Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?

In the ongoing saga where even Jesus/ Yeshua appears to be in my soup, if I am to believe Christians/ Messianics I have yet another task to sort out for puzzled Christians/ Messianics. There is a saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Copying a literary style is flattering because it shows you want your writing to be like the literary style so its more acceptable to those already familiar with the literary style, apparently.

imitate_thumb1A case in point  revolves around what might be considered to be a New Testament form of imitation which I have labeled “NT Midrash” where the NT Midrash seeks to imitate already established Jewish Midrash of the ‘Old’ Testament. The NT Midrash based on the marriage between Genesis 1:1-5 and John 1:1-5. The problem that the NT is written in Greek and not Hebrew does not faze some. However, just to go along with the ruse, taking verse 2 into consideration:

JOHN has: He was in the beginning with G-d.

GENESIS has: The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of G-d was hovering over the face of the waters. (Note: Spirit of G-d = “spirit of messiah” – Genesis Rabbah 2:4[1])

The summation of the comparison between Genesis 1:1-5 and John 1:1-5 occurs in the statement that follows in John:

the law given through Moses… grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

Here John attempts to bridge the gap for the reader, including Jewish readers apparently, to go from Torah Law to Jesus who fulfills the Law, such as the requirement of animal sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins (see Hebrews 9:22[2]) now leaves Torah law weak and useless according to Hebrews (see Heb 7:18,19). This portion of John’s gospel is of central significance to the development of the Christian doctrine of Incarnation. Later on in John, John Baptist describes Jesus in v39 as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”. Here for the first time is the ‘new’ addition of the ‘new’ Testament which introduces the idea of a universal human substitutionary atonement.

Animal sacrifice has always been permitted and post Sinai only under extremely limited and controlled circumstances as to time, place[Lev 17:2-5] and intention as detailed by the Torah. Certain sacrifices are brought purely for the purpose of communing with God and becoming closer to Him. Others are brought for the purpose of expressing thanks, love, or gratitude to God. Others are used to cleanse a person of ritual impurity (which does not necessarily have anything to do with sin). And yes, some sacrifices are brought for purposes of atonement. The messianic era does have animal sacrifices if Jer 33:15-18 is considered.

So what about human sacrifice?

1 Thus says the LORD: The heaven is My Throne, and the earth is My Footstool, where is the house that you may build unto Me? And where is the place that may be My resting-place? 2 For all These things has My hand made, and so all These things Came to be, says the LORD, But on this man will I look, even on Him That is poor and of a Contrite Spirit, and Trembleth at My word. 3 He That Kills an ox is as if he slew a man, he That Sacrifices a lamb, as if he broke a dog’s neck, he That Offers a meal-Offering, as if he Offered swine’s blood, he That makes a memorial-Offering of frankincense, as if he blessed an idol; according as they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations;

Isaiah 66 is talking primarily about sacrifices without repentance and chapter 66 resonates with the opening chapter 1 of Isaiah. Moreover, Isaiah 66 is discussing the messianic age.

You shall no longer bring vain meal-offerings, it is smoke of abomination to Me; New Moons and Sabbaths, calling convocations, I cannot [bear] iniquity with assembly. (Isaiah 1:13)

Without proper and sincere repentance it is as if one has killed a man, offered swine’s blood and blesses an idol (see verse 3) all of which have always have been and always will be unacceptable at any time or place!

What does Genesis Rabbah 2:4 say?

And the spirit of God hovered: this alludes to the spirit of Messiah, as you read, And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him (Isa. xi, 2). In the merit of what will [this spirit] eventually come? [For the sake of that which] hovered over the face of the waters, i.e. in the merit of repentance which is likened to water, as it is written, Pour out thy heart like water (Lam. 11, 19). R. Haggai said in the name of R. Pedath: A covenant was made with water that even in the hot season a breeze stirs over it. Genesis Rabbah 2:4

So far the NT gospel of John proposes the idea that Genesis and John have a close ‘midrashic’ connection from which is spring-boarded the ‘new’ covenant idea of human / divine messiah who dies for people sins in place of the sinner. Such a ‘new’ covenant idea is proposed by Paul supposedly and accurately paraphrasing Isaiah 59:20:

26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” Rom 11 NKJV

Now compare where it comes from in the same Christian bible translation:

20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion, And to those who turn from transgression (פֶשַׁע) in Jacob,” Says the Lord. Isaiah 59:20 NKJV

See how they are completely opposite? In the twisted version, Paul makes his case for a divine messiah who does it all for you on the basis that a person is incapable of doing anything (cf John 6:44). The correct version as per Isaiah 59:20 has individual persons turning from their transgressions! In contradistinction to Paul’s twisting of scripture we have a clear indication in the following which says we can turn from our own transgressions (פֶשַׁע) ourselves!

6 And the LORD said unto Cain: ‘Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shall it not be lifted up? and if thou doest not well, sin coucheth at the door; and unto thee is its desire, but thou mayest rule over it.‘ Gen 4

According to Isaiah and Genesis Rabbah 2:4 the coming of the messiah and redeemer respectively is to cause people to repent from their deliberate sins (Pesha [פֶשַׁע] or deliberate sins cannot be atoned for by blood by the way!). In contradistinction is the lie of the NT which insists on human atonement and mans’ incapability to do anything about his sinful behavior.

What is a Midrash?

To understand what a Midrash is, it is important to understand what Pshat is. Pshat refers to the straightforward explanation of a text, while Drash (from where we get Midrash) refers to the rabbinical commentary which serves as a vehicle for transmission of lessons, ideas and concepts which go beyond the literal narrative of the text. A Midrash in the Talmud Chullin gives a dispute between the moon and God about the sun:

  1. Simeon b. Pazzi pointed out a contradiction [between verses]. One verse says: And God made the two great lights, and immediately the verse continues: The greater light . . . and the lesser light. The moon said unto the Holy One, blessed be He, ‘Sovereign of the Universe! Is it possible for two kings to wear one crown’? He answered: ‘Go then and make thyself smaller’. ‘Sovereign of the Universe’! cried the moon, ‘Because I have suggested that which is proper must I then make myself smaller’? He replied: ‘Go and thou wilt rule by day and by night’. ‘But what is the value of this’? cried the moon; ‘Of what use is a lamp in broad daylight’? He replied: ‘Go. Israel shall reckon by thee the days and the years’. ‘But it is impossible’, said the moon, ‘to do without the sun for the reckoning of the seasons, as it is written: And let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years’. ‘Go. The righteous shall be named after thee as we find, Jacob the Small, Samuel the Small, David the Small’. On seeing that it would not be consoled the Holy One, blessed be He, said: ‘Bring an atonement for Me for making the moon smaller’. This is what was meant by R. Simeon b. Lakish when he declared: Why is it that the he-goat offered on the new moon is distinguished in that there is written concerning it unto the Lord? Because the Holy One, blessed be He, said: Let this he-goat be an atonement for Me for making the moon smaller. (Talmud Chullin 60b)

A moon talking to God cannot obviously be taken literally, rather the rabbis are asking, amongst other things, to consider symbolically, the dangers of jealousy. So what is the literal Peshat meaning of the verse found in Gen 1:16 and how may the contradiction, highlighted in the Talmud be resolved in verse 16? And God made the two great lights;… a possible answer to the contradiction is that from our earthly perspective, the sun and the moon are exactly the same size. Sun and moon being the same size is evidenced during a solar eclipse for example. God therefore has placed two spheres of dramatically different size, so precisely, that an observer on earth views them to be equal in size. Once this miraculous physical reality is given in the text, verse 16 goes onto explain, in terms of illumination, one sphere being greater than the other, hence the apparent contradiction is resolved!

However, despite centuries of anti-Semitism and enforced editing of Jewish literature and even numerous burnings of Jewish literature by the Church; the Church has not stopped the misuse, misquotation and misapplication of Midrashic material in the past to support belief for Jesus. The Church is quite happy to arbitrarily quote and impose that a Midrash is literal or not literal depending on its own theological agenda. Such quoting and imposition of Midrashim as literal or not literal, whilst simultaneously burning Midrashic material, presents a highly schizophrenic and menacing attitude to rabbinic literature and the Jewish Scriptures. More recently, a renaissance in a potential (mis)use of rabbinical literature by both black supremacists, white supremacists and amongst Messianics with a book by Douglas Pyle (staff worker at chosen people ministries), entitled “What the Rabbonim say about Moshiac”. The book by Douglas Pyle is a huge resource of rabbinical texts which the user may arbitrarily quote as literal or non-literal, depending how they fit the user’s theological agenda for converting the Jew.

One thing to always note when Messianics quote rabbinical kabbalistic or midrashic sayings to justify their beliefs in a deified Yeshua – 99.9% of their quotes are from Rabbis who post-dated Yeshua himself. 100% of these Rabbis themselves said what they said and rejected the possibility that Yeshua was the Messiah. That means, what the Rabbis said and meant by their words was COMPLETELY different to how messianics quote their words and then reinterpret them within their own Christian tradition!

Not only are messianics abusive in this way with rabbinical quotations to justify their belief in a ‘deified’ Christ but also to justify their belief that Yeshua is the ‘Messiah.’

Rabbinical sources always have deeper levels of meaning to a text. However, messianics fail to understand a problem with ‘messianic’ (mis)uses of rabbinic commentary. The problem is the (deliberate) rejection that each of the four levels (PARDES) of extended meaning of the text are entirely consistent within themselves and most importantly THE GENERAL RULE; that the extended meaning never contradicts the plain meaning of the text (Peshat). Peshat (פְּשָׁט) — “plain” (“simple”) or the direct meaning. In the first instance, using the famous aleph tav (את), the plain meaning is the grammatical, where the aleph tav (את), tells us that G-d created the heavens and the earth. On an allegorical level G-d created the aleph bet and then used the created aleph bet to ‘speak’ the world into existence. There is no contradiction in the argument of the Rabbis in their use of the Sages in their commentary, just a selective lack on the messianics’ part as to how Jews have always read/ wrote their literature.

In sum, John’s gospel has redefined and abused the Jewishly defined principle of Midrash and thereby created an idolatrous idea of a duality in G-d which includes the idea of G-d becoming man (cf Num 23:19).  The idea of G-d becoming man and therefore creating a duality in the ‘godhead’ is something which is plainly refuted in scripture and in the Talmud[3]. The rule that the extended meaning never contradicts the plain meaning of the text is something lost on both Christians and Messianics. Notions from messianics that somehow a person who reads John 1:1-5 in a ‘Christian’ literal way is wrong is patently false since later in John and also in Paul, the literal teaching of a divine son equal with the father is plainly taught:

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Rev 1:8

12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Rev 22

But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. Heb 1:8

_______________________

Notes

[1] 4. R. Simeon b. Lakish applied the passage to the [foreign] Powers. Now the earth was tohu (E. V. ‘unformed’) symbolizes Babylonia: / beheld the earth, and, lo> it was tohu — E.V. ‘waste’ (Jer. iv, 23)

2 ; And bohu (E.V. ‘void’) symbolizes Media: They hastened (wa-yabhillu) to bring Haman (Est. vi, 14).

3 And darkness symbolizes Greece, which darkened the eyes of Israel with its decrees, ordering Israel, ‘Write on the horn of an ox that ye have no portion in the God of Israel/

4 Upon the face of the deep — this wicked State

5 : just as the great deep cannot be plumbed, so one cannot plumb [the depths of iniquity of] this wicked State. And the spirit of God hovered: this alludes to the spirit of Messiah, as you read, And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him (Isa. xi, 2). In the merit of what will [this spirit] eventually come? [For the sake of that which] hovered over the face of the waters, i.e. in the merit of repentance which is likened to water, as it is written, Pour out thy heart like water (Lam. 11, 19). R. Haggai said in the name of R. Pedath : A covenant was made with water that even in the hot season a breeze stirs over it.

[2] In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Heb 9:22 Although this quote in Hebrews 9:22 is always cross referenced in a Christian study Bible with Leviticus 17:11, it is a deliberate misquote of the original passage in the Torah.

If missionaries seek to hold up Leviticus 17:11 to bolster their position that blood sacrifices are indispensable for procuring an atonement, they must use all of the verse, and not dispense with any part of it. Leviticus 17:11 specifically says that the blood of the sacrifice must be placed “upon the altar to make atonement for your souls.” That is to say, Leviticus 17:11 explicitly declares that blood can effect atonement only if it is placed on the altar. Jesus’ blood, however, was never placed on the altar. If the Church is going to take the “blood” part of the verse literally, they must also take the “altar” part literally as well. Jesus’ blood was never sprinkled on the altar, and therefore his death could not provide atonement for anyone. Most importantly, the Torah repeatedly states that it is strictly forbidden to offer human sacrifices under any circumstances. There is not one place throughout the entire corpus of the Jewish Scriptures where the practice of human sacrifice is condoned. The Torah condemns this grotesque ritual as an abomination. Throughout the Book of Leviticus, only distinct species of animals are permitted for use in blood sacrifices. http://outreachjudaism.org/outreach-judaism-responds-to-jews-for-jesus/

[3] R. Johanan sad: In all the passages which the Minim have taken [as grounds] for their heresy, their refutation is found near at hand. Thus: Let us make man in our image, — And God created [sing.] man in His own image; Come, let us go down and there confound their language, — And the Lord came down [sing.] to see the city and the tower; Because there were revealed [plur.] to him God, — Unto God who answereth [sing.] me in the day of my distress; For what great nation is there that hath God so nigh [plur.] unto it, as the Lord our God is [unto us] whensoever we call upon Him [sing.]; And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, [like] Israel, whom God went [plur.] to redeem for a people unto himself [sing.], Till thrones were placed and one that was ancient did sit.

Nahman said: He who is as skilled in refuting the Minim as is R. Idith, let him do so; but not otherwise. Once a Min said to R. Idith: It is written, And unto Moses He said, Come up to the Lord. But surely it should have stated, Come up unto me! — It was Metatron [who said that], he replied, whose name is similar to that of his Master, for it is written, For my name is in him. But if so, [he retorted,] we should worship him! The same passage, however, — replied R. Idith says: Be not rebellious against him, i.e., exchange Me not for him. But if so, why is it stated: He will not pardon your transgression? He answered: By our troth we would not accept him even as a messenger, for it is written, And he said unto him, If Thy [personal] presence go not etc.

A Min once said to R. Ishmael b. Jose: It is written, Then the Lord caused to rain upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord: but from him should have been written! A certain fuller said, Leave him to me, I will answer him. [He then proceeded,’ It is written, And Lamech said to his wives, Ada and Zillah, Hear my voice, ye wives of Lamech; but he should have said, my wives! But such is the Scriptural idiom — so here too, it is the Scriptural idiom. (Sanhedrin 38b)

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