Who’s in Charge of Being Jewish? (G. Zeitler)
Who’s in Charge of Being Jewish?
by Gail Zeitler
It’s all about authority; to whom will you listen and obey?
In the 60’s I wanted all the rules changed. But the people in charge said No, things are done This way. “They” were: the school Principal; the college Dean; the Boss; and the Parents. People still tell others how “it’s done” and how it’s not. Who are these people and why are they in charge?
Yeshua said, “This is the way, walk in it.” But “They” say that a Jew can’t believe in Yeshua. They say that I am no longer Jewish if I believe in Yeshua. They say that doing good works is the way to heaven. Who are THEY and are they really in charge of the Jewish religion? Which branch of Judaism is the main one? Or is the Christian Church in charge of God now?
The Orthodox Rabbis say they are the real Jewish leaders of today. They claim to be in authority over Judaism, especially over those in their Congregations. They explain that as descendants of the Pharisees, they sit in the “Seat of Moses.” How did they get to sit there?
Certain Rabbis of old, the Sages, believed they had authority to judge disputes, render decisions and interpret the Scriptures. The Sages wrote lengthy commentaries on the Tenach (the Hebrew Scriptures or “Old Testament”). These writings make up the dozens of volumes of the Talmud.
The Talmud adds many stories to the Torah as the Sages made up new traditions and rules. Modern Rabbis teach these stories as facts to their young students, who mix them up with the truth. For instance, they say that Adam wrote a lengthy book after he was expelled from the Garden of Eden, with much instruction on how to live. There is no such book in the Tenach.
Another tradition not found in Scripture concerns throwing the scapegoat off a cliff on Yom Kippur (Lev 16). God didn’t say that! The goat was supposed to be released to wander in the desert.
If the Rabbis wrote it, Orthodox Jews follow it. They act as if God wrote The Talmud! In fact, if a statement from a Rabbi, ancient or modern, conflicts with Holy Scripture, they are to obey the Rabbi! The Rabbi’s have more authority than God!
What about these admonitions from God Himself?
Deut 4:2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.
Deut 12:32 See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.
The Seat of Moses: WHO ARE THE RABBIS?
Moses appointed a leader from each tribe to a tribunal to judge over the people’s conflicts and to resolve legal issues. It was called the Sanhedrin. These “judges” had authority to interpret, comment on, or even change the Law to fit any situation. Once they were in the Promised Land, the Sanhedrin governed Israel until the people cried out for a king and got King Saul. From then on there was a King in the palace, a High Priest in the Temple, and judges in the Sanhedrin. A “Rabbi” was simply a Torah teacher.
Yeshua was called a Rabbi because He was teaching Torah to His disciples. A Rabbi would always have a group of students who would follow him around.
In AD 70, Jerusalem was invaded and the Temple was destroyed. The Pharisees all fled to Yavneh, an Israeli city along the Mediterranean. At Yavneh they faced the dilemma that the Temple was gone. There could be no sacrifice except in the Temple. What could they do to save the nation and maintain their faith?
The Pharisees decided to call themselves “Rabbis.” With their new title they did more than teach Torah; they seized authority to rule over Israel.
The new Rabbis drafted their own rules and traditions to adjust to the new situation. Instead of sacrificing an animal to atone for sin, a Jew could now do a “mitzvah,” or a good work. The Rabbis began to add their judgments and interpretations to the Talmud, which had been started during the Babylonian exile. They crafted the Talmud to subtly point away from the Messiah who had recently come. Through the centuries, the Rabbis kept adding to the Talmud. Today its volumes fill entire libraries.
The Talmud still leads the nation of Israel astray as the Rabbis insist on obedience to its manmade laws.
YESHUA AND THE RABBIS
Most people think that Yeshua was yelling at the Jewish people for observing the Torah. Not true! He confronted the “traditions of men.” He was overturning the tables of Rabbinic authority so that Israel would only obey what is written in the Scriptures!
When Yeshua entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he was declaring Himself as the Messiah. He arrived on a donkey, fulfilling Zechariah 9:9:
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
He arrived on the tenth of Nissan, when people were to take and examine the Passover Lamb. He accepted the people’s praises. He came at the exact time predicted in the Book of Daniel. He came before the destruction of the Second Temple. He was sacrificed at Passover and rose up on the Feast of Firstfruits.
So who decided that He was not the Messiah? Who prevented the Jewish people from believing in Yeshua for the next 2,000 years?
It was the Sanhedrin, the Pharisee’s and the Priests, who were not the real descendants of Aaron, but political appointees fearful for their jobs. They sat in the “Seat of Moses,” and their judgment was: NO, Yeshua was NOT the Messiah!
SO WHO IS IN CHARGE?
The Bible gives great detail about the Lineage to the Messiah. It passes from Adam to Noah; from Noah to Abraham; through the Patriarchs to Judah to King David; and finally to Yeshua the Messiah.
The Priestly Lineage goes from Levi through Aaron to John the Baptist. Zechariah was John’s father and Mary’s uncle. Luke 1:5 tells us that he was a Kohan, a real Aaronic priest. Yeshua’s blood carried his mother’s Levitical DNA!
Yeshua’s heritage comes from both Judah and Levi! He is the Davidic King as well as the Aaronic Priest, He rules over us and makes atonement for us, on the order of Melchizedek! In Genesis 14:18, Melchizedek was both King and Priest of Salem, which became Jerusalem. (Psalm 110:4, Heb 6: 20).
As King and Priest of Israel, Yeshua now sits in the Seat of Moses. As Messianic believers we recognize Yeshua’s authority as Messiah, not the authority of Rabbinic Judaism.
(c) 2007 Gail Zeitler all rights reserved
Rabbi Michael and Gail Zeitler
God is stirring more and more believers to embrace the Jewish background of their faith in Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. Messianic Rabbi Michael & Gail Zeitler travel to churches and conferences to restore to the Body of Messiah what was stolen from them over the centuries: their Jewish roots!
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.