Alice C. Linsley
In these last days many Jews are embracing Jesus Messiah in faith, recognizing Him as the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, the embodiment of the Edenic Promise (Gen. 3:15). Rabbi Kaduri upon his death at age 108, left a signed note indicating Messiah's identity: Yeshua - Jesus. His manuscripts, written in his own hand, have cross-symbols painted all over the pages. Many Jews have attempted to explain away the crosses, arguing that the great Rabbi Kaduri was not a Christian. Whether or not he believed in the Incarnate Son who died on the Cross to save sinners, only God knows. We can say that as one of the world's authorities on Jewish mysticism, Rabbi Kaduri knew the tradition of Abraham's people expressed in concealed symbols and those apparently lead him to Jesus, the Son of God.
Still many Jews either willfully reject Him or remain ignorant of their Abrahamic heritage. Rejection of Jesus Messiah is a tragedy of eternal consequence, for the Apostles agree that to be saved one must believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Even the devil and his minions recognized Him. Today there is much evidence that Jesus is Messiah so that ignorance of Him is without excuse.
It has been said that Jews turned from Jesus because they feared for their lives once the Sanhedrin ruled that Jesus was a blasphemer deserving of death. (Later it was circulated that He was a sorcerer because of the signs He worked among the people.) Some believe that Jesus never claimed to be the Christ. Yet we have the Sanhedrin's records to refute this claim. When Caiaphas said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, tell us if You are Christ, the Son of God," Jesus answered: "I am, but I tell you hereafter you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven."
Gershom Gale, of the Jerusalem Post, has written: "When the Sanhedrin was first established and empowered by God (as described in the 'Old Testament'), the Creator made it clear that all God-fearing Jews must honor every majority Sanhedrin ruling, on pain of death. I suggest that the real reason the Jews (who only days before had welcomed Jesus as Messiah) shouted for his death was that they had in the meantime learned of the Sanhedrin ruling in his case, and chose to honor God's eternal Law. Of course, God realized humans are fallible. That's why He provided at least four legal (ie. God-approved) means of redress in the event of Sanhedrin error. But until and unless one of those means is invoked and the earlier ruling is overturned, that ruling must stand, and must be honored by all God-fearing Jews." (Virtueonline)
This only supports the claim that Jesus is the Messiah, otherwise why would so many prominent Jews of Jerusalem defy the Sanhedrin? Joseph of Aramathea (that is Hari-Mathea, of the Horite line of Matthew) being one. Nicodemus another. Even Gamaliel, a member of the Sanhedrin, urged caution, not condemnation.
In considering where Judaism has misled concerning the identity of the Messiah, I found at least 4 factors. They are: Elevating the Law over the Prophets; Elevating the Talmud over the Torah; Elevating rabbinic doctrine over the “doctrine of the Lord” and spiritual blindness.
Elevating the Law over Torah
Judaism maintains that the Major and Minor Prophets are subordinate to the Law of Moses on the basis of Malachi 3:22, which reads: “Remember the Torah of Moses, my servant, which I commanded him at Horeb for all of Israel – its decrees and statutes.” Maimonides quoted this verse in the Mishneh Torah as a proof that prophets are not to be interpreted as bringing new teaching, but should be understood as warning people not to trespass Torah. Historically this is a mistaken view since critical scholarship has demonstrated that the Torah and the Prophets "are separate corpora originating in the same time period" (The Jewish Study Bible, p. 1144).
Further, many biblical texts do not support the view that torah is synonymous with the Law of Moses. In Genesis we find that torah is the instruction of the prophet. This is the original meaning of the word. Torah means that which is thrown by the hand of the moreh (oracle or prophet). Abraham received such guidance when he pitched his tent at the oak of the moreh near Mamre. The word "torah" is usually rendered guidance or instruction, but it has this ancient association with a prophet sitting under a tree. Some of the prophets in ancient Israel were women such as Huldah and Deborah.
Jesus always spoke of the Law and the Prophets together. He understood that both, when truly interpreted, speak of the same Truth and are in agreement concerning Messiah, the Son of God. So it is evident that Judaism leads astray when it claims that the Prophets are subordinate to the Law.
Elevating Talmud over Torah
Many Jews believe that the Talmud contains truth of greater authority than the Bible. The Talmud itself encourages readers to place it above the authority of the Old Testament. We read this explicit instruction: “My son, be more careful in the observance of the words of the Scribes than in the words of the Torah." (Talmud Erubin 21b)
SUNY history professor, Robert Goldberg, writes; “The traditional Jew studies Talmud because it communicates ultimate truth—truth about God, truth about the world, and most important, truth about how God wants the holy community of Israel to live.”
Note that the Talmud is not studied for information about Messiah. In fact, it is generally anti-Christ in tone. It says that Messiah is Yeshu, the son of Joseph, but it contradicts itself in Sanhedrin 43a were it says that Jesus (Yeshu) the Nazarene was executed because he practiced sorcery. Sanhedrin 106a says Jesus' mother was a whore: “She who was the descendant of princes and governors played the harlot with carpenters.”
The Talmud teaches that Jesus Christ was illegitimate and was conceived during menstruation; that he had the soul of Esau; that he was a fool, a conjurer, a seducer; that he was crucified, buried in hell and set up as an idol ever since by his followers.
This elevation of the rabbis and scribes over Torah began even before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The hard line against Christians became more evident after the Sanhedrin relocated to Jamnia. The present form of the Talmud dates to about AD 500. By this time the rabbis had hardened their hearts against the followers of Jesus Messiah.
The Talmud is a collection of rabbinic writings that do not reveal knowledge of what the Bible teaches concerning the Son of God. On this matter, the Talmud is ambiguous and lacking in authority. Consider this statement by Rabbi Johanan: “The son of David will come only in a generation that is either altogether righteous or altogether wicked. (Talmud Sanhedrin 98a) Compare it to the authority of this statement: “But in those days…the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will come falling out of the sky and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory…” (Mark 13:24, 25 NJB).
Most Jews are instructed by Rabbis who teach from the Talmud more than they teach from the Old Testament, so they don’t know what their own Bible says. They are clueless as to who Jesus is because they do not search the Bible to learn of Him. Sadly, many Christian clergy reference the Talmud in preparing their sermons and treat rabbinical teaching as authoritative for the Church.
Elevating Rabbinic Teaching over the Doctrine of the Lord
In the tract Babha Metsia, fol. 33a, we read: "Those who devote themselves to reading the Bible exercise a certain virtue, but not very much; those who study the Mischnah exercise virtue for which they will receive a reward; those, however, who take upon themselves to study the Gemarah exercise the highest virtue."
Likewise in the tract Sopherim XV, 7, fol. 13b: "The Sacred Scriptures is like water, the Mischnah wine, and the Gemarah aromatic wine."
The following is a well-known opinion in the writings of the Rabbis: "My son, give heed to the words of the scribes rather than to the words of the law."
In the tract Sanhedrin X, 3, f.88b is says: "He who transgresses the words of the scribes sins more gravely than the transgressors of the words of the law."
So the scribes, the opinions of rabbis (though they agree on little) and the mysticism of late Judaism are more influential for Jews today than the Hebrew Scriptures. And no wonder! These lead away from the doctrine of the Lord Jesus as the Messiah.
The rabbis teach that Jesus was not raised from the dead. Hebrews 6:1-6 says: “Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so. It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”
The rabbis teach that Paul and the other Apostles were apostates who did not glorify God. The Bible tells us that they worked miracles by the Holy Spirit and their witness was so effective that their small band was described by the Jews who opposed them as having turned "the whole world upside down" (Acts 17:6). Gamaliel, one of the most respected rabbis, spoke truth when he advised the Sanhedrin not to persecute the Apostles because "if this enterprise, this movement of theirs, is of human origin it will break up of its own accord; but if it does in fact come from God you will be unable to destroy them. Take care not to find yourselves fighting against God." (Acts 5:34 NJB)
Sergius Paulus was an intelligent man who summoned Barnabas and Saul so that he might hear the word of God. Apparently the proconsul had been listening to a sorcerer named Elymas and Elymas opposed the doctrine of the Lord, seeking to turn Sergius Paulus from the faith. Acts 13:12 tells us: “Then the proconsul, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord (tou kuriou).” When Paul appropriately struck Elymas with blindness, the proconsul believed the doctrine of Christ that Paul and Barnabas preached. Is there historical evidence for this? In a Christian cemetery in Rome there is the name Sergia Paullina indicating that at least one other of the proconsul’s family was a follower of Jesus Christ.
Spiritual blindness is a common condition and not unique to Jews. It is an effect of the fallen world in which humans delude ourselves into believing that we do not need a savior and certainly not The Savior of God's eternal provision. The longer we live in delusion, the more it becomes like a thick coat of armor so that the Truth is not able to penetrate. Those who have had personal experiences of the Living Lord Jesus know that He has made Himself known in all of creation and we see His sign everywhere. Those who reject Him are blind to what God has made clear in creation, be they rabbis, imams, pastors or priests. From such as these we hear only what darkens and obfuscates. They teach the doctrine of devils.
Related reading: Rabbinic Interpretations of the Destruction of the Temple; Astonishment at the Doctrine of the Lord; Astonishment (Part II); Astonishment (Part III)