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Despite having left Jesus behind for quite some time now, due to my current circumstances, I interact with them regularly. There are good number of times when a group of them will come together and will want to pray holding hands in a circle whilst I’m around. I refuse their invitation to join them in holding hands in their circle. And recently one christian asked me why I don’t join in, why I don’t at least join hands with them, even before their prayer begins. That wasn’t the time for me to explain myself. But at least, whilst their question rings in my head for now, I can tell myself the answer.
[I do these things at times – tell myself the reasons – just to arrange my own thoughts.]
Now just to say, this is my own personal approach. Others may deal with this differently. But I believe the reasons I give are valid irrespective of what approach another person chooses to take.
One reason why I don’t choose to join hands with them in their prayer is because, many times, it is apparent to me that we don’t worship the same entity. Although at times we may mention the same words and maybe even refer to the same book (by that I only mean the Jewish Bible, the Tanach, not the alien addition christians have stuck to the end of the Jewish Bible which they dub “the new testament”). But we mean different things. It’s a bit like the word “messiah”. I may sometimes use that word, but I’m not referring to the same entity or person as christians are referring to. If I use the word “messiah,” I’m referring to the promised Davidic, literal and political, human king who will rule Israel who has never walked this earth yet. They normally refer to Jesus. We are not referring to the same thing. I would not join in giving kingly honour to a person who is not king, even if others do.
In much the same way, when I refer to “God,” a lot of times I’m not referring to the same entity that christians refer to. When many christians refer to “God”, they are referring to an entity has certain characteristics that my “God” doesn’t have. Christians generally ascribe to one or more of the following as characteristics or actions of their “God”.
Some of these differences are more crucial than others. But in order to be faithful to the principles I uphold, faithful to the God I worship, who is indivisibly one, has not literal son, doesn’t change, who is literally undying, who keeps his word, I distance myself those who pray to the other god. Holding hands in a prayer circle with christians who are praying to a different god sends the wrong message, much like joining a prayer circle to Baal or to Chemosh.
Another reason why I stay away from christian prayer is because christians have a tendency to pray “in Jesus’ name.” Now a lot of times, I doubt even they understand what they mean by this phrase “in Jesus’ name” or “in the name of Jesus,” even though it’s a script that they attach to the end of their prayers or intersperse within their prayers. For me personally, “in Jesus’ name” has two possible meanings (amongst others). One meaning is that of authority, that believers in Jesus pray to God with the authority that they believe Jesus to have had. Another meaning involves placing Jesus as the mediator or intermediary between a man and God when he prays. (I won’t even go into how nonsensical this becomes when they sometimes believe that Jesus is God as well.) And in both of these meanings, it would be hypocritical for me to join hands, as if in agreement which such an act symbolises, in such a prayer group.
When I consider the meaning of “authority” when it comes to Jesus’ name, I reject the idea that Jesus had any special authority to speak to God any more than any human being. As the wonderful Psalm says, God is near to to all who call him, to all who call him in truth. No ancient Israelite, actually no ancient person at all, who called on God had to take on “in the name of so and so” to get their prayers heard. No Jew had to say “I pray to you in the name of Moses” or “with the authority of a priest I pray to you.” As with Noah or Abraham, a person goes one-on-one with God, nothing in between, when it comes to prayer. It wouldn’t matter if the real anointed Davidic king came; nobody would be obligated to pray to God “in the name of” this king.
As Jesus had no special authority, praying in that authority means absolutely nothing. It wouldn’t even matter if Jesus was messiah or not – and it’s plain to me that he’s not – praying in this authority means nothing. Everyone is responsible for their own deeds and for their own closeness with and communication to their Creator.
So since I reject this authority, showing agreement when they pray in that “authority” would be hypocritical.
When it comes to praying in Jesus’ name, as if this means that Jesus is the “go-between” between man and God, again, as I’ve said above, God is near to all who call on him, no mediator needed. In fact, it places a foreign element between a man and his God. God gave a universal principle when he gave this command to Israel: “you shall have no other god in front of my face” or “you shall have no other god in front of me”. When an Israelite, when any human, goes to Almighty in prayer, there shouldn’t be some superhuman being in front of God, between a man and his Creator. There are no intermediaries involved. This becomes even worse when that intermediary is given worship and prayed to, acknowledged as a god or God, as this is idolatry for any human.
So for me to share hands with believers that place this man between themselves and God would one show my agreement to something that is, in principle, falsehood and that is potentially idolatry for any human. So once again, it would be hypocritical and self-defeating for me. So I stay away from it.
Although may be other reasons I shy away for taking part in such a prayer group, these are the two that are in my head right now.
Someone called “Samuel Eben” sent me this response to my previous article called “Seeing ‘Yeshua’ in the Jewish Bible.” Because it so adequately gives an example of the mindset exemplified by such people, I’m going to quote it in full here without touching a single word that he wrote (in case I am accused of “deception”) and then give my points afterwards.
I am doing some research into the Hebrew name Yeshua which led me to your Blog page. I was fascinated to read that you bitterly castigate an unnamed “individual” because you allege that the “individual” in question “wanted it -Isaiah 49:6- transliterated as yeshuathiy for obvious reasons (i.e., the beginning part of his transliteration, at least in English letters, looks like the proper name “yeshua” which seems superficially and erroneously to support his claim). It had to be transliterated that exact way for him, although anyone with any knowledge of Hebrew knows that Hebrew letters and sounds don’t always have exact equivalents in the English alphabet which is why certain words have a variety spellings once transliterated”.
I took it upon myself to check up on the particular verse and I find that indeed the Hebrew word written in Isaiah 49:6 does transliterate into English as Yeshuathiy as the “individual” stated and, in no way does it transliterate as y’shu’othi as you claim.
You also are widely off the mark in your second allegation “that anyone with any knowledge of Hebrew knows that Hebrew letters and sounds don’t always have exact equivalents in the English alphabet which is why certain words have a variety spellings once transliterated”. There is no “CONFUSION” in what is written in the Hebrew Scriptures as you falsely allege. Also Hebrew scripture words do NOT “have a variety of spellings” as you falsely allege. A “variety of spellings” is only manifested among those who have no knowledge of the original Hebrew scripture. You have shown that you have no knowledge of the Hebrew scripture by your transliterating “Yeshuathiy” as y’shu’othi.
Your Blog is deceptive on the above important poimts which should send warning signals to your readers. You have my permission to publish this response.
It’s important to note what the focus of this individual was. It wasn’t about the context of Isaiah 49. It wasn’t the absence of moshiach (an anointed one) or the promised Davidic king from the text. It wasn’t about the fact that the common noun yeshuah is in the text and not the proper name Yeshua. It was not that trying to fit the name Yeshua in places where the common noun yeshuah actually ignores the text rather than expounds upon it. The focus of this individual (shall I used the word “individual” as if I don’t believe he really existed?) was about nothing fundamentally to the message of that chapter of Isaiah or how Hebrew words should be translated.
What was the individual’s focus? It was mostly this: I didn’t transliterate a Hebrew word into English as he would, which, for him, makes me a liar – not simply mistaken or having a different opinion, but part of a blog that purposely tries to deceive people, the insinuation being that my own words are also deceptive. I personally take it from his writing that he doesn’t even think my experience with the first individual was even real, which aids in his belief that I am either a liar or a deceiver.
If someone thinks you are evil, there is little point in trying to talk to that person. For me, it’s just best to move past that person and learn from the experience.
The important thing is that the central points of my article were untouched. It doesn’t matter whether the word is transliterated as yeshuathiy or y’shu’othi, the text of Isaiah 49 says nothing about the proper name Yeshua, the context has no overt signs of speaking about a promised Davidic king, and to use the proper name Yeshua in the places where the common noun yeshuah is used is like trying to hammer a square peg to fit properly into a circle hole.
Take note of what this person does in his transliteration (trying to represent Hebrew characters in English letters). He changes the word further by capitalising the first English character “y” so that the word becomes Yeshuathiy. He does it twice in the middle of an English sentence when capitalising the first letter would be very odd unless … unless it were a proper name, like Samantha or Barcelona. This would point to the conclusion that this person already thinks a proper name is there when it is not. There is no capital letter in the Hebrew, so Samuel Eben is imposing something on the Hebrew text that was not inherently there.
I’m not going to be too pedantic with Samuel Eben’s text although he did bring up and emphasize confusion when I didn’t say that there was confusion, just different ways of transliterating certain Hebrew letters and vowels. Ah, I won’t dwell on that. What is important to note is that this person’s focus was skewed, bent out of shape. Once again, his issue wasn’t the text or the context, as is the case many times for christians or follows of the Nazarene. Even though he stated that he had checked the Hebrew for himself, his main focus was that one word must be put into the English characters as he chose, despite the fact that, for example, the English “e” is an ambiguous replacement or cover for the first vowel of the Hebrew word in Isaiah 49:6. There are at least three Hebrew vowels that can be transliterated with the English letter “e” and you wouldn’t know which one is being used which is important to knowing which Hebrew word is actually used (which is why it’s best to just go back to the Hebrew than focusing so much on subjective methods of transliteration).
But my main focus was not what english characters must be used, but rather what the actual text and context meant and what the subject of both the text and context was. Again, for me, it goes to show that with certain people the issue is not simply trying to bring out what the text says, but to bring up strife about what is subjective.
I would ask anyone reading this post, whether you like the blogpost or not, please focus on what is important and on the main points of an issue. When you get side-tracked by smaller debateable issues, it won’t help the case. Also, try to move past personal attacks as best you can and focus on the point, or sometimes just walk away. If a person is willing to paint you as evil to get his or her point across, it may be a sign that this person has already closed the door on respectful communication and thus on a true conversation, a meeting of the minds. And that point, it is probably best to walk away.
So the dude that didn’t like my opinion on Isaiah 49 developed a dislike for me enough to call me liar and a deceiver and made some nasty insinuations about the Jewish translators of the Bible that translated it differently to him. This highlighted something to me about the mindset of some christians which helps me come to terms with the fact that the text could be slapping them across the face, screaming “just let me talk!” or they could be shown simple evidence against their human-focused devotion and they get so defensive, yet they ignore the evidence and launch personal attacks that distract from the point.
Once some christians believe that Jesus is their truth and also believe that the proofs for this idea is infallible, then to deny any of these proofs make the denier unscrupulous, tainted, evil, a deceiver. And unfortunately it is in the character of people in general (not just christians) to make presumptions even about a stranger who they’ve only just met because that stranger happens to hold view counter to their own.
Without going into motives and psychology, it just seems to be a fact of life. Misunderstanding abounds in this arena, further strengthened by presumptuousness. And, unfortunately, truth is a casualty.
I think from now on, if a christian approaches me with the sole intent to share their faith in Jesus or to show how they think I’ve missed their messianic conclusion on a certain text, I’ll have to be a bit more careful and not be afraid to say “no thanks, I don’t think we’ll be able to share things in a respectful manner” and then walk away.
So recently someone, a christian, tried to respond to an article I has written a long time ago about Isaiah 49. He claimed that he saw the name “Yeshua” in the text which led him to accept him as Messiah. Let’s just say he didn’t like it when I disagreed.
You see, for this individual, it didn’t matter how the Hebrew word in Isaiah 49:6 was spelt. It didn’t matter that the context of Isaiah 49 stated nothing about the anointed Davidic promised king. It didn’t matter for this individual that the only characters in that text was just Isaiah (the speaker/writer), Israel, God and the nations. In fact, it didn’t even matter that the exact proper noun “Yeshua” was nowhere in that text, there is only the common noun yeshuah (meaning “deliverance” or “salvation”) which is spelt differently in Hebrew (actually, it’s a form of yeshuah that has been altered to include the suffix that means “my”). You see, with such an individual, the text doesn’t matter.
In the Hebrew text of Isaiah 49:6, there is a word there which I transliterate as y’shu’othi. This person wasn’t happy with the way I transliterated it because he wanted it transliterated as yeshuathiy for obvious reasons (i.e., the beginning part of his transliteration, at least in English letters, looks like the proper name “yeshua” which seems superficially and erroneously to support his claim). It had to be transliterated that exact way for him, although anyone with sufficient knowledge of Hebrew knows that Hebrew letters and sounds don’t always have exact equivalents in the English alphabet which is why certain words have a variety spellings once transliterated. I saw no point in sticking to one way for a Hebrew word to be transliterated into English when such a variation exists. Even his transliteration didn’t really help his point: the common noun yeshuathiy isn’t the proper name “Yeshua”. It isn’t even spelt the same way in Hebrew or when transliterated.
But without getting into the details of this unfortunate altercation with this individual, his method is one that I’ve seen before when I was going through the 300+ so called messianic prophecies. Wherever a certain type of christian sees anything resembling their notion of Jesus or Yeshua in the Jewish Bible, they are happy to even disregard the text itself to impose their vision of Jesus. In this case, a person will see the common Hebrew noun yeshuah and impose the supposed Hebrew name of their messiah figure upon the text. So a common notion of “rescue” – like how the Israelites were rescued from Egypt or how Israel was saved from the Midianites – become the christian idea of Jesus/Yeshua. Can you imagine how ludicrous that this becomes to the normal reader? Look what 1 Samuel 14:45 becomes when I use this notion consistently in the Bible, replacing “salvation” with “Yeshua”:
And the people said to Saul: ‘Shall Jonathan die, who has wrought this great Yeshua/Jesus in Israel? Far from it! As the LORD lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground; for he has wrought with God this day.’ So the people rescued Jonathan, so that he didn’t die.
So Jonathan caused a great Jesus to happen in Israel? (I had to burst out laughing with I saw this.) Errr … I don’t think so.
Again, certain christians are so eager to have their Jesus/Yeshua in the text that they’ll even ignore what the text and context says in order to make sure their Jesus fits. That’s why it is so clear to me that for so many christians, their belief in Jesus/Yeshua is not from the Jewish Bible but rather in imposed on the Jewish Bible. Their acceptance of his messiahship doesn’t come from the text of God’s word, but must mutilate it and re-write to force their foreign concept into it.
So this came to my mind yesterday but I thought I’d think about it a bit before I type it out.
I’ve come to the conclusion that with regards to the claim that Jesus is the special king foretold about in the Jewish Bible there is a simple refutation. There is a simple fact that fundamentally contradicts the claim. And just like last time, I’m sure people are gonna walk away from it as if I had said nothing at all, or something mundane. But I still believe it to be a devastating weakness to the christian claim that Jesus is the promised king descended from David. I think if you consider the wording of this refutation, you may understand why it kicks the legs from underneath the christian pomp.
Ok. Here goes!
Jesus did not do what the plain reading of the Jewish Bible says the promised Davidic king would do.
You know what? As I’m feeling generous, I’ll add another important refutation for free.
Jesus did not do what the plain reading of the Jewish Bible says about moshiach, an anointed one.
Now some may be taken aback by such outlandish claims. But I don’t even believe I need to go through some lengthy article to explain myself. Why? Because it is important to take my words for what they say, because at their crux, it is not about what people believe about Jesus or the role they believe he fulfilled from some hodgepodge of Jewish Bible texts they take for their purposes. And it’s not about “I believe the Messiah should do x and this verse says x,” i.e., the belief about messiah or the Davidic king comes before what the Jewish Bible actually says. The foundation of my refutations is about what the Jewish Bible actually says in contexts directly relevant to the subject.
Let’s take the easy one: what the plain reading Jewish Bible says about “messiah”. In the Hebrew, the word “moshiach” is used 39 times. The question is this: what does the Jewish Bible say about “moshiach,” about an anointed one? The first usages refer to certain Aaronic priests. The next main usages of the word are the chosen kings. It seems to be linked with the process of using special oil, putting or smearing it on a person to show he’s designated to be a priest or a political king. And it is used for a foreign king. None of the usages of this word is unambiguously about the specific chosen promised Davidic king to come, even the two usages in Daniel. And what is most telling is that none of the plain usages of that word prophesy Jesus. In fact, the way the word is used doesn’t refer to Jesus. He wasn’t an anointed Aaronic priest. And he wasn’t a ruling king of Israel like Saul or David. He wasn’t officially anointed with the special oil like them and accepted by the mainstay of the Jewish people as ruling king. So Jesus doesn’t fulfil the way the Jewish Bible talks about “moshiach.”
And if a person looks for what the Jewish Bible says about that specific promised Davidic king, the failure of Jesus is blatantly obvious and terribly tragic, tragic for those who have absorbed the lie with such deep sincerity. They devote themselves to this man so deeply that sometimes their acceptance of God is based on devotion to this man, another mutilation of the truth of God and the ancient understanding of being an anointed on. Can you really imagine an ancient Israelite being so wrapped up in their Aaronic moshiach priest, a human being, that when they lose trust in that priest, they forsake God? “I only believe in God only because I accept Nadab has anointed priest.” That would be cause for concern, seriously.
The fact is that Jesus failed to live up to the role dictated by the plain reading of the Jewish Bible for promised Davidic king and anointed one.
Now this refutation may be so simple that it may go over (or under) the heads of many. But I personally believe that if a person truly takes in the wording of this refutation, then it may be possible for them to understand why the notion that Jesus was or is the God spoken of in the Jewish Bible is totally and utterly impossible and ludicrous. To some this refutation may see boring or mundane, like it is easy to skip over. But I say again, I believe that when a person takes in the facts in this statement, it may be possible for them to see that the belief that Jesus was or is God is not only to be thrown in the garbage, but also to be disdained and avoided.
Are you ready?
OK. Here goes!
Jesus … was a man!
Believe me, I already know that some walk away unconvinced as if I had just told them nothing at all. But let me tell share something with you.
I’m a father. I’ve seen my wife go through pregnancy, and seen my children born and grow. I’m also a sibling and I’ve seen my siblings grow with me. I was raised by my parents. I’ve seen people around me. When I just sit and consider the nature of a human, even – let’s pretend – a perfect human who made no mistakes … without even considering the transcendent nature of the Entity that was before and that is beyond all things … when I consider the nature of man, I personally know that Jesus was not and is not God.
Of course, knowing the Jewish Bible also has God’s own revelation about such matters (see Deuteronomy 4 amongst others) helps a lot. The way God describes and reveals Himself destroys, no, annihilates the notion of any man being God.
Again, I’m not expecting someone to read that refutation and be automatically convinced. Everyone’s journey is their own. But I personally think that the power of that statement, when it is deeply considered and probed, is strong enough to put the “Jesus is God” notion where it belongs: flushed down the proverbial toilet.
After a teaching on Psalm 15, on who to be righteous, the christian speaker that followed, although praising the quality of the teaching, felt the need to state how such a teaching shows him how unworthy he is and how much he needs Jesus.
On a Facebook page, a christian states that the term “merit” doesn’t exist in the Jewish Bible (yes, he doesn’t know Hebrew), essentially showing his bent and presupposition that no man can be worthy, can be righteous, can be meritorious. The same mistake is perpetrated in his words, “a man is unable to keep the law” because somehow it demands God’s perfection.
Such a mindset amongst christians betrays their mutilated beliefs that prevents them from actually reading the Jewish Bible for what it says.
We have Deuteronomy 30, Psalm 19 and Psalm 119 which show that righteousness (not absolute perfection) according to the Torah is possible and within reach for any human being. But the question can be asked, how can the Torah righteousness be within reach if people make mistakes and commits sins?
This is the blinding mistake christians make in order to put down and insult God’s teachings within Torah in order to raise higher their devotion to a man, Jesus. I just want you to think about this:
How can it be claimed that the Torah demands perfection when the Torah itself provides remedy for mistakes, transgressions and sins?
I’ll ask this another way:
Is it sensible to say that Torah tells a person that they must do everything right and absolutely perfect on one hand (never making one mistake), and then on the other hand give a person instructions on how to get forgiveness for when mistakes occur?
Can I be blunt with you? Knowing what God’s Law says and knowing the message of the Jewish Bible, it is utterly ridiculous to make such a claim of everlasting unworthiness, that nobody can meet the Law’s “impossible” standards. Why? Because in those same teachings you learn beautiful lessons of forgiveness. Take for instance:
GOD, GOD, compassionate and generous, patient, and abundant in kindness and truth. He preserves kindness unto the thousandth generation. He forgives iniquity, transgression and sin …. (Shemot [Exodus] 34)
When you have places, more than just the quote above, in the Torah that tell you that God forgives, it shows you that the teachings of the Torah include a place for people to mess up and for them to receive forgiveness. Such a person is not cast off from God or becomes unworthy for one mistake, but can use the teachings of the Law itself to draw back to God.
So when a person talks about keeping the Law, it’s not just about getting every single command right. Being righteous is not about being absolutely perfect. It’s about using the teachings of God’s Law to draw close to his truth. It includes both the procedure for correct behaviour and also the procedure for correcting yourself if you go wrong. This is why even though there isn’t a righteous man who has never made a mistake (Qoheleth [Ecclesiastes] 7:20), it is rightly said that a righteous man falls seven times, but he gets back up (Mishlei [Proverbs] 24:16). And that man is still righteous even though he has fallen because he can use the very same principles in the Law to draw close to the righteousness God has given to man.
Don’t fall into the christian mistake of equating righteousness with perfection. Don’t fall into the erroneous teaching that no man can be worthy. Noah was righteous before God. Moses had enough merit to say to God “if I have found favour in your sight,” something that a wicked man can never say.
A person can be worthy.