Torah In the Balance, Volume I

The Messianic movement largely advocates that the Torah or Pentateuch is relevant instruction for Believers today, and that modern Christianity has too often ignored God’s revelation in the Tanach or Old Testament—not benefiting from this dismissal. Yet the subject of “Torah observance” can often be a point of contention, not only between the Messianic and Christian communities, but even internally among Messianics. Why is this the case? Do we have to be negative about this? Is it possible that people claiming to be Torah observant do not often know why the Law of Moses is to instruct and teach today’s Believers? Have some Messianics simply lacked an appropriate perspective on how the work of the Holy Spirit is to guide God’s people into greater holiness and maturity, given the promises of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:26-27)? How are we to balance how following the Torah includes outward practices, but also includes a greater manifestation of God’s love and goodness to all we encounter?

Torah In the Balance, Volume I is a well needed resource for our time, as it addresses the main aspects of how to follow God’s Torah. Subjects addressed include: why Believers need the Torah, the Acts 15 Jerusalem Council, the foundational importance of the Ten Commandments, the role of the appointed times, and the dietary laws. While Messianic positions on these aspects of faith can often clash with those of our Christian brothers and sisters, they are considered in a fair and reasonable way that encourages positive solutions between all people who have called out to Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) for salvation. A large amount of scholastic engagement and support is offered for the validity of these aspects of faith on the part of today’s Believers.

This book is an important addition to any Messianic library, and should be read by those desiring not only a comprehensive understanding regarding what the Lord has started in this hour—but the great responsibility we have been endowed by Him. With everything we have been called to do, the transforming power of God’s love is emphasized above all! This resource encourages growth and maturity on the part of all of His people.

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August 2017 Outreach Israel News


Update

August 2017

Typically each year, the 9th of Av on the Hebrew calendar arrives in late July or August, with an annual reminder that the enemies of Israel continue to harass and spew hatred toward the Jewish people. This year is no different, as deadly disputes with Muslim worshippers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem remind Believers around the world to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). According to Rabbinic tradition, on this day shortly after deliverance from bondage in Egypt, the ten spies who returned from surveying Canaan conveyed a bad report because they feared the inhabitants. This lack of faith had serious immediate consequences that included the death of every man over twenty years of age (other than Joshua and Caleb), during the forty-year delay wandering in the desert, before entrance to the land promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob:

“Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, ‘We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.’ But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.’ So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, ‘The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.’ Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, ‘Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!’” (Numbers 13:31-14:2).

Still, the long term ramifications of troubles on this day, including most significantly the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians in 587 B.C.E. and the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 C.E., have been recorded. Hence, the Jewish people have observed a day of fasting on Tish B’Av throughout the centuries, and thankfully, the recent turmoil is subsiding as of this writing.

The Ninth of Av essentially begins the countdown to the month of Elul that with the first ten days of Tishri constitutes the forty-day “Season of Teshuvah” (Return or Repentance) prior to Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. Interestingly this year, the 29th of Av occurs on August 21, and in the continental United States, there will be a total solar eclipse that traverses the country from Oregon to South Carolina. Some prophecy teachers are hyping people with some wild end-time prognostications about what this means from a Biblical perspective. Do not fear! This scientifically predictable event is simply a celestial occurrence that astronomers can accurately calculate from the consistency of God’s created order, repeating patterns year after year and even century after century: Who commands the sun not to shine, and sets a seal upon the stars” (Job 9:7).

Instead, Believers should marvel at the majesty of the Creator God, and perhaps use this unique solar eclipse as an opportunity to share the good news with those stirred up by the hyperbolic conjectures!

In addition, we are praising the Lord for all of the Internet traffic being generated on the Messianic Apologetics website and mobile app! The increase in website hits this past month has required www.messianicapologetics.net to recently be upgraded to handle the higher volume. As we have experienced in the past, what initially seems to be an obstacle, is really turning into an opportunity! One of our long term goals has been to see that there be an associated video or audio podcast associated with every written post on Messianic Apologetics. We are using our recent server transfer as a prompt from the Lord to see that this comes about. Please continue to pray that the upgrades will enhance the outreach of our ministry efforts!

Finally, Outreach Israel and Messianic Apologetics want to be sure that we are a voice of reason and stability, providing fair resolution and consensus, as pressures continue to mount against people of faith from the world, as anti-Semitism and growing anti-Israel sentiments are on the rise. We want to especially thank those of you who have faithfully supported our efforts over the years. We continue to need your financial support in order to dedicate the time and energy required to continue in the work that the Lord has assigned us. We especially need many of you to sign up for a regular monthly contribution via PayPal at www.outreachisrael.net.

“The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Blessings,

Mark Huey


A Spiritual Scavenger Hunt

by J.K. McKee
editor@messianicapologetics.net

 

Every single one of us, as a redeemed man or woman of faith, has been on some kind of life journey that has led us to the salvation of Yeshua the Messiah, and hopefully into a place of contributing to the purposes of the Kingdom of God. One of the questions that I frequently ask myself, as a person who has been involved in the Messianic movement since 1995, very much is: How did I get here? A follow up question to this is: What does God actually want me to do here?

I truly came to dynamic saving faith on August 8, 1995. While this concerned dealing with some demonic issues from my family’s past, as well as some issues involving the death of my father in 1992[1]—within several months of repenting of my sins and being born again I was in the Messianic movement. My mother Margaret, and her new husband Mark Huey, had gone on a Zola Levitt tour to Israel in December of 1994, where they had the impression that when returning to the United States, they needed to be focusing on the Biblical feasts of the Lord (Leviticus 23). And, by the Fall high holidays of 1995, we were attending a Messianic Jewish congregation, and getting acclimated to things like the weekly Shabbat, a kosher-style of diet, and various mainline Jewish traditions and customs.

One of the things that was very appealing for Mark and Margaret Huey, entering into the Messianic movement, was the fact that my mother was an Arminian, and my new stepfather was a Calvinist. While we all came from a broadly evangelical Protestant background, this new blended family knew that it was going to have to chart a new spiritual course. Throughout the second half of 1995 and into 1996, we tried attending Shabbat services on Saturday, while also going to Sunday Church. By the Spring of 1996, we had fully crossed over to the Messianic Jewish congregation. Not only was our faith in the Messiah being enriched and enlivened at new levels—with there being significant “hands on” spiritual activities to be considering—the Jewish community is one which indeed likes to talk about significant issues. Fellowship times either before or after the service, or getting to know new friends at their homes, was a substantial blessing. We were a family that liked to talk about the Bible, things of the Lord, and current events.

Our full transition into the Messianic movement was also enjoined in the Spring of 1996 by our family encountering a number of—at the time—compelling voices, “quasi-Messianic” we would say now, who were making significant predictions about the end-times, the return of Yeshua, and the Middle East peace process. In the Summer of 1996, my parents made a point to attend both the MJAA Messiah conference in Grantham, PA and the UMJC conference in Sturbridge, MA, mainly with the purpose of getting acclimated to this movement we were getting involved with. But when they returned home to Dallas, they got plugged in more and more to the prophecy teachings and predictions. Certainly for a new family, with three who had lost their father several years earlier, the thought that Yeshua was soon going to return, was something that grabbed our attention. In fact, it grabbed our attention for a number of years!

At the beginning of 1997, our family moved out of Dallas to a small farm   north of the city. Over the course of 1997, while we continued to maintain our connections to the local Messianic Jewish congregation, my stepfather helped host a series of prophecy conferences. In March of 1997, I launched my first website, where I posted a number of opinion articles on both end-time prophecy and Messianic themes. On August 15, 1997, I started the website Tribulation News Network or TNN Online. And, in forecasting the future with the close of the Millennium and Y2k impending, my stepfather actually got involved with a shortwave radio operation based out of Central Honduras. In the Spring of 1998, and with some end-time concerns being present, my family sold its major assets and sent two containers with all of our possessions to the island of Roatán in the Bay Islands of Honduras.

It was my stepfather’s plan in 1998 to go back and forth between Roatán and the mainland, doing work for the shortwave radio venture and some real estate consulting in the Bay Islands. We would then see what the global-prophetic situation in the world would be. None of this came to pass. For eight months (April-December) we rented a number of picturesque homes on Roatán, with our two containers still on the dock waiting to be opened. Due to the intervention of Hurricane Mitch in October-November 1998, one of the deadliest storms on record, we knew it was time to return to the United States. An opportunity opened for my stepfather to do some consulting work for a ministry in Oklahoma. We are thankful that we did not lose anything due to Hurricane Mitch!

I am most especially thankful that even though my high school career was not what others would have wanted it to be, that I did finish my senior year through a homeschooling correspondence program, and that in the Fall of 1999 I was able to enroll at the University of Oklahoma. As we returned to the United States in 1999, any end-time preoccupation, fear, or paranoia did get removed from us, and we instead returned to witnessing what God was doing through an increasingly expanding and diversifying Messianic movement. As I was finishing up the first year of my college studies in 2000, my parents accepted an offer to consult with another ministry out of Central Florida. This venture ended in 2002, but by this time we had become a part of an independent Messianic assembly in the Greater Orlando area.

Throughout my college studies at the University of Oklahoma, my TNN Online website, Theology News Network, was something which definitely kept my attention, and it also kept me away from associating with the wrong crowd. I was working on my bachelor’s degree in political science, and as a result took classes not only in political philosophy and theory, but also in histories ancient and modern relevant to Biblical Studies, and was able to take some modern Hebrew and classical Greek. Being on my own for these years, with my website as a hobby, did get me to focus on what being part of the Messianic movement meant to me. I was not really a part of a Messianic congregation or fellowship, and so I instead would spend Shabbat often in Bible study or in writing for my website. I did try to be a part of various on campus ministry groups, which had some success for a season, but eventually did not work out too well by the time I graduated. While there were sincere evangelical Christian people at OU, it was obvious that the Messianic movement, its focus on Israel, and reconnecting with the Tanach or Old Testament, were just too foreign. And, I do have to admit that I was not always too kind or graceful in response to criticism I would receive. It was good that this happened while I was in college, and not when I entered into full time ministry.

In the Fall of 2002, my parents launched Outreach Israel Ministries, which at the time had a very broad vision of incorporating many different possible ventures. When I graduated from college in 2003, I returned to Central Florida, TNN Online became a division of OIM, and our ministry began releasing its first series of educational resources. For the most part, these books, bearing titles like Hebraic Roots: An Introductory Study and Introduction to Things Messianic, were written with the intention of helping aid many non-Jewish Believers, like our family, in getting acclimated to the Messianic movement.

To be sure, as we got started in the first full two years of ministry, in 2003-2005, we had a lot to learn. Mark Huey and I did some speaking trips throughout the U.S., Canada, Israel, and the United Kingdom. In 2005, I started attending the Orlando campus of Asbury Theological Seminary, where I would work on my M.A. in Biblical Studies. As a result of our major travels in 2004, where we encountered all sorts of people identifying with the label “Messianic”—Jewish Believers, non-Jewish Believers, people part of Messianic Judaism, people part of break-off sects and new sects bearing provocative labels[2]we realized that we had a huge amount of work ahead of us, and that even some of our own attitudes and viewpoints needed to change. As a result of the first few semesters of attending Asbury Seminary, where I was able to reconnect with much of my Wesleyan upbringing, I was having, for the first time, to deal with the Holy Scriptures and the world of the Bible in a much more complex and detailed way. In learning new skills involving Biblical exegesis, Hebrew and Greek, and accessing technical commentaries and resources—I found myself being much better equipped to defend many of my convictions as a part of the Messianic movement. I also realized in 2005-2006, that a number of the things that our family picked up in our early days entering into the Messianic movement, were in serious need of reevaluation, even dismissal, being rather simple and downright unsupportable.

My seminary experience from 2005-2008 is something which I have not commented about too frequently among Messianic people, precisely because I know that on the whole many Messianic people are skeptical, if not hostile, to religious studies education. I did not attend seminary to “convert” people to my Messianic beliefs. I attended seminary to acquire skills, and be able to join into a larger conversation of Biblical Studies. And this is something that I was able to do. When I graduated in Spring of 2009, I was blessed to receive the Zondervan Biblical Languages Award for Greek. But immediately following seminary, our ministry would have to start absorbing all of the new knowledge and resources that I had access to, and things certainly started to change.

One of the biggest things that shifted for us in 2009 was seeing that our ministry books be transferred out of spiral combs and into printed paperback books. It was at this time that I was able to totally dedicate all of my time to ministry work, and as titles were prepared for paperback release, updates reflecting my seminary training and degree would be steadily reflected. Yet as we all know, God has a unique way of being able to “jump start” things…

As the 2000s came to a close, and in particular as my youngest sister Maggie started finishing high school, our family knew that our time in Central Florida would be concluding. In the Summer of 2009, my mother, Maggie and I went on a college scouting trip out to the University of Oklahoma. I had not been back since my graduation. When the three of us walked into the Armory at OU, where the Naval ROTC unit was based, we all received the distinct impression that Maggie was going to OU. Of course, this did not affect me directly; I would be returning to Central Florida and be continuing my work of editing our books for paperback release, and working on new Bible studies. In the late Spring of 2010 we again went on a roadtrip out to OU, as Maggie had been accepted and was getting ready to start college in the Fall. My work was continuing.

Our family had originally believed that were we to move out of the Orlando area, that we would move northward to Jacksonville, where we have extended family. In late August 2010, my mother and I went to Jacksonville to help move my grandmother from her assisted living unit into a new memory care unit. While we were there, my stepfather Mark was on a trip visiting friends and other family members. I remember distinctly walking out of the Allegro in Orange Park, and telling my mother that I would seriously consider moving back to Dallas rather than move to Jacksonville. This was quite a change, because neither one of us ever wanted to live in Dallas again. Yet, with my sister Maggie now at the University of Oklahoma, and knowing that there was a vibrant and significant Messianic community in the DFW Metroplex, we definitely started feeling the pull West.

We announced our intention to relocate to North Texas in the Fall of 2010, but we had no idea that it was going to take us over two years to do it. For my part, I knew that I had to gear up, seeing that all of our books were prepared for paperback release—and that if the Lord wanted us to go through any major theological changes, namely in the form of refining and expanding our teachings on various issues, now would be the time to do it. While 2011-2012 were hardly easy years for me, 2011 was a significant year for some theological transitions. 2012 was spent formatting all of our ministry books for both paperback and eBook release. At the end of 2012, my parent’s house in Kissimmee, FL finally sold, and by December we were all living in North Dallas once again—in the same exact zip code where we had originally moved in 1994, no less!

The Spring of 2013 was widely spent getting reacclimated to the DFW area, after being gone for fourteen years. What was most important to us was getting reconnected with the Messianic friends we knew from our early days in Messianic Judaism, back in 1995-1998. By the late Summer of 2013, we quickly got plugged into Eitz Chaim Messianic Jewish Congregation, as we had been good friends with the main leaders, David and Elizabeth Schiller, in the late 1990s. Because EC is an assembly which encourages participation from members, by the Winter of 2014 we had all taken the New Members class, our family began helping out with the different festivals (in particular the congregational Passover seder), and by the Fall of 2014 Mark Huey had been asked to become a shammash (deacon), by the Fall of 2015 being further elevated as an elder. I had given several teachings on Shabbat, and had renewed my own friendship with David that I had back in 1996-1997 when I was in my teens.

2014-2015 were important years not just in terms of transitioning to a new life back in North Texas, to take on new theological and spiritual challenges, and to consolidate ourselves—they were also very important as we began to discern what our own long term purpose would become as a family ministry. While we all agree that moving back to Dallas was the best decision we ever made, because we are human, no place on Earth is entirely perfect. Things in the United States shifted immeasurably with the legalization of homosexual marriage in the Summer of 2015. When this happened, I actually felt in a similar manner to how I did in 1996-1997, when we were encapsulated with end-time prophecy. If anything, American society crossed a Romans ch. 1 “red line,” and we were all shown a “road sign” that End Game is approaching. I myself have had the distinct supernatural impression that with as many things that I have researched and written on, that I would have to be targeted with my life, and would not be able to have all of the same opportunities that those who preceded me had. In June of 2015, the tnnonline.net domain was actually stolen from me during the few hours that the domain was needing to be re-registered, and so I made the necessary upgrade from TNN Online to Messianic Apologetics. This was a vital change for the future!

Mark and Margaret Huey like to frequently describe the journey our family has been on as a “spiritual scavenger hunt.” We went from one place and experience…to another place and experience…and so on… The journey of human life is always something that is ongoing. We learn new things every day through our experiences and interactions, with both the Lord and other human beings, as to how to be more effective in His service. But as far as the bulk of experiences that our family has had—in moving from place to place, in being called into Messianic education, and in interacting with broad and diverse sectors of this emerging faith community—on the whole our “spiritual scavenger hunt” is over. Much of what we are involved with today concerns our effectiveness as Messianic people, fine-tuning our strengths and abilities, and with new stages of development which are likely to equally excite and frighten us all.

Our family was first called into Messianic ministry to help others from evangelical backgrounds, adequately transition into a Messianic lifestyle—extending grace and mercy to others who were not similarly called (at present), and making sure that this was a genuine work of the Holy Spirit in their lives (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27). Our ministry experiences to the present day included things that we could both anticipate and not anticipate. Like everyone, we have had our good days and our bad days, we have had to firmly stand up for the truth of God’s Word, and we have had to admit where we have made mistakes and correct them.

Salvation history is on a decisive trajectory: “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26ff). This is something that involves not only a massive salvation of Jewish people, but will culminate in the return of Israel’s Messiah—and with it the completion of not only many prophecies regarding the restoration of Israel’s Kingdom, but will involve Yeshua Himself reigning over this planet. Today in the Messianic community, we see Jewish people coming in substantial numbers to Messiah faith. We also see non-Jewish Believers embracing their Hebraic and Jewish Roots in substantial numbers. Together, we should not only be united as “one new humanity” (Ephesians 2:15, NRSV), purged of old hostilities and mistrust of the other—but we should be employing the virtues and strengths of our shared Judeo-Protestant heritage for what is to be anticipated in the future.

If there is anything that I have learned on the spiritual scavenger hunt, it is that suspicion, division, and rivalry begin when we fail to communicate with one another, and when we do not even bother to consider the vantage point or perspective of someone else. A figure like Paul knew better than this, when going out to reach the diverse groups of people in the First Century Mediterranean (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). My many writings and studies to date bear significant attention to detail. For some, this is just information overkill. For others, it is a documented record of wanting to not only hear multiple witnesses in a case (Deuteronomy 19:15), it demonstrates a deep seated commitment on my part to be fair, and even what it means to “love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10, NRSV).

Your journey into the Messianic movement is not the same as my family’s journey. Your journey may have been less, or even more, difficult. Like all people in this unique and special move of the Holy Spirit, there are things we have had to give up. I personally take a great deal of comfort from Yeshua’s word, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for My name’s sake, will receive a hundred times as much, and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29, TLV). Yet, each one of us needs to maintain a sense of purpose, a steadfast will, and a consistent resolution to accomplish the Messianic mission—and to arrive at the culmination of history. May we stay true to the call!


NOTES

[1] Some of my experience in coming to salvation is covered in my articles “The Assurance of Our Salvation” and “Why Hell Must Be Eternal.”

[2] These provocative labels included, but were not limited to, the Two-House and One Law/One Torah sub-movements.

Colossians and Philemon for the Practical Messianic

The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon are two of the most overlooked letters in the Apostolic Scriptures (New Testament) by today’s Messianic community. Too frequently, our engagement level with Colossians is limited to words that Paul issues about Torah practices like Sabbath-keeping or kosher eating or about something being nailed to the cross. Because Christian friends and family often use partial quotes from Colossians to refute Messianic Believers who are Torah observant, we often try to avoid Paul’s letter. And like many of today’s evangelical Christians, Paul’s letter to Philemon is totally avoided, simply because we do not know what to do with the issue of slavery. Ignoring these two letters cannot be allowed to continue any longer.

Colossians and Philemon, two letters of Paul written together, are actually not too difficult to understand when read as a whole—and when we consciously make a point to interpret them for their original, First Century audiences first. What was the false teaching circulating among the Believers in Ancient Colossae? Was it first Jewish, and then pagan—or first pagan, and then Jewish? When the Apostle Paul uplifts Messiah Yeshua, is he simply claiming that He is like the impersonal force Wisdom—or something much more than Wisdom? Does Paul really affirm Yeshua as being the Deity—God Himself incarnated as a human? How were things like the Sabbath and appointed times improperly used by the false teachers in an ascetic philosophy designed to appeal to the cosmic powers over which the Messiah had prevailed? What can we learn about the mystery of the ages, and how the power of the gospel can change anyone? What role does a letter like Philemon play in our reading of the Bible?

In the commentary Colossians and Philemon for the Practical Messianic, Messianic Apologetics editor J.K. McKee shows us why today’s Messianic Believers need not be afraid of these two letters any more. A wide array of scholastic opinion is considered in regard to these two texts, especially the various proposals made about the false teaching that disrupted the Believers in Colossae. Contemporary applications for some negative trends being witnessed in today’s Messianic movement are also proposed, especially in terms of the false philosophy and worship of angels refuted by Paul. Colossians and Philemon are both important letters for us to understand, as today’s Messianic community strives to move forward in its reading of the Pauline Epistles.

192 pages




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Messianic Fall Holiday Helper

The Fall holiday season of Yom Teruah/Rosh HaShanahYom Kippur, and Sukkot—also including Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah—is a very special, sacred time of year for God’s people. It is considered to be the most holy time of year in Judaism. As such, this season can teach us all important things about the great value of corporate repentance of sin, and an annual inspection of our individual spiritual maturity. We can learn lessons about the Lord’s ongoing plan of salvation history, especially the Second Coming of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) and the future establishment of His Millennial Kingdom!

The Messianic Fall Holiday Helper is a valuable compilation of resources designed to assist you, your family, and your Messianic fellowship for this season. We have included a selection of articles summarizing the role of mainline Jewish tradition, and reflective articles that focus on day-to-day observances of the Ten Days of Awe and the eight days of Tabernacles. Messages from customary books of the Tanach (Old Testament) like Deuteronomy and Ecclesiastes, which are often studied and discussed during the Fall high holidays, have been offered. A few FAQs on the Fall high holidays have also been provided. Finally, some significant liturgy derived from Conservative Jewish sources—including a template for both a Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur morning service—is available.

If you have ever wondered what role the Fall high holidays should play in the life of a Believer, then the Messianic Fall Holiday Helper is definitely something for you. You will be blessed by what you can learn during these convocations!

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July 2017 Outreach Israel News

 


Update

July 2017

During the first week of July, Margaret, John, and I traveled to Grantham, Pennsylvania to attend and work at the Messiah 2017 annual conference. In our capacity representing Outreach Israel Ministries and Messianic Apologetics, this was our second consecutive year to exhibit our books and publications. This year, John was a featured conference speaker, and delivered a message entitled, “Salvation on the Line: Encountering Yeshua’s Divinity, Messiahship, and Bible Difficulties.” It was a great blessing for us to directly interact with many of today’s Messianic Jewish leaders and teachers, as our family and ministry emerge into a new venue. We definitely feel the pull of the trajectory of history that Paul speaks of in Romans 11, as we witness the Messianic Jewish revival and anticipate the completion of all Israel being saved:

“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, ‘THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB. THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM [Isaiah 59:20-21], WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS [Isaiah 27:9; Jeremiah 31:33-34]’” (Romans 11:25-27).

Thankfully years ago, in what our family has labeled our “spiritual scavenger hunt,” the Holy Spirit revealed this supernatural mystery to us through passages in the Scriptures, which include: Deuteronomy 29:29; Isaiah 43; and Acts 3:19-21. As a result, we have dedicated our lives to reach, teach, encourage, and disciple other seekers of the Most High with our written and spoken teachings. This past year, in particular, I have been used to put together a mutually beneficial relationship between the MJAA’s Joseph Project and the Baylor, Scott, White, Health group of Dallas, to ship medical equipment and supplies to Israel. Among the many things which I am involved with, the MJAA has asked me to share with others the financial needs of the Joseph Project and some of its other ministries, notably including the Alliance for Israel Advocacy. With these new projects, I have been witnessing the hand of the Almighty using the MJAA to lead the greater Messianic Jewish community in its outreach to Israeli Jews with the good news of Yeshua!

While it is a great blessing to witness my responsibilities take on new dimensions, as I am able to network and interact with people across the Messianic Jewish and Christian spectrums—the reality that many people within the Messianic community are significantly under-educated and under-informed in critical matters of spirituality, continues to hit us very hard. During the week of the Messiah Conference, the bulk of our time was spent in the marketplace, exhibiting our books and answering various questions that people had. There were people we encountered who had been following us for years, who we had never met. There were people we encountered who had never heard of our ministry before, and were eager to take a look at our resources. There were people we encountered who were not too interested in our perspectives, and were instead wanting to teach us about the “new truths” that God had “shown them.” And, there were those who picked up a business card or catalog, who we will likely hear from in the near future.

Most of our time interacting with people in the Messianic movement is either conducted online, via direct inquiries made to our ministry, or in some of our direct interactions with people at our local congregation. In a wider venue like the Messiah Conference—the largest and oldest Messianic conference in the world—some of us were shocked to see how under-developed various Messianic people were on basic matters of theology. Our table featured over thirty titles, ranging from studies on the Torah, the Biblical feasts, various commentaries, and our new series covering the nature of Yeshua. Yet, we had various people—who had been in the Messianic movement for years, and who were even teachers at their local congregations—ask us questions about Bible versions, Hebrew and Greek lexicons, theological resources, Bible software, and other tools which can help them in their various capacities. For the most part, these people have been receiving teachings in their assemblies which have focused more on spiritual intimacy and reflection than on studying the Scriptures. While we all need to have a vibrant and dynamic heart relationship with the Holy One of Israel, the need for us to have transformed minds in this hour cannot be overstated!

Outreach Israel and Messianic Apologetics are entering into a new season of ministry, where we are going to do our best to humanly employ the resources and contacts that God has given us. We want to be sure that we are a voice of reason and stability, providing fair resolution and consensus, as pressures continue to mount against people of faith from the world, and anti-Semitism and growing anti-Israel sentiments are on the rise. As many of you know, our ministry features new teachings and posts every day—especially with the launch of our free app for iPhone and Android this past Spring. The many new projects we have embarked upon, include the Salvation on the Line series, and we will also be steadily releasing a number of encyclopedic resources combining our Holiday Helper books into a single volume, and some other multi-volume works consolidated (announcements forthcoming). We want to especially thank those of you who have faithfully supported our efforts over the years. We continue to need your financial support in order to dedicate the time and energy required to continue in the work that the Lord has assigned us, and especially need many of you to sign up for a regular monthly contribution via PayPal at www.outreachisrael.net.

“The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Blessings,
Mark Huey


Matthew 11:13

reproduced from the new book by J.K. McKee
The New Testament Validates Torah MAXIMUM EDITION

Pastor: Matthew 11:13: The Law of Moses was only in effect until John the Baptist.

For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.”

It is very easy to envision Christian layreaders, or even various pastors, quote the Messiah’s word of Matthew 11:13, in an effort to dismiss the continued relevancy of the Torah in the post-resurrection era. Yeshua first lauds John the Immerser, by stating, “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!” (Matthew 11:11a). Describing him as “born of woman” is likely taken from various Tanach sentiments (Job 14:1; 15:14), representative of the normal human order. John the Immerser is pristine among mortals. However, it is also noted, “Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11b). It is not difficult to recognize how there is a contrast between John the Immerser and Yeshua the Messiah.

John the Immerser/Baptist is a transitionary figure from what has come in the past, and what Yeshua the Messiah will inaugurate via His ministry activities—something he will not be around to experience (cf. Matthew 14:10ff). Yeshua observed, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). The statement about the Kingdom of Heaven either experiencing violence, or being entered into violently, is representative of how when God’s Kingdom begins to manifest itself on the platform of history—controversy and violence will erupt.[1]

The arrival of John the Immerser onto the scene in the First Century C.E., immediately before the ministry of Yeshua of Nazareth, was indeed a sign that a significant shift was going to take place. John the Immerser represented the culmination, but also the closing, of a previous chapter in God’s plan of salvation history. Take important note of what Matthew 11:13 says: pantes gar hoi prophētai kai ho nomos heōs Iōannou eprophēteusan, “for~all the prophets and the law until John prophesied” (Brown and Comfort).[2] Textually, the issue from Matthew 11:13 involves how one approaches prophēteuō, “to foretell someth. that lies in the future, foretell, prophesy” (BDAG).[3] When it is properly recognized how anticipated prophetic fulfillment from the Torah and the Prophets until John the Immerser (heōs Iōannou) is what is being spoken of by Yeshua, then it can be properly evaluated whether or not an abrogation of Moses’ Teaching is even something possibly in view. As will be seen there are various Christian commentators who do not see an abolishment of the relevance of the Tanach or Old Testament, at all being what is described.

It is witnessed that there are examiners, some of whom do not at all believe in the continued validity of God’s Torah, who recognize that the issue in Matthew 11:13 is a transition into a new period of salvation history, brought about by the work of the Messiah:

  • D.A. Carson: “The Baptist belongs to the last stage of the divine economy before the inauguration of the kingdom (as in Luke 16:16)….here the point is to set out the redemptive-historical turning point that has brought about the transformation of perspectives explained in vv. 11-12…[T]he primary function of the OT in Matthew’s Gospel [is]: it points to Jesus and the kingdom…The Prophets and the Law prophesied until then and, implicitly, prophesied of this new era.”[4]
  • Donald A. Hagner: “The totality of God’s previous revealing activity…and the expectation for the future built up in the writings of the OT culminate in John…For Matthew, the law and the prophets bear a united witness to Jesus…This statement…cannot be understood to mean that John himself was the goal of the OT, since he has been identified already as the forerunner of someone else (v 9), but that John serves as a transition to the new (contrast Luke 16:16) and as such is here included with the new…The point is that a key turning point has been reached, marking off the old from the new.”[5]
  • R.T. France: “It was not only the prophets who pointed forward to what as to come; the law, too, had this function, preparing the way for a fuller revelation of the will of God which was to come in the time of fulfillment, and which Matthew now finds present in the ministry of Jesus…With the coming of John, the last and greatest of the prophets, that forward-pointing role is complete.”[6]

It would be entirely fair to take the statement of Matthew 11:13, “For all the prophets and the Torah prophesied until the time of John” (TLV), as representing how the Tanach or Old Testament Scriptures isolated and on their own are incomplete. The vantage point of Yeshua, in making this statement, is highlighting the predictive prophecy component of the Tanach, and how such a purpose was to culminate with the arrival of John the Immerser. As the New Jerusalem Bible puts Matthew 11:13, “Because it was towards John that all the prophecies of the prophets and of the Law were leading.” Following John the Immerser, would be Yeshua the Messiah, and the new realities that His work would inaugurate. Leon Morris properly stresses that the central focus of God’s revelation and activity, is not supposed to be the Torah and the Prophets, but rather the Messiah. This hardly means that the Tanach or Old Testament Scriptures are to be cast aside, but they are secondary to the Living Yeshua they prophesied about and foretold:

“This means that the whole of the Old Testament revelation is viewed as preliminary to the coming of Jesus. It is interesting that the Law is said to prophesy as well as the prophets; both had their origin in God and both conveyed the word of God to people. Both indeed conveyed the authentic word of God, but Jesus is saying that both were of limited duration. They both did their work until the coming of John, the herald of the incarnate Son of God in whom came the definitive revelation. Until has the force of ‘up to John but not beyond him.’ This does not mean that now that John has come the law and the prophets may be discarded. The whole Christian revelation insists on the continuing significance of both law and prophets. But until the ministry of John the law and the prophets were the sum of the divine revelation; nothing could be set alongside them. Jesus is saying that with his coming a new age has dawned. The law and the prophets are no longer the revelation that is the key to everything else. The revelation made in Christ is the key to the revelation in the law and the prophets.”[7]

The NEB offers a useful paraphrase of Matthew 11:13, “For all the prophets and the Law foretold things to come until John appeared.” Until John the Immerser arrived on the scene, who would be a herald of the Messiah, the main purpose of the Tanach Scriptures was to prophesy of His arrival. Yeshua notes that John came in the spirit of Elijah (Matthew 11:14; cf. Malachi 3:1; 4:5). With Yeshua the Messiah having arrived on the scene, far from the Torah and the Prophets being dismissed as irrelevant, or dusty Bible history, the Tanach Scriptures become subsumed into the mission of the Messiah. As Michael J. Wilkins states, “John is the culmination of a long history of prophecy that looked forward to the arrival of the messianic kingdom. That prophetic hope has been realized in John’s preparation for Jesus’ inauguration of the kingdom of heaven.”[8] The parallel word of Peter in Acts 3:24 is, “all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days.” And indeed, not only is the Messianic Kingdom one where the Torah will go forth from Zion to be taught to the nations (Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-3),[9] it is also one where all of Planet Earth will be keeping the Sabbath (Isaiah 66:23).[10] This is hardly a dismissal of the Torah’s validity!

Yeshua’s remark of Matthew 11:13 is not disparaging of the Torah and the Prophets, the Tanach or Old Testament Scriptures. Yeshua’s statement cannot be used to dismiss the ongoing relevancy of the Torah and Prophets as a means of guiding His followers in ways of holiness and piety. Yeshua’s statement can be used to emphasize how the Torah and Prophets by themselves are incomplete without Him and being a part of His Kingdom. “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John[11]; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached” (Luke 16:16).


NOTES

[1] Consult the further discussion in the FAQ entry on the Messianic Apologetics website, “Violent Seize Kingdom of God.”

[2] Robert K. Brown and Philip W. Comfort, trans., The New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 1990), 39.

[3] BDAG, 890.

[4] D.A. Carson, “Matthew,” in Frank E. Gaebelein, ed. et. al., Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 8:268.

[5] Donald A. Hagner, Word Biblical Commentary: Matthew 1-13, Vol 33a (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1993), pp 307-308.

[6] R.T. France, New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 431.

[7] Leon Morris, Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 283.

[8] Michael J. Wilkins, NIV Application Commentary: Matthew (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 417.

[9] Consult the author’s exegesis paper on Micah 4:1-4 and Isaiah 2:2-4, “The Torah Will Go Forth From Zion,” appearing in the Messianic Torah Helper.

[10] Consult the entry for Isaiah 66:23 in the Messianic Sabbath Helper.

[11] Grk. ho nomos kai ho prophētai mechri Iōannou; “the law and the prophets [were proclaimed] until John” (Brown and Comfort, 276).

The RSV has rendered this rather neutrally as, “The law and the prophets were until John.” This was inappropriately followed by the NRSV with, “The law and the prophets were in effect until John came.”


John 13:34

reproduced from the new book by J.K. McKee
The New Testament Validates Torah MAXIMUM EDITION

Pastor: John 13:34: Jesus Christ gave us a new law of love to replace the laws of the Old Testament.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

Many people can be caught completely off guard, or not quite know how to react, when various Christian teachers or pastors communicate that the Messiah came to give a new law, a law that is only of “love.” The challenge is not with the Messiah’s emphasis on the imperative of love; the challenge is that for anyone who reads the Bible, the commands to love God and neighbor were given in the Torah or Law of Moses, before Yeshua spoke this to His Disciples at the Last Supper:

“You shall love HASHEM, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your resources” (Deuteronomy 6:5, ATS).

“You shall not take revenge and you shall not bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your fellow as yourself—I am HASHEM” (Leviticus 19:18, ATS).

So what is intended by Yeshua saying, “a new commandment” (Entolēn kainēn)? Yeshua’s statement of John 13:34 was not adding a 614th commandment to the traditional Jewish 613 Torah commandments.

There are a variety of ways that John 13:34 has been taken by commentators of the Gospel of John, which do properly recognize and acknowledge how the Torah originally directed God’s people to love neighbor. The further statement of 1 John 2:7 notably implies, “Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.” Yeshua’s word of John 13:34 of a “new commandment,” has frequently been taken to (1) involve either the quality of love that He directed His followers to have, one of self-sacrifice as He was preparing to be sacrificed, or (2) that the “new commandment” of love takes on new dimensions with His establishment of the prophesied New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27). The chart below has catalogued a number of significant opinions:

JOHN 13:34

A NEW QUALITY OF LOVE “NEW COMMANDMENT” TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH “NEW COVENANT”
“The commandment of love was not entirely new: all the law and the prophets were summed up in the twin commandments…{quoting Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18}…but by his teaching and still more by his example…Jesus imparted a new depth of meaning to it.”[1]
F.F. Bruce
“This commandment is new, not because it is intrinsically different from the law of love of the Old Testament. Nor is it new because of Jesus’ redefining of ‘neighbour’ (Lk. 10:29-37), though that is certainly significant. The ‘newness’ lies rather in its being the law of the ‘new covenant’ which Jesus is to establish through his death, and which he has so recently proclaimed during the supper they have shared {referencing: Luke 22:20; Jeremiah 31:31; Ezekiel 34:25}. The new covenant brings with it the new life in the Holy Spirit which will as never before enable the fulfilling of the law. It is ‘new’ also in the sheer depth and demand of the summons to love which Jesus issues.”[2]
Bruce Milne
“The new command is simple enough for a toddler to memorize and appreciate, profound enough that the most mature believers are repeatedly embarrassed at how poorly they comprehend it and put it into practice: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. The standard of comparison is Jesus’ love (cf. v. 1), just exemplified in the footwashing (cf. vv. 12-17); but since the footwashing points to his death (vv. 6-10), these same disciples but a few days later would begin to appreciate a standard of love they would explore throughout their pilgrimage. The more we recognize the depth of our own sin, the more we recognize the love of the Saviour; the more we appreciate the love of the Saviour, the higher his standard appears; the higher his standard appears, the more we recognize in our selfishness, our innate self-centredness, the depth of our own sin.”[3]
D.A. Carson
“Its ‘newness’ would appear to consist in its being the Law of the new order, brought about by the redemption of God in and through Christ….The expression ‘new order’ is deliberately ambiguous. We have in mind the era of the new covenant, established through the sacrificial self-giving of Christ and his resurrection to rule. The establishment of the new covenant is integral to the traditions of the Last Supper (cf. Mark 14:24 par.)…The commands of the law were issued to Israel as their part in God’s covenant with them, involving their response to his taking them to be his people whom he had ‘redeemed’ from the slavery of Egypt (cf. esp. Exod 19:3-6). So the ‘new command’ may be viewed as the obligation of the people of the new covenant in response to the redemptive act of God and his gracious election which made them his new people.”[4]
George R. Beasley-Murray
“In the OT the Israelites were commanded to love their neighbor as they loved themselves (Lv. 19:18), but Jesus said to his disciples, As I have loved you, so you must love one another. This raised the ante considerably. The measure of love for their neighbour was no longer their love for themselves, but Jesus’ love for them. The Fourth Gospel speaks of Jesus’ love for the disciples in three places (1; 15:9, 13), a love that led him to lay down his life for them. Now he said they should love one another in the same way (cf. 1 Jn. 3:16). Jesus’ love command was ‘new’ because it demanded a new kind of love, a love like his own.”[5]
Colin G. Kruse
“Love itself was hardly a new commandment (Lev 19:18), as the Johannine tradition itself recognized (1 John 2:7; 2 John 1:5)…Still, loving one’s neighbor as oneself was such a radical demand that biblical tradition might depict its actual occurrence only in the most intimate relationships (1 Sam 18:1, 3; 20:17). In fact, Jesus’ commands to love God and one another in the Farewell Discourse (13:34-35; 14:15-16, 21) echo the language of the essential substance of the law of Moses, as in Mark 12:29-34….What is new here is the standard for this love: ‘as I have loved you’ (13:34; cf. 1 John 2:8). By laying down his life for others, Jesus loved the disciples more than his own life (11:5; 13:1).”[6]
Craig S. Keener
“Jesus’ ‘new command’ to his followers to love each other as he has loved them constitutes the third major topic. This will be the mark of his disciples (cf. Matt. 5:43-48; Rom. 8:37; Rev. 1:5). The command to love one’s neighbor was not new. Love within the community was also highly regarded at Qumran (e.g., 1QS 1:10; cf. Josephus, J.W. 2.8.2§119), and neighbor love was emphasized by the first-century rabbi Hillel. What was new was Jesus’ command for his disciples to love one another as he has loved them—laying down their lives. This rule of self-sacrificial, self-giving, selfless love, a unique quality of love inspired by Jesus’ own love for the disciples, will serve as the foundational ethic for the new messianic community.”[7]
Andreas J. Köstenberger

Today’s Messianic people will be more inclined than not, to consider Yeshua’s word about a “new commandment” in John 13:34, to be connected to the New Covenant promises of the Torah being supernaturally transcribed onto the human heart via God’s Spirit—something which involves more than just the love command. Still, it is textually appropriate to recognize the “new commandment” as being an expansion of the Torah commandment to love neighbor, per the direction, “that you love one another, even as I have loved you” (hina agapate allēlous, kathōs ēgapēsa humas). This would not be an annulment of the Torah’s instruction by any means—but that Yeshua’s love requirement requires His own to emulate Him, particularly in matters of service and self-sacrifice for fellow brothers and sisters in the faith.


NOTES

[1] Bruce, John, 294.

[2] Milne, 206.

[3] Carson, John, 484.

[4] Beasley-Murray, John, 247.

[5] Colin G. Kruse, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 293.

[6] Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 924.

[7] Andreas J. Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: John (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), pp 423-424.


FAQ

Why do you consult the Septuagint frequently?

The Septuagint (LXX) is the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, dating at least two centuries before the First Coming of Yeshua. It was originally compiled for the Jewish community in Alexandria, and quickly became the authorized Scriptures of Diaspora Judaism. The Septuagint largely represents a Pharisaic style of theology, halachah, and messianic expectation, and clarifies many things in the Tanach where the Hebrew may be imprecise or vague. As should be expected, there are some distinct theological interjections into the text, as it is not a “word-for-word” translation of the Hebrew. The LXX would read more like today’s New International Version, when compared to the more literal New American Standard. The LXX gives us an excellent “bridge” of vocabulary words between the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, enables us to see how Jews translated the Tanach Hebrew into Greek, and allows us to see how they used the Greek language.

In the Apostolic Scriptures (New Testament), there has been misunderstanding among some Christians when it comes to words that are often only examined in the context of the Greek New Testament, and perhaps even classical Greek philosophy. The Septuagint, as it is known today, was well-circulated throughout the Mediterranean, and was the canonical Scripture of the Greek-Speaking Jewish synagogues of the Diaspora. The majority of quotations or allusions in the New Testament from the Old Testament come from the Septuagint. The author of Hebrews, for example, makes all of his unique arguments about Yeshua from the distinct renderings we see in the LXX. Keeping this in mind, we gain valuable insight in understanding the Greek vocabulary that is used in the New Testament, as the same would have been used in the Septuagint. Seeing these Greek words in the Septuagint, we can often see Hebraic concepts behind them via the Tanach, thus gaining a fuller theological picture of what a Biblical author may be trying to communicate.

The Apostles’ usage of the Septuagint in the Gospels and Epistles is a strong indication that they gave it a great deal of authority—otherwise they would not have used it. Unfortunately, much of today’s emerging Messianic movement does not consider the historical importance of the Septuagint, and the LXX gets frequently put aside in our exegesis. This will have to change in the coming years if we intend to have a better and more complete picture of the First Century world in which the Apostles lived. While our exegesis of the Tanach should come first from the Hebrew text, we should certainly give the Greek Septuagint strong consideration as it is its oldest textual witness, and was validated by the Apostles.

For a further examination on the importance of the Septuagint, consult the book The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research by R. Timothy McLay (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003).

 

I understand that the Greek Septuagint is a valuable resource for understanding Second Temple Judaism and for reading the Apostolic Scriptures, and that there are some differences between the Septuagint and Hebrew Masoretic Text of the Tanach. Are there any English translations of the Septuagint which can help me in my studies?

Many people are unfamiliar with the Septuagint (LXX) because of a limitation of either being untrained in the Greek language, or not possessing enough Greek competence to be able to read directly from the Septuagint, be that in either printed or electronic form. Fortunately, there are various English translations of the Septuagint available for the layperson, each of which can be used as a “crutch” of sorts, when comparing similarities and differences with the Hebrew MT, or for quoting to larger audiences. While each of them has a different order for the books of the Tanach or OT, the following English versions of the Septuagint also notably include the books of the Apocrypha, an additional incentive to make use of these resources.

The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English by Sir L.C.L. Brenton (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999), is a bit dated from the mid-Nineteenth Century, but does include a side-by-side English translation with the Greek Septuagint source text. This translation of the Septuagint is notably rendered in Elizabethan period English. Because it is in the public domain, the LXE and LXA versions are also widely available in electronic format with many Bible software programs. The Apostle’s Bible by Paul W. Esposito (2004), is an updated, modern English version of Brenton.

A New English Translation of the Septuagint (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2007) is an academic edition of the Septuagint, which includes introductions to each text and a selection of footnotes. Many of the proper names are transliterated from the Greek into English (i.e., Dauid, Iesous). What is most important about the NETS is that this is a modern English version produced for those engaged in research and teaching. Anyone who wants to seriously engage with the Septuagint will need the NETS.

The Orthodox Study Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008) is an eclectic resource, produced for Eastern Orthodox Christians in the English-speaking world. Its edition of the Old Testament is widely a modern English update of Brenton’s Septuagint translation, widely informed from Eastern Orthodox theology. The introductions and annotations are intended for Eastern Orthodox Christians; it is a useful tertiary resource to use in accessing the Septuagint.

Galatians for the Practical Messianic

Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians is easily the most difficult to understand text for people within today’s broad Messianic movement. Galatians has been historically interpreted by Christianity as delivering Believers a stark choice between God’s Law and God’s grace. Those who choose any obedience to the Law, according to this view of Paul, are unfaithful to the Messiah and the saving power of the gospel. Supposedly, Paul was desperately concerned for anyone who was trying to keep the Torah of Moses. Consequently, Galatians is a frequently-quoted text to today’s Messianic Believers, many of whom are simply trying to live a life of holiness by obeying God’s commandments in accordance with the example of obedience modeled by Yeshua (Jesus).

Understanding Galatians in its original context, for its original audience, and for the original issues that it addressed, can be a severe challenge. Was the issue that the Galatians faced forced circumcision, followed by salvation―or was the issue ritual proselyte conversion for inclusion among God’s people? Likewise, who were the people errantly influencing the Galatians? Were they authorized members of the assembly, or misguided outsiders with a definitive agenda?

In the commentary Galatians for the Practical Messianic, Messianic Apologetics editor J.K. McKee takes a direct look at the issues of Paul’s letter as he rebukes the Galatians for errors that have crept into their midst. Engaging with contemporary Christian scholarship on Galatians, critical questions regarding common conclusions of Paul’s words are asked. Are Paul and Yeshua truly at odds when it comes to the Torah? Were the Jerusalem leaders and Paul at constant odds with one another? How do Paul’s Pharisaical background and views affect the composition of this letter? What were the spiritual dynamics present in Galatia? What does the term “works of law” really mean? These are only a few of the questions that are considered. Likewise, some of the proposals from the New Perspective of Paul in theological studies are also analyzed.

The Epistle to the Galatians gives us a small peek into the world of the First Century Body of Messiah, and the social dynamics and divisions between Jewish and non-Jewish Believers that had to be resolved. Many of the issues that the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 would address had yet to be discussed. Many did not understand the Abrahamic blessing of his seed being a blessing to the whole world. Many thought that inclusion among God’s people came via ethnicity, rather than faith. Many did not know the proper place of obedience to the Torah in the post-resurrection era. Paul’s letter set in motion the need for these issues to be addressed by the First Century faith community.

This commentary will aid many Messianic Believers who have difficulty with Paul’s letter to the Galatians. It also provides solid, exegetical answers to those who are skeptical, if not critical, of today’s Messianic movement.

Also included in this commentary is an exposition on Acts 13:13-14:28: Paul’s visit to Southern Galatia.

310 pages




$22.99 plus $4.01 U.S. shipping and handling

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 20-page excerpt

Moedim: The Appointed Times for Messianic Believers

Today’s Messianic community widely believes and advocates that our Heavenly Father is restoring the celebration of the Biblical appointments or moedim, chiefly found in Leviticus 23, to all of His people. Messianic Believers find great enrichment every year of going through these annual festivals, rehearsing God’s plan of salvation history. We bereave the fact that too many of our Christian brothers and sisters have not partaken of the blessings of knowing things like the Passover, Shavuot, or Sukkot, and the significant enrichment all of us can have by seeing God’s plan for history present within them.

Some say that because of Yeshua’s sacrifice at Golgotha (Calvary), the Torah or Law of Moses has been abolished, and thus the moedim or appointed times are done away with, annulled, and abolished. Some believe that they might be important for us to understand in an historical sense for understanding the Bible, but are not to be followed as standard elements of our orthopraxy.

This publication, simply entitled Moedim: The Appointed Times for Messianic Believers, is an important synopsis of what the appointed times of Leviticus 23 actually are, and why they have not been abolished by the New Testament.

80 pages




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