Monday, September 29, 2014

The Rabbis, Messiah, and Substitutionary Atonement

The rabbis oppose the idea that Jesus is the promised Messiah. They argue that the Messiah will not die for the sins of Israel, and that the Hebrew Scriptures even forbid this possibility.

Rabbi and debater Tovia Singer claims that the Scriptures teach against human vicarious (substitutionary) atonement:

  • “…nor does Scripture ever tell us that an innocent man can die as an atonement for the sins of the wicked.”

However, the rabbis prior to Rashi were in agreement that Isaiah 53 taught that the Messiah would die for the sins of the people:

  • Rabbi Moshe Alshekh, a famous sixteenth-century scholar, asserted: “[Our] Rabbis with one voice, accept and affirm the opinion that the prophet [Isaiah 53] is speaking of king Messiah. 
  • The Talmud tractate Sanhedrin states: “The Rabanan [rabbis] say that Messiah’s name is The Suffering Scholar . . . for it is written, “Surely He hath borne our grief and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.” [Isaiah 53]
  • The highly regarded first-century Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai stated: “The meaning of the words ‘Bruised for our iniquities’ [Isaiah 53:5] is that since the Messiah bears our iniquities, which produce the effect of his being bruised, it follows that whoso will not admit that the Messiah thus suffers for our iniquities, must endure and suffer them for them himself.”
  • The Midrash Aseret Memrot states: “The Messiah, in order to atone for them both [for Adam and David] will ‘make his soul a trespass offering,’ [Isaiah 53:10].”

Nevertheless, Singer claims that Scripture rules out the possibility that one man will die for all. He offers as “proof” God intervening to prevent Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac:

  • “When Abraham was ready to sacrifice Isaac, the Almighty admonished him that He did not want the human sacrifice…The Almighty’s directive—that He only wanted animal sacrifices rather than human sacrifices—was immediately understood. This teaching has never departed from the mind and soul of the faithful children of Israel.”

However, this doesn’t seem to be the point that either Abraham or Israel derived. For one thing, God did not admonish Abraham for offering his son as a sacrificial offering. Instead, He commended Abraham:

  • But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:11-18)

Because Abraham had been faithful, God promised to bless him. Contrary to Singer’s assertion, He certainly wasn’t chastening Abraham for his willingness to offer his son as a sacrifice.

Also, it seems that both Israel and Abraham had derived an even greater message about something that God would offer in the future – “The Lord will Provide.” Ordinarily, this would be a strange way to name Mt. Moriah, since this event described how God had already provided an animal substitute for Isaac. Why then wasn’t Moriah named, “The Lord has Provided?” Evidently, what God would provide in the future would overshadow what He had already provided. But it would be something akin to what had already been provided – Jesus Himself!

However, this isn’t our point, but merely that Singer’s assertion – “that He only wanted animal sacrifices rather than human sacrifices” – is scripturally unwarranted!

Instead, there are many verses that envision human substitutionary atonement – the Cross of Christ (Isaiah 53:5-7; Psalm 40:6-8; Dan 9:24-27; Zech. 12:10-13:1, 7; Psalm 22, 69).

Sunday, September 28, 2014

ISIS, Transcendence, and the Failures of the West and the Church

It might not simply be a taste for blood and sex that draws thousands of Westerners to ISIS. It might also be that ISIS offers them a commodity that has become increasingly  discredited in the West – transcendence and a higher reason for being.

In support of this point, writer Janie B. Cheaney offers these affirmative quotations to explain the attractiveness of ISIS:

  • “[A] yearning for a transcendent cause that liberal society can have trouble satisfying,” wrote Ross Douthat in The New York Times.
  • “His discontent … is driven by ideas, and by the human needs those ideas seek to satiate,” observed Charlie Cooke at National Review.
  • “The Islamic State not only has the romance of revolution and the promise of action and power, but also religious and apocalyptic appeal,” concluded Michael Brendan Dougherty of The Week.
  • “Because it gives meaning to life,” Michael Ledeen summed up on his own blog. (World Mag, Oct. 4, 2014, 22) 
According to the videos aired in the West, these jihadists seem to celebrate the fact that they are faithfully serving Allah by doing the “right thing.”

Several years ago, I attended an interfaith conference at a local liberal church, where I was surprised to see a 15 year-old waiting expectantly for the conference to begin. Intrigued, I asked him why he had come:

  • I want to hear what the Imam says.

I asked him, “Why the Imam? Why not also the Rabbi and the Pastor?” His answer saddened me:

  • I have some Muslims in my family. They take their faith seriously.

What an indictment of the church! What has happened to us that we reflect our Lord so lamely?

However, this is also an indictment of Western society. Cheaney puts it this way:

  • The West has spent the last two centuries chasing true belief from the main stage of public life. Pluralism, our highest communal value, requires no one to believe anything that would render anyone else’s beliefs invalid.

It is worse than that! Pluralism – also called “religious pluralism” or “multi-culturalism” – claims that, since everything is relative and there is no religious or cultural truth – we cannot say that one religion or culture is more true than another. In fact, judging one religion better than another is now labelled “arrogant,” “imperialistic” and “chauvinistic,” especially in Western media and the university. No one wants to be labeled a “narrow-minded bigot,” and so Christians have been marginalized, silenced, and made to feel ashamed of their faith.

However, by purging such religious truth claims from educated society, the West has paid a great price. Not only can it not speak convincingly against ISIS, it can no longer hold up a better portrait of transcendence for our hungry and deluded youth. Cheaney therefore writes:

  • The poverty of pluralism becomes apparent when rootless young Muslim men find transcendent meaning in slaughtering infidels… It fulfills a need that won’t be satisfied at any bargaining table. It will have to be fought and defeated.

However, how can we fight against this ideology if we do not have one to hold up in place of Jihad. Cheaney therefore observes:

  • But faith can only be fought with faith, and Western culture has undercut itself… It picked the juicy low-hanging fruits of Christianity [like love, justice, equality, and forgiveness] while disregarding the Son who shines on them, valued the comforts but discounted the Comforter.

Oddly, this is something that Ayaan Hirsi Ali, ex-Muslim, ex-Dutch Parliamentarian, and atheist, seems to understand better than most Western intellectuals and even Christians:

  • The Christianity of love and tolerance remains one of the West’s most powerful antidotes to the Islam of hate and intolerance. Ex-Muslims find Jesus Christ to be a more attractive and humane figure than Muhammad, the founder of Islam.

  • I have a theory that most Muslims are in search of a redemptive God. They believe that there is a higher power and that this higher power is the provider of morality, giving them a compass to help them distinguish between good and bad.  Many Muslims are seeking a God or a concept of God that in my view meets the description of the Christian God.  Instead they find Allah. They find Allah mainly because many are born in Muslim families where Allah has been the reigning deity for generations… (p. 239)

  • The Christian leaders now wasting their time and resources on a futile exercise of interfaith dialogue with the self-appointed leaders of Islam should redirect their efforts to converting as many Muslims as possible to Christianity, introducing them to a God who rejects Holy War and who has sent his son to die for all sinners out of a love for mankind… The Vatican and all the established Protestant churches of northern Europe believed naively that interfaith dialogue would magically bring Islam into the fold of Western civilization. It has not happened, and it will not happen…. To help ground these people in Western society, the West needs the Christian churches to get active again in propagating their faith. It needs Christian schools, Christian volunteers, the Christian message… The churches should do all in their power to win this battle for the souls of humans in search of a compassionate God, who now find that a fierce Allah is closer to hand. (Nomad, pp. 247, 249, 250, 251)

We all need the Transcendent. Since the West marginalizes it, the pilgrim will just go elsewhere, even in the gutter, to find it. Oddly, it is an atheist that sees this more clearly than the rest of us.

Pragmatism Alone cannot Serve as the Basis for Morality

Atheists argue that they can be good without God, and therefore, He is unnecessary. How then do they even justify acting morally? In terms of the benefits to themselves and to others – purely pragmatic considerations! Austin Cline,
“Agnosticism/Atheism Expert,” argues that God-given moral absolutes are totally unnecessary:

  • It need not be accepted that for anything to "matter," then there must be some outside force or entity [God] to make it "matter." … Why should getting along matter? It matters if you value your own happiness and the happiness of others. The question is, do you really need some being (like a god) to require that you take the happiness of others into consideration?... If a person is to be lauded for their behavior, it should be because they choose the right path, not because they simply followed [divine] instructions correctly…[but] because they reduce suffering. 

Cline argues that the benefits we derive from treating others well are enough incentive to act morally. However, there are many problems with this claim:

Some don’t derive benefits from acting morally.

Pragmatism can just as easily be invoked to justify selfish and immoral behavior. If we are ultimately concerned about what works for us, we will find many good reasons to cheat and steal.

Although Cline does not acknowledge this, he requires and uses moral absolutes to get his ethical system off the ground. He injects concepts that can only come from above, like the “right path,” as if there is an absolutely right path, not just one that works subjectively for a particular individual, culture, or period.

Cline invokes the concepts of the “happiness of others” and the reduction of “suffering” without trying to prove that these are unassailable truths upon which an ethical system should be based. Well, what makes these concepts right if they do not represent unchanging, universal moral absolutes? And how can they be the “right path” where our morality is changing and relative to our culture? To further illustrate the problems of this inadequate moral foundation, here are some other questions that Cline’s pragmatism cannot address:

  1. Why is happiness better than suffering? Some philosophies emphasize the need for suffering. What makes Cline’s formulation more valid?

  1. Some people live in a totally self-centered way. Perhaps that works for them. Pragmatism can offer no argument against them. Nor against a Hitler and genetic engineering! After all, can’t they simply respond that they are merely doing what works for them and their society?

  1. And why not live like the animal world – survival of the fittest?

  1. Cline’s suggestions are man-centered. Why shouldn’t his pragmatic recommendation for happiness include all life, for example?

These problems all point to a more serious problem. Any pragmatic solution must answer the question, “Pragmatic or useful for what?” Without a “what,” all of the subsequent reasoning to answer the “what” is irrelevant. However, the “what” is a value – something valuable apart from our own changing ideas, but how can we first validate its value, if there are no values intrinsic to reality? If our concept of human thriving is just something that we invented and has no existence independent of our own thinking, pragmatic morality is built on a foundation of hot air alone.

Reasoning serves our values. If health is our value, we look at the studies that inform us what foods promote heath. If instead, the value of good health is merely a value we invented, then these studies have no objective or permanent relevance.

In contrast to this, the Judeo-Christian understanding has been that human thriving is central to God’s design and purpose. Therefore, it must be central to ours! Consequently, health policy decisions had been based upon unchanging, universal and God-derived values. If instead, our values are culturally derived, they will change as soon as the culture changes. Why then bother instituting policies that will prolong human life if the next generation (or even the next day) deems that the human lifespan should be shortened? Or the culture around the corner already values a shortened life? Who’s right? Without values from above, there is no way to decide.

Consequently, atheists/agnostics who invoke pragmatism as a basis for morality do so illegitimately. They must secretly smuggle in religious absolutes like human thriving, happiness, or the relief of suffering, ideas they normally can only support by virtue of their changing feelings, in order to make their formulation coherent. Even their language gives them away. To make any sense out of their ideas, lives and behavior, they inevitably appeal to religious absolute terminology like “right,” “just,” “good,” or even “benefit.” They illegitimately absolutize what they believe to be subjective and changing.

Cline writes about the virtue of reducing suffering. However, why bother? If cows could vote, they might in favor of increasing human suffering. Would they be wrong?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mitzvot, Meshugas, and Messiah

How do we get to heaven? Christians and Jews come up with different answers. While the rabbis do not dismiss the idea of the necessity of grace, which is so prominent in the NT, they emphasize following the commandments – the performance of mitzvot – to secure them a place in heaven: 

  • Therefore, when we study Torah and keep the Mitzvot we are in absolute communion with G-d… When Man observes the Mitzvot in deed, discusses the Mitzvot in speech, and concentrates and grasps all that his intellect is able to grasp of the Torah in thought, then Man’s soul is fully clothed in the Mitzvot and is in perfect unity with G-d. 
For the rabbis, mitzvot-keeping is not just a hypothetical pathway to union with God but actual. According to them, many are achieving this union. Meanwhile, the entire Mosaic system yells “foul.” It informed the Israelite that no one could enter into the Presence of God – only the High Priest once a year on Yom Kippur – without suffering death. However, the rabbis claim that the Israelite could not only enter into His Presence but into a oneness with Him.

Contrary to this, rabbinic Kabbalistic theology claims that humanity can work its way up into the Presence of God, even to “perfect unity with G-d.”

In like manner, Rabbi Gerald Sigal writes that obedience is key:

  • The fulfillment of all the promises God made to Abraham, both those made before circumcision and those made after, is contingent upon obedience to God’s will, not simply faith alone. (“The Jew and the Christian Missionary,” 274).
This would have been a surprise to Abraham who believed God, and his belief alone became the pathway to receiving mercy and the gift of imputed righteousness (Genesis 15:6), without any mention of his keeping the mitzvot.

In contrast to the rabbis, the HS prove:

  1. No one is deserving before God:
  2. Israel certainly wasn’t deserving:
  3. Grace will come to the penitent (repentant), not to the “deserving”:
  4. It is the penitent, not the deserving, who will unilaterally be given the grace of God in the end:
1.     No one is deserving before God:

Instead of blessing, we deserve cursing as a result of our performance in obeying the mitzvot. This had been Moses’ judgment:

  • “Cursed is anyone who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” (Deut. 27:26)
This stipulation placed a curse on everyone, demonstrating that blessing could not be earned or deserved but would be conferred on Israel by God’s mercies alone. We cannot earn anything from God. Instead, we need His mercy, as so many of the Psalm attest:

  • If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. (Psalm 130:3-4)
  • Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you. (Psalm 143:2)
We are all sinners in desperate need of the mercy of God. In contrast to this dismal assessment, one rabbi wrote:

  • Kabbalah states that the community of Israel, comprising 600,000 souls, is the general source of vitality for the world as a whole, for the world was created for the sake of these souls.
However, this directly contradicts everything in the HS. In fact, Moses warned the people against thinking that they were righteous or even deserving:

  • After the Lord your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, “The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you. It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people. (Deut. 9:4-6)

In fact, at times Israel had morally descended beneath the other nations:

  • “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Because you have multiplied disobedience more than the nations that are all around you, have not walked in My statutes nor kept My judgments, nor even done according to the judgments of the nations that are all around you...'” (Ezekiel 5:7)... “Your elder sister is Samaria, who dwells with her daughters to the north of you; and your younger sister, who dwells to the south of you, is Sodom and her daughters. You did not walk in their ways nor act according to their abominations; but, as if that were too little, you became more corrupt than they in all your ways” (Ezekiel 16:46-47).

Scripture also teaches the impossibility of earning anything from God, as He revealed to the contrite Job:

  • “Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.” (Job 41:11)
In contrast, the rabbis claim:

  • [Man] has the capacity to elevate and transform all of creation for a higher purpose. When one fulfills one’s duty [mitzvot-keeping] and mission in life, not only is the one’s goal in the scheme of Creation reached, but also helps the rest of the world attain perfection.

What hubris! Humanity fulfills nothing, and the law should have made this clear to Israel. Israel had been repeatedly warned against such arrogance. God had even taught Moses a song which the Israelites were to sing perpetually to testify against them and their future hubris.

Instead, we consistently fail to fulfill our “duty and mission in life,” as Paul’s quotations from the HS attest:

  •  “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.’" (Romans 3:10-12 quoting Psalm 14, 53; Rom. 3:19-20))

According to Job, it is delusionary to suppose that we will ever be in a position to earn God’s mercy:

  • "What is man, that he could be pure, or one born of woman, that he could be righteous? If God places no trust in his holy ones, if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes, how much less man, who is vile and corrupt, who drinks up evil like water! (Job 15:14-16)

In light of this, the rabbinic assertion that we can lift ourselves up is absurd:

  • The beauty of Torah and Mitzvot is that through simple everyday actions that are well within the reach of normal individuals, every person can connect with the Divine and transform this world into an abode for G-d.

Instead, the Mosaic Temple communicated that Israel fell far short of God’s standards and dwelt under His wrath. Therefore, substitutionary blood sacrifices had to be continually offered to secure God’s forgiveness.

2.     Israel certainly wasn’t deserving of any of God’s blessings:

The Prophets of Israel uniformly denounced Israel:

  • “The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master's crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not consider. Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward.” (Isaiah 1:3-4)

Israel didn’t know God because they did not seek Him:

  • For the people do not turn to Him who strikes them, nor do they seek the LORD of hosts. (Isaiah 9:13)
  • And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us, and have consumed us because of our iniquities. (Isaiah 64:7)

Israel did not seek God because they didn’t want God:

  • “So will I choose their delusions, and bring their fears on them; because, when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not hear; but they did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight." (Isaiah 66:4)
  • “I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts; people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face; who sacrifice in gardens, and burn incense on altars of brick.” (Isaiah 65:2-3)
  • “Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds." But they did not hear nor heed Me," says the LORD. (Zech. 1:4)

Israel’s “obedience” had been superficial and hypocritical:

·       “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals… Stop bringing meaningless offerings!  Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me;  I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!” (Isaiah 1:11-15)

If obedience is necessary to receive God’s blessings, then Israel and all humanity are without hope. All fell under a curse that only mercy could address! However, the rabbis have an inflated estimation of Israel’s faithfulness to their God:

·       It is necessary to fulfill the practical Mitzvot performed by the body itself in deed. In this way the actual power of the body engaged in this act is absorbed into the Divine Light and will and unites with Him in perfect unity.

However, Israel’s failures were far worse than simply failing to be obedient. Instead, Israel utterly rejected their God:

·       LORD, are not Your eyes on the truth? You have stricken them, but they have not grieved; You have consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to return. (Jeremiah 5:3)

·       “Why has this people slidden back, Jerusalem, in a perpetual backsliding? They hold fast to deceit, they refuse to return. I listened and heard, but they do not speak aright. No man repented of his wickedness, saying, 'What have I done?' Everyone turned to his own course.” (Jeremiah 8:5-6)

·       “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” (Hosea 4:6)

In light of these, how can the rabbis confidently insist that our deeds will unite us “with Him in perfect harmony?” Instead, all of the Prophets testify that Israel’s deeds have separated them from their God, something that Jewish history has made very clear.

Was there ever a Prophet who assured Israel, “You are doing a great job! Keep up the good work!” No! However, Scripture does make many promises that those who keep the commandments will be blessed. This, of course, is true, but Israel’s unfaithfulness disqualified them from this promise and qualified them for only the curse (Deut. 28-29)! Consequently, Israel could only hope for the mercy of God, but so often, their hope was focused elsewhere.

3.     Grace and blessedness will come to the penitent (repentant), not to the “deserving”:

King David had committed adultery and murder. He deserved to die and he knew it, but he found God’s mercy:

  • Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit…I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Psalm 32:1-5)

The Temple and the offerings symbolized the fact that blessedness depended not on what Israel earned but on whom they trusted. After Solomon commemorated the Temple, the Lord assured him that His mercy depends not a successful record of keeping the mitzvot, but on a repentant heart:

  • “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14)

God would “freely pardon” Israel’s sins. It didn’t depend on Israel’s moral virtue:

  • Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. (Isaiah 55:7)

God demanded that Israel repent without having to first build up their portfolio with good deeds:

  • "Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:30-32)

Having a change of heart was critical. If they truly repented, there would also be evidence of this. They would “Turn away from all your offenses.”

4.     It is the penitent, not the deserving, who will unilaterally be given the grace of God in the end:

What do we find in the end when Messiah returns? Do we find Israel waiting expectantly, having fulfilled the mitzvoth? Not at all! Instead, Israel will mourn for having rejected their Messiah:

  • “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” (Zechariah 12:10)

There is no indication that Israel will wake up on their own and perform the required mitzvot, as the rabbis suggest:

  • There are a number of ways conducive to hasten the Messianic redemption prior to its final date. Generally speaking these involve the observance of some special mitzvot which constitute comprehensive principles of the Torah.

There is no prophecy in the entire body of the HS that suggests that Israel will hasten the coming of their Messiah through their “observance of some special mitzvoth.” Instead, their Messiah will unilaterally open their darkened eyes:

  • “They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.' (Jeremiah 32:38-41)

In fact, there is not a single prophecy that even suggests that God will re-establish Israel based on Israel’s worthiness:

  • For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. (Ezekiel 36:24-29)
  • My people are bent on backsliding from Me. Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him (14:4)… I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him. (Hosea 11:7)
  • Jeremiah 33:6-8 Behold, I will bring it health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth…I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned and by which they have transgressed against Me.

Israel will receive all of God’s blessings apart from any mitzvot-keeping. Instead of God restoring Israel because Israel is worthy of His mercy, God will restore despite Israel’s ubiquitous unworthiness, evidenced even by the unbiblical theology of the rabbis.