Thursday, September 17, 2009

Unpacking Luther’s Baggage, chapter 2, page 3

There are two Messianic organizations that I have great respect for and which I have followed for many years: First Fruits of Zion ( and Tikkun International ( I learned about FFOZ through a friend in the early 90’s and soon began receiving their magazine which went through various name changes: It began as First Fruits of Zion, and then after FFOZ moved to Israel, the name was changed to Bikurei Tziyon (which is First Fruits of Zion in Hebrew), and finally settled on Messiah magazine. They have since supplemented that with a great publication called Messiah Journal. 

FFOZ was started by Boaz Michael and his wife Amber in Denver, Colorado. They were soon joined by Ariel and D’vorah Berkowitz, Tim Hegg, D. Thomas Lancaster, and others who wrote ground breaking books on the subject of the Torah and its relationship to believers in Yeshua. I attended the Jars of Clay seminar in Toledo, Ohio in 1997 where I first got to meet Boaz, Ariel, and D’vorah. I was later able to go to Norfolk, Virginia in 1999 to see Ariel and D’vorah do another seminar at the Old Dominion University. It was evident from the start that this group was special and that they were doing some exciting research in important but controversial subjects. I still remember quite vividly when Boaz talked to us at the Jars of Clay seminar. In a very humble way he said that they were not going to use words like “should” and “must” when it came to obeying the commandments. It is rather like a child who complains to their parents on Sunday morning: “why do we have to go to church?” and the parent says in reply, “we don’t have to go; we are blessed because we get to go to church.” 

One of the core products of their ministry is called Torah Club. Essentially it is the kind of Bible Study that Jesus would have gone though every week of his life. For over 2000 years on any given week, Jewish families throughout the world read the same Torah portion and selected verses from the prophets and then discuss what they have read. The goal is to read from Genesis through Deuteronomy in one year. Torah Club provides a commentary (usually 15-20 pages) written by FFOZ that provides incredible insight from rabbinic and other sources on the Torah portion and on the New Testament. FFOZ has 5 volumes of commentaries (one for each year) that provide a different emphasis on the Torah portions. My wife Rita and I are just about to start our third year going through the newly rewritten Torah Club Volume 3. The study is held at Mars Hill church in Grandville, Michigan. When the Jewish new year starts in October, our Torah Club study group will meet to discuss the weekly portion, the commentary, and our answers to the questions at the end of the commentary. I plan on summarizing the discussion and content that comes out of our group’s meeting in this blog. But I digress...

FFOZ has from the very beginning grappled with the relationship of the Torah to the New Testament believer. If you were to go through every book of the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation and gave a thumbs up or a thumbs down judgement on whether or not the book has a positive opinion about God’s commandments, you would have 66 Yes votes. The longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, uses an acrostic technique to pile up statement after statement that praises God’s commandments. This song of praise for the Torah rises to this great crescendo in book after book and then seemingly stalls at Acts 15. What gives? FFOZ has just explained this dilemma through a masterfully written 24 page article called “One Law” and the Messianic Gentile. I promise (Lord willing) that I'll summarize the article at the next post...

No comments:

Post a Comment