Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
In Search of the HISTORICAL Messiah
Who was Yeshua the Messiah? What was he really like? There are many myths abounding concerning the Messiah -- many errors believed ignorantly and innocently by millions of people. It is time we took off the wraps, and tore through the cobwebs, and smashed our way through the false facades, and revealed the TRUE YESHUA THE MESSIAH OF HISTORY!
by HOIM Staff
Author Bruce Barton once wrote a book which I read years ago, entitled The Man Nobody Knows. His thesis was that Yeshua the Messiah is probably the least understood and most misunderstood man of all human history! Barton pointed out many popular misconceptions about the Messiah, the Yeshua of fable and mythology, the Yeshua supposedly believed in by millions of people, today. He then used Biblical evidence to expose the common misconceptions, and painted a picture of the Messiah which differed in many important aspects from the generally accepted notions.
It is time we took a new look at the real, historical Messiah!
Millions of sincere, dedicated Israelites are completely deceived, and don't even begin to realize something is amiss with their concept of Yeshua the Messiah. The common belief of the vast majority of professing Christians is that Yeshua was a tall, thin, petulant lipped, hollow-cheeked, pale-faced individual with flowing robes and long, black hair, with doleful, dove-like eyes. But the amazing truth is that the person depicted on images, pictures, statues, and in Sunday School books, is NOT the Yeshua the Messiah of the New Testament at all! Rather, history proves that it is an exact replica of the chief Egyptian god of antiquity, Serapis, who is the Egyptian form of the Greek Zeus.
The Common Conception -- A Long-haired Messiah
Let's understand the truth! The overwhelming majority of people today believe that Yeshua the Messiah had long, flowing locks of hair. Yet the Bible clearly states, in the inspired words of the apostle Paul, "Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered [with long hair, as we shall soon see] dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered [short hair] dishonors her head -- it is just as though her head were SHAVEN." Notice! This passage is talking about hair length! Let's continue: "If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair CUT OFF; and if it is a DISGRACE for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should COVER her head [by wearing long hair].
"A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man" (I Corinthians 11:2-7). Paul goes on, "Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very NATURE of things teach you that IF A MAN HAS LONG HAIR, IT IS A DISGRACE TO HIM, but that if a WOMAN HAS LONG HAIR, it is her GLORY? For long hair is given to her AS A COVERING" (verses 13-15).
How clear! Long hair on a man is an abomination to YEHOVAH God Almighty. We were made in YEHOVAH's image, and He does NOT have long hair! However, YEHOVAH intends for women to have long hair, as a sign of submission to the authority of their "head" -- husband or boy friend or fiancee (verse 10). Long hair on women is beautiful and glorious. But for a man, it is a SHAME (verse 14, King James Version).
Long hair on a man is a sign of rebellion against convention, and the principles and laws of YEHOVAH God. The soldiers of wicked "Babylon," and the Beast, depicted in Revelation, are described as having long hair, as women. "Their hair was like women's hair" (Revelation 9:8).
At the time Paul wrote this epistle, the custom among Roman, Greek and Judahite men was to wear short hair. This can be easily proved from history and archaeology.
Yeshua was a priest of YEHOVAH God, after the order of Melchisedek (Hebrews 7). One of the ordinances governing the priesthood of YEHOVAH God is, "They must not shave their heads OR LET THEIR HAIR GROW LONG, but they are to keep the hair of their heads trimmed" (Ezekiel 44:20).
Haven't you seen numerous pictures, supposedly of the Messiah, showing a pale, sorrowful person with LONG HAIR? It was not Yeshua the Messiah! He looked NOTHING like the typical pictures of him, often found in Bibles, today! The conventional ministers of the Protestant and Catholic churches today preach a different Yeshua than the Biblical Messiah! Paul warned the Corinthians, "For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached...you put up with it easily enough" (II Corinthians 11:4).
The pictures which so often supposedly depict the Messiah are actually representations of the ancient pagan god TAMMUZ! YEHOVAH God considers women weeping for Tammuz and abomination to Him (Ezekiel 8:14-15) -- a detestable thing.
An Outdoorsman and Carpenter
From his boyhood until he was about thirty years old, Yeshua of Nazareth was generally understood by the Israelites around him to have been the son of Joseph, a carpenter (Matthew 13:55). When Yeshua's neighbors, in his own home town, heard him preach, they exclaimed, "'Where did this man get all these things? What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles? Isn't this the CARPENTER? Isn't this Mary's son, and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?' And they took offense at him" (Mark 6:3).
Yeshua replied to their obstinate disbelief, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor" (Mark 6:4). Because of their attitude, Yeshua could only do a few miracles there, healing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their obvious lack of faith (vs. 5-6). But consider this, now. Yeshua, the son of a carpenter, learned his father's profession, and became a carpenter himself. In those days, carpenters not only sawed and nailed wooden beams, planks and boards together, but they also mixed mortar and cement, laid bricks, and did the work of masons. It was onerous, hard, muscle-building work, much of which was done out-of-doors. Yeshua, therefore, must have been muscular, with a good build and physical strength. He was no namby-pamby weakling, as depicted in most pictures. He no doubt had a good tan, and was not sallow complexioned or pasty faced. The common conception of him is ALL WRONG!
Most people think that Yeshua the Messiah was so gentle that he wouldn't harm a fly. They think of him as down-faced, meek, weak, slow of speech, and one who pronounced great platitudes to the people -- a man unacquainted with REALITY -- a man living off in some spaced out DREAM WORLD!
But the Biblical revelation presents an entirely different Yeshua. The Biblical Yeshua is physically strong, well-built, muscular, tanned, and able to live out in the open. He camped out a lot, and did not have a permanent home to live in. He told his disciples, "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has no place to lay his head" (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58). No doubt, judging from his life style, and his constant walking throughout Judea, Yeshua was a rugged and strong individual, like "mountain men" who live in the mountains, or men who hike the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains. He was, physically speaking, a "man's man" who knew nature and the out-of-doors. Thus another "myth" about the REAL, TRUE Yeshua is exploded!
A Forceful Man of Action
What about the common idea that Yeshua of Nazareth was meek as a doormat, and never lifted his voice above a whisper or medium level when talking? What about the imagery that suggests that Yeshua was a man of NON-violence, a non-activist, a DREAMER more than a "doer"?
This "myth," also, is utterly without foundation!
In the gospel of John, we read: "When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a WHIP out of cords, and DROVE all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he SCATTERED the coins of the money changers and OVERTURNED their tables. To those who sold doves he said, 'Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!'" (John 2:13-16).
When Yeshua had taken this brisk and forceful action, to drive the merchants and money changers out of the Temple courts, and their animals, his disciples remembered the Scripture where it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me" (John 2:17; Psalm 69:9). Let's get this straight! Yeshua the Messiah was no weakling, no 90 pound wonder, no effeminate, indecisive, wavering, vacillating, meandering gigolo or freak. He was decidedly a MAN OF COURAGE, a man of ACTION, a man who brooked NO NONSENSE!
But at the same time, Yeshua was also gentle, compassionate, loving, dedicated, and friendly. He is the one who is the epitome of the Scripture, "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24).
A Man of Deep Love and Compassion
Yeshua undoubtedly had a friendly and out-going personality. But he also was the kind of friend who was always there in a time of need or crisis. When his friend Lazarus died, Yeshua went to his tomb. "When Jesus therefore saw her [Mary] weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!" (John 11:33-36).
Yeshua's wonderful compassion is revealed in his lamentation for the people of Jerusalem, when he said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the LORD" (Matthew 23:37-39).
Yeshua's great sensitivity and love is also portrayed in the passage where he says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek, and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
"Another Yeshua" Foisted Off on the "Christian" World
The pagan god Tammuz was called "the desire of women" (Daniel 11:37; Ezekiel 8:14). He was also called Gilgamesh, Nimrod, Apollo, Horus, and Serapis, and Baal. The pagans always depicted him as a gentle, handsome, good-looking young man. The early Catholic Church borrowed the pagan representations of this pagan god, and transformed them into supposed pictures of Yeshua the Messiah!
Dr. Farrar, in his book The Life of Christ as Represented in Art, declared, "Christians had to baptize, as it were, all that could be baptized of the ancient HEATHEN TYPES. They themselves had been Pagans, and were unaccustomed to any but Pagan decorations, into which they infused a new spirit" (p. 29). Says this eminent authority: "Of these types of Christ, BORROWED FROM PAGAN ANTIQUITY, the favorite was Orpheus taming the wild beasts with his lyre" (p. 30).
Orpheus was another name for Nimrod or Tammuz! Wrote the ancient historian Diodorus Siculus, "Orpheus introduced from Egypt the greatest part of the mystical ceremonies, the orgies that celebrate the wanderings of Ceres, and the whole fable of the shades below. The rites of Osiris and Bacchus are the same; those of Isis and Ceres exactly resemble each other, except in name" (Bibliotheca, 1, 9, quoted in Hislop's Two Babylons, p. 46). Orpheus, like Nimrod, met with a violent death, and like him was said to have been torn in pieces (p. 55-56).
That pagans, having professed the Messiah, should then worship images and pictures of their ancient PAGAN GOD, and call it "YESHUA THE MESSIAH," is nothing short of blasphemy and a loathsome abomination in the eyes of Almighty God!
Yeshua was not a handsome "hunk," or a romantic, dashing figure. The prophet Isaiah, in fact, foretold of Him: "He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground."
"He had NO BEAUTY OR MAJESTY to attract us to him, NOTHING in his APPEARANCE that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not" (Isaiah 53:2-3).
Yeshua was not a handsome, debonair, good-looking man who stepped from the pages of Esquire magazine, or Gentlemen's Quarterly. He was not the handsome "model" type. The Tanakh says, "He had no form or beauty, that we should look at him. No charm, that we should find him pleasing. He was despised, shunned by men, a man of suffering, familiar with disease" (same verses).
Yeshua Was a Judahite
What kind of man, then, was Yeshua? First of all, the fact is that the Scriptures point out clearly that Yeshua was a Judahite. The apostle Paul wrote, "For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah" (Hebrews 7:14). He is called "the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David" (Revelation 5:5). We read also, "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him" (John 1:11). This is a direct reference to the Judahites, who rejected him and did not believe him. Yeshua descended from Judah, the progenitor of the Judahites, through the line of King David, and was born of Mary, whose lineage went back to Judah and who was therefore, herself, a Judahite (Luke 3:31-33). Yeshua definitely considered himself to be a Judahite (see John 4:22).
As a typical Judahite of his day, therefore, Yeshua was brought up in all the teachings of the Judaism of the day. He and his family observed the annual holy days of YEHOVAH God faithfully. In the book of Luke we find that even at age 12 Yeshua went up to Jerusalem with Joseph and Mary, to observe the Passover celebration "according to the custom" (Luke 2:41-42).
Yeshua no doubt was taught carefully and thoroughly in the religion of his fathers. In his day, religious practice in Judea was governed and controlled by the scribes and Pharisees. Yeshua himself acknowledged that their authority came from YEHOVAH God. He told his own disciples, "The scribes and Pharisees sit in MOSES' SEAT: ALL THEREFORE whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works, for they say, and do not" (Matthew 23:2-3). In other words, the scribes and Pharisees TAUGHT the truth -- but they themselves often did not obey it! Yeshua acknowledged their position of authority over the "church of YEHOVAH God" in the nation of Judea -- at that time.
This would indicate that Yeshua himself, like the apostle Paul, grew up with Pharisaical religious training and education in the local synagogue at Nazareth and Galilee, where he grew up. At age twelve he sat in the Temple, "sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers" -- including the rabbinical doctors of the Law! (Luke 2:46-47).
Nicodemus, who himself was a Pharisee, and a member of the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court of the Judean nation, composed of 70 or 71 leading theologians and civic leaders among the Judeans, came to Yeshua by night, "and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him" (John 3:2).
Notice that this leading Pharisee (verse 1) called Yeshua "Rabbi." In those days, the rabbis were the religious leaders among the Pharisees. They generally taught in the synagogues, which were a distinctly Pharisaical institution. There were no Sadducean synagogues in Israel. The Sadducees were a small quasi-religious-political party composed of a few wealthy people and some of the priests and high priests. Yeshua considered them of no account, despising their apostasy and poor Biblical knowledge (see Matthew 22:23-29).
The Pharisees, on the other hand, Yeshua regarded much more highly as a group, insofar as their Biblical knowledge and authority in the Church of YEHOVAH God was concerned. Yeshua told his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees SIT IN MOSES' SEAT: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and DO; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not" (Matthew 23:2-3).
Since Nicodemus acknowledged Yeshua and called Him a "Rabbi," he was using this term merely as a gesture of respect, or else it would mean that Yeshua was in fact a Rabbi, like Paul, in the religion of the Pharisees, who constituted YEHOVAH God's true Church of that time. There was much freedom of discussion, disagreement, and differences of opinion among the Pharisees, and such was tolerated. The two main schools of thought among the Pharisees were the school of Hillel and the school of Shammai.
Yeshua and the Holy Days of YEHOVAH God
Yeshua then was a typical Judahite of his day. He observed all the Israelite laws and customs, and taught that they should be observed -- all the laws of Moses, besides the Ten Commandments (Matthew 19:17) At the beginning of his ministry, he stood up to read from the book of Isaiah in the synagogue (Luke 4:16-19). This would not have been permitted by the presiding priests or rabbis of the synagogue, who had to be Pharisees, unless Yeshua was observing the law and the holy days of YEHOVAH God. For example, if he observed Passover on a different night, or kept Pentecost by using a different counting method than the Pharisees used, he would not have even been permitted inside the synagogue, much less be allowed to read from Isaiah as part of the synagogue worship service!
If Yeshua had been observing any of YEHOVAH's holy days at a different time than that prescribed by the Pharisees, then the chief priests would not have needed to bring in false witnesses to testify against him (Matthew 26:59-60). His own actions would have condemned him!
Yeshua no doubt observed the very same days the Pharisees did, since he clearly acknowledged that they held undisputed authority in these areas (Matthew 23:2-3). He then became our Passover lamb, slain for us, at the very time the Judeans were slaughtering Passover lambs at the Temple in Jerusalem (I Corinthians 5:7-8). He died for us at the end of Abib or Nisan 14 (Luke 23:54; John 18:28; 19:14, 31).
Since the Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection, only the Pharisees would have really understood the significance of the Messiah dying as our Passover lamb at the end of Nisan 14. They would have counted seven Sabbaths complete and then fifty more days from the day after that high holy Sabbath day, and then observed Pentecost. On that very Pentecost, over 3000 new people were added to YEHOVAH God's true Church, after the holy spirit came down from heaven like a fire and settled upon the disciples (Acts 2:1-4).
Yeshua, then, in his human life, stood in the MAINSTREAM of orthodox Judaism. He was not a member of an off-shoot heretical branch, like the renegade Sadducees, or the fanatic Essenes, whom he never even mentioned in the Scriptures.
Yeshua's Sign that He Is the Messiah
When the Pharisees asked Yeshua for a sign that he was the Messiah, Yeshua replied, "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:39-40). Why did Yeshua say "three days and three nights"?
The aristocratic Sadducees did not believe in any resurrection, or in angels, demons, or a spirit world (Matthew 22:23-32; Acts 23:8). Yeshua regarded their theology as of no consequence (Matthew 22:29). His prophetic "sign" was meant for the Pharisees! For they did believe in the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:8). To them only this "sign" had special meaning. They knew that a person was truly considered dead only after the third day. Says the Encyclopedia Judaica:
"In Talmudic times, while the burial was not delayed, graves were 'watched' for a period of three days to avoid all possibility of pseudo-death (Sem. 8:1)" (vol. 4, p. 1517).
Yeshua had to be in the grave for three days. Otherwise, the death could have been written off as a "pseudo-death." It is because of this truth that Yeshua's resurrecting Lazarus from the grave after three days had passed had such a profound, astonishing effect on the Judahites (John 11:14-17).
Yeshua's body was placed in the tomb just before sunset on Nisan 14, as the Passover celebration drew nigh (John 19:40, 42). He arose from the grave three days later (Jewish inclusive counting), just after sunrise on the first day of the week, Nisan 16. On the morning of the first day of the week, the sealed tomb was opened in the early morning, just after dawn (Matthew 28:1). His body was MISSING! Even the chief priests, who had set a watch over the tomb (Matthew 27:63-66), could not deny it, and bribed the soldiers who had watched the tomb to lie and say the disciples' stole the body (Matthew 28:1-15).
All of these things would have had great meaning to a sincere, truthful, earnest Pharisee who served YEHOVAH God and kept His Law. They would have been meaningless gestures, however, to the Sadducean priests. The Sadducees cared not about a "resurrection," since they denied the possibility, as well as the existence of angels. To them, this present life was "all there is," and when it's over, "that's all she wrote"! Undoubtedly, therefore, there were very few Sadducees among the converts of the early New Testament Church, in comparison with the large numbers of Pharisees who entered the Church!
Yeshua and the Laws of YEHOVAH God
Yeshua, as the Messiah, and the Second Moses, or one like unto Moses, had the authority to supercede or adapt the Law and traditions. In fact, the Midrash states that in the Messianic age a new law would reign (Lev. Rabba on 11:1).
But clearly, Yeshua did not come to do away with his Father's Laws, like some smart-alecky young man or rude and crude young delinquent. He did not abrogate the Law of YEHOVAH God, as taught by the Pharisees. Rather, he commanded directly: "Observe the commandments of God" (Mark 10:17-19; Matthew 19:17-19; Luke 18:18-20). Yeshua said positively, "Do not think that I have come to ABOLISH the Law or the Prophets, I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 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" (Matthew 5:17-18).
Yeshua would often refer to various points of the Law of Moses, in his Sermon on the Mount, but he would then say, "But I tell you" (Matthew 5:22, 26, 28, 32, 34, 39, etc.). He would then go on to strengthen and broaden the application of YEHOVAH's Laws. Rather than doing them away, he made them more binding and all-encompassing. He unfolded the deeper, fuller meaning of the Law.
The word the Greek text uses when the Messiah said he came to "fulfill" the Law, is the Greek word plerosai, in the active tense. It implies to cram full, bring to full expression, show forth the intended meaning. The idea is to give fullness to and provide true meaning, the very opposite of destroying or abolishing! Yeshua said, in effect, "I have not come to overthrow the Law or the Prophets, or empty it of its contents, but on the contrary I have come to increase that content, so as to cram it full and bring it full to the brim."
Yeshua then goes on in the Sermon on the Mount, to expand upon this principle, and to give examples and cases of application. This is done in typical rabbinic fashion, with a listing of cases or examples to illustrate the point being made. In summary, Yeshua here is actually telling his disciples:
"I say to you, Do not stop half-way in obedience to God and His holy Law and Commandments; go beyond, always go beyond the letter of the Law, to the spirit which gives it life and force; go from the literal to the inner spiritual meaning. Become perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect" (see Matthew 5:21-48).
Yeshua's stance on the Law of YEHOVAH God, therefore, was certainly not to abolish it or wreck it with a wrecking ball. Not at all! He, with his authority as the very Messiah, came to reveal its full intent and innermost meaning, and to give the authoritative interpretation of it based on his Messianic authority!
In effect, Yeshua really built a security fence around the Law -- much as earlier sages and rabbis did (Pirke Abot 1.2). Yeshua did not oppose the Law of YEHOVAH God, but often contrasted his new interpretation as Messiah with some older common interpretation or understanding among the Israelites. This does not do away with the Law, but rather dispenses with some limited and partial interpretation which were incomplete and at times misleading. His explanation was fuller, explaining the intent and ideal underlying the Scripture, not necessarily setting aside the previous understanding but including and expanding it. He in essence INTENSIFIED the Law of YEHOVAH God, rather than weakening or diluting it! He reinterpreted it in a higher level, on a higher plane.
Yeshua and the Sabbath Controversy
Did Yeshua actually "break" the Sabbath days in his teachings and by his actions on the Sabbath? Some claim he did. They cite the gospel of Mark. Notice!
"One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, 'Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?' He answered, 'Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.'
"Then he said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:23-28).
In speaking with the Pharisees here, Yeshua did not deny the validity of the Sabbath. He merely gave an example of a right and wrong use of a law of YEHOVAH God. He showed that the Laws of YEHOVAH God are meant for the welfare of Israel, not to be a yoke of bondage. In essence, he said there are exceptions to the Sabbath law during times of duress or need. The Sabbath was created to be a delight, not a straightjacket or cruel bondage.
The prevailing view, even among the Pharisees of that time, was: "It is right to violate one Sabbath in order that many may be observed; the laws were given that men should live by them, not die by them." Considerable concessions were made at times, although there was often much debate on the nature and extent or limits of such concessions.
For example, saving life, alleviating acute pain, curing of snake bites, and cooking for the sick, were all allowed on the Sabbath days (Shabbat 18:3; Tosefta, Shabbat 15;14; Yoma 84b; Tosefta, Yoma 84.15). Thus there was leniency, not absolute rigidity, concerning Sabbath observance, even among the Pharisees, who often have been depicted wrongfully as very strict and cruel Sabbatarians.
Quoting Isaiah 58:13-14, the rabbis also allowed acts of service to others on the Sabbath -- such as meetings to decide on grants to charity, making arrangements for engagements, or providing for a child's education. These acts of service were considered "God's business," not their own. Since good deeds were also considered YEHOVAH's business, they were allowed (Shabbat 150a). Says Dr. John Fischer in Messianic Midrash,
"However, these relaxations were not extended indiscriminately for fear of destroying the rest for which the day was set aside by God. Nevertheless, the basic principle remained: 'The Sabbath was made for you; you were not made for the Sabbath' (Mechilta on Ex.31:14, 104a)" (see "Law," the Messianic Outreach, P.O. Box 37062, Cincinnati OH 45222, spring 1991).
It is also worth pointing out that many of the later Sabbath restrictions imposed by the rabbis were not in force in Yeshua's time. They were still under discussion. Eventually the subtle minds of the learned doctors of the Law pursued their discussions down to the most tiny and insignificant minutiae and the least detail. Yeshua did not deny the validity of the Sabbath Law, but rather countered the casuistic interpretations by some. He opposed the views of Shammai, in favor of those of Hillel, who taught that the Sabbath was made for man, not the reverse.
In his reply to the Pharisees he made his reply in typical rabbinic fashion, frequently using a specific kind of homily called yelammedenu, which involves a question addressed to the teacher, followed by his reply, based on a midrash [interpretation] or halakah [authorized opinion].
Writes Dr. John Fischer:
"In typical rabbinic fashion he also frequently cited both the principle and and example which helped clarify it. Therefore, both the form of his replies and the content derived in these situations struck familiar chords in the hearers, consistent with teachings they had received, and because of their cogency left them without a comeback" (ibid.).
The fact is, there was often discussion and disagreement among the Pharisees themselves, particularly the schools of Shammai and Hillel, over many points of the Law and customs. Many of these matters had not been settled, and were still being debated. Therefore, when Yeshua gave his authoritative declaration, he was entering into these debates and used them as a vehicle to proclaim his teachings as the "final word" of the Messiah.
The very fact that Yeshua would be questioned at all about his disciples plucking grains on the Sabbath to eat is significant, and indicates that he was being questioned by the school of Shammai, not Hillel. Yeshua certainly was not abolishing the Sabbath, for he acknowledged its existence in the End-times. Interestingly, the Talmud itself says concerning grain on the Sabbath: "Bundles which can be taken up with one hand may be handled on the Sabbath...and he may break it with his hand and eat thereof" (Shabbot 128a).
Once again, there was a debate between the schools of Hillel and Shammai concerning the washing of hands. Shammai said hands had to be washed before filling a cup, implying a state of purity outside the cup. Yeshua had this in mind when he said, "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashed hands defileth not a man" (Matthew 15:19-20).
The Historical Yeshua Revisited
What do all these texts then tell us about Yeshua the Messiah? He came to his own, the Judahites, who did not receive him. Only a comparative few accepted him as the Messiah.
Yeshua himself was a thorough-going Judahite, brought up in the Israelite faith and traditions and according to the Laws of Moses. He never taught against them. He himself was circumcised as a baby boy on the eighth day, according to the Law (Luke 2:21).
His family observed the law of purification, according to the Law of Moses (verse 22). Joseph and Mary did everything required by the Law of the LORD (Luke 2:39).
Yeshua's own teachings were right in line with the traditional teaching methods of the scribes and Pharisees. They understood him to be a Rabbi of their own Pharisaical branch, and allowed him to participate in synagogue services. The school of Shammai, in particular, argued with him over fine points of the Law, where his replies generally seemed to be just what the school of Hillel would have agreed with and accepted.
Declares Millar Burrows in More Light on the Dead Sea Scrolls:
"The background of Jesus' ministry seems to be the popular Judaism of the day rather than any official or sectarian form of the religion" (p. 109).
Says Dr. John Fischer:
"Jesus reflected the diversity and fluidity of the Jewishness of his time. Incorporating elements of the varied traditions around him....He obviously incorporated aspects of some groups more than others and justifiably criticized inappropriate elements of those same groups. Although his teachings usually paralleled the Pharisees, and with some regularity the Essenes, he did not feel constrained to identify totally with any one group or set of traditions....
"The controversy surrounding him was not over the Torah and observances, or the practices and traditions, or differences in teaching. In these areas he was thoroughly, consistently Jewish [Israelitish], whether agreeing or disagreeing, whether affirming old traditions or providing new insights into the Law of God. The controversy centered on the claims he made, not only the claim of Messiahship but also the claim to unique authority. This presented a challenge, demanded a decision concerning his claims, which, if not true, were nothing short of blasphemy" (Messianic Outreach, op. cit., p. 16).
The real controversy over Yeshua the Messiah had nothing to do with such minor points as Sabbath teachings, washings, healing on the Sabbath, or others points of the Law. The real crux of the problem concerning Yeshua, insofar as the Judeans were concerned, boiled down to his often stated and hinted at claims of being the one and only True Messiah -- the Saviour of Israel! The Judean leaders, including both Pharisees and Sadducees, could not fault his teaching or his practice of the principles of the Judaism of his time. As Dr. Fischer explains:
"He was Jewish to the core. But in the end, they simply could not bring themselves to accept his claims (Mk.14:62-64). On this point Jesus and the leaders of early Judaism parted company" (ibid.).
The historical Yeshua, if he were on earth today, would be completely appalled at the incredible changes in the Church which now bears his name. He would see a Catholic and Protestant realm that is completely divorced from the Laws which he taught and accepted, including the Holy Days of YEHOVAH God. He would see a church pagan to the core, with idols and images, flaunting itself like the brazen whore she is (Revelation 17:4), celebrating PAGAN festivals of Easter, Christmas, only calling them "Christian"! He would see a "baptized paganism" masquerading itself as the Church of YEHOVAH God, pretending to have authority from him!
The historical Yeshua would have nothing whatsoever to do with such a perverted, corrupted, befouled renegade and apostate Church!
He would say, and does: "COME OUT OF HER, MY PEOPLE, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins have piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes" (Revelation 18:4-5).
The true, historical Yeshua, would say to us, today: "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between the Messiah and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. For God has said: 'I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.'
"'Therefore COME OUT from them and BE SEPARATE, says the LORD. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.' 'I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty'" (II Corinthians 6:14-18).
"Please Meet the Real Yeshua the Messiah!"
The real, historical Yeshua has spoken. Will YOU obey?
As the apostle Jude wrote: "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation [those of Israel], it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye [of Israel] should EARNESTLY CONTEND for the faith which was ONCE DELIVERED unto the saints" (Jude 3) -- that is, the ORIGINAL TRUE FAITH!
YESHUA THE MESSIAH is the "same yesterday, today, and forever"(Hebrews13:8). He will therefore be observing the SAME LAWS, and keeping the SAME HOLY DAYS, that he observed and kept faithfully throughout his life on earth 1900 years ago!
It's time you really get acquainted, with the true HISTORICAL Messiah!
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
Hope of Israel Ministries
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