Messianic Jews believe that Jesus from Nazareth is the Messiah, but at the same time, they adhere to Judaism. That is a strong contradiction in itself even if they stress salvation through faith in Jesus alone.
Generally, somebody who is a biological descendent of the biblical Patriarch Jacob is called a Jew. Those people who actually practice ordinary Judaism are mostly biological descendants of Jacob. The biological descent of its adherents from Jacob among other things characterizes ordinary Judaism – the descent plays a very important role. However, ordinary Judaism is not according to the correct interpretation of the Old Testament (Tanakh or Hebrew Bible), and it doesn’t save anybody. The correct interpretation of the Old Testament rather leads to Christianity than to Judaism even if the New Testament is not considered – it is also the evidence of the Old Testament that everybody needs a divine redeemer in order to be able to live a pious life which will be rewarded with eternal life. It is not the evidence of the Old Testament that man becomes righteous through works of law like ordinary Judaism is teaching (however, someone believing in the redeemer will never live a lawless life but fulfils the law of the Torah through walking in the Holy Spirit; someone who is led by the giver of the law, God or God’s Spirit, fulfils the law. To fulfil the law, is much more than to keep it, another category).
Messianic Jews obviously don’t have the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God; otherwise, they would realize that ordinary Judaism is reprehensible, and they would not practice Judaism. This is valid despite the fact that they may stress salvation through faith in Jesus and may deny righteousness through works of the law. If they really would reject Judaism, they would not practise it – it is not enough to confess with the mouth that they would not hinge salvation on keeping the law; as long as they practice Judaism, there stressing of salvation by faith in Jesus is mere lip service.
Because the Messianic Jews practice Judaism, they are condemned and rejected herewith. They are excluded from the Christian Church, and their leaders shall be cursed. The Lord may have mercy upon the ordinary Messianic Jews and may bring out them to the Christian Church.
Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, etc. were in principle, spiritually seen, Christians because they believed in a divine redeemer and overcame their natural sinfulness through the power of the Lord-redeemer (certainly, they did not know that the redeemer’s name was Jesus but just called him Lord).
Nowadays, someone becomes a Christian through repentance, faith and sacramental baptism (sacramental baptism has nothing to do with the baptism of the Evangelicals but is another thing). The sacramental baptism is the rebirth out of Water and Spirit. God acts during the sacramental baptism and makes the person to be baptized new in a supernatural way – it is just actually a rebirth.
Excursus concerning the Evangelicals
The Evangelicals are cursed and excluded from the Christian Church because they don’t preserve the sacramental baptism of the general Christian Church; the Evangelicals regard the rebirth as an event which is completely independent from baptism; they remain in obscurity with their doctrine on the rebirth – they cannot exactly define what the rebirth is or should be. Furthermore, their doctrine concerning baptism is wrong: they regard baptism as mere symbolic act, an act of obedience and public confession of faith. According to their false doctrine, baptism succeeds rebirth (baptism and rebirth are two separated things in their eyes). They don’t regard baptism as gateway to the Christian life. In their sight, someone who has already been “born again” gets himself baptized as act of obedience – baptism is part of his “new life” or “discipleship” but not the gateway to it in their eyes. The baptism and rebirth of the Evangelicals is highly problematical because the evangelical believer gets redirected to himself; but in himself the evangelical believer will find only emptiness and weakness (sinfulness). The evangelical leaders require the ordinary evangelicals to follow Jesus without providing the necessary power for that. Hence, the ordinary evangelical who really believes that nonsense in his naivety will become very unhappy because his life will consist only of defeats – he may even also consider to commit suicide considering the mess of his life. Thus, the evangelical leaders are real soul-murderers destroying the life of many naive people.
End of excursus
One could ask the justified question how people experienced the rebirth during Old Testament times because in the Old Testament nothing is told about any sacramental baptism.
Well, determining is that man gets into the life-giving presence of God. Only God himself has the power to release us, who are natural born sinners, from sin and to give us a new life in Christ.
The parents of Jesus, Joseph and Mary were very pious. Spiritually seen, they were Christians; though, this name for a pious man did not yet exist at the lifetime of Jesus. In Luke we can read how Joseph and Mary brought Jesus into the Temple when he was still an infant. In that Temple, the God of Israel was present and still the grownup Jesus called the Temple “the house of my father”. Also other pious Jews took their children to the Temple. Of course, in the case of Jesus,, Jesus was not sanctified through the ritual but the ritual was sanctified through Jesus – Jesus was yet holy, holy, holy before he was born into the womb of his mother because Jesus is God incarnate.
Interpretation of Luke, chapter 2: verses 22-40; the presentation of Jesus in the Temple
Luke 2: 22-40 22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; 23 (As it is written in the law of the LORD, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) 24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. 25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, 28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. 33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. 36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. 39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. 40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
For God, the birth of a child rather seems to be a reason for grief than a reason for joy because after a Jewish woman has born a child, she is impure for several weeks.
You, dear reader, may ask, “what a God is this?” Perhaps, you may also say, “the God of the Bible is even more cruel than Allah!”
Let me explain this to you.
The natural birth of a human being is nothing but the reproduction of “human flesh” or serves the breeding of the human race. According to the doctrine of the Bible, we are all descendants of Adam and Eve, and we all have inherited one feature from them: the extreme inclination to sin (sinning means to act against love – love relates to God and human beings; it is possible to sin without the presence of commandments, simply through lovelessness; love according to God’s will often is not what we imagine as love; God’s love is distinct from natural love). We should not pretend that these statements here would be mere theory as if they would not address us because if somebody sins against us in everyday life, we really feel the pain and experience some serious suffering, maybe up to the death. Afterwards, we wish then that nobody had sinned against us, had been loveless. Hence, it is about something real. We take a great step forward when we admit that we ourselves are loveless sometimes.
The nub of the matter: when God has some resentments against the mankind, then this is not far-fetched, but has a real reason. Always when we are aggrieved or insulted because somebody has sinned against us, then we confirm God’s bad opinion about the mankind. If there would be no evil, we would never be aggrieved or insulted.
Do you get it gradually, dear reader?
When a child is born into this world, then this is nothing more than the increase of the mass of those beings which constantly commit sins against each other and ignore God who does them so much good (for example, good harvests, good weather, health, etc.)
Jesus expresses that like this: “What is born from the flesh, is flesh.”
John 3: 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
If there would still be a Temple (building) in Jerusalem, then a Jewish woman who has had a baby would go to the Temple again first 33 days or 66 days after the birth. This, she would normally do in simple obedience to God’s commandment without deeper thoughts (see Leviticus 12).
Yet, that would be a very “weak” keeping of the commandment (a keeping according to Judaism). The commandment would then really be kept (according to the Christian faith), even fulfilled, when the concerning woman (mother) would take the waiting time (time of her purification from the impurity caused by the birth) up to the visit of the Temple to present her child as an hint for the total worthlessness and reprehensibility of the natural man and the natural birth: “Why I am not allowed to go to the Temple for such a long time?” Answer: through the natural birth of the child actually nothing good has happened, but just the mass of sinful flesh on earth has increased. Nothing good happened but even something bad, something harmful; therefore, the woman who gave birth to such a little heap of sinful flesh shall keep her away from the Temple for a while – so to speak she has impured herself through the birth of the child.
What is the solution?
Finally, after 33 or 66 days one should get the idea to dedicate the child to the Lord. That little heap of sinful flesh can become precious when it gets offered on the altar of God (please don’t impute now that I would claim that little children should be burnt on an altar as sacrifices – this imagination is perverse and it shall be far away from me to kill infants). However, this sinful flesh must be offered to God by dedicating the child’s life to God.
Exodus 13: 2 Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.
Once, God imposed heavy penalties on Egypt because they did not want to let go the people of Israel. The last plague was the worst: God killed all male firstborns in the land Egypt from man up to cattle. It would be understandable if one would argue, “how was the son of a poor peasant at the river Nile responsible for the bad rule of Pharaoh?” Well, the ordinary Egypts were not completely guiltless of the bad rule of Pharaoh. Every single Egyptian had had the possibility to convert from paganism to the faith of Israel, but seemingly not even one single Egyptian did it. Maybe, if only one ordinary little Egyptian had prayed against the Pharaoh, God had destroyed him without doing harm to the people of Egypt – but there was nobody. Finally, the whole people of Egypt had fused with the Pharaoh to a metaphysical, satanic body, and thus God stroke not only the Pharaoh but the whole people, the whole body. Today, does pray only one German against Angela Merkel and one American against Barack Obama? God will judge the German people and the American people because through their godlessness they supported their godless regents.
The killing of the Egyptian firstborns was primarily a chastisement to motivate the Egyptians or Pharaoh to let go the people of Israel. Beyond that, it shows us how little value a pagan human life has in the eyes of God (note that even Egyptian firstborns were killed who had directly nothing to do with the mistreatment of the Jews by Egypt). Of course, the Egyptians lamented their firstborns, and there was a great screaming, but altogether they only were a wild, pagan horde of evildoers and villains: how had they abused the poor Jews and locked up their heart against them (they cast little Jews into the river Nile and plagued the Jews through slave labour).
However, a little new born Jew was not at all distinct from a little Gentile or pagan concerning his biological or natural condition; he was only sinful flesh as long as God had not made him new. Therefore, I have told the story of the Egyptians and Israel. A little Jew without the assistance of a divine Person, without God’s salvation was not more complacent to God than a little Gentile or pagan (put that into your mind and keep it in mind, dear reader). The only benefit which a Jew had compared with a pagan was that God had chosen the people he belonged to meaning for a Jew, God was much easier to find than for a pagan. The pagans had “only” the testimony of the creation (however, that is not little), but to the Jews as a whole, the people of Israel, God revealed himself personally in addition to the testimony of the creation – that is very exciting. For example, God was always present in the Tabernacle or in the Temple – there, he could always easily be found by any Jew with a real longing.
Exodus 12: 30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.
God was actually present in the old Temple of Jerusalem. When back then someone took a child into the Temple, it came into God’s presence. Thus, God could change “a little heap of sinful flesh” into something new. The counterpart to that today is the sacramental baptism when a child is presented to God who makes it a new creature: the sinful flesh becomes declared dead and the Holy Spirit is given who makes possible an increasingly holy life (according to Romans 6). This is the rebirth out of Water and Spirit (according to John 3).
“What is born from the Spirit, is Spirit”, Jesus said.
2. Corinthians 5: 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Galatians 6: 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
If their was anybody who did not need the rebirth out of Water and Spirit, then it was Jesus because Jesus was God incarnate and the redeemer himself. When an ordinary Jewish child was brought into the Temple, then it became holy through the ritual. Yet, the ritual became effective only under the providence of pious parents meaning Jews believing in a redeemer and living in and through the redeemer. That would be equal to a sacramental baptism today which only becomes effective when it is applied in a pious surrounding. Baptism is valid even without pious surrounding, but develops it releasing power only when there is a pious surrounding. Of course, somebody who has been baptized in a surrounding of unbelievers (of course, that should not be the rule) can cling to his baptism through his own faith when he is grownup.
In contrast to the presentation of an ordinary child, the ritual was sanctified through Jesus but not Jesus through the ritual.
All Jews which faithfully took their children to the Temple – their children were changed. Mary and Joseph take the redeemer himself into the Temple; Jesus, the infant. Through that, Jesus identifies himself with all little, Jewish children which had ever been and would ever be taken to the Temple to present them to the Lord. Thus, Jesus makes something new out of the little heap of sinful flesh. Through his coming into the Temple Jesus has sanctified all past presentations of children and all future presentations. Do you get the crux? The crux is that Jesus identifies himself with all this little sinful infants though he himself was without sin – God really climbed down from heaven and visited the sinners in the person of his Son Jesus Christ.
Simeon was a pious Jew and the Holy Spirit was with him. Hence, he had peace with God.
Why is he so happy about the birth of the child Jesus? What could Jesus add on to his faith?
Well, very simple; Jesus was even not the invisible God but the visible God: “God with us.” When Simeon took the little Jesus upon his arms, he felt a happiness similar to the happiness felt by people participating in the Lord’s Supper today. Through the infant Jesus, God came closer to Simeon than he had ever experienced it before. Simeon carried God in his arms – breathtaking.
Every Christian is principally connected with God, has the Holy Spirit, but the participation in the Lord’s Supper is something special nevertheless. It is a communion with the Lord which surpasses the community of the daily life. Through Jesus, God has entered our sphere of life – he is no more infinite, unreachable remote from us in the heavens. This experience made Simon and this experience makes a Christian today at the Lord’s Supper. We see here again what faith really is: not only the considering-as-true of the Gospel but a new life in the power of the sacral connection with Jesus. At the very beginning, there is the sacramental baptism, the rebirth out of Water and Spirit, when we die for the sin and receive the Holy Spirit.
Romans 10: 6-8 6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) 7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) 8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
(Jesus, the Word, is God who came down to us; “God with us” is his name; his is not remote in the heaven, also not with the dead but very close to us)
The Lord’s Supper strengthens our faith and helps to preserve the new life in Jesus.
Martin Luther on the Lord’s Supper:
Therefore, it is rightly called a meal for the soul which nurtures and strengthens the new man. By baptism we get born again, but we retain our sinful body. There is so much hindrance and challenge by the devil and the world that we become sleepy and tired and stumble sometimes. Therefore, the sacrament is given unto us for daily pasture and feeding that the faith may recover and be strengthened not to suffer any backslide in this struggle but to become stronger and stronger. For, the new life shall be structured in a way that it always increases and proceeds. However, it has to suffer a lot. For, the devil is such an angry enemy: when he sees that one opposes him and denies the works of the old man, and that he cannot overcome us by use of violence, then he sneaks around and tries all tricks and does not give up until he has finally made us tired so that one either turns apostate or neglects his service for the Lord. For that, the comfort of Lord’s Supper is given; when the heart feels that everything becomes too difficult, it can find new power and refreshment here.”
End of quote.
Perhaps, once Simeon’s parents had taken him to the Temple, and he believed in a renewing through God’s presence which he had experienced as a little child in the Temple. But the God who has come down from heaven to the mankind is even Jesus, and thus Simon got strengthened without knowing how through that little child which he carried on his arms. Simon carried the personified sacrament on his arms – breathtaking.
“And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, . . .”
Strange that Luke tells us that Simeon was a man (what should he else be?)
What does Luke really want to tell us by telling us that he was a man?
Answer: Simeon was a man compared with all other citizens of Jerusalem. He was a real Jew by being pious and godly and expecting the comfort of Israel. In Matthew, we read how all citizens of Jerusalem got frightened when the Three Wise Men proclaimed the birth of Christ. Obviously, they lived that godless and disloyally that the rule of the Messiah could mean nothing good for them (they expected to be judged by him). There was no worse news for them than about the arrival of the Messiah. Simeon was the opposite of them, and therefore Luke called him “man”.
“A light to lighten the Gentiles,”
Seemingly, Simeon had guessed that the most Jews would not accept Jesus and therefore mentions the Gentiles yet at the beginning of Jesus’ life; this is the special thing of this phrase because Jesus had come for the Jews at first and not for the Gentiles. But Simeon knew very soon how things would turn out.
“that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. ”
Do I want to have glory yet on earth and live under the self-deception, I could then also have glory in the heavens above, or I am ready to live in lowliness here on earth with the certainty of having glory in the heavens. This thought becomes manifest through accepting or rejecting Jesus. How I deal with Jesus, shows if God is precious for me, if I found him worth to offer him my life as a sacrifice or not. The person of the Godhead who addresses man is Jesus. When I choose him, I know that I have made the decision for eternal life together with God, very clearly; but I also know that that means lowliness on earth (suffering, rejection, persecution). But that is the crux of the issue: I know that it costs something to choose Jesus, but through that I show that eternal life, God’s favour is worthwhile for me. By choosing or rejecting Jesus it becomes manifest what I am really – my heart.
The false doctrine on baptism of the Messianic Jews (click here, please)