Messianic jews, Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern
1. Here is the whole point of what we have been saying: we do have just such a cohen gadol as has been described. And he does sit at the right hand of HaG’dulah in heaven (Psalm 110:1).
The author turns from Yeshua's credentials, character and status as cohen gadol (Chapter 7) to the nature of his work in the heavenly Holy Place as he sits (10:11 -14&N, Psalm 110:1) or possibly stands (Ac 7:55-56&N) at the right hand of God. His being there was indicated earlier (1:3, 13).
On "HaG'dulah" ("the Greatness"), a euphemism for God, see numbered paragraph (7) of 1:2-3N.
2. There he serves in the Holy Place, that is, in the true Tent of Meeting, the one erected not by human beings but by Adonai.
3. For every cohen gadol is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; so this cohen gadol too has to have something he can offer.
4. Now if he were on earth, he wouldn’t be a cohen at all, since there already are cohanim offering the gifts required by the Torah.
There is no conflict between the Ixvitical priesthood established by the Torah of Moses and that of Yeshua as predicted by Psalm 110; it is not necessary to think of УевЬш'9 priesthood as superseding the Levitical one. The Torah says that earthly cohanim must be descendants of L'vi, and Numbers 25:12 speaks of God's "covenant of ал everlasting priesthood" with Pinchas, the son of Aharon. But since Yeshua serves in heaven, he can be from the tribe of Y'hudah (7:13—14) and tan also have ал eternal ministry (7:23-25).
5. But what they are serving is only a copy and shadow of the heavenly original; for when Moshe was about to erect the Tent, God warned him, "See to it that you make everything according to the pattern you were shown on the mountain" (Exodus 25:40).
6. But now the work Yeshua has been given to do is far superior to theirs, just as the covenant he mediates is better. For this covenant has been given as Torah on the basis of better promises.
Is far superior to theirs, just as the covenant he mediates is better, literally, "is as far superior to theirs as the covenant he mediates is better." See second paragraph of 1:2-3N and Jast paragraph of 1:4N.
The covenant which Yeshua mediates is the New Covenant spoken of by Jeremiah in the passage quoted below (vv. 8-12). It is better than the covenant Moses mediated at Mount Sinai, as proved by vv. 6b—13.
Mediates. On whether the idea of a mediator between God and mankind is Jewish, see 1 Ti 2:5b-6aN.
That there is a true Teot of Meeting or Tabernacle in heaven is proved by the passage cited in v. 5. The Tent constructed in the Wilderness (Exodus 25-31, 35-39), long before there was any thought of a Temple, demonstrated that God dwells with his people; indeed, one of the Hebrew words the Tanakh uses for "tent" is "mishkan" which is related to both "shakhen" ("neighbor") and "Sh'khinah" ("God's immanent presence," see Paragraph (3) of 1:2-3N).
Not only is Yeshua himself better than the Levitical cohanim, as shown in Chapter 7, but the work Yeshua has been given to do is far superior to theirs, since the place where they serve is only a copy and shadow of the heavenly original, referred to in Rv 15:5 as "the Tent of Witness in heaven." The term, "Tent of Meeting." speaks of God's communicating with his people; whereas "Tent of Witness" bespeaks God's witness to his own righteousness (compare with Yn 5:37-40 and Ro 3:25-26).
The New Covenant has been given as Torah. This is a virtually unknown theological truth of far-reaching importance. First, although there are many, both Jews and Christians, who suppose that the New Testament abrogated the Torah, the New Testament here explicitly states that it has itself been given as Torah.
Obviously, if the New Testament is Torah, then the Torah has not been abrogated. Instead, the New Testament has been given the same status as the Torah of Moses; that is, it has come to have the highest authority there is, the authority that accompanies promulgation by God himself. One might say that Torah has been expanded — or, better, that Torah has been made more explicit (compare Mt 5:17-48&NN).
Second, the fact that the New Covenant has been given as Torah means that a Jew is not 7V>ra/i-true, he is not a 7bra/i-observant Jew, unless he accepts the New Testament as Torah. A Jew who considers himself shomer-mitzvot, "an observer of [the] commandments," is deluding himself if he does not obey the New Covenant. Unless he trusts in Yeshua as Messiah and as his atonement for sin, he is disobeying Torah.
And third, it means that a Gentile grafted into Israel by his faith in Yeshua the Messiah (Ro 11:17-24, Ep 2:8-16) has himself come into the framework of Israel's Torah. Although what this Torah demands of him differs from what it demands of a Jew (see Ac 15:20&N), a Gentile Christian should never think of himself as "free from the Law," as many do.
That the New Covenant has become Torah is absolutely crucial for understanding the New Testament. Yet, so far as I know, not one existing translation brings out this truth; nor, to my knowledge, does any commentary so much as mention it. In fact, the issue is avoided altogether. To give a typical example, the Revised Standard Version in this verse says merely that the New Covenant "is enacted" on better promises.
A look at the Greek text will explain why the subject has been ignored. The phrase, "has been given as Torah," is my rendering of the passive, perfect-tense verb, "nenomothetetai." This is a compound word formed from "nomos" and "tithemi." "Tithemi" is a common word meaning "lay, put, place, make"; and in general — that is, when there is no specifically Jewish context — "nomos" may be translated "law." Thus "nenomothetetai" in a non-Jewish context means simply "to make law"; when it is used in connection with the Roman Senate or the Athenian Areopagus (see Ac 17:19-22aN) it is quite properly rendered "to legislate, enact, establish as law."
But "nomos" is also the word used in the Septuagint and other Jewish literature written in Greek to render the Hebrew word "Torah." Since the New Testament was written by Jews, the word "nomos" or any of its compounds must always be checked wherever it appears to see whether it refers to "law" in general or "Torah" in particular. (Not germane here are the meanings "legalism" and "the legal part of the Torah"; see Ro 3:20bN; Ga 2:16b&N, 3:17&N, 3:23b&N.) The word "nomos" appears 14 times in the book of Messianic Jews; and every lime, without exception, it means "Torah" and never merely "law."
Also, every place in the New Testament or the Septuagint where there appears a compound word related to "nenomothetetai" it always has to do with "Torah" and never with "law." At Ya 4:12 the word "nomothetes," the noun formed from the verb used in our verse, is used to describe God as the "one Giver of Torah, with the power to deliver and to destroy." At Ro 9:4 "nomothesia" the verbal noun (gerund), is rendered "giving of the Torah." In the Septuagint "nomothetein" which is the active voice of the verb in our verse, is used more than a dozen times to mean "instruct," the context always implying "instruct in Torah" (and at the same time implying that instruction in Torah involves not only the legal component but the full range of God's "Teaching" — the literal translation of "Torah").
The word in our verse appears at only one other place in the New Testament, 7:11 above, where we read that trie Jewish people "nenomothetetai," that is, "were given the "Torah." At 7:11, every translation, without exception, takes the "nomos" in "nenomothetetai" to be not "law" in general but "Torah" in particular — no one thinks an early version of the Knesset (the legislative body of the State of Israel) met on Mount Sinai to pass laws. But in the present verse, even though "nomos" and its compound "nenomothetetai" nowhere in the entire book of Messianic Jews refer to "law" in general, but always to "Torah" in particular, not one translator or commentator has grasped the point that the New Covenant has been given as Torah.
I have enough paranoia to find this more than just an oversight. Although today there is likely no conscious ill intent, I am convinced that the failure to translate "nenomothetetai" correctly is the evolved consequence of an earlier perverse unwillingness on the part of Christians to recognize and emphasize the Jewishness of the New Testament. This perversity resulted from the wrong theology that regards Christianity as a religion separate from Judaism, having superseded it, and which regards Judaism as a dead religion, whose Law, whose Torah, ceased to be operative when Yeshua came. I ike the translation of "telos" in Ro 10:4 as "termination" instead of "goal," the failure to see that the New Covenant has been given as Torah reflects, even if unconsciously, the antisemitism which came to pervade the Christian Church during the centuries after it had drawn away from its Jewish roots (see Ro 10:4N). For more on refuting this erroneous theology, which became endemic in the Church, see references on Replacement theology in the last paragraph of Mt 5:5N.
I challenge non-Messianic Jews and Gentile Christians alike to recognize that the New Testament has been given as Torah. to recognize the three implications of this fact stated in the three initial paragraphs of this note, and to draw the appropriate conclusions.
The better promises of the New Covenant were not invented by the author of the book of Messianic Jews but were announced by God in the Tanakh through the prophet Jeremiah (vv. 10-12). Having the Torah internalized is belter than having it written out (v. 10; compare Ro 2:13-29), and it is better to have sins forgiven permanently than temporarily (v. 12; how this can happen is explained in 9:1-10:18).
7. Indeed, if the first covenant had not given ground for faultfinding, there would have been no need for a second one.
8. For God does find fault with the people when he says, "See! The days are coming,’ says Adonai, ‘when I will establish over the house of Isra’el and over the house of Y’hudah a new covenant..
If the Hist covenant, meaning the one with Moses at Sinai, had not given ground for faultfinding. Other translations render this as if something had been wrong with the first covenant itself, for example, the Revised Standard Version has, "if that first covenant had been faultless...." But vv. 8-9 show that the fault was not with the covenant but with the people of Israel who "did not remain faithful" to it (v. 9).
In Gerhard Kind's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Volume 4, p. 572), one scholar observes that the Greek word "amemptos" used in v. 7 does not refer in the Septuagint to objective faults but "expresses a subjective judgment." If so, then this "subjectivity" points toward the Jeremiah quotation in vv. 8b—12, which says that the "fathers" broke the covenant, not that the covenant was objectively flawed. Another scholar then writes, "God does not reject the ancient covenant. The faithless Israelites are the occasion of new covenant action on the part of God. Their unfaithful conduct is an object of "mempsesthai" ("faultfinding." v. 8a), and they have robbed the old covenant of its significance." But even if the people of Israel in Jeremiahs lime "robbed the old covenant of its significance" for themselves, they had neither the authority nor the capacity to abolish it, since it was God, not themselves, who had established it forever. Thus the only "fault" in the first covenant, if one should even call it that, is that it does not contain in itself the power to keep the people faithful (compare vv. 15-19&N; also Ro 8:3ff., where Sha'ul says exactly the same thing about the Torah). In this regard, the second covenant is different, because its terms include God's putting his Torah in their minds and writing it on their hearts, providing power for obedience by the Holy Spirit within.
9. It will not be like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by their hand and led them forth out of the land of Egypt; because they, for their part, did not remain faithful to my covenant; so I, for my part, stopped concerning myself with them,’ says Adonai.
So I, for my part, stopped concerning myself with them. The author quotes the Septuagint, whose translators had a different Hebrew text than the one we have now; it must have said "bachalti" ("I disdained them") instead of "ba'alti" ("I was a husband [or "lord") to them"), as in our present Hebrew version. Rashi, cited in Mikra 'ot G 'dolot, makes the same point in his discussion of this verse of Jeremiah. The difference is not significant for understanding the New Covenant, but a cautionary note is apposite: God did not cease interesting himself in the Jewish people; rather, as explained above (3:15—4:11), God stopped concerning himself with the generation in the Wilderness, in the sense that he did not permit them to enter the Promised Land; and by extension, when people turn away from him with sufficient stubbornness, he turns away from them (Ro 9:17-21&NN).
10. For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Isra’el after those days,’ says Adonai: ‘I will put my Torah in their minds and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people.
11. None of them will teach his fellow-citizen or his brother, saying, “Know Adonai!” For all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest,
12. because I will be merciful toward their wickednesses and remember their sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:30–33(31–34)).
This is the longest citation from the Tanakh in the New Testament, and appropriately so; for this prediction of Jeremiah's is the Tanakh's clearest ground for the very existence of the "New Testament" (or "New Covenant" — "testament" and "covenant" are alternative renderings of the Greek word "diatheke"; see vv. 9:16-17N, Ga 3:15-17N); see Section (3) of vv. 6b-13N above.
There are two words for "new" in Greek, "kainos" and "neos." "Neos" means something which has never before existed, whereas "kainos" carries overtones of freshness and renewal of something which has existed (see Mt 9:17N). The word used in Chapter 8 in the phrase, "New Covenant," is always "kainos," and this is as it should be, because in a very real way the New Covenant renews the Old Covenant — even though the author dwells more on the contrasts than on the similarities. The clearest illustration is that God's announcement, "I will be their God and they will be my people" (v. 10), was made first to Moses (Exodus 6:7, Leviticus 26:12), then to the Prophets (Jeremiah 32:38; Ezekiel 11:20, 37:27), and last to the New Testament writers, where it applies both to the present (here, 2C 6:16) and to the future (Rv 21:3&N).
The other three elements which Jeremiah specifies in vv. 10-12, although different from the provisions of the Old Covenant, nevertheless carry forward its purposes. By placing his Torah in people's minds and hearts (v. 10; compare Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26-27; 2C 3:16-18), God accomplishes precisely what the Sh'ma requires ("And these words which I command you this day are to be upon your hearts, etc," Deuteronomy 6:6-9). See also Section (3)(b) of vv. 6b-13N.
God's covenant people have always been expected to know God (v. 11; compare Judges 2:10; Hosea 4:1,6; 6:6; 1С 8:3; Ga 4:9). God has made ihis knowledge available in various ways (1:1-3), and it will eventually become complete ("For the earth shall be full of the knowledge oiAdonai as the waters cover the sea," Isaiah 11:9, Habakkuk 2:14), even though it isn't yet ("Now I know partly; then 1 will know fully, just as God has fully known me," 1С 13:12).
Finally, under the New Covenant God forgives and forgets people's sins (v. 12). According to the Bible, forgiveness of sins is the main issue of human history. It arises already at Genesis 2:17 and is not fully resolved until Rv 20:15 (see Ro 5:12-21N). The Old Covenant provided a way of having sins forgiven, in connection with the Levitical priesthood and sacrificial system; but the New Covenant provides a way that is better, through the heavenly priesthood and sacrificial system, as the author explains in the present section (7:1-10:18).
Thus even though the New Covenant is distinct from the Old, and its system of priesthood and sacrifice is better, God uses it to carry out faithfully his original covenantal purposes, the promises made earlier to the Jewish people.
13. By using the term, “new,” he has made the first covenant “old”; and something being made old, something in the process of aging, is on its way to vanishing altogether.
By using the term, "new," he has made the first covenant "old." The author is not criticizing the Mosaic Covenant but merely making explicit what Jeremiah implied. Sha'ul had already used the phrase, "Old Covenant," at 2C 3:14.
Is one to infer that the Jewish holidays, Shabbat, kashrut, civil laws, and moral laws of the Mosaic Covenant are on the verge of vanishing altogether? No, for the author could hardly have been unaware that the Mosaic Covenant presents itself as eternal; also the context shows that he is speaking only of its system of priests and sacrifices, not its other aspects. Since the laws concerning the cultus constitute the majority of the Mosaic prescriptions, it is not an inappropriate figure of speech to say that the Old Covenant itself is aging and about to disappear.
In this verse, the verb tenses are important. The Mosaic Covenant has already been made... old, but it is not already aged and it has not already vanished. It is in the process of aging and on the verge of vanishing in the same sense that "This world's leaders... are in the process of passing away" (2C 2:6). This world's leaders are still with us, and so is the Mosaic Covenant. Even Christians whose theology posits the abrogation or passage of the Mosaic Covenant in its entirety must therefore acknowledge that it has not yet vanished but still exists. Some have inferred from this language that at the time the author wrote, the Temple was still standing and the author was predicting what Yeshua had already prophesied (Mt 24:2, Mk 13:2, Lk 21:2), that the Temple would soon be destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E., at which time the sacrifices would cease and the priesthood would be left without work to do. This is a possible interpretation, although against it is the fact that the author never refers to the Temple but always to the Tent (Tabernacle), which had passed out of existence a thousand years earlier. He is more interested in the system as the Mosaic Covenant specifies it than in its current mode of implementation (the instructions for making the Tent begin in Exodus 25, immediately after the establishment of the covenant at Exodus 24:1-8). No matter when the author wrote, his arguments do provide a rationale for Messianic Jews not to be distressed by the passing of the Temple and to carry on anyhow; in this sense, the role of the book of Messianic Jews is comparable with that of the Yavneh Council in non-Messianic Judaism (c. 90 C.E.), which transferred its focus from the Temple to the Written and Oral Torah. The book instructs Messianic Jews to center not on the Temple but on the Messiah and what he has done.
What is actually on the verge of vanishing is the old priesthood, not the old covenant — or, perhaps we may say, not God's unchangeable nature which stands behind the old covenant. The priesthood is the subject of the whole section (indeed, the sacrificial system is the subject of the whole letter), and it is this which is about to disappear or, at the very least, take on a very much transformed role (see 7:12&N). On this verse Paul Ellingworth, who has also written a commentary on Hebrews, says: "This refers to the replacement of the old cult by the new, not to a change in the ethical or civil requirements of the Torah!" The "old" Torah continues, and continues to have its same purpose, but there is now a new system of cohanim, as has already been said and will be explained further in the next two chapters.
This passage is one of the New Testament's two most important discussions of the New Covenant in relation to the Covenant with Moses at Mount Sinai (the other is 2C 3:6-18). Non-Messianic Jews claim that God did not establish a New Covenant with Israel through Yeshua — and indeed they must say this, even though it undermines ecumenical tolerance by attacking the foundation of Christian faith; because otherwise they have no excuse for not adhering to its terms and accepting Yeshua as the Messiah. When discussing the New Covenant in the context of these verses, they raise four objections, which I present with my answers. The first two are lightweight, but the third and fourth deserve careful rebuttal.
(1) Objection: "The covenant with Moses is eternal, so there is no ground for expecting a new one."
Answer. The covenant with Moses is indeed eternal (see v. 13N). but the conclusion that there is no new one does not logically follow. The eternal covenant with Avraham did not prevent God from making an eternal covenant with Moses, nor did the latter cancel the former (Ga 3:15-18&NN). Moreover, it is patently false that there is no ground for expecting a new covenant; this is proved by the Jeremiah text (vv. 8b—12), written six centuries before the time of Yeshua.
(2) Objection: "Who needs a new covenant? What you call the 'old' one is good enough for me."
Answer: This is not an argument but an expression of emotion. The Mosaic covenant is excellent, but the decisions whether it is "good enough" and whether one should reject the New Covenant should not be based on feelings, not even feelings of loyalty to the Jewish people. If God decided to establish a new covenant with the Jewish people, which, as the Jeremiah passage proves, he did promise to do, then one ought to agree that God did this for the benefit of Jews, not to hurt them, and one should welcome whatever God offers.
(3) Objection: "I welcome whatever God may offer, including a new covenant; and there is ground in the Tanakh for expecting one. But Jesus did not bring it, and the New Testament does not express it — as proved by the following four arguments, which are based on the very text you use to support your own view.
(a) "Jeremiah writes that the new covenant will be over the house of Israel and over the House of Y'hudah. It does not say that God will make his new covenant with Gentiles or with Christians."
Answer. Yeshua introduced the New Covenant not to a group of Gentiles (let alone to Christians — there weren't any), but to an exclusively Jewish company at a Passover Seder (Lk 22:15-20). More specifically, he announced this covenant to his twelve tatmidim, who, Yeshua explained moments later, are in a special representative relationship with the twelve tribes of Israel as their judges (l.k 22:30; compare Mt 19:28, Rv 21:12-14). Il is the twelve tribes of Israel of whom Jeremiah speaks collectively when he writes, "the house of Israel and the house of Y'hudah." Gentiles enter this covenant only by being "grafted in" to Israel (Ro 11:17-24; Ep 2:11-16).
(b) "God says he will put his Torah in their minds and write it on their hearts. It is no secret that Christians have done cruel things to Jews in Christ's name, things which are altogether alien to Torah, things which prove that Torah was far from their minds and hearts. I do not suppose it necessary to show how each one of the Ten Commandments has been violated by Chrisyans in their dealings with Jews.
"However, I will pass over these things and take a different tack. 1 will grant that not all deeds done by Christians were necessarily authorized by Christ — some even adduced Christ's name to justify acts contrary to his teachings and to the Ten Commandments. Moreover, I know that there are Christians who love God and who desire to do good. But — and here is the point — this is not the same as having the Torah written on their hearts. For the Torah is the body of laws and instruction given to Moses for the Jewish people, consisting of both the Written and the Oral Law. Therefore, someone with the Torah written on his heart should be shomer-mitzvot, obedient to all the commandments of the Written and Oral Law; and this I do not see in Christians, not even in those whose character is exemplary."
Answer: First, concerning Christians who act against Torah in their dealings with Jews: God is indeed putting his Torah, his teaching, in the minds and hearts of his true followers by means of the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, whom Yeshua sent to teach us all the truth (Yn 16:13-15; on the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Torah, see Ac 2: IN on the Jewish holiday Shavu'ot, and compare 2C 3:16-18, Ro 8:1-4). Having the Torah in one's mind and written on one's heart is Scriptural language for being holy. The path to holiness commences with trusting God and his son Yeshua, and following this path is a process, not an instantaneous event — believers do not suddenly become perfect. A genuine follower of Yeshua will have an inner desire to please God; so that as he understands more and more of what God wants and expects from him, he will be increasingly prepared and empowered by the Holy Spirit to do it. On the other hand, a professed follower of Yeshua still has free will and can resist "the finger of God" writing on his heart. Some who have acted against Jews have called themselves Christians but in fact have been unbelievers; while others have been believers who resisted God's will. None of this negates God's action (compare Ro 3:3-4), which he has been accomplishing according to the terms of the New Covenant ever since Yeshua inaugurated it, of writing his Torah on the heart of any willing person, Jewish or Gentile, who puts his trusi in Yeshua the Messiah.
Second, your understanding of "shomer-mitzvof is that of non-Messianic (and probably Orthodox) Judaism; my response is that any form of Judaism which fails to recognize that the New Covenant ilself has been given as Torah (v. 6b&N) has a defective understanding of Torah and therefore of "shomer-mitzvot." Someone with the Torah written in his heart puts his trust in Yeshua and should accept the New Testament's understanding of what Torah really is. That understanding does not give the Oral Law the authority which Orthodox Judaism grants it (although, unlike much Christian theology, the New Testament certainly does not denigrate the Oral Law, properly used; see 1 Ti 1:8&N). A person with the Torah in his mind and heart should indeed be shomer-mitzvot, but in a way consistent with thep'rushei-Torah (expositions of the Law) set forth by Yeshua and the other New Testament writers. My goal in the Jewish New Testament Commentary is, among other things, to help set forth the New Testament understanding of Torah in a way that a Jewish person can appreciate. Let me add that there is no reason why a Messianic Jew might not choose to be shomer-miizvot in a sense that would include obedience to much of the Oral Law; nothing in the New Testament prevents it, and a number of passages lend support (Mt 5:19-20; 23:2,23; Yn 7:37-39&NN; Ac 21:20; Ga 5:3).
But Christians and Messianic Jews should understand that everyone under the New Covenant has the Torah to observe. That is the plain sense of the phrase, "I will put my Torah in their minds and write it on their hearts." It is not some new Torah, different from Old Testament Torah. It is the one and only Torah, understood in the spirit of the Messiah, "as upheld by the Messiah" (Ga 6:2&N; 1С 9:21&N). Christian theology all too often tries to escape or water down the plain sense of what is said here, so that what is required is very little, usually a vague "sensitivity to God's will" that becomes impossible to pin down. Not infrequently the motivation for devising such theology has been to portray or create separation, spiritual distance and invidious comparison between the Church and the Jews. But other Christians have had a correct understanding, for example, A. Lukyn Williams:
"God's words through Jeremiah do not announce the coming of a new Law, but of a new principle of keeping the Law, according to which God forgives the sinner, writes the Law on his heart, brings him into a new relation to Himself, and makes Himself known to him." (Manual of Christian Evidences for Jews, London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1919, 1:184.)
(c) "The text continues, 'None of them will teach his fellow-citizen or his brother, saying, "Know Adonail"' If so, why do you proselytize us? Moreover, the condition that all will know God remains unfulfilled; therefore what you offer is not what Jeremiah prophesied."
Answer: Like the individual process of becoming holy, the social process whereby everyone comes to know God is a gradual one. In the centuries since Yeshua's time on earth, the number of believers has grown enormously. The day will come when there will be no need for a believer to teach his fellow-citizen or bis brother; but until that day arrives, and so long as there is anyone who has not accepted God's offer of forgiveness through Yeshua, there is need not to proselytize, which means to convert someone to another religion, but to evangelize, which means to communicate the Good News that God has provided a means for salvation, here and now, and for the eventual certain salvation of the Jewish people too (Ro ll:26a&N). Since Scripture says that there will be unbelievers right up until the time the Messiah returns, the consummation of ihe process, when all will know God, must not take place until the Messiah removes and punishes those who have made themselves resistant to God and the Gospel (Rv 20:11-15). Those who remain will all know God and will no longer need to teach others about him (Revelation 21-22).
(4) Objection: "The author's comments in vv. 6-8a and 13 denigrate both the people of Israel and God's covenant at Sinai. God would not impugn his own chosen people or his own covenant; the true new covenant will not be antisemitic, as is this book.
Here are four antisemitic statements by the author of Messianic Jews:
(a) "Не says the new covenant contains better promises than those in the covenant at Sinai (v. 6c); this directly impugns God and the Mosaic covenant." Answer: This charge is false because it is based on a misuse of what the author says. See v. 6cN for a specific refutation.
(b) "The author says the first covenant was defective (v. 7)."
Answer: He does not say this, but the impression that he does is based on a mistranslation found in most versions. The first covenant is not itself faulty, but it has given ground for faultfinding. For details, see vv. 7-8aN.
(c) 'The author says that God found fault with his own chosen people, the Jews (v. 8a)."
Answer. This is not a serious criticism. It was not the author of this book but Jeremiah, quoting God, who said that Israel did not remain faithful to God's covenant (v. 9). In noting that God does find fault with the people the author is only reporting the obvious. One of the glories of the Tanakh is that even though no human being — neither the individual heroes nor the Jewish people as a whole — is perfect but is shown as sinful and errant, nevertheless God loves them all. In the New Testament God finds plenty of faults with the members of the Messianic Community, and, as in the Tanakh, lovingly sets out to correct them.
(d) 'The author calls the first covenant old,... aging,... vanishing (v. 13). This statement not only depreciates the Mosaic covenant and the God who made it, but, as we can see 2000 years later, it is false. The Mosaic covenant has not vanished. Rather, 'am-Israel chai ("the people of Israel lives"); and we live by virtue of our covenant, the old-new one, fresh, not aging, not vanishing now or ever."
Answer. Good rhetoric, but see v. 13N.
In conclusion, we find that these objections to a New Covenant do not hold up. Instead of objecting, we should explore the New Covenant in order to understand its promises and conditions, so that we can obey it properly — with those of us who are Jewish doing so in the framework of staying Jewish, and those of us who are Gentile doing so in the framework of staying Gentile (see 1С 7:18&NN). This kind of exploration is a major purpose of the Jewish New Testament and the Jewish New Testament Commentary.
- chapter 1
- chapter 2
- chapter 3
- chapter 4
- chapter 5
- chapter 6
- chapter 7
- chapter 8
- chapter 9
- chapter 10
- chapter 11
- chapter 12
- chapter 13