Messiah will/has come: Jewish, Messianic Jewish and Roman Catholic positions

Why is there no other name but Jesus that matters? Because Jesus Christ is what salvation means (Jesus means salvation”). This is the central doctrine of the Gospel, and used to be the central doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church until Vatican 2 (1962), which introduced the idea of universal salvation (Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and others – EXCEPT Protestants). Here is an anecdote that expresses an opinion I (a former Catholic) and Catholics I knew held. Roy Schoeman, a Jew, relates his interesting journey to the Catholic Church. Here is the part of his story when he spent a week at a Carthusian monastery: 

One day when I was working alone in the fields, an elderly monk came out to speak with me. He approached and shyly asked, “Tell us, if you don’t mind ­ We couldn’t help noticing that you do not receive communion, so you must not be Catholic. What then are you?” When I replied “Jewish”, he grinned and with a deep sigh said “That’s a relief! We were afraid you were Protestant!”. At the time I had no understanding at all of the difference between Protestants and Catholics they were just meaningless words describing Christians ­ yet I was deeply struck by the fact that in some mysterious way this monk identified with Jews as opposed to Protestants. I later realized that in his eyes Jews were “elder brothers in the Faith” who had not yet received the grace to recognize the Messiahship of Jesus, whereas Protestants had once had, but then rejected, the fullness of the truth.” (John 17 and Catholic Universalism: That they may be One – (Reformed) Protestants need not apply).

There is another Jew, who believes the Messiah has already come. He is Messianic Rabbi Michael Schiffman who writes that MessianiZc Judaism and Christianity share the same Messiah but are different religions. He says:

While traditional synagogues don’t acknowledge Yeshua, nevertheless, He is there. For me, He is the Messiah of Israel. As the brothers of Joseph did not recognize him when they stood before him, because all they saw was an Egyptian ruler, he remained their brother. He fed them and took care of them, and would not take their money for the grain they bought, because he remained their brother. When he revealed himself to them, he comforted them, and told them to come near, because they were his brothers. Joseph is a picture of Yeshua. As Joseph acted toward his brothers, so will Yeshua act toward his. He loves them, and will comfort them, and take care of them, which, after all, is the job of the Messiah.” 
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Here is a comment on the Rabbi’s post from “ProclaimLiberty.” (My italics): 

I believe Dr.Schiffman hinted at a theological concept that might be called “the hidden messiah” (or “the unseen/unrecognized Yeshua”), which is a means to view an implicit relationship between Jews who reject the “Jesus” of the Gentiles and this hidden messiah who is the salvation of HaShem (“Y’shu’at HaShem”). Thus, when they approach HaShem, they too are coming to the Father through the auspices of Yeshua. As for the “remnant” problem, Jewish history is also replete with Jews who chase after other values and do not approach HaShem with any kind of faith at all. The judgement that may fall upon these individuals in the end of days will be nuanced by all that they have done and by all that has been done to them. It remains to be seen how zthat will effect the definition of the term “all” in the reference that says all Israel will be saved. But it is not accurate to limit this remnant to only those Jews who explicitly and religiously acknowledge Rav Yeshua as the Messiah.” 

With regard to the salvation of Ïsrael,“ ProclaimLiberty maintains that two kinds of Jews will be saved: 

1. Jews who have faith (and are faithful) to the Holy One of Israel,

and

2. Jews who will be judged by “all that they have done and by all that has been done to them.” Rabbi, Schiffman, in contrast, says “He loves them, and will comfort them, and take care of them, which, after all, is the job of the Messiah.”

I infer that “them” means all (Jews) without exception. In this regard, the Rabbi appeals to Romans 11:1: “I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew [fore loved].” Like the Apostle Paul, the Rabbi has great sorrow for his Jewish people but notice the exception Paul makes:

Romans 9

The sorrow of the Apostle

1 I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

God’s Sovereign Choice

6 It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”8 In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.”

It is clear that only a remnant of Jews will be saved. According to ProclaimLiberty, “it is not accurate to limit this remnant to only those Jews who explicitly and religiously acknowledge Rav Yeshua as the Messiah.” This view, according to many scriptures, is wrong. For example, John 8: (My emphasis)

So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

These were “Jews who had believed him.” This belief was obviously not in whom Jesus said he was but in what these Jews wanted to believe Jesus was. In sum, according to Jesus, they were sons of the father of lies. 

Christ says “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). Christ is the light. No human being has any light in himself waiting to shine forth. 

As for ProclaimLiberty’s “The judgement that may fall upon these individuals in the end of days will be nuanced by all that they have done and by all that has been done to them,” this radical kind of “works” salvation is also wrong – terribly wrong. In this schematic, not even faith is required, which theRoman Catholic system does require. This works salvation reminds me of one of Art Katz’s talks, where he describes a movement within Lubavitch-Chabad who drive round New York in specially outfitted vans to pick up Jews on the street and get them to put on tefillin. If enough Jews did it the critical mass, whatever that was Messiah would come. Talking of critical mass, here is a comment on a Chabad article Who is Mosiach? the basics. [My square brackets].

It seems that on a scale it only takes 1 grain of sand to tip two equal portions to one side or the other. When the scale tips it tips completely to one side or the other. I think the critical mass is simply 50.000001% of the Jewish population keeping Shabbos for instance. Possibly 1 of 2 of the greatest gifts Hashem gave us. Those who keep Shabbos understand the value of this gift clearly. Why then aren’t we creating an International Shabbos day and selling it like we sell the Superbowl. With Jewish celebrities promoting it in all corners of the Earth. Chabad is trying this but it needs to be on a much much bigger scale. How can we promote this idea to give all of those who have strayed from the path after all of these generations in gullus [galut – “exile”] – a taste of Gad [Gan – “garden”?] Eden? 

The Lubavitcher Rabbi Schneerson (the Rebbe) expressed the “critical mass” idea differently: “”the Moshiach is waiting for that one tiny act of lovingkindness to tip the scales, then he will come.” (Saved by .000001% and a slight movement of the chest: Jewish and Islamic views of redemption). 

I return to Roy Schoeman’s story of his conversion to Roman Catholicism: “I was deeply struck by the fact that in some mysterious way this monk identified with Jews as opposed to Protestants. I later realized that in his eyes Jews were ‘elder brothers in the Faith’ who had not yet received the grace to recognize the Messiahship of Jesus.” 

The modern Roman Catholic position (since Vatican 2) is far more pliant – I would say obsequious -to these “elder brothers.” No more talk of the Jews not yet receiving the grace to recognize the Messiahship of Jesus. Indeed, there is no longer any conflict between the Jewish expectancy of a first-time Messiah and the New Testament expectancy of a second-time Messiah. The Roman Catholic Church says the Messiah’s come already, the Jew says, He’s still to come. “Why all this fuss over chronology? After all, the Messiah must be the same Messiah for both Jews and Christians/Messianic Jews,“ some may ask. The New Testament, alas, states otherwise as we read in John 8 above where Jesus says to the Jews who reject his claims that they are not of God. The upshot, without faith in Jesus/Yeshua as the (suffering) Messiah, their future expectation is in vain. No, says the modern Roman Catholic Church: 

Jewish messianic expectation is not in vain. It can become for us Christians a powerful stimulant to keep alive the eschatological dimension of our faith. Like them, we too live in expectation. The difference is that for us the One who is to come will have the traits of the Jesus who has already come and is already present and active among us” (The Pontifical Biblical Commission statement (2002), entitled “The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible”). 

How could such an expectation be not vain, given that they refuse Christ, the only Messiah, who has already come? This means, if taken to its logical conclusion, that the refusal of the mystery of the Incarnation, of the birth of our Divine Savior in the flesh, is no longer a sin of infidelity, is no longer a grave sin against God. If this were the case, how could it still be true for the already-come Messiah to say: “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No man cometh to the Father but by me” (John 14:6)? 

Paul says “all Israel will be saved” what is the context of “all?” Paul means all Israel “of the promise,” which are the ones who believe (abiding in belief – the “believing”ones) Jesus/Yeshua is the Christ/Messiah. Paul says in Romans 9, which he reaffirms in Romans 11 that only a remnant of (ethnic) Israel will be saved, and the reason that they will be saved is not that they’re “ethic” and dedicated to repairing the world. The reason is that God has mercy on those he wants to have mercy, which has stones to do with how many Jews do tefillin or how many acts of kindness they do.

 

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