Referenced Messianic Jewish Review Blog

The official blog of the Referenced Messianic Jewish Review. The Referenced Messianic Jewish Review studies the history, composition and theology of the Messianic Jewish movement.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Three Matzos Represent.....

On Passover, it is common to have three matzos at the Passover Seder. Most Messianics claim that this stands for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They also try to mark this as an original practice of Jesus' followers. However, I was talking about this with my friend Rabbi Stuart Federow and he made an important point. We do not see the custom of three matzos until around 1650. There is no historical evidence to tie it into the practice of either the Jews or Jesus' followers from 2000 years ago. So, it is clearly a later Jewish practice that has no connection to Jesus and his followers or any similar Messianic claim.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What Would They Have Thought?

I find it interesting when Messianics say that Jesus' death on the cross was a sacrifice. What is most interesting about this is that on a historical basis, Jews would not have looked at death on a cross as any sort of religious sacrifice.

The Romans used the cross to kill people for various crimes related to insurrection, such as acts of sedition. In an nutshell, if the Romans thought that you were talking about or planning to fight them, the Roman government could decide to kill you on the cross. Moreover we know from historical records that the Romans killed hundreds of people for these insurrection "crimes", many of them Jewish, on the cross. In contrast, death on the cross has no function or history of use by the Jewish people. It is a completely foreign concept.

So what would the Jews have thought when they saw Jesus on the cross? They would have thought something along the lines of, "Guess the Romans thought was Jesus was planning to overthrow them." Any claims that the Jews would have thought of this as a sacrifice is not based in the history of Rome or the Jewish people.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rabbi Jesus?

Increasingly, it has gotten popular for individuals in the Messianic movement to refer to Jesus as "Rabbi Jesus." However, if you understand what a rabbi is, calling Jesus as "Rabbi Jesus" actually nulifies basic Messianic-Christian belief. The title "Rabbi" is often loosely translated as "teacher." As stated, this is a loose translation. In Hebrew, the world "teacher" is "moreh", which comes from the same root as "Torah." The actual translation is that a rabbi is a person who has achieved a level of learning to be able to give rulings on Jewish law. It is a title that shows that a human has reached a level of knowledge of G-d's law. If Jesus was really G-d, why would he need the title of rabbi? After all, it is a title to designate a human level of understanding of G-d's law. G-d is All-Knowing and therefore does not need a rabbinical degree.

Moreover, rabbinical lineage starts with Moses ordaining Joshua, and proceeds from there into later times. To this day, some rabbis can still trace their rabbinical lineage back to Moses, identifying all of the rabbis in between. So who did Jesus study under? Who granted him rabbinical ordination, since ordination comes from people, not from G-d? And if Jesus reall is G-d, why does G-d need a human ordination? Overall, calling Jesus as "Rabbi Jesus" is another example of attempting to put Jewish clothes on Christianity that simply do not fit.

Do You Own Jesus?

I often hear from Messianics about how Jesus was their perfect sacrifice. This past Shabbat, my rabbi made an interesting point regarding sacrifice and why Jesus cannot be a sacrifice. Certainly, there are problems with Jesus being a sacrifice because the sacrificial item is incorrect (human vs. Biblically-approved animals, birds and flour), the sacrificers are incorrect (Romans vs. High Priests), the location is incorrect (away from the Temple vs. at the Temple) and the method is incorrect (cross vs. Biblically-mandated methods such as using a knife). However, my rabbi pointed out one other issue that I had not thought of. The only way you can sacrifice an animal for a sin, such as a lamb, is if you are the owner of the animal. If you did not own the animal, you cannot use it as a sacrifice. The person offering the sacrifice is literally offering something from their personal ownership to for the sacrifice. This ownership is based on laws of commerce. So, if you claim Jesus to be your sacrifice, when did you buy him? How much did you pay for him? Since no one is claiming to have literally owned Jesus by any laws of commerce, he cannot have possibly been a sacrifice.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Christ in the Passover

As Passover is coming up, Messianic congregations and ministries are hosting Christ in the Passover presentations. At these presentations, the Messianics try to show how Jesus is an intimate part of the Passover Seder, the traditional meal/service to commemorate the holiday of Passover. So, the Messianics will say that the three matzohs stand for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The breaking of the middle matzoh stands for the death of Jesus.

There is one extremely large problem with the Messianic presentations, namely, it ignores the derivation of the Seder. The Passover Seder along with of it's customs, comes mostly from the tractate of the Mishnah and Talmud that covers Passover known as Pesachim. The Seder customs were written by rabbis in these Jewish books. None of these rabbis believed in Jesus. Some of these rabbis lived prior to Jesus' birth, again showing that there is no way to connect their writings to Jesus. Other customs came within the last few hundred years, again by rabbis who did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. By trying to present the Passover Seder as relating to Jesus, the Messianic movement is changing the real Jewish Seder and inventing meanings for customs that never were intended by their orignators. Therefore, the Messianic presentation of Passover is a false presentation of the Passover Seder.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


I once was at a meeting in which someone was miserably failing in their attempts to answer a question. He tried to fake his way through the question which prompted one of his evaluators to say, "If you can't dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your bull--." That is how I felt when I read of Messianic missionary Calev Meyers and Messianic blog Rosh Pina Project's latest antics: