because of the miracle they had performed in the name of Yeshua, many of the Pharisees present were furious and wanted to put them to death. The apostles had challenged their authority to command them to quit preaching in the name of the Messiah. Peter had said, "We must obey God rather than men!" (Acts 5:29). He then gave a witness that Yeshua, whom they had slain, was the Messiah. This bold witness enraged the apostate, renegade Pharisees who were present. But something happened, to prevent their action.
"But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was honored by ALL the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed them: 'Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men....Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin it will fall. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves FIGHTING AGAINST GOD' " (Acts 5:34-39). His speech persuaded them to let the apostles go free, after they flogged them.
Who was this Gamaliel? He was a righteous, devout Pharisee. He was the teacher of the apostle Paul. Paul declared, when he was on trial before the Sanhedrin, "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today" (Acts 22:3).
Because of his thorough Pharisaic upbringing, Paul later wrote to the Philippians, "If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the LAW, A PHARISEE; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for LEGALISTIC RIGHTEOUSNESS, FAULTLESS" (Phil. 3:4-6).
This clearly shows that Gamaliel had taught Paul well. Paul had been a very devout Pharisee -- just as Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, and Joseph, the legal father of Yeshua the Messiah, were.
Unger's Bible Dictionary tells us of Gamaliel:
"The grandson of the great Hillel, and himself a Pharisee and celebrated doctor of the law. His learning was so eminent and his character so revered that he is one of the seven who, among Jewish doctors only, have been honored with the title of 'Rabban.' He was called the 'Beauty of the Law,' and it is a saying of the Talmud that 'since Rabban Gamaliel died the glory of the Law has ceased.' He was a Pharisee, but anecdotes are told of him which show that he was not trammeled by the harrow bigotry of the sect. He rose above the prejudices of his party. Candor and wisdom seem to have been the features of his character....Ecclesiastical tradition makes him become a Christian and be baptised by Peter and Paul, together with his son Gamaliel and with Nicodemus..." ("Gamaliel," p. 388).
What Yeshua Really Said
Now, with this background in mind, let us examine the words of Yeshua in Matthew, where he encountered some hostile critics among the Pharisees in Jerusalem. In Matthew 22 we read that some Pharisees "went out and laid plans to trap him in his words." They sent men to flatter him, and then ask him whether it was all right to pay taxes to Caesar or not. They intended to get him in trouble with the Roman authorities, if he said no, and with the people, if he said yes. But Yeshua discerned their motives and replied, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a coin, and he said, "Whose portrait is this, and whose inscription?" The answered, "Caesar's." Yeshua then silenced them, saying, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's" (Matt. 22:15-22).
After this, the Sadducees tried to trip him up also. They didn't believe in a resurrection from the dead. They taught that this life is all there is, and there is no "afterlife." They gave Yeshua an example of a man who had been married to seven wives, each of them dying successively. They then asked him which woman would be his wife in the resurrection. Yeshua responded, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead -- have you not read what God said to you, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living' " (verses 29-32).
The Pharisees then tried again, sending someone to ask him which is the greatest commandment of the Law. Yeshua replied quoting the Shema from the Torah. He said: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments" (verses 34-40).
Then Yeshua confounded the Pharisees by asking them a question, saying "What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" They replied, "The Son of David." Then Yeshua asked them, "How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him 'Lord'? For he says, 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet." ' If then David calls him 'Lord,' how can he then be his son?' " (verses 41-45). They couldn't think of a reply (v. 46).
Matthew 23 and "Moses' Seat"
At this point, we read that Yeshua turned to the crowds, and to his disciples, and said: "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees SIT IN MOSE'S SEAT. So you must OBEY THEM and do EVERYTHING they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is for men to see..." (Matt. 23:1-5).
What is Yeshua saying here? Notice! He is talking to the multitudes and to his disciples about the Pharisees. He acknowledges that as a group, as descendants of the "pious ones," that the GOOD, devout, sincere Pharisees sat in Moses' seat -- that is, they held authority in the Church, in the religion of Israel, in the promulgation of the Truth and the Law of YEHOVAH God. They exercised authority in the Church, in teaching the laws and commandments of YEHOVAH God, in determining the Temple services and rituals, and in preserving and maintaining the sacred calendar, and setting the dates for the annual Holy Days. When Yeshua said this, he was speaking of the DEVOUT Pharisees -- such as Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, Gamaliel, the "doctor of the Law," and others, such as Nicodemus.
But after saying this, he turned his attention to the OTHER Pharisees -- the rascals and insincere, the mountebanks and hypocrites among them, the rogues and scoundrels -- the religious renegades and apostates! It is then of THESE kinds of Pharisees that he goes on to say, "WOE to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter [so obviously he was not here talking about devout, righteous Pharisees, such as Gamaliel, or Nicodemus, or Saul of Tarsus], nor will you let those enter who are trying to. WOE to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to make a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. WOE to you, blind guides!" (Matt. 23:13-16).
Yeshua goes on to call the renegade, apostate Pharisees, who were like wolves in sheep's clothing, masquerading as servants of YEHOVAH God, but still in positions of authority and power, "You blind fools!" (verse 17). He finally denounces them with these scathing words: "You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?" (Matt. 23:33).
Yeshua was here not reprimanding Gamaliel or the other DEVOUT Pharisees of his time. Not at all! Since they were primarily in accord with his Judaic theology, and teachings, he had no need to criticize them or to denounce them publicly. Yeshua mentioned nothing here about the ethical school of Hillel in this passage of condemnation. Rather, he was denouncing and rebuking the APOSTATE scribes and Pharisees!
"The Painted Ones"
Modern Judaism calls those apostate scribes and Pharisees whom Yeshua encountered by the derogatory epithet "The Painted Ones." Notice! Leo Trepp writes in A History of the Jewish Experience: Eternal Faith, Eternal People:
"Like any great movement, Pharisaism found in its ranks members that did not belong. They had joined, not in a spirit of idealism, but from motives of self-interest and the desire for self-aggrandizement. The leaders of the Pharisees were well aware of them and condemned them severely. In biting irony, the Rabbis called them 'Painted Ones,' whose piety was but painted on, a veneer designed to hide a heart of selfishness. Thus in the mouths of the rabbis, the term 'Pharisee' could be the highest accolade or scathing rebuke.
"Rabbi Joshua used to say: 'A mad pietist, a cunning villain, a "Pharisaic" woman and the scourge of the Pharisees lead society to destruction (Sota 20 ff.).'
"In explanation the terms are clarifed:
"A mad pietist: he would not save a drowning woman; it is not 'decent.'
"A cunning villain: he sees the judge alone, in chambers, before the start of a litigation.
"A Pharisaic Woman: a pray sister with an evil heart.
"The scourge of the Pharisees: seven unworthy types of Pharisees, namely:
"the egotistic Pharisee: he hopes to gain by his show of piety;
"the overmodest Pharisee: he walks with mincing steps;
"the bleeding Pharisee: he walks with eyes closed, lest he be tempted; he bleeds from hitting his head on the obstacles into which he has bumped;
"the bent-over Pharisee: he demonstrates his 'humility' by standing and walking in bowing position;
"the dutiful Pharisee: he has 'never' shirked his duty, and constantly asks for new tasks to perform;
"the Pharisee of 'love,' who makes a show of his love of God;
"the reverent Pharisee, making a show of his reverence for God.
"This sarcasm, which overstates the point, clearly shows the concern the rabbis felt over the penetration of unworthy people into their ranks. Their spirit is reflected in words which Jesus speaks to hypocrite Pharisees: 'You Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness...ye tithe the mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God; these ought you to have done, but not to leave the other undone...you love the uppermost seats in the synagogues and greetings in the markets...Woe unto you scribes and Pharisee hypocrites, ye are graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them' (Luke 12:39-44). We can almost pick the different types of 'painted ones,' who are mentioned here in equal sharp rebuke. But why did the rabbis permit these people to remain members of the group? Because as humans we cannot look into the hearts of men to determine their true motivations" (pp. 72-73).
Yeshua the Messiah -- the True Devout Pharisee!
When we look at all the evidence, then, we see that Yeshua the Messiah did not come to bring an entirely new "religion." Rather, he was a Jew, and he taught an enlightened, expanded truth of the Law of YEHOVAH God. He was taught of the Pharisees as a youth, and no doubt was considered as a "Pharisee" in general terms. The Pharisees of that day acknowledged him as a "rabbi," or "teacher." John the Baptist seemed to be indicating that Yeshua was, at least in the beginning, before he began his own separate ministry, among the Pharisees. For John said to the Pharisees who came to him, questioning him:
" 'I baptise with water,' John replied, 'but AMONG YOU stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie' " (John 1:26-27).
Yeshua observed the requirements of the "Judaism" of his time. When he told the Pharisees that the first commandment was to love YEHOVAH God with our whole being, he was actually quoting from Deuteronomy 6:4-5. When he said the second commandment was to love our neighbor, he was quoting from Leviticus 19:18. Yeshua emphasized ALL THE MAJOR POINTS of the "Judaism" of the day, except the "excess baggage" which false teachers had added to YEHOVAH's commandments, including various "traditions of men" (see Mark 7:5-13).
Therefore, if we take a careful look at Yeshua the Messiah of the Bible, the one revealed in the New Testament, we find that he was a true, devout Jew who obeyed all the commandments, and taught others to do so. He only parted company with the Pharisees of his time when they parted company with the revealed Law of YEHOVAH God because of their onerous traditions, which they added to YEHOVAH's laws, and which sometimes violated the spirit and intent of the Law! YESHUA WAS A JEW! He was the Greatest Jew of all time! He was not an anemic, pale, pagan "Gentilized Christ!"
It was most likely when Yeshua began his ministry, teaching the NEW REVELATION of the truth of YEHOVAH God, that the Father gave him, that the Pharisees suddenly came up in arms, began to criticize him, began to find fault, and the more miracles he performed, the more dangerous they felt he was to their establishment and their authority, and they began to attack him with vehemence and vituperation. The renegade false Pharisees cast him out of the synagogue, and accused him of being "demon-inspired" (Matt. 11:24). Nicodemus was a member of the Jewish "ruling council" (John 3:1). He sought out Yeshua "at night" because he didn't want the other Jewish leaders to see him (verse 2). He acknowledged that Yeshua was sent by YEHOVAH God (verse 2).
By the time Yeshua's ministry was nearly over, and he had even raised Lazarus from the dead, the apostate, renegade Pharisees still in power decided to have Yeshua put to death. When anyone decided to follow him, that person was cast out of the synagogue or church of that time (John 9:1-34). This was well known, so many people refused to associate with the Messiah out of fear (see verses 20-23).
Those who rejected Yeshua, and caused him to be crucified, were not the devout, pious, righteous Pharisees of that time. Rather, those who condemned and betrayed him were the self-righteous, apostate, renegade Pharisees (and Sadducees), who had at that moment in history usurped control and authority in the movement! They were spiritual "wolves" who had entered into the flock of YEHOVAH God, and devoured with rapine and ferocious rapacity.
It was the APOSTATE Pharisees, who had become ringleaders and powerful figures in the movement at that time, but who were RENEGADES spiritually, that Yeshua blistered with his scathing denunciations and condemnation, in Matthew 23!
There really should be no controversy or conflict among modern day Jews, therefore, who sincerely practice true Judaism. If they can only separate in their minds betweens the HISTORICAL YESHUA, and the FALSE CATHOLIC CHRIST, if they can only distinguish betweens the TRUE and the FALSE, the REAL and the IMITATION Yeshua, then they should have no problem accepting the teachings of the true Yeshua, who taught a purified and refined and fully developed "Judaism." He came to fill full the teachings of the Judaism of his day -- not to abolish them! He came to amplify YEHOVAH's Law -- not to destroy it!
A modern Jew, Rabbi Roland B. Gittlesohn of the Temple Israel in Boston, Massachusetts, writes of the true, historical Yeshua:
"I can certainly accept Jesus as a fellow-Jew...Jesus was not a Christian; he was a Jew. He did not preach a new faith, but taught men to do the will of God; and in his opinion, as also in that of the Jews, the will of God was to be found in the law of Moses and in the other books of Scripture. Here we must make a clear distinction between the religion of Jesus and the religion about Jesus. The religion of Jesus was Judaism; there can be no doubt of that. Christianity is the religion about Jesus. When Jesus was asked, 'What is the first of all the commandments/' -- he answered by reciting the Shema which is the great statement of Monotheistic Judaic faith: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul...this is the first commandment'....Even though these words are often quoted -- even at times by ignorant or self-denying Jews -- in the name of Jesus, he himself was surely aware of the fact that they come from the Hebrew Torah...which antedates him by many centuries. Jesus was consciously citing and reiterating Judaism. This Jesus, Jesus the Jew, I can with clear conscience accept. I can and do also accept him as a superb teacher, as a restless rebel against hypocrisy, as a compassionate counselor, as one who stressed the spirit over the letter of faith, though he knew the letter to be important too. Jesus [was] an extraordinarily beautiful and noble spirit, aglow with love and pity for men, especially for the unfortunate and lost, deep in piety, of keen insight into human nature, endowed with a brilliant gift of parable and epigram, an ardent Jew, moreover, a firm believer in the faith of his people; in all, a dedicated teacher of the principles, religious and ethical, of Judaism. As a Jew and rabbi, then, I can accept Jesus...He held the basic beliefs and practices of the Jewish heritage to be precious, but strove to refurbish and refine them, to adapt them to the needs of his time. This, however, is not the Jesus of [Catholic and Protestant] Christianity, nor of Jews for Jesus..." (Smashing the Idols: A Jewish Inquiry into the Cult Phenomenon, Gary D. Eisenberg, pp. 165-166).
Modern Jewish rabbis and scholars know that Yeshua followed the first century Pharisaic practices in regards to the Sabbath and Holy days. Virtually ALL the various criticisms against Yeshua, such as healing on the Sabbath days, were totally unfounded in view of the teaching of "Nikkuah Nefesh" within Pharisaic Judaism -- that is, "A Life in Danger" permitted Yeshua to heal on the Sabbath days! -- otherwise the sick and afflicted people mentioned in the Gospel accounts may have died without finding another opportunity for healing in time!
Orthodox Jews will no doubt take notice of the Messianic movement among modern Jews, and within modern Judaism, long before they will pay any attention to all the various confused churches of modern Christendom, including whose who profess to observe the Sabbath and holy days, but cannot determine which are the correct days to observe! Unfortunately, the Jews themselves have become confused and today keep an incorrect Sabbath and observe many of the Holy Days at the wrong time due to their corrupted calendar.
There were Pharisees in the time of the Messiah who were false brethren. Later some of these apostate, renegade Pharisees even entered the Church of YEHOVAH God, accepted the Messiah as Saviour, at least on the outside, and professed to worship him. But they taught that Gentiles had to be circumcised in order to be saved. The apostle Paul had a terrific struggle with them throughout his ministry. "This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them" (Acts 15:2).
These renegade Pharisees were especially prevalent among the Galatians. Paul had to write to them, "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a DIFFERENT GOSPEL -- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into CONFUSION and are trying to PERVERT the gospel of Christ" (Gal. 1:6-7).
The apostate Pharisees were preaching circumcision for all Gentile converts. Paul told the Galatians, "This matter arose because some FALSE BROTHERS had INFILTRATED OUR RANKS to SPY on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you" (Gal. 2:4-5).
These were "false teachers," who were the same kind of Pharisees -- wolves in sheep's clothing -- as the renegade apostates condemned by the Messiah in Matthew 23! The apostle Peter also speaks of them, when he wrote, "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will SECRETLY INTRODUCE destructive HERESIES, even denying the Sovereign Lord who bought them -- bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up" (II Pet. 2:1-3).
This same problem has happened our our end-time age, today. There have once again been those who entered the Church of YEHOVAH God during these last days, and have brought in diabolical heresies, changing church teaching on the healing doctrine, denying the broken body of the Messiah which was sacrificed for our healing as well as salvation (Isa. 53:5; I Pet. 2:24). They have rejected the importance of end-time Biblical prophecies, and even accuse us of being "Satan inspired."
The apostle Jude also wrote of these modern apostates. He declared, "I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints."
Jude went on, "For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have SECRETLY SLIPPED IN AMONG YOU. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and DENY Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord" (Jude 3-4).
These men scoff at Bible prophecy. Jude wrote of them, "But dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, 'In the last times there will be SCOFFERS who will follow their own ungodly desires. These are the men who DIVIDE you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit" (Jude 17-19).
What about you? Will you follow modern renegade Pharisees into error and confusion? Will you become a spiritual "shipwreck"?
What about you? Will you worship the TRUE YESHUA THE MESSIAH of Scripture and history? Or will you follow the false pied pipers of FALSE CHRISTIANITY, and the FALSE YESHUA which they portray, instead of the true Yeshua?
Your salvation itself depends on your answer!
As for us, we will worship the true Messiah -- the historical, Biblical Yeshua -- the Yeshua who followed, obeyed, and taught ALL of his Father's commandments!
-- Edited By John
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
Hope of Israel Ministries
P.O. Box 2186
Temple City, CA 91780, U.S.A.