What can be done to resist the cultural attractions of Tradition in both Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism…..which, by their very nature, contribute to and reinforce the barriers that keep Jewish and Gentile believers apart….and therefore prevent any progress in Jewish and Gentile believers becoming the ‘one new man’ of Ephesians 2.15?
There are at least two possible routes to follow that could make progress:
The First Route:
When Jesus began His public ministry in the first century, the only method by which He could be assessed by people on whether He was the Messiah…or not, was the written evidence of the prophecies about Messiah in the Tanach, the Old Testament.
The Rabbis had examined these prophecies in considerable detail over many years, and concluded that Messiah must establish His identity with three specific proofs:
1. Messiah must be a member of the Tribe of Judah as noted in Isaiah 11:
Isaiah 11.1 & 10 ‘There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots…..and in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.’
In these verses Jesse is clearly of the Tribe of Judah.
2. Messiah must perform a series of Miracles that are listed in Isaiah
chapters 29, 35, 42, and 61. For example:
The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me:
to preach good tidings to the poor; …
to heal the broken hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives, and
the opening of the prison to those who are bound…
3. Messiah must reveal Himself as the S’kinah Glory. The S’kinah Glory is a Rabbinic phrase that describes the visible manifestation of God Himself which was seen by Abraham in Genesis 18:
The LORD appeared to Abraham by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day.
It was on the authority of the written evidence of these three specific proofs that Jesus was to be judged as Messiah. The written Old Testament was the authority in the first century, as it should be today, with the addition of the New Testament.
This is The First Route to follow in order to make progress in the task of Jewish and Gentile believers becoming ‘one new man’.
There must be an agreed starting point….and what better starting point than that used in the time of Jesus….the Messiah Himself!!
So, if we are to accept the authority of the Bible, where does that leave the authority of Tradition? The answer must be that the authority of Tradition is accepted ONLY on the basis that it agrees with, and is consistent with, the authority of the Bible.
That is The First Route to enabling Jewish and Gentile believers to become the ‘one new man’ of Ephesians 2.15.
Until the next bog….and The Second Route…