CLASSIC REPRINT: The Purim-Passover Connection

From last year, an article on the little known connections between Passover and Purim. I pray your Purim celebration is filled with joy this weekend.

What do hamentaschen and matzos have in common? What accord could there be between Pharaoh and Haman, Moses and Mordecai, Miriam and Esther? Continue reading

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Robin Parry: New Article on Universalism

The new Rob Bell book has the topic of universalism on the minds of millions. Robin Parry (who wrote a much better book than Bell’s on the subject) writes here about seven myths concerning Christian universalism. As I have said, my mind is not made up and may never be about this issue, but I’ve not heard good arguments against a balanced universalism yet. I’ve seen much heat but little light. Here is Parry’s excellent article from “The Baptist Times.”

Look for Gregory MacDonald (a pseudonym for Robin Parry), The Evangelical Universalist, on amazon.

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PODCAST – The UnConqueror – Yeshua in Context

The last part of Isaiah is about a figure who has been described as the Anointed Conqueror, a messianic figure whose robe is dipped in blood, who brings vindication, but who also sets the oppressed free and binds up the broken-hearted. Yeshua came home to Nazareth and read from Isaiah 58 and 61 in his synagogue. He left out the vengeance part. How does Luke make this the quintessence of Yeshua’s career, the guiding narrative of his healing, exorcism, and kingdom preaching?

COMING: Seminar in Atlanta. June 5, “Eyewitnesses in the Gospels.” Email me at yeshuaincontext at gmail to register. More Yeshua in Context resources coming in 2011: a Children’s series of books, an Audio-Commentary on Mark, Yeshua for Small Groups, and Discipleship in Yeshua.

(1) Subscribe on iTunes (search Yeshua in the iTunes Store and find us under podcasts).
(2) or go to this link at to listen.

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Luke’s Temptation Narrative

At the Yeshua in Context blog I have some commentary today on Luke’s Temptation account. Why does Luke emphasize the filling of the Spirit? How is Luke’s understanding of the Spirit more subtle than the usual way people think about Spirit-filling? How is it like the levels of Glory/Presence in the Torah and prophets? And why does Luke have a different order of temptations than Matthew? See the “Temptation in Luke” here.

For other articles on the Temptation: “The Father-Son Relationship in the Temptation” and “The New Israel and New Moses Theme and the Temptation.”

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Rabbi Kinbar on “Four Generations” and Discipleship

This is what we who follow Yeshua need to be about:

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Richard Beck on Universalism as Biblical Truth

Everybody’s talking about universalism these days (because of a new book by Rob Bell called Love Wins). There are several kinds. One kind, and the one that interests me, does not deny judgment or hell. It simply says that there is redemption from hell. Hell is not the last word.

My mind is not completely made up. It may never be. Who ever said the answers to questions like these should be obvious? But, it is a good thing to question dogma with scripture. Let me say that again: question dogma with scripture. The problem is that dogmatists will call you a liberal or some other intended insult.

For a theological case for universalism, I recommend Gregory MacDonald’s The Evangelical Universalist (the real author is Robin Parry using a pseudonym). For a good, fast read on a biblical case for universalism, try this excellent post by Richard Beck: “Musings about Universalism, Part 6: Why Universalism is More Biblical.”

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Poor in Spirit

How important is it to interpret a biblical text well? Obsession with details of theology, which is at least close to the same thing as obsession with a good interpretation of a sacred text, has been compared to speculating about how many angels fit on the head of a pin.

Cliches like splitting hairs, chopping logic, quibbling over details, or making fine distinctions come to mind as the probable result of insisting on a good interpretation of a few words from an ancient saying. After all, do the differences really amount to much?

Well, I think they do. Take the phrase “poor in spirit” for example. Continue reading

Posted in Bible, ethics, Faith, Gospel, Life to Come, Messianic Jewish, Yeshua, Yeshua In Context | 1 Comment

Learning, MJ Style

Lots of new and relatively new learning centers are making a bright future for Messianic Judaism and Judeo-Christians. I will list here some of the great learning resources, some new and others not-so-new, that are out there. I also want to describe a trend that I think makes learning centers even more important right now than ever.

This is all especially on my mind because we just leased new facilities here in Atlanta (Roswell, Georgia, actually) for the Hope of David Learning Center (and Tikvat David Messianic Congregation). And through a web of friendships, we are cooperating with various other learning centers and resource organizations. If you are in Atlanta, we’d love to have you take classes in Hebrew, Torah, rabbinics, mussar, intermarriage issues, biblical studies, and more. There will also be summer seminars and you may want to come in from out of town and join us at least once this year.

Now, here is more about why learning centers are so important and links to more info about Messianic Jewish and Judeo-Christian learning resources. Continue reading

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Maggid: The Story in the Passover Haggadah

If you heard that Passover was a telling of the Exodus story and then opened a Passover haggadah to read what is inside, you’d be surprised by the strange lack of reference to Moses, by the lack of a sustained telling of the familiar story of plagues and passover and exodus. You’d find something else instead: the Maggid portion of the haggadah, which makes up one-third of its total length.

And the Maggid, you might say, is the Passover story put together by a committee, a committee over many generations with different angles and emphases.

Another way to look at it is that the Maggid is a mature collection of stories for advanced contemplators, who know the familiar story too well to dwell on basics. The Maggid is a series of midrashes, mainly on Deuteronomy 26:5-9. The following is commentary on the Maggid with based primarily on information from My People’s Passover Haggadah (eds. Lawrence Hoffman and David Arnow). Continue reading

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PODCAST: Birth Issues – Yeshua in Context

The birth stories of Yeshua have issues. It’s not easy to understand why there are such big differences between them. It’s not easy to answer how the evangelists could have obtained the information in their accounts. And the virginal conception of Yeshua is not as obviously historical as many would make it out to be.

Should we ignore the problems and smooth over the differences? Will that approach to reading the gospels increase faith and make more disciples for Yeshua? I don’t think so. I think we need to honestly face the birth issues. This is my attempt.

TRANSCRIPT: If you prefer reading, a transcript is posted at

COMING: Mark: An Audio-Commentary from a Judeo-Christian Perspective in late May or early June. We are making progress on the Messiah Yeshua Children’s Series as well.

THIS SUMMER: A Southeast U.S. Release Party for the Delitzsch Hebrew-English gospels at our new facility in Roswell, Georgia. Likely time-frame is July. Details to come. Guest speakers include Boaz Michael of Vine of David and guest musicians Roman and Alaina Wood will be with us. We will hold a Pastor’s event as part of this as well.

(1) Subscribe on iTunes (search the iTunes Store and find us under Podcasts)
(2) Or go to this link on

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Messiah’s Desire (vs. Satan’s)

Passover is a time when we think about not only Exodus but also, as Messianic Jews and Christians, the Last Supper.

That train of thought led me to consider a saying of Yeshua at the Last Supper, a saying found in only one of the four gospels, about his desire. From there I realized there were a few more indications of things Messiah desired then and perhaps desires now. And then, also from the Last Supper, we have a saying about Satan’s desire.

What should we know about Messiah’s desire (and Satan’s)? Continue reading

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Passover: The Mystery of Maror-Lettuce-Horseradish-Whatever

This or this?

Ever get confused about the two elements of the Passover Seder plate called maror and chazeret? Ever wonder why some use prepared horseradish as maror and yet the haggadah calls for dipping the maror in the charoset (apple mixture)? How do you “dip” grated horseradish into anything? I’m not even beginning to get into all the combinations and confusions and variations in the vegetables of the Seder plate. Is it lettuce? Prepared horseradish? Sliced horseradish root? Parsley? Onion? What combination? Continue reading

Posted in Holidays, Passover | 3 Comments

The Psychology of Sacrifice

This might not seem like an interesting topic, but I assure you, it is not a purely academic matter. The reasons people offered burnt offerings to God in the Hebrew Bible are an interesting window into our reasons for repenting, giving, worshipping, fasting, engaging in deeds of service and love, and so on.

And this is not about “psychology of religion.” I haven’t even read a single paragraph of William James.

It is, rather, a reflection, during this week of reading Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1 – 5:26), of the reasons people of old sacrificed to God. And there were both joyful and fearful reasons. Continue reading

Posted in Bible, Sacrifices and Purity | 2 Comments

Creation, Tabernacle, Dwelling

My thoughts on this aren’t as fully formed as I would like. I’m sure there is more to this topic and it will need further exploration later. But we finished Exodus this past Shabbat and the theology of Tabernacle-as-mirror-to-Creation says some things about God’s intent, his aims, for . . . well, everything that is.

According to Torah, there is more to the little tent in the desert than meets the eye. I don’t think any of this was lost on readers and hearers in ancient Israel. This sort of theology embedded in sacred space and objects was normal and usual for them. How did the Israelites view the Tabernacle? Why the parallels to the Creation account? Why is the concept of God dwelling emphasized? Continue reading

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Seminars This Summer

We don’t have dates yet, but we’re planning two big seminars this summer in the Atlanta area (Roswell to be exact). Tikvat David just got the lease today on a new facility for classes, worship, and the beginnings of a library and learning community. Our space is over 4,000 square feet and we will have a great atmosphere for learning. We’re not only having seminars to bring people in from all over, but we’re developing a learning community here in Atlanta as well, something bigger than simply our congregation members.

(1) A Delitzsch Hebrew-English Gospels Southeast Release Party and Conference: Live music with Roman and Alaina Wood. Speakers will include myself, Boaz Michael, Aaron Eby, and maybe more from First Fruits of Zion. Come for a couple of days to Atlanta. We’ll have plenty for the kids to do as well and our facility will be very kid-friendly. There will also likely be a pastors’ event connected with this, perhaps just before or after.

(2) A “Taste of Talmud” Seminar with Rabbi Carl Kinbar. This will be a fantastic entree into rabbinic literature for people of varying levels of familiarity. There will be more to the learning than just the seminar. I don’t know details yet about Rabbi Kinbar’s educational offerings, but taking this class could be a stand-alone event for you or the beginning of more learning.

PLUS: ARE YOU IN ATLANTA? Click here for information on our classes at the Tikvat David Messianic Center.

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A New Passover Haggadah for Christians

Let me start by answering an objection that will occur to some readers, especially various mainstream Jewish readers who drop by: “Passover isn’t for Christians.” If you’ve heard this or if it comes into you mind, you really should take a step back, recognize the unseemly and untruthful and unloving nature of the statement, and relearn your history of Christianity and Judaism. Christians have been keeping Passover since the beginning of the Yeshua movement, and not just Messianic Jews and Jewish Christians. Not only is the Last Supper of Jesus a Passover-themed meal (though not truly a Seder), but even in the very non-Jewish congregation of Corinth, we find the Christians quite familiar with Passover (1 Cor 5 and 11).

Now that we have that out of the way . . . most Passover haggadahs are hard for non-Jews to use in a group setting. There is a lot of Hebrew. The unusual and midrashic nature of the traditional haggadah has many unfamiliar themes for Christians. If only there was a haggadah that has less Hebrew, tells the Passover story in a simpler manner, and which is designed to promote good Jewish-Christian relations, a spiritual experience of both the Exodus and the redemption in Yeshua, and which is suited especially for use by Christian families, small groups, and churches.

Enter First Fruits of Zion’s new book: Passover Encounter. More information and a review after the jump. Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews, FFOZ, Holidays, Passover | 5 Comments

Example of the Use of Hebrew Bible in Yeshua’s Story

Today on the Yeshua in Context blog:

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Passover Ideas for 2011

Pre-order time for the Vine of David haggadah is here. See bottom of this article for info. . . . If you’re like me and about forty million other Americans (Jewish and non-Jewish), you love Passover. Sure, you may have been through one or two boring Seders. I’m sure the leaders meant well. But hopefully you’ve also had the thrill of a night of remembrance where the mood transcended time and space, where you felt a part of something bigger, and where you knew redemption is no religious fantasy, but the order of the universe and the direction the Holy One is moving all things.

I thought about calling this post “Passover Ideas for Messianic Jews,” but I am aware that not only do Christians and Judeo-Christians read Messianic Jewish Musings, but also many traditional and/or secular Jewish people come here. They rarely comment. But, let’s face it: we’re more excited, on the average, than more normative Jewish groups about things like Passover.

In this post, I want to convince you not to just have one Seder this year . . . not just the one with mom and dad or the one with your synagogue or the one with your family and a few guests on the first night. But wait! you say. That’s a lot of work to set up more than one night. Not at all. You can have some even more enjoyable experiences by having more than one Seder and most of them can be informal. Continue reading

Posted in Holidays, Passover | 3 Comments

Some Passion Narratives Commentary

If you don’t follow along with us in the daily readings from Torah and the gospels (the “Daily D’var”) then you might enjoy this example of commentary which I send out daily to a list (right now about 150 people). Today’s commentary interests me in particular because it deals with the artistry of Mark, how his intertextuality (use of the innocent sufferer theme in Psalms) is done so seamlessly, so invisibly. Chapter 15 of Yeshua in Context (“Crucifixion Irony”) is all about how this presentation of Messiah’s death screams with irony. See today’s comments on Mark 15:16-24 here.

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Cool Feedback from a “Gospel Test” Taker

I’ve had a lot of interaction with people who took my “Gospel Proficiency Test” at the Yeshua in Context blog. See it here. About 500 people have read the test so far and I could guess that about half actually took it.

One reader sent me a cool insight today about how he did on the test and how the normal channels of preaching-teaching had little to do with his relatively good score. His insight is just past the jump . . . Continue reading

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Missing Mysticism in the Bible

I have been surprised recently by several requests to speak on the subject of mystical faith. An episcopal church in Tennessee mentioned that when I come in March for an all day seminar, they hope I’ll address the mystical way of looking at prayer and faith. A small group in Texas scheduled me for a Skype seminar in April and requested only one topic: reading the Bible with a view for the mystical.

For a short time, I was writing a book online at a separate blog called “The Bible of Unknowing.” I had a lot of fun with it and had written up most of the book of Genesis looking for mystical views of God in the text. I pulled the blog and resolved to finish the book “someday.” A few people have emailed and mentioned they hated that I did not keep the project up.

I’m interested to know your level of interest: is the theme of the mystical something you are really curious about? And in this post: what sorts of readings cause us to overlook the mystical themes in the Bible? Continue reading

Posted in Bible, Love, Mysticism | 1 Comment

The Outer Circle Around Yeshua

. . . but for those outside everything is in parables.

These are Yeshua’s words in Mark 4:11. But most of us do not believe him. We see all around us religious empires built on the simplistic understanding of “those outside.” I will attempt in this article to prove my words. I will argue that Yeshua’s methods do certainly live on, but they are not commonly employed. I will argue that, thankfully, by the Spirit and the scriptures there is some clear-headed thinking out there. But even good religious leaders are confused by the groundswell of “crowd” thinking. Continue reading

Posted in Messianic Jewish, Yeshua, Yeshua In Context | 11 Comments

PODCAST: Gospel Knowledge – Yeshua in Context

I start with some thoughts about principles for a more accurate reading experience in the gospels. Then I share some (not all) of the questions from a “Gospel Proficiency Test” I posted today at

Shouldn’t the gospels become so familiar to us that we can bring to mind a story, a miracle, a parable, or a saying when we could use them during the daily needs and demands of life? This podcast is a little bit of information and a little bit of fun prodding us to more reading of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

COMING: Getting closer to having Yeshua for Small Groups ready. And the children’s book is progressing now as a double issue in a larger format. The Mark audio-commentary is due in May or early June.

GET IT NOW: The eBook, audiobook, and paperback of Yeshua in Context are all available at

(1) Subscribe on iTunes (search Yeshua in the iTunes Store and find us under Podcasts).
(2) Or click here to get it on

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Exam: The Gospel Proficiency Test

How well would you do in a test of your knowledge of the gospels in English? No tricks. No requirement of knowledge of commentaries or historical dictionaries or anything.

This could be a good spiritual experience for you. You can print out the exam, take it (independently) with a friend or spouse, and email me for the answer key to see how you did. The point is to motivate yourself to closer and more regular reading. Click here to see the exam at the Yeshua in Context blog.

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A Very Moving Blog by Gene Shlomovich

On baseless hatred as the cause for the Second Temple’s destruction and relating it all to Yeshua’s suffering.

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