What would happen if your Messianic congregational leader, or rabbi, asked the congregational constituents why they believe that Yeshua the Messiah is God? What would be some of the reasons given? Would they encounter dogma or doctrine? Would people express a principled set of reasons for affirming Yeshua’s Divinity, or would they only express a dogmatic “you have to believe” reason, without any real substance? Many might indeed affirm something having to do with only God being able to redeem human beings from their sins (Psalm 49:7, 15), or explicit claims made by Yeshua (i.e., John 8:58). But, how many people would not really know what to say? Do we even want to know some of the reasons why people might believe that Yeshua is God?
Today, many are wondering why there is a sector of individuals in the Messianic community who have denied Yeshua and either converted to Judaism, or their own primitive form of “Yahwism.” While the reasons vary, one thing that is occurring in our midst is that idle words have taken root in the hearts of people, which are now coming to full fruition. One of the statements that is made far too frequently among certain Messianics today is: “Christianity is pagan.” This statement, while often said “innocently” to describe the ills and some non-Biblical practices of mainstream Christianity, can cause the naïve and spiritually unstable person to begin to think that if the pagans believed something, it must therefore be rejected.
The problem with this line of reasoning is two-fold: (1) The problem is not with non-Biblical and questionable practices in contemporary Christianity; the problem is rather with the fact that all of us have strayed from God’s Word. God’s people have not widely made the Bible and being Scripturally compliant their top priority. (2) If you believe that the message of the Apostolic Scriptures (New Testament) is “pagan,” you must hold the Tanach (Old Testament) to the same standard. If you believe that the story of Yeshua the Messiah and His resurrection are copied off of pagan myths, then you also have to believe that the Bible stories of the Tanach are also borrowed or copied from the mythology of the Ancient Israelites’ neighbors.
While the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 undoubtedly has an imperative for God’s people of worshipping, loving, and serving Him—the Shema also has an important place in religious history as it concerns monotheism. When the Ancient Israelites left Egypt, and were preparing themselves to enter into the Promised Land, they would certainly need a “statement of belief,” if you will, by which they would declare their exclusive loyalty to the LORD God, and not any of the other deities of Canaan. The Shema enjoined the requirements for God’s commandments to be taught to the people of Israel, and that they were to instruct their children.
In much of religious studies since, and most especially today, approaches to the Shema have gone beyond what was originally intended for the Ancient Israelites. While all who profess the Shema claim that their devotion is directed to the God of Israel, there can be a wide difference of approach between how the Shema is viewed in Jewish theology and Christian theology—particularly when it comes to the statement “the LORD is one.” In historical Judaism, the Lord being “one” means that God is a single entity. In historical Christianity, being “one” means that God is surely a prime entity, but that He may be composed of multiple elements like Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
What kind of issues present themselves when the Passover season arrives? Would you believe that there are some people in the Messianic community today who do not believe that the Last Supper was a real, or even a kind-of, seder meal? How many of you have been engulfed in the argument that we need to do exactly what Yeshua did, and not any “traditions of men,” making Passover a bit unexciting? While there are longstanding disagreements on halachah between the Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jewish traditions on what is kosher for Passover, think about some of the new Messianic disagreements that have arisen on what actually took place in those days leading up to Yeshua’s betrayal and execution. How long is three days and three nights? Was the Messiah really crucified, or put to death another away? And this is only a short list of what often gets discussed…
Literally speaking, the genitive clause (genitive is the Greek case indicating possession) dia pisteōs Iēsou Christou should be rendered as “through faith of Jesus Christ” (YLT). Some modern study Bibles are having to place footnotes for verses like Galatians 2:16, indicating the alternative rendering, “Or by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.”
There are many claims that those who deny the Divinity of Yeshua, and thus deny the Biblical reality that we must have a Divine Savior, make, in saying that Yeshua is not God. Many of the arguments that anti-Divinity proponents make tend to be sensationalistic, and they can definitely prey on various individuals’ unfamiliarity and/or ignorance of the Bible. Those who are undiscerning, and especially those who have perhaps not have had the spiritual encounter with the Creator through the Divine Messiah that they think they have had, are quite susceptible to these arguments.
It has become commonplace, when trying to challenge Yeshua as the Divine Messiah, to see various lists and compilations floating around, called something like the “Frequently Avoided Questions.” Perhaps it is because these questions are so easily answered, that various Messianic Bible teachers who fully affirm Yeshua’s Divinity, have not really taken the time to answer them. This analysis that I have provided you is intended to address ten of these specific so-called “Frequently Avoided Questions,” which are often used to claim that the Messiah is not Divine. You will find that these questions can be answered, that they are usually based on a selective reading of Scripture passages only at the surface level, and that when deeper readings of the text are conducted they fully affirm Yeshua’s Divinity. Yet, it is these questions that can get even relatively mature and Biblically-rooted Believers, caught totally off guard.
The Messianic community of faith presently finds itself at a very serious crossroads, not just a crossroads in determining its long term purpose and where it is going to be in the next few decades, but most seriously in its theology and how we are to approach the Bible. The enemy desperately wants us to get off course and away from the mission of seeing the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel accomplished (Acts 1:6). He wants us to not be a movement of positive change and transformation, where people are empowered by the Lord to accomplish His tasks in the world—but rather be one of mischief, confusion, and apostasy. The enemy wants us to seriously “mess up” and gain a bad reputation so that people will (rightly) stay away.
One of the most significant ways that this has happened over the past several years has been seen when various Messianic individuals deny the Divinity of Yeshua the Messiah. There have been both Messianic teachers and laypersons who have decided that Yeshua the Messiah was nothing more than a human being empowered by God, but certainly not God in the flesh. They have stripped away the reality of His Incarnation, and made Him little more than a mortal like one of “us.”
It is not all that surprising, but among a significant number of those who deny Yeshua’s Divinity are those who later deny His Messiahship. Not content with their entirely human Yeshua, these people then question whether or not Yeshua is even the Messiah and whether they truly need Him. Outsiders to the Messianic community who witness this trend, often believe that the Messianic movement is not something that God has raised up to restore the lost Hebraic and Jewish Roots of the faith, or even just see a generation of Jewish people brought to Yeshua—but rather is a move of the Adversary to lead people away from the salvation available in Yeshua and the truth of the gospel. Is this truly the case? Are we nothing more than a revolving door, leading people into our midst for a short season, and then into the open arms of a Messiah-less Synagogue?