Letters to Ya'acov

Letter 24: From Mike

3rd April 1989

Dear Ya’acov,

Many thanks for your letter of 24th March.

You deal with three major issues that I would like to respond to in the following order:

  • The authority of the apostle Paul.
  • The non-necessity of a mediator.
  • The keeping of the Law.

You assert that the apostle Paul could not read Hebrew. That would be surprising for a man who could say that he was "circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." (Epistle to the Philippians 3:5,6).

There is an illuminating passage in the Acts of the Apostles (21:40 - 22:3) which records Paul’s address to the people of Jerusalem: "Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying, ‘Men, brethren and fathers, hear my defence before you now’. And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent. Then he said: ‘I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city [Jerusalem] at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our father’s law, and I was as zealous toward God as you all are today’."

Those two passages seem to me to be pretty conclusive on the subject.

As for Judaism not requiring a mediator, as I have tried to show in the past modern Judaism may teach that a mediator is unnecessary but that is one of the areas where Judaism and the Bible are in conflict. In the Holy Scriptures Moses was appointed as a mediator between God and Israel. The Law came to Israel and God’s covenant was established through his mediatorship. The priesthood consisted of men who represented other men to God. The prophets mediated the Word of God to men. We have always needed a mediator. The sad fact is that the prophets from Moses onwards were rejected by Israel (I heard Rabbi Jacob Immanuel Shochet the other week virtually boasting about the fact that "the Jews are stiff-necked. We have always given God’s prophets a hard time. Maybe that’s why he likes us so much.") Israel’s dilemma is that at the present time they have no high priest to sacrifice on their behalf and mediate between them and God. There is no forgiveness according to Vayikra without the shedding of blood. Therefore, Edward, modern Judaism (in all its forms) is at odds with biblical Judaism. Christianity is in accord with biblical Judaism because we acknowledge that we need a mediator to bring us to God, a high priest to offer the blood of atonement for our many sins. Jesus came as the mediator of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31), the prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18) and the "priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek" (Psalm 110).

You claim to be 99% sure that you keep all ten commandments, but there is still a one per cent chance you don’t. If we hope to gain paradise by keeping the law we must keep all of it. Paul the apostle went on to say in the earlier quote from Philippians, "Concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me these I have counted loss for Christ". He came to a point where he recognised that the righteousness he had sought to attain through mitzvot [mitzvot] was inadequate, that true righteousness is the gift of God that comes through faith. After all, how was Abraham justified? By mitzvot [good works]? Not according to Genesis 15.

Just one last point about idolatry. I am not an idolater. Paul, through his labours was responsible for turning thousands in the ancient world from their idols, that is why he provoked a riot in Ephesus, because he was putting the makers of idols out of work! As I have pointed out in the past (with references) the Talmud endorses amulets, charms, necromancy and occultism. The New Testament, in accordance with the Tanakh, openly condemns them. To accuse a book that on every page denounces paganism, as promoting it is to open oneself to ridicule. To make that accusation while at the same time following writings that overtly promote occultism is at best short-sighted.

In case you don’t hear from me for a while, I wish you a very peaceful and happy Pesach [Passover].


P.S. I am not quite sure what Leviticus 19:1,2,3 has to do with the issues we are dealing with.

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