Rabbi Schneider - The Oral Law Versus Written Law
Once again consider how is it that because Jesus didn't come to start a new religion, remember He said in Matthew, 5:17-18, He said, Do not think I have come to abolish the law and the prophets. I've not come to abolish but to fulfill. So how is it then that Jesus said He came to fulfill that which had already been given to the Jewish people, to their forefathers and prophets, how is it now that the world looks at Christianity and Judaism as two totally different religions; that Jewish people look at Christianity as a different religion from Judaism, and most Christian people look at Judaism as a totally different religion than Christianity? This ought not to be. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna go back in time, beloved ones. We're gonna go back in history and we're gonna trace how these two movements separated from each other. Let's begin just by asking for revelation from Father God.
Father, we love You today, and we worship You. Father, we ask You to give us divine intelligence by the Holy Spirit. Father, we ask You to help Your people understand how things have become what they are, and that understanding, Father, we would be able to look at the lens of your Scriptures through the right perspective, in Jesus' name. Amen and Amen.
Now on the previous episodes, I began to introduce the topic. I discussed, beloved, the jealousy of the religious leadership, and how the jealousy of the religious Jewish leadership of Jesus' day caused a separation between the movement that Jesus launched versus that religion that the Jewish leadership was entrenched in 2,000 years ago. I talked about that. I talked also about the theological challenges that when Jesus claimed that He was in the Father, the Father was in Him, and that He and the Father were equal. When He began to declare that He had the authority to forgive sins, etc. that that was anathema to the Rabbinic mindset of Jesus' day because they saw God as being so far beyond anything that could be... inhabited.
Or let me say it this way, they didn't, they weren't able to conceive of what we call the incarnation. The incarnation is the theological term that we use that God clothed Himself in humanity. So as Jesus, beloved ones, appeared in human form and said that the Father was in Him; that He was in the Father; that He and the Father were one, the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus' day just ripped their clothes. They just thought that was anathema. They thought it was, that it was the worst type of blasphemy for a man to make himself to be equal with God. And we talked about that again, beloved ones, in a previous broadcast.
So I'm gonna move forward now, but I do want to encourage you, get this series because there's so much historical information here. And it will so ground you in the truth of what we're all about at Discovering the Jewish Jesus, which I believe is the Father's heart in helping His people to understand the Hebraic or Jewish roots of their faith. It's a really important series to be able to get, study, take notes on, etc. So moving ahead then today with these introductory comments, we're gonna talk about another reason that the Christian movement was separated from her Jewish roots. It has to do, beloved, with a misunderstanding of the use of the term Jew, particularly in John's Gospel.
Of course today, beloved ones, we're all familiar with the fact that there's lots of anti, anti-Semitism around the world today. And for some people the word Jew, you know, is a dirty word. Even Jewish people, because of the way that the world has used the term Jew as an anti-Semitic word so often; you know, we heard unfortunately the term, the filthy Jews. Because the word Jew has been liked to anti-Semitism, it is culturally more acceptable for a Jewish person to be referred to as Jewish, as opposed to being a Jew; again, because the word has often been linked to anti-Semitism. And some of this goes as far back, beloved, as a misunderstanding of the term Jew in John's Gospel.
Let me show you what I mean. We're gonna go to John's Gospel and we're gonna be examining the way that he used the term Jew here and how people that didn't have understanding could have seen it as anti-Semitic. I'm going now to begin to illustrate this to the Gospel of John, chapter 5. And I'm gonna be reading here now verse number 15-16. Hear the Word of God. Jesus had just got done healing somebody, and He said, Go and sin no more so that nothing worse will happen. And then in verse 15, John, 5, we read this: The man went away, and told the Jews, there's that term Jew, the man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus that had made him well. Now who did he tell, 'cause remember everybody was Jewish in the area that Jesus was ministering in.
So the man that Jesus healed was Jewish. The people that were the common people that saw him get healed, they were Jewish. But now we read that this man went away and told the Jews. That doesn't make sense. How could that be because they were all Jews? Listen further and you'll understand. The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Then the next verse, 16, says: For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. So you see, the way that John is using the word Jews here, it applies to, get this now, the Judean religious leadership. It had to do, the way that John most often used the term Jews in his Gospel, is that he was referring, get it now, beloved, to the religious leadership in the geographical region of Judea.
So we have the term Jews as a general term meaning all the Jewish people. But remember, so many of the Jewish people believed in Jesus. Remember when He walked into Jerusalem they were lining the streets. Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. So many Jewish people believed in Him. The first church was all Jewish. But the way that John often times uses the term Jew is not to refer to the general population which was Jewish, but John is referring specifically here to the religious leadership living in the land of Judea. Again we see that in John, chapter 5, verse 15-16. Now we're gonna take this a step further and I'm gonna give you more example more, more illustration of this.
I'm going now to the Gospel of John, beloved ones. Hear the Word of God. This is the testimony of John, get this now, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are You? The Jewish leadership is sending agents to Jesus to question Him as to who He was. Notice again the word Jews here is referring specifically to the religious Jewish leadership; not all Jewish people in general, but the Jewish leadership. I'm gonna read it again, John, 1:19: This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests, what Jews? The religious leaders. When the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are You? What's the point?
The point is that because the term Jews is used throughout John's Gospel in a disfavorably way, some people that don't have this understanding that he was referring just to the religious leadership, not to all Jewish people in general, have developed, listen now, an anti-Semitic spirit against Jewish people. I want to show you this, beloved, even further. I'm going now to the Gospel of John, chapter number 4. Remember, this is all in John's Gospel. Here we see the term Jews used in the general sense. And what does Jesus say in 4:22, to guard against becoming anti-Semitic? Jesus says in John, 4:22, to the woman from Samaria, the woman at the well. He says this.
I want you to remember this verse and commit it to memory; John, 4:22. He said to her, You worship, because she wasn't Jewish, she was a Samaritan. He said to her, You worship what you do not know; we, who's we? He's speaking of the Jewish people. He said, We worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews. So here we see that there's not anti-Semitic language at this point. Jesus said salvation is from the Jews. And as we continue this theme, if we go to the Book of Revelation, chapter number 3, verse number 7, these words: And to the angels of the church in Philadelphia write: and this is Jesus Himself talking, He said, He who is holy... He's speaking of Himself. He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one who opens says this.
So Jesus is describing Himself as the One who holds the key of David. But when He speaks of the Jewish religious leadership, those that opposed Him, He speaks in a different way. And so when speaking of the religious leadership there, Jesus actually uses some very, very strong language. When He speaks about the Jewish religious leadership that opposed Him, He said, Those that say they are Jews but are not, but are actually, He said, from the synagogue of Satan. And so here we have two different uses of the term Jews. We have the Jewish religious leadership which was painted very disparagingly by Jesus and in John's Gospel because of their rejection of the Prince of Peace. But I don't' want you to confuse that with the Jewish people in general, which unfortunately, too many Gentile Christians have done and have come up with an anti-Semitic spirit as a result.
Why are we talking about this? Because we're talking about how Judaism and Christianity separated from each other. And one of the ways that they got separated is because the church adopted an anti-Semitic mindset towards the Jewish people because they misunderstood the term Jew in John's Gospel. Kapish? Everybody understand today? I hope you do. If not, get, get the teaching and move on. And by the way, these teachings, beloved, they're even available at no cost to you on LightSource and through YouTube. And so please understand that we're not trying to sell you anything. We're here to minister, to teach God's Word, and we let God take care of the rest and give us the finances that we need to continue. Beloved, if God's talking to you, I want to encourage you, support the ministry, because without you I can't continue to teach what I'm teaching.
Let me continue on now. What is another reason that Judaism and Christianity separated from each other? This is really fascinating. Many of us didn't realize that Jewish people today, the Orthodox Jewish community today, and this tradition that I'm about to describe to you goes all the way back to before the time of Jesus. This is what the Orthodox Jewish community today believes, and this is also what the religious community of Jesus' day believed, the Pharisees. This is what they believe; that when Moses was on top of Mount Sinai, he didn't just receive the Ten Commandments, and that which he wrote down in the Torah, the first five books of our Bible, what, which is often called the Pentateuch. They believe that Moses didn't just receive what he wrote down in the Ten Commandments and the first five books of our Bible.
But Orthodox Jews and the religious Pharisees of Jesus' day believe that Moses also received other information that he did not write down. But instead of writing it down, he passed it down orally to what is called the seventy elders of Israel, which we read about in the Book of Exodus, 24; that they say Moses had other information, more revelation that he received from the LORD on top of Mount Sinai; revelation that he didn't write down in the Torah or the Pentateuch, or the first five books of our Bible. But instead what he did is he passed it on orally to the seventy elders of Israel, which is described in Exodus, 24. And then these seventy elders of Israel passed this tradition on that Moses, they say, received to the rest of Israel.
So what Orthodox Judaism believes is that there's all this other information that Jewish people are bound to today, and that Jewish people of Jesus' day should have been bound to, even though it wasn't written down. And we begin to see this unfold in color in the Book of Mark, chapter number 7. So let's go now to the Book of Mark, chapter number 7, to illustrate this. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but beloved ones, the Word of God abides forever. We're talking about a tradition that is known as the Oral Law. In other words, they believe that the law that binds God's people together, doesn't just consist of that which is written, but that which was orally passed on through Moses. I'm gonna begin there in the 3rd verse.
Hear the Word of God: For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, listen now, thus observing the tradition of the elders... That word, the traditions of the elders, is very important. So there was this, this rule. There were these regulations that you couldn't eat in Jesus' day, again Mark, 7, verse 3, without going through this ceremonial washing. And they believed and taught that if you didn't wash your hands in this ceremonial way and said a specific blessing along with that, that you were violating God's commandments. So what was Jesus' response to that?
Let's continue on to, to focus on this in, in this Book of Mark, chapter 7. Hear what Jesus said. Jesus said, in verse number 6, Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. Now get this: But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men. Neglecting the commandment of God, He said, you hold fast to the tradition of men. And Jesus actually went on to say in verse number 13, that in so doing they were invalidating the Word of God. So Jesus said this; He's speaking to the religious leadership there.
Now and I want you to know, I speak this very humbly and very lovingly, and very respectfully. But what Jesus was saying to the religious leadership there is these traditions that you say are from God, these traditions that you say that Moses received when he was on Mount Sinai, that he never wrote down, but instead passed them on orally, verbally to the seventy elders of Israel who then passed them on to the rest of Israel. This information, Jesus said, that you say was given to Moses at Sinai, He said, no, He said, these are just the traditions of men.
And so this creates a large conflict between those Messianic Jewish people like myself that follow Jesus, and the Orthodox Jewish community because the Orthodox Jewish community has a lot of other regulation and a lot of other laws that they say Moses received at Mount Sinai. But since they're not written down in the Torah, or the first five books of the Bible, Messianic Jewish people like myself by and large, we don't see these Orthodox rules as binding revelation or having come from God. Now let me say, very lovingly and respectfully, I think a lot of the traditions in Orthodox Judaism are very beautiful and can be very helpful as we're seeking to follow Jesus and be led by the Spirit.
And believe me, I'm not under the law and I don't put anybody under the law. But I'm just showing respect towards my tradition and towards my ancestry. But Jesus was very clear that the regulations that were not written down during Jesus' day, were not coming from the revelation of Father God at Mount Sinai but were the traditions of men. Now let me say this; that eventually beginning around 200 A.D. they did begin to write these oral traditions down. And they, they wrote them down, and then they developed a commentary on these, these traditions that were now written down. And together these two, the Oral Law, which was eventually written down and the commentary on it, these two together are called the Talmud, and it was completed around 500 A.D.
And so today when, when Rabbis go to Yeshiva, what we, what we would call seminary, it's called in Judaism at Yeshiva to study, they study a lot from the Talmud. And again, it's the written version of what was then the Oral Law. So just summing up, because Jesus didn't teach that the Oral Law actually came from Mount Sinai, He called it the tradition of the elders. Remember, we read that in Exodus, 24, that they say Moses had these seventy elders. Because Jesus said, listen, a lot of this stuff that you guys are teaching as coming from God, it's just your own tradition. He said it's the tradition of men. And so because Jesus taught that and as followers of Jesus we agree with Jesus, that creates a separation between Rabbinic Judaism and those of us that are following Jesus. We're following Jesus and other people are following this Oral Law that Jesus called the tradition of men.