I would agree with most of what you said in the above noted commentary [“Has God Divorced Israel? What Is the Meaning of the ‘New Covenant’ Promised in Jeremiah?”], except your broad sense of rejection of when the Lord did or did not establish the new covenant. My overriding concern and question for you to consider is this. Will God only save the Jews? You never ever show any salvation path for gentiles. It is here where your arguments hit the deepest rooted question. Were the Jews chosen by God as the only people to be saved? Surely this cannot be so. I would further add, your concern only for the Jews is understandable from a human perspective, but shows a rather hard hearted and unspiritual approach to God who has done so much for all of us.
Finally, your reference to the Christian commentary was rather limited as the author is only saying that the Jew does not have to abandon Judaism to believe in Jesus. It is in fact that Jesus, as you have heard and rejected, was the fulfillment of the Law so that God would bring us to a new covenant of Grace through His Son and place His Spirit in the hearts of all mankind who believe in Jesus…
The Law has NOT been set aside but has been fulfilled by the only one who could keep the Law. For surely neither you nor I nor any man is righteous enough to keep God’s law in full… and one cannot stand in the judgement if he has violated any of the Law. So these issues need to be addressed in your heart and between you and God. I have come to my own deep and personal resolution with our Creator. I wish you all the rich blessings of God, especially His salvation which I feel is intended for all mankind.
After reading your question carefully, I discovered that your grasp of the Jewish people and our guiding faith is fundamentally skewed.
You charge Judaism with holding out salvation to the Jew alone. The God of Israel alone holds out a plan of salvation for the world. The Church, on the other hand, has no room in heaven for those who do not believe in Jesus. Instead of spending eternity in paradise, Christianity relegates non-Christians to eternal damnation. Although the Christian Bible openly declared this idea, such narrow man made teachings are alien and utterly abhorrent to the Jewish people.
The New Testament repeatedly asserts that non-Christians will endure eternal hell:
“He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be damned.”
But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
In flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
(2 Thessalonians 1:8)
The faith of Israel proclaims that the Merciful Redeemer holds out a distinct salvation program for all of mankind, both the Jew and gentile. The Almighty does not condemn the masses of non-Jewish humanity to everlasting separation from God, as your question suggests. Rather, Scriptures offer a path of salvation to all the righteous of all the nations. I wrote an article which addresses this subject in much greater detail entitled, What is a Former Christian Minister to Do, Convert? (see page 271).
Are the Jewish people proud? Yes, but we want all of humanity to be proud. Were we chosen? Yes, but for what purpose? For power, happiness, rest and security in our possessions? No. Rather to be a light to the nations—to show all nations an example of a people who are not afraid to stand upright on the earth. To regard no man as God, and to be the protectors and teachers of the divine oracles of the Torah. This is why we were chosen by God.
With respect to my comment regarding the anti-Dispensationalist author Arthur W. Pink, you are being overly charitable when you defend his supersessionist ((A Christian supersessionist is one who embraces replacement theology and holds that God’s covenant and relationship with the Jewish people has been replaced by the Church. According to this teaching, Christians are connected to God under a “new covenant,” and are heirs to all the blessings that were originally bestowed upon the Jews in the “old covenant.”
This widely held doctrine asserts that the old covenant God made with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is dead. The Jews by their sins, most prominently of rejecting Jesus as the messiah, have forfeited any covenantal status. Most missionaries who engage in Jewish evangelism reject this teaching.))
position. I am going to assume that you defended this popular Calvinist writer because you are not familiar with his Christology. Bear in mind that Pink’s quote ((Pink writes in his book, An Exposition of Hebrews the following:
“It is exceedingly difficult, if not quite impossible, for us to form any adequate conception of the serious obstacles presented to the mind of a pious Jew, when any one sought to persuade him that Judaism had been set aside by God and that he must turn his own back upon it.” (Pink, Arthur W., An Exposition of Hebrews, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI; 1984: pp. 1065.) ))
is from his An Exposition of Hebrews, Chapter 102, which is entitled, “The Passing of Judaism.” This title is as revealing as the quote. Other section names in his book are equally jarring, such as The Inferiority of Judaism and The Superiority of Christianity. To further illustrate this point, in his chapter, The Passing of Judaism, Pink applauds the Bible commentator and advocate of replacement theology, Matthew Henry (17-18th century), when he writes,
“We believe that Matthew Henry was on the right track when he said, ‘It is by the Gospel from heaven that God shook to pieces the civil and ecclesiastical state of the Jewish nation, and introduced a new state of the Church, that cannot be removed, shall never be changed for any other on earth, but shall remain till it be made perfect in heaven. ‘The apostle [Paul] is still supplying proof that the Hebrew believers were no longer connected with Judaism, but were to come to the antitypical Zion.” ((Ibid., p. 1069-1070.))
Finally, your letter defiantly judged that man is unable and unfit to keep the Torah.
The readers of this letter can rest assured that you did not derive this cynical teaching from the Jewish Scriptures, for such an idea is hostile to the timeless message of Tanach. The Hebrew Scriptures are filled with testimonials proudly describing the towering character of godly men like Abraham, whom God tenderly called “My friend,” (Isaiah 41:8) and Daniel, “My beloved” (Daniel 9:23, 10:11, 10:19). Calev and Josiah were righteous throughout their faithful lives. ((Numbers 14:24; II Kings 22:2 )) Your statement, “neither you nor I nor any man is righteous enough to keep God’s law in full” could only have been derived from the Greek letters of Paul, not the clear teachings of the Jewish Scriptures.
Ironically, in an effort to cast the parents of John the Baptist as Mary-like, the Book of Luke insists that Zachariah and Elizabeth were sinless.
And they [Zachariah and Elizabeth] were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
According to core Christian teachings, Luke’s claim that Zachariah and Elizabeth were without sin is preposterous!
The fundamentalist Church blindly characterizes the human condition as depraved, utterly incapable of meriting salvation by their own devotion to God. But, shall we call ourselves wretchedly sinful? Were we not created in the image of God? Is it not an insult to God to call ourselves spiritually defective and utterly depraved? Self-criticism is good, but what is the purpose of humility and self-criticism? Is it not to learn from one’s errors and do better in the future?
However, if we carry humility to such a point that one says “I am utterly lost and no action of mine can ever be good,” then the incentive to improvement has been abolished, and excessive humility becomes an excuse for lack of effort. This is the ultimate consequence of grim Christian doctrines that polluted the minds of parish- ioners for the past two millennia.
What does your proclamation that “Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law” really mean?
Are you suggesting that a Jew need not observe the eternal commandments of the Torah? What do you mean when you assert that the Jew does not have to abandon Judaism to believe in Jesus? When you refer to “Judaism,” you most certainly do not mean Jewish culture or ethnicity. You are not alluding to customs such as eating bagels and lox and donning a yarmulke? We all know that Christianity has no doctrine or opinion on such matters. In fact, there have been a number of popes who have been known to put on a yarmulke every now and then, and if my sources are correct, bagels and lox are becoming a pretty big hit amongst Episcopalians.
Are you suggesting that the Jew is mandated to observe the mitzvot of the Torah just as he was commanded? What does Jesus’ alleged fulfillment of the Torah have to do with the nation who were charged to keep the Torah forever and ever? When you reassure the Jew that he need not abandon his Jewishness, does this mean that the converted Jew is to keep the mitzvot with devotion, or can he abandon his Jewishness because “Jesus fulfilled the Law?”
You can’t have it both ways.
This is a crucial question, because a meaningful message must be attached to the statement that the Jew doesn’t have to “abandon Judaism to believe in Jesus.” Well, which is it? Are we to continue to observe the Torah or has Jesus somehow fulfilled the commandments so we no longer have to keep them? I ask these questions in order to give you some insight into the spiritual bipolar universe that Christianity displays as it grapples with Jews and Judaism. This sort of playing both sides of the fence repeatedly manifests itself when Jews are encouraged to convert to Christianity. I have seen many pastors squirm in discomfort as they are confronted with this probing and unsettling question.
I am unsure whether this letter has opened your eyes, or perhaps given you a glimpse into the Jew and his faith.
If you ever wondered why or how the faithful remnant of Israel so stubbornly refuses to worship any man as God, or abandon the precious commandments of the Torah, remember what we saw and heard more than 3,300 years ago. Prior to his death, our teacher Moses stood at the border of the Promised Land and looked at Joshua before the entire nation of Israel and said, “Be strong and of good courage.”
Very sincerely yours,
Rabbi Tovia Singer