Signs and Wisdom––The Power of God and the Wisdom of God
Key Verses:1 Corinthians: 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
We need to talk about what these 3 verses mean––According to a biblical perspective the human race is divided into two distinct groups of people––Jews and Gentiles. The Jewish people were the original chosen people with whom God made his covenant. Subsequently, after the advent of Yeshua/Jesus, Gentiles were also invited to join Israel and become the new family of God made up of Jews and Gentiles. Consequently, there is now a third group of people that are called ‘the people of God.’ This issue of Jews demanding a sign means that the only sign that they would be given was Yeshua’s resurrection from the dead––the sign of Jonah who was in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man would be in the tomb for three days and three nights. Just as the whale vomited Johan up onto dry land after that time, even so the grave/tomb could not hold him and he would arise from the dead after the three days. The Jewish sign is the resurrection of Yeshua who triumphed over death and is alive forevermore––hallelujah. For even during his earthly lifetime when Yeshua perofmed miraculous signs his fellow Jewish leaders accused him of sorcery or being posed of a devil. Though many of the common people believed in him, particularly the Second Temple Leadership led by the High Priestly clique rejected him––subsequently their poisonous attitude permeated throughout the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria and this negative attitude spread out widely. And Greeks/ Gentile seek wisdom––Greek and Roman Gentile culture was based upon the wisdom and philosophy of the Greek philosophers. There was a long tradition of following the great Greek thinkers––
Pythagoras of Samos (570-495 BCE)
Zeno of Elea (c.
Plato (428-327 BCE)
Diogenes of Sinope (c.
Zeno of Citium (c.334-262 BCE)
First First Century of the Common Era (C.E.)
We see how that Greek philosophy permeated Judaism and even the emergent Messianic faith shows the influence of Philo a Helenised Jewish philosopher––John’s Gospel and Pauline thinking particular shows the Greek way of thinking about the world and life––John’s LOGOS and Paul’s view of life shows the Greek influence fused together with the Hebraic Jewish way of thinking.
A very Jewish Jesus––Leopold Krakauer: A Mere Symbol or Messiah and Lord? What is the significance in the fact of who Jesus was in his earthly life and how does that matter today?In Behold the Man: Jesus in Israeli Art Leopold Krakauer (!890-1954) who was born in Vienna and moved to Palestine in 1924 as an architect and European Jewish Expressionist illustrator left his mark on Israeli art. What was particularly significant was his portrayal of Jesus. Leopold like many fellow Jewish artists exhibited a fascination in the luminous figure of the Nazarene––and this is particularly with those pioneers who returned to the land Jewish hope. British Mandated Palestine and subsequently the State of Israel post 1948. As previously explored in my Behold the Man: Jesus in Israeli Art series, there appeared to be a link between Jesus and the motif of Jewish re birth and hope with the return to the land of Israel. This was exemplified in the work of Reuven Rubin––Man of Sorrows and Zionist Messiah. So too in the work of Leopold Krakauer we witness a Jewish artist grapple with the enigma of the Jewish Jesus. Leopold was singularly unimpressed with most of the artefacts made for Christian pilgrims fashioned out of olive tree wood––they were on the whole poorly made and did little if any justice to the subject matter of Jesus on the cross or other related subjects. Equally, such a noble sacred wood of the olive tree need to be made with greater care and respect for both the subject of Jesus and the precious wood from the olive tree that has such an enduring history and connection to the land ofIsrael. While Leopold was not a sculptor but his training as an architect meant that his artistic expression was made through very detailed mainly pencil drawings that often depicted the figure of the ‘suffering Christ,’ in which the person of Jesus and the olive tree were almost fused into one. Seen below Jesus/tree 1941 which is a copy of the original brown chalk on woven paper depiction in which the figure of Christ blends into starkly rendered olive tree. According to Amitai Mendelsohn in Behold the Man: Jesus in Israeli Art, are pantheistic in nature with the approach to the landscape in which the story of Jesus took place with dialogue with the European artistic tradition that Krakauer had been exposed to.
Leopold Krakauer on Jesus and related themes
How might we understand these depictions of Jesus by a Jewish artist? From a Jewish perspective a most significant shift began to take place when European Jews started to reconnect with the Land of Israel––while there had been a growing interest in the19 century with the emergence of the modern Zionist movement, what began as trickle developed into a gradually widening stream among both Jews and certain Christian groups that believed in the restoration of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland. While people like Reuven Rubin explicitly used Christian symbolism and particularly focusing upon the person of Jesus as a symbol of hope and resurrection of the Jewish people after nearly 2,000 years of Jewish exile from Eretz Yisrael. Leopold Krakauer equally sought to give expression to his hopes and dreams through the use of similar symbolism––let me explain: As already mentioned, those who came from Europe had been exposed to numerous Christian motifs in Europe art that they began to reinterpret from a Jewish perspective. I as a Messianic Jew fully appreciate what it is that they were seeking to express.The prophets of Israel, Bible stories viewed Christologically, and particularly Jesus of Nazareth. Leopold Krakauer’s specific fascination with the olive tree, thorns and thistles and also the figure of Jesus needs further consideration: Under the Ottoman Turks most trees in Palestine were cut down due to a tree-tax that land owners had to pay to the Turkish rulers––but the olive tree survived because if the fruit of the olive that was used to produce olive oil that was a vital source of food and fuel. Olive wood when properly used produce beautiful objects and artifacts. The thorn and thistle were also a source fascination to Leopold Krakauer. Together with his landscape illustrations the thorn and thistle were important images that he drew showing the harshness and difficulty in Palestine during the Mandate era––it is also symbolic of pain and suffering that many early Jewish emigrants were experiencing in an often hostile environment where neither the British or Arabs were happy with their presence. Biblically, thorns and thistles symbolise The Bible refers to “thistles and prickles” as a symbol of desolation or wilderness and about 20 different words relate to some kind of prickly or thorny plant. They are one of the most common wildflowers in Israel, rapidly taking over any open patch of wasteland or untended meadows. These thorns and thistles were also used to symbolise Jesus’ suffering and desolation at the end of his earthly life leading up to his crucifixion––while this was not explicitly said by Leopold Krakauer, a picture is worth a thousand words.
A crown of thorns was fashioned at his mock trail and end suffering.
“Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee”— Genesis iii. 18.
THIS was not the penalty which might have been pronounced upon Adam. This observation by Charles Haddon Spurgeon help explain the place that thorns and thistles layout in both the physical and equally the spiritual life of humankind as consequence of the fall of Adam and Eve and consequently to all humankind.
And, first, A GENERAL, FACT is here stated. This fact we will consider. Ever since that first sin of our first parents, this has been generally true of the whole human race, not only of the earth literally, but of everything else round about us, “Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.”
Now, I am not going to say any more about this general fact, a fact which I suppose most of you know quite as well as I do, that thorns and thistles, trials and troubles, abound in this sin-cursed world.
Similarly, Leopold Krakauer describes the desolation and suffering that had afflicted the Land of Israel during the long period of Jewish exile.This same suffering had come upon not only the land but also its people. European Jews knew all too well the suffering of exile and the thorn and thistle symbolised this.
In the first reference to armed plants in the Bible, Genesis 3:18, “It [the cursed ground] will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.” The word translated thorn is qots. … These “thorns” are probably thistles as a woody plant would not grow as fast as an annual plant. These wild plants so readily grew in place of fruitful plants and crops when the land is left deserted and desolate.
The Messianic Hope ––Yeshua the hope of Israel:
Jesus is inescapable––Jewish people have attempted in vain to flee from him, but like the detective that is doggedly on the case, there is no getting away from him––we may attempt to flee to the mountains, wilderness of depths of the sea, yet he will not only pursue us till he finds us, but when he does he is there as our deliverer and redeemer. This reality is so well illustrated in Jewish fascination with his person and work of redemption. Leopold Krakauer exemplifies this mentality:
Thorns appear as a symbol of exile in the work of E. M. Lilien––notice the figure of the Jewish man with the thorns rising up out of his caftan, with almost down cast eyes that tell of his being and exile in the land of Egypt. Lilien makes an ideological comment between the thorns in exile and in another picture of wheat standing high in the land Israel. Krakauer in contrast uses the thorns to convey the harshness of life in Palestine and the difficulties of acclimatising to it.
In the picture Ring of Thistles, represents a fragile yet threatening evocation, this time with no human presence. Yet the very absence of Jesus, focuses our attention to the symbol itself, floating in the void, and its Christian meaning. While many of Krakauer’s contemporaries restored Jesus to Eretz Yisrael, he reinstates him in its landscape.
The missing part: Jesus comes back to his own people as they take tentative steps towards restoring him within a Jewish context.
MaxRon Discussions: Talmidim [Students/Disciples]–– Teaching Disciples in the Way of the Lord
In the Shema besides the declaration in the One true and living Elohim/GOD, the text in Deuteronomy 6:
1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you. 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. One of the single
1 Thessalonians 1:4-7
New International Version
4 For we know, brothers and sisters[a] loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.
In the Pirke Avot When Jewish rabbis are ordained, they are commissioned to “Raise up many disciples.”. This is the first verse of Pirke Avot (Wisdom of the Fathers), from the Mishnah, the Jewish compendium of laws and sayings from around Jesus’ time. Texts like this have much to say about the rabbinic method for raising disciples.
An integral part early Second and Post Second Temple Judaism was to make disciples––this was carried through into the Messianic faith by their leaders. They followed Yeshua’s example of calling others to follow him and embrace his teaching.
someone who copies the behaviour or actions of another.
An imitator is therefore someone who carefully pays attention to the character and actions of someone else and reproduces it attempting to make it as authentic as possible. Of course you can get a poor imitation that is nothing like the original and is a fake.
God’s pattern of discipleship has not altered throughout the ages. Rav Shaul/Apostle Paul exhorts those who listened to him and the other Messianic leaders to do likewise: Aramaic Bible in Plain English––1 Corinthians 11:1 “Imitate me just as I also do The Messiah.” This raises an interesting concept of becoming “imitators.” Thomas a’Kempis classic The Imitation of Christ is an early discipleship devotional manual for believers to use as an aid to their devotional life.
Symbolism and metaphor of the Shepherd and His sheep is built into the biblical narrative…God is the one who pastures and cares for his sheep––Psalm 23– David, the Shepherd King asked, “What is God like?” Answer: “The Lord is my Shepherd.”
So, discipleship involves the following:
Putting into practice what we have learnt
Innovation according to the pattern – Moses onwards was instructed by God to follow the pattern given on the Mountain…
How are we to put into practice the things we have learned––Talk and Walk:
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Kadosh––Holy––St Apart refers to the Holy Other GOD––there is no other god like him.
He was, is, and is to come.––Jehovah––YHWH––Yahweh I am that I am is a common English translation of the Hebrew phrase אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה, ’ehyeh ’ăšer ’ehyeh – also “I am who I am,” “I will become what I choose to become,” “I am what I am,” “I will be what I will be,” “I create what(ever) I create,” or “I am the Existing One.” The traditional English translation within Judaism favors “I will be what I will be” because there is no present tense of the verb “to be” in the Hebrew language.
Context and interpretation
Its context is the encounter of the burning bush (Exodus 3:14): Moses asks what he is to say to the Israelites when they ask what God [‘Elohiym] has sent him to them, and YHWH replies, “I am who I am,” adding, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.'”’Ehyeh is the first person form of hayah, “to be,” and owing to the peculiarities of Hebrew grammar means “I am,” “I was,” and “I will be.” The meaning of the longer phrase ’ehyeh ’ăšer ’ehyeh is debated, and might be seen as a promise (“I will be with you”) or as statement of incomparability (“I am without equal”).
The passage raises a number of issues beyond its linguistic and theological meaning. It is, for example, somewhat remarkable that despite this exchange, the Israelites never ask Moses for the name of God [‘Elohiym]. Then there are a number of probably unanswerable questions, including who it is that does not know God’s [‘Elohiym’s] name, Moses or the Israelites (most commentators take it that it is Moses who does not know, meaning that the Israelites will ask him the name in order to prove his credentials), and just what the statement means. The last can be approached in three ways:
“I am who I am” – an evasion of Moses’s question;
“I am who am” or “I am he who is” – a statement of the nature of Israel’s God [‘Elohiym];
“‘I Am’ is who I am,” or “I am because I am” – this version has not played a major part in scholarly discussion of the phrase, but the first variant has been incorporated into the New English Bible.
How can we mere mortal human being have anything to do with him?
The Torah in the Five Books of Moses describes the Holiness of God –
How are we to be holy/set apart unto God?
What and how holiness works in the 21st century?
God as instigator of holiness
Ruach Ha Kodesh––Holy Spirit explained
Holiness follows on from our understanding of thefear of the Lord…
Defilement and uncleanness clarify Israel’s faith from its inception till today––
How it was historically and how it is explained today
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Introduction – The Culture of Fear is endemic (widespread)
What do we fear? – Allkinds of things – real and imagined
The effects of fear – The results or outcomes of fear result in many types of irrational and potentially dangerous things – siege mentality, pogroms, riots, xenophobic behaviour – race-hatred, panic buying, etc,
The fear mongers – Who are the main culprits?
Church/religion – bad theology – particularly influenced by erroneous interpretations of eschatology, – false claims concerning vaccination against Covd-19, etc,
State sponsored fear led by its leaders
True and false fear – We have said a lot about false fear – ‘fear of the world;’
The fear of the Lord – it is a powerful and positive force – Furedi; Otto; Max; etc.
What should we be afraid of? – the neglect of our faith
Falling away from God
Denial of our faith
The devil and demons – a right understanding is vital
Overcoming fear – how are we to overcome fear?
Renew our trust in God and his Messiah
Repentance – the joy filled life
A healthy fear of God
Freedom to love and fear the Lord – When we get things into correct order and perspective God’s love and blessings will flow forth…
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The narrative of the Book of Ruth in the Tanach is a beautiful story of how young widow who together with her widow mother-in-law on their return to Judea from Moab find new hope and their ill fortune turns to joy as they meet a kinsman redeemer:
Kinsman-Redeemer Male relative who, according to various laws found in the Pentateuch, had the privilege or responsibility to act for a relative who was in trouble, danger, or need of vindication.
Although the term “kinsman-redeemer” is used only seven times in the NIV (all in the Book of Ruth) and “avenger of blood” is used twelve times, the Hebrew verb ga’al [l;a”G], from which both of these terms are translated, is used over 100 times and rendered by such additional terms as “redeemer” or “near relative.” The Hebrew term designates a male relative who delivers or rescues ( Gen 48:16 ; Exod 6:6 ); redeems property ( Lev27:9-25 ) or person ( Lev 25:47-55 );avenges the murder of a relative as a guiltless executioner ( Num 35:9-34 ); and receives restitution for wrong done to a relative who has since died ( Num 5:8 ). The unique emphasis of the redemption/ salvation/ vindication associated with the kinsman-redeemer is the fact that this action is carried out by a kinsman on behalf of a near relative in need. This idea is most clearly illustrated in the Book of Ruth.
God is Israel’s Redeemer, the one who will defend and vindicate them. The idea that God is a kinsman to Israel can be defended by those passages of Scripture that identify him as Israel’s Creator and Father ( Exod 4:22-23 ; Deut 32:6 ),Deliverer ( Exod 20:2 ),owner of the land ( Lev25:23 ), the one who hears innocent blood crying out for vengeance ( Deut 19:10 ; 21:6-9 ), and the King who has made his covenant with the people ( Exod 6:2-8 ). David, in his use of the term ( Psalm 19:14 ; 103:4 ), doubtless has in mind the actions of his great-grandfather Boaz ( Ruth 4:9-10 ).
In the psalms God often redeems in the sense of rescuing from danger. In Job 19:25 the term “redeemer” in context refers to God who, as friend and kinsman of Job, through faith will ultimately defend and vindicate him. The same idea of vindication (this time with the term translated “Defender”) is used in Proverbs 23:11.
Although the doctrine of redemption from sin is taught extensively in the New Testament, it is not connected closely with the Old Testament concept of kinsman-redeemer. Christ can, however, be regarded as an example of a kinsman-redeemer since he identified himself with us and redeemed us because of our need. Hebrews 2:11 states that “Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” Jesus is not only our redeemer from sin, but as Hebrews 2:16-18 and 4:14-16 point out, he is a kinsman to us and understands our struggles. Thus he is able to help us in our times of need.
Suggestions for our discussion:
Of your ancestors, who would you say is the most significant one that you refer to?
What is the significance about them? (It can be more than one of your past relatives.
In this beautiful love story recorded in the Book of Ruth who stands out as very significant and why?
If this book were not included in the canon of Scripture what would be missing from God’s story of redemption –– heilsgeschichte:
interpretation of history emphasizing God’s saving acts and viewing Jesus Christ as central in redemption.
The concept of kinsman-redeemer serves to illustrate the larger theme of redemption throughout the Bible.
Typology –– may best be described as a symbol or picture of something or someone else that will appear in the Scriptures in the future – we have many examples of the use of this kind of device in the Bible: Adam is a type of fallen humankind and the anti-type is described for us in Romans 5:12-21…
In the Book of Ruth the significant figure of Boaz emerges as a gentle hero…
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Redemption does not depend upon the actions of an individual (i.e. the Messiah).
Redeemer is God alone and Messiah is not divine.
Judaism does not depend upon Messiah for its daily life but does await his coming to help establish the Kingdom of Heaven where God’s enemies will be vanquished.
The Unity of God
Messiah is not Son of God/ Incarnate/a member of the Tri-unity. He is only a Righteous man, for God is One (Deut. 6:4 – The Shema).
We cannot pray to the Messiah for he is only a man.
He is not a Mediator between God and humankind, for he only a man.
He is not a Paraclete–come beside/call upon for help–Comforter and Helper for humankind.
Messiah as Redeemer
He in a limited way he is a Redeemer of humankind as a Righteous Tzadik – He will fulfil a very special role at the End of the Age helping to bring about redemption of humanity through his special abilities and deeds.
Redemption takes place through the action of the Messiah (Isa. 12:2; Gal. 3:13; Rev. 5:9; Titus 2:14). The Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 14:24).
Messiah through his atoning work reconciles us to God (Rom. 5.10; Ephes. 2:16; 2 Cor 5:18).
Without Messiah the Messianic faith would not exist at all (Heb. 10:20; John 6:68-69; 1 Tim. 2:5).
Messiah is the divine Son of God, Immanuel–God with us (Isa. 7:14, 9:6-10).
God’s Oneness is manifested ‘One God,’ yet three persons–Tri-unity/ Echud = Unity (Gen. 1:2, 26 also cf Gen. 1:1 & John 1:1).
Prayers may be offered through the Messiah to the Father in heaven; also to him because he is divine (John 14:6; 15:16; Acts 7:59, 9:5).
He is the only true Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5)
The Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6)
Yeshua the Messiah sends the Paraclete to humankind. He is the ‘come–beside/call upon for help–Comforter and Helper’ for humankind. (John 14:15-17, 16:7-15).
Choose one of these prayers of commitment to give your life to God:
A sample prayer of commitment: prayer 1
Lord Yeshua /Jesus, I want to encounter you the true Jewish Yeshua/ Jesus and none other. I recognize that I have fallen short of living according to your commandment. Forgive me for all the wrong that I have thought, said, or done. Cleanse me from all my sin and help me to turn away from living a sinful life. I open my heart and mind to your lifegiving Spirit. I invite you to become my Lord and Messiah. I confess you as my risen Lord and Saviour. I give you the whole of my life to no longer live for myself but live for you. I give you my time that I may spend it serving you. I give you my hands to do your work. I give you my feet to go your way. I give you my tongue to speak your words. I give you my mind that you may think in me. I give you my spirit that you may pray in me. Above all, I give you my heart so that I may love our Father God and seek to walk/live for him and that I may also be given a love for all humankind. I give you my whole self that you may grow in me, so that it is you, Lord Yeshua /Jesus, who live and work and pray in me. Amen
A Prayer of Commitment Lord God, prayer 2
Please forgive me for all the things I have done wrong. I turn to you and turn away from sin.
[Pause. Silently ask forgiveness for anything you know is keeping you from God ]
Yeshua /Jesus, please be the centre of my life. I welcome you personally as Lord, Messiah and Saviour of my life. I ask you, to fill me and empower me with your Rauch HaKodesh/Holy Spirit, to live my life as a child of God. I ask you to give me your grace to truly live a new life. Thank you for hearing my prayer through Messiah Yeshua our Lord. Amen.
A Prayer of Commitment Lord God, prayer 3
“God, I know I am a sinner, and I am sorry for the sins I have committed. I know my sins put distance between us and I know I cannot save myself. Only Your Son, Yeshua, can save me and eliminate the distance between us. I believe He is Your Son, who died on the executioner’s stake for my sins and rose from the dead. I receive Him as my Savior and accept Your offer of forgiveness and everlasting life. Thank you, Father. In Yeshua’s Name I pray. Amen.”