Saul’s Journey

Saul’s Journey

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 14:12

What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God. Romans 3:1-2

My religous journey really started at the age of 19. For 2 years, I had been reading political books, trying to find the right way for man. Of course, I couldn’t find it. God was the only possible option left. I never felt the need to question the existence of God. When I look back, I have never doubt it. But man is, in part, the product of his experience and environment. My family was not religious at all. A Jewish father, a Christian mother, but none really exhibiting any faith, and even less any practice. Coming from Eastern Europe, Communism left its marks. Their anti-communism was humanist and rational. How then could I believe in God? Only Him; blessed be He, knows the answer. I can’t explain it myself. I didn’t need the kalam argument, God’s existence was self evident.

Very quickly, the only religion i looked into was Christianity. An irrational choice. Why such a choice? I think the best answer I can offer is who I am. When you have a Jewish Father and a non-Jewish Mother, you never feel at home anywhere. For Jews, you are not Jewish. For non-Jews, you are a Jew (a fact any Jew should think about when the mixed marriage issue comes up). And as is often the case, man follows the majority. Now I can fully understand the warning God gave to his people, “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong”(Exodus 23:2). After a study of Church History, I became Orthodox Christian. The search for Orthodoxy is the recurrent thread in my life. Orthodoxy or Death would say some Greeks and Russians. I can say that, as many others, my belief in Jesus and his Church led me to the Bible, and not the other way. This will be an important point at last, since it is the case for many Christians and explains much of the Christian misunderstanding of the Tanakh. I came to the Bible with Christian glasses. As such, i could find Christianity and Jesus from Genesis to Revelation, and even in Ezekiel’s visions (and for this, you really need a twisted mind).

During my Christian journey, I also embraced the traditional anti-Semitism. I didn’t see it as self-hatred, after all, I’m not a Jew and I became Christian. And after all, aren’t Christians supposed to be the true Jews? With such a worldview, I was mainly opposing some reprobates who didn’t possess the Holy Spirit and who got blinded by Jesus. I was smarter than those fleshly Jews, since I had accepted the true Messiah! For 5 years, my practice went up and down. Mostly down. Jesus paid it all, and I’m saved by Faith. Let’s not be legalistic like those Jews! At some point, after my girlfriend left me, I felt lonely. This situation forced me to turn back to God. The world could fall apart, but God will remain and is faithful to those who look unto him sincerely. Before coming back to Church, after some months of desertion, I decided that it was time to reason about what I believed and why.

This was to be a turning point in my life. I gave up Eastern Orthodoxy. I won’t go into the details now, but i can in a separate message. I then became a religious UFO: Calvinist with Judaizing tendencies. Adhering to the principle of Sola Scriptura, I couldn’t but look for the Jewish roots of my faith. Now, it really looks like a domino effect. But the brutal reality was this: my faith made no sense. If Jesus intended us to follow the Law, why did it never really happen except for marginal sects that got off the map for more than 1000 years? I couldn’t make sense of what I believed in. There is a saying that the devil hides in the details. This was precisely the case with the New Testament. Jesus sends us back to the Law (Matthew 5:17-19). Not only to the Law, but to the Pharisees, “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2″The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.3So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” (Matthew 23:2-3).

At this moment, I couldn’t make any sense of Jesus’s teachings. He asks me to go to the Pharisees. The Pharisees tell me to forget about Jesus. Which means, that to truly obey Jesus, I have to forget about him. Those thoughts are, I think, common to many former Christians who turned towards Judaism. No need to go into the details here, it would be too long; from Matthew confusing Jeremiah and Zachariah, the eating of human flesh and blood up to Stephen full of the Spirit making more mistakes than a catechumen. The whole Christian edifice got crushed under investigation. During this investigation, I must give credit to Rav Blumenthal. I was already in the process of leaving Christianity when I started to read his blog, but it helped me to make sense out of this process. Contra Brown is a masterpiece, and should be read by all, whether Christians, Jews, or even Muslims. From it, the main point is right at the beginning: “We must cast our mind back to the time before Jesus was born. We must ask ourselves how a Jew would have read the scriptures before the advent of Christianity. What was the total world-view that the Jewish scriptures imparted to the Jewish people? What would have been the perspective of the Jew who accepted the totality of the Jewish scriptures concerning the major theological issues that stand between Judaism and Christianity?” This point must be the central focus of any truth seeker. And when one tries to follow this methodology, the only logical conclusion is the truth of Judaism. Once the Christian glasses are put aside, one cannot but to see how off-track Christianity went when confronted with the Jewish Scriptures.

If I now feel better, this journey is not easy. When I look at my past Christian life, regrets invade my heart. Regrets for what I believed. Regrets for what I did. I cannot count how many nights I’ve spent without being able to sleep. Even for the future, I realize it will not be easy either. Leaving my job, I’ll also have to move from where I live. Everything is going to change. I feel both scared and hopeful. But following in the steps of Avraham, Ruth, or Rabbi Akiva’s parents gives me strength.

Many more points or events could be brought. I cannot tell everything in this message, and I can’t even remember everything. If my story can benefit Jews, reminding them their Godly heritage, or help Christians to open their mind to the message of the beloved people of God, I’ll be blessed. Any mistake is my own, everything good comes from Hashem. I pray that Hashem will forgive me, and that His people will accept me in their midst in the future.

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’ ” Zechariah 8:23

Then I will not be ashamed when I gaze at all Your mitzvot” Psalm 119:6

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10 Responses to Saul’s Journey

  1. Dina says:

    What an inspiring story, Saul! Welcome back home!

  2. Valerie Davis says:

    This a great read…however you know if Christians read this, the One Jew that folks take a hold of to follow they will say that is Jesus….

    • Dina says:

      Hi Valerie,

      I don’t know where in this story a Christian would find the idea to follow any Jew, certainly not in the way that Christians follow Jesus. What Saul discovered is that it is wrong to worship anyone other than God, be he Jew or gentile, Jesus or someone else.

      Can you explain to me how a Christian would come to that conclusion, based on this story?

      Peace and blessings,
      Dina

      • Sharbano says:

        I have heard that claim, and was astonished. They will use the theology that Israel will “eventually” recognize Jsus and will then fall in line. I think they take it from their quote “whom they pierced”.

        • Saul Goodman says:

          Hi Sharbano. They mainly take it from Ezekiel’s unambiguous visions of the Jewish people turning to Hashem in repentance. And from Paul’s 11th chapter to the Romans:

          And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

    • Saul Goodman says:

      Hi Valerie,

      This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. Deuteronomy 30:19

      Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

      Everyone has this choice set in front of him… And each has to make a decision for himself.

    • Valerie The problem with the Christian interpretation of Zechariah 8:23 is that words “with you” which appear twice in the verse is in the plural format – but this won’t disturb Christians – they wouldn’t let God’s word get in the way of their theology

    • Valerie Davis, you are correct that a lot of christians will try and weasel jesus in there somehow. However, if we go back a few verses, the context will certainly throw off most christians. Let me demonstrate:

      Zechariah 8:19 describes 4 fast days that will one day become days of joy when the true Messiah comes at the end of days.

      Zechariah 8:19 So said the Lord of Hosts: The fast of the fourth [month], the fast of the fifth [month], the fast of the seventh [month], and the fast of the tenth [month] shall be for the house of Judah for joy and happiness and for happy holidays-but love truth and peace.

      You’d be hard pressed to find very many christians who fasted on TishaB’Av this past weekend or even acknowledged its existence, let alone know what it is…You’ll find even few christians who celebrated TishaB’Av as a day of joy.

      As you may know, all of the four fasts mentioned have to do with commemorating the destruction of both Holy Temples. The message of Zechariah 8:19 is that after the Messiah comes, the Holy Temple will be rebuilt and the Jewish people will celebrate these former days of mourning with future days of joy!

      But how many christians do you know that celebrate these fasts as days of joy, now that their jesus has supposedly “fulfilled Torah”?

      None?

      Yeah…Same here…

      Now we can read the verses in context and see how they fair:

      Zechariah 8:20 So said the Lord of Hosts: [There will] yet [be a time] that peoples and the inhabitants of many cities shall come.

      Zechariah 8:21 And the inhabitants of one shall go to another, saying, “Let us go to pray before the Lord and to entreat the Lord of Hosts. I, too, will go.”

      Zechariah 8:22 And many peoples and powerful nations shall come to entreat the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord.

      Zechariah 8:23 So said the Lord of Hosts: In those days, when ten men of all the languages of the nations shall take hold of the skirt of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

      So the christian really doesn’t have a reason to stick jesus in here. Zechariah 8:19 clearly doesn’t concern them or their belief system. It should be a wakeup call to them that they aren’t following G-d’s word in the proper manner.

      Jews around the world fast on TishaB’Av, the fast of Tammuz, the fast of Tevet, and the fast of Gedaliah.

      But most christians don’t even know or care to know what these fasts represent…So when Zechariah 8:19 says that these days of mourning/fasting will turn into future days of joy and gladness, where does that put the christian?

      The christian has no foundation for their beliefs about jesus in the Tanach.

      Shalom

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