The world of contradiction, or at least what seems to be out of the ordinary, is fascinating to us humans. If you have ever been to an amusement park fun house and seen water defy gravity by running uphill, or watched a science demonstration where “lightning” shoots out of a man’s hands and he is unhurt, you know the intrigue. It often takes some explanation to understand what at first seems impossible. News reports of burning rivers stretch the limits of credulity, until we learn that its the pollution floating on the water that is actually burning.
Incongruities are common in our social customs as well. Seeing men of the Scottish highlands wearing skirts called kilts looks odd every time. So does the bearded lady in carnival sideshows.
Not even our language is free of contradictory concepts. Consider the following couplets from everyday speech: how do you “act naturally”?; or how can you be “almost exact”?; what about “new classic”; “definite maybe”; “pretty ugly”; “exact estimate”; “one-man crew”; or the phrase “include me out”? These word combinations may not at first seem to oppose each other until one stops to consider what is actually being said. A figure of speech where opposites are combined is called oxymoron. Literally oxymoron means “pointedly foolish”(from the Greek oxus meaning “sharp” and moras meaning “foolish”).
Skimming the Surface
Like self-contradictory expressions, the danger with erroneous teachings and beliefs is that habitual exposure to them has a way of numbing us to the literal truth. Take the expression, “conspicuous by its absence.” This tired cliche is totally irrationa1. How can something be obvious yet absent? Conflicting ideas are seemingly everywhere.
Yahweh’s Word presents problems to many who have only a surface understanding of it. Because of false preconceptions solidified over centuries, right and proper Biblical understanding commonly taught in the first century is seen today as incongruous. Sadly, centuries-old error derails many before they even have a chance to get on the pathway of right teaching.
This writer once asked a clerk at a religious bookstore for a book entitled, The Jewish New Testament. Her incredulous expression betrayed her thoughts: how could the New Testament possibly be “Jewish”? Why, everyone knows Jews don’t belong in the New Testament!
She apparently forgot that the first converts in the New Testament were all Jews. Yahshua commanded His disciples inMatthew 10:5: “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter you not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
The house of Israel included the Jews.
The Savior Was No Greek or Even Roman
A tradition said that Yahshua told the disciples to wait 12 years before going to the Gentiles. He Himself came first to Israel. Paul explains in Romans 11:25-30 that because of spiritual blindness within Israel, Gentiles were allowed into the Covenant. Still, Israel has not been excluded, either.
Why did not Yahshua come as a Greek or a Roman? Or at least why didn’t He take His ministry to Greece or Rome? After all, nominal worship today is as much Greco-Roman as it is Hebraic.
If the New Testament era is only for Gentile salvation, then why did the Son of Yahweh come in the lineage of the Hebrews? The answer is that Yahshua came to the Israelites because the promises were given to them first. John 1:11 tells us He came unto his own, and his own received him not. As a Jew He came to His people with His message of Truth and they rejected Him.
Let’s say you make an agreement with person A (a good friend) to buy your car, but over time he is clearly dragging his feet. Along comes person B who is very interested in buying your car. What do you do? You go back to person A and tell him to “get with it” because you have person B who is also interested.
Yahshua went to the lost sheep of the house of Israel first. They didn’t have the heart to obey. Because they did not follow through with their commitment to keep the Covenant, He said that to their shame that salvation would now be open to all people who could partake inIsrael’s promises. But unless the Savior came as one of them they would never have believed Him. Therefore, He came as a Jew because the promises were given to them as part of Israel. Others could join in after Israel dropped the ball.
For Yahweh’s people to keep Old Testament Feasts in the New Testament is for many a huge contradiction — an oxymoron. “Those days are Jewish and are not for us,” they say. What they stumble over is that the Savior, Himself a Jew (Heb. 7: 14), kept the seventh-day Sabbath and Feasts of Leviticus 23.
Are we not told to follow His example? Is not Yahshua the Messiah our pattern in all righteousness? Read what He said: “If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love” (John 15:10).
Misunderstood by many, the Sabbath and Feast days were given to all 12 tribes of Israel, not just to the tribe of Judah. Today’s True Worshipers are either physical or spiritual Israelites. They are not in a new religion completely separate from Old Testament Israel. They are grafted into the same promise made with Israel at Sinai. This fact is no oxymoron, but one of the central truths of the Scriptures.
Paul asks today’s worshiper, “Who are Israelites?” And then he answers his own question: “To whom pertains the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of Elohim, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Messiah came, who is over all, Elohim blessed for ever. Not as though the word of Elohim has taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, in Isaac shall your seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of Elohim: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Rom. 9:4-8).
Here in this passage we find the following key facts:
• Israelites through the Covenants are given the promise of everlasting life.
• Others can be a part of Israel and receive the same promises by adoption and by following the same precepts Israel was commanded to keep.
• Those who are spiritually of Yahweh are counted as part of Israel.
Paul compares to branches those of Israel who were rejected, adding, “And if some of the branches be broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree. Boast not against the branches.But if you boast, you bear not the root, but the root you” (Rom. 11:17-18).
Clearly, what Israel was commanded and observing is for today’s Believer, too. Today’s True Worshiper is grafted into the same promise of Yahweh’s Kingdom given to Israel.
Yahweh promised never to abandon His chosen people. Not even in this New Testament era. Notice the prophecy In Ezekiel of bringing Israel back:
“Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be My People, and I will be their Elohim,” 37:20-23.
Is this a contradiction? Only for those who believe that the New Testament is exclusively for Christianity.
The Bible’s teaching that obedience in an age of grace is necessary for all True Worshipers is yet another oxymoron for many who don’t understand Biblical grace.
In the following passage Paul defines how grace operates: “For the grace of Elohim that brings salvation has appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying unrighteousness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and devoutly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11-12). Also in Romans 5:21 Paul says that grace reigns through righteousness. Righteousness here is holiness, meaning to be set apart from sin or lawlessness, l John 3:4.
Grace, then, teaches us to conform to a righteous standard — that is — Yahweh’s laws. This fundamental truth is explained by the very one who many believe was the champion of “lawless-ness,” Paul himself!
Notice what else Paul writes about grace, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Yahweh forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Rom. 6:1-2). Known as Antinomianism (“against law”) the teaching said that the more one sins the more grace one gets. Therefore let us continue in sin and we will get even more grace. Paul addresses this twisted concept in his letter to the Romans.
In truth, by living in His grace we are dead to sin. This means we do not transgress the Bible’s laws when under grace. A teaching in Paul’s day perverted the concept even as today. If truth seekers would be willing to take a close look at what first seems to be contradictory,they would soon find that the real problem lies in false preconceptions.
Layers of Crusty Fallacy
Misinformation and outright error is often difficult to overcome. Unlearning false teaching is much more difficult than learning what’s right to begin with.
When it comes to the Bible, erroneous beliefs become firmly embedded through reinforced teaching and practice. To get to the truth, one has to chip through layers of crusty fallacy built up over the centuries.
It has been said that a cult gains increasing respectability the longer it survives. The same goes for error. Bad habits die hard, especially when firmly entrenched for centuries.
by Alan Mansager