"'Can two walk together, without having met one another?'" Amos 3:3 - from the Hebrew

Walking Together

Those of us who have Jewish friends have a great privilege and also a great responsibility. Jewish people, collectively, have a long and unhappy history of suffering at the hands of people who called themselves Christians (rightly or wrongly) Even now, the Jewish nation is the subject of a cruel and hateful campaign coming out of many churches. Much Christian material distorts the Hebrew Scriptures to further a Gentile Christian agenda.

So if we want to be true friends to Jewish people, we must be sensitive and honest, before jumping in and arguing a simplistic Gospel.

One Jew and one Christian have set out on a journey together, studying the Hebrew Bible / Hebrew scriptures / Takakh together. They are Nehemia Gordon, a Karaite Jew and Keith Johnson, a Methodist pastor. Here is an introduction to their story.

"Many factors could have conspired to prevent us from ever writing this book. First and foremost, we could not be more different. One of us is a white Jew, while the other is an African American Christian. This is not just a difference of race but, more importantly, of culture and religion. One of us was raised in the bookish culture of dry Jewish intellectualism, while the other was nurtured in the Jesus-focused spirit-led world of an inner-city church.

In our desire to be guided by the word of God, we looked to the words of the prophet Amos, which are translated in the King James Version of the Bible:

Can two walk together, except they be agreed."
We agonized over the question of whether a Jew and a Christian could walk together when not agreed on fundamental issues of faith. This inspired us to examine the words of Amos in the original Hebrew, and we discovered that what the prophet actually said was:
'Can two walk together, without having met one another?'

We decided to take up the challenge of Amos and meet one another on common ground in order to walk together humbly before God. We did this by focusing on our common scriptural heritage, the Old Testament, while respecting our mutual differences. We found that these differences allowed for a unique collaboration that helped us better understand the ancient prophetic writings that each of us holds dear.
As the biblical Abraham went forth from the land of his forefathers on a journey guided only by his faith, we embarked on a study of the Avinu Prayer not knowing where we would be led. We found that, beyond understanding the Hebrew meaning of a prayer taught by a Galilean Jew from Nazareth, we discovered a path of reconciliation that this ancient prayer invited us to walk. We invite you, the reader, to join us on this journey to explore the Hebrew origins of the Avinu Prayer, commonly known as the "Lord's Prayer."

Our journey to common ground began when I left my home to study the Bible and Nehemia left his home to live it. We ended up meeting in the ancient city of Jerusalem with a shared passion for the Word of God."

Why can't Jews see that Yeshua is the one referred to in all those Old Testament prophecies?

An issue between Christians and Jews, as experienced and discussed by Nehemia Gordon - A Karaite Jew; not a believer in Yeshua.

Nehemia met a Christian lady who asked him, in genuine perplexity, Why he did not believe that Yeshua is the Messiah when there are three hundred and fifty prophecies about him in the Old Testament/ Tanakh. The trouble is, as Nehemia explained, that Jews will read those prophecies and see no connection to Yeshua or the Messiah.

Nehemia discussed this issue with Methodist pastor AJ Bernard in a bonus edition of the Prophet Pearls series, available from Nehemia's Wall. #49 - Ki Teitzei (bonus audio) Summary below.

How does the New Testament use the Prophets?

For example - Matthew says that Yeshua and his parents returning from Egypt having fled from Herod was a fulfilment of the prophecy, "out of Egypt I have called my son."

Matthew 2:14,15 So he got up, took the child and his mother, and left during the night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod died. This happened in order to fulfil what Adonai had said through the prophet, "Out of Egypt I called my son."

But Matthew does not name the origin of this prophecy, which is Hosea 11:1

Hosea 11:1 "When Isra'el was a child, I loved him; and out of Egypt I called my son.

There is a gulf between Jewish and Christian reading of this prophecy. Jews will rightly say that the verse in context is speaking of Israel; not the Messiah, while Christians will read Matthew's quoting of it and instantly see it as being Messianic.

Whilst some might say Matthew was trying to trick us by misusing scripture, Nehemia explored how the New Testament writers might be using scripture in unexpected ways.

In this prophet pearls programme, he looks at the only two prophecies in which a person is named, 150 and 300 years before the event took place. (Josiah and Cyrus)

So, clearly, Messianic and other Tanakh prophecies are not like this and the NT has to identify and use them differently. Nehemia suggest that the New Testament contains its own clue as to how the prophecies about Jesus/Yeshua are used.

Read the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus - Luke 24:13

One may well ask how disciples who had walked with Jesus and heard him teach could be so ignorant, but we have the advantage over them of being able to look back at events. Being first century Jews, they would have been very aware of the prophecies of the Messiah coming to free Israel from Gentile rule, See the disciples' last question to Yeshua.

Acts 1:6 When they were together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore self-rule to Isra'el?"

So when and how did they go from not seeing these prophecies to seeing and understanding them?

Luke 24:31,32 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. But he became invisible to them. They said to each other, "Didn't our hearts burn inside us as he spoke to us on the road, opening up the Tanakh to us?"

They had a spiritual encounter with Yeshua that enabled them to understand (through the Holy Spirit / Ruach ha kodesh) .

When Nehemia was talking to that Christian lady about the 350 prophecies, he asked her if she came to believe because of those prophecies, to which she replied that she had not, but had come to believe because of having a spiritual encounter with Jesus.

That is what Luke is telling us through this story - these prophecies mean nothing until the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to us, but after that we can look back at the prophecies and understand.

As Nehemia put it, Jews and Christians are talking past each other.


More from Keith and Nehemia

Nehemia came up with a couple of good points in one study of Isaiah.

One about Israel's role as a light to the nations

The other was a really intriguing question about the relationship of Jews and Gentile Christians in Isaiah 61 v5-6, with a connection to Revelation 3 v9 .

Find Nehemia Gordon here - Nehemia's Wall and Makor Hebrew Foundation

Find Keith Johnson here - Biblical Foundations Accademy International


The Relevance of this to wildolive

This discussion has a particular connection to the wild olive model of Romans 9 to 11, leading Paul/Sha'ul to conclude,

Romans 11:25 For, brothers, I want you to understand this truth which God formerly concealed but has now revealed, so that you won't imagine you know more than you actually do. It is that stoniness, to a degree, has come upon Isra'el, until the Gentile world enters in its fullness; and that it is in this way that all Isra'el will be saved. As the Tanakh says, "Out of Tziyon will come the Redeemer; he will turn away ungodliness from Ya`akov.

If we have had the benefit of a revelation from God that he has yet to grant to most Jews, we should not be looking down on them or haranguing them. We must not fall into the same error as Martin Luther, who became violently anti-Semitic after the Jews declined to embrace his preaching.

Our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel), has a glorious plan of salvation for the world that none of us appear to be able to fully comprehend. All we can do is study and pray and do our best to keep up in the Holy Spirit's grace and do it in humility.

Updated 26/10 /15

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