By Brother Michel Lankford
“But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.Acts 5:29
Now this is a significant ruling. It describes the determining factor in our decisions. Who makes the rules? If there is a conflict, what is the deciding factor to resolve the conflict? The biggest problem in the first century was that there was a huge disparity of opinion when it came to answering that question.
The Pharisees, the scribes, Jewish tradition since the Babylonian exile, and the ruling Jewish elders passionately believed and taught that THEY and THEY ALONE were the determining factor of right vs. wrong, lawful vs. illegal, or sin vs. Righteousness for God’s people. The serious problem arises then when the ruling elders adopt commands, rules, regulations, and traditions of their own invention, which cause you to violate a Commandment in written Scripture. So, when there is a contradiction then whom and what must you obey? Do you obey what the written Scriptures say, or do you obey the rulings of religious leaders? The Pharisees, the scribes, and the ruling Jewish elders came up with a very convenient and self-serving solution to this problem. According to their verbal tradition, obeying them was MORE important than obeying the written scripture. According to them, if you obeyed them even when their rules violated the written scripture, God will still bless you, because you were obedient to your religious leaders. The big problem was that even this ruling was a complete violation of God‘s written Instructions in the Torah. (Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 12:32; cf. Proverbs 30:6).
A Few of the False Teachings in Rabbinical (vs. Biblical) Judaism
Here is just a sample of the Jewish rabbinical rulings which violated God’s Word in Written Scripture:
“If there are 1000 prophets, all of them of the stature of Elijah and Elisha giving a certain interpretation, and 1001 rabbis giving the opposite interpretation, you should incline to the majority, and the law is according to the 1001 rabbis, not according to the 1000 venerable prophets, only from the rabbis who are men of logic and reason.” Rambam’s introduction to the Mishnah
- Moed Kattan 17a . “If a Jew is tempted to do evil he should go to a city where he is not known and do the evil there.”
- Talmud Erubin 21b. Whosoever disobeys the rabbis deserves death and will be punished by being boiled in hot excrement in Hell.
- My son! Be careful concerning the rabbinical decrees even more than the Torah… the Torah contains prohibitions… but anyone who violates a rabbinical decree is worthy of death (from the Babylonian Talmud).
- “… And even on the view that presets cannot nullify each other that applies only to a biblical precept with a biblical precept or, with a rabbinical precept to other rabbinical precepts, but in the case of a conflict of contradiction between a scripture and a rabbinical precept, the rabbinical precept shall nullify the scriptural one…” (from the Talmud 115a)
- If a ‘goy’ (Gentile) hits a Jew he must be killed.” (Sanhedrin 58b)
- If a Jew finds an object lost by a ‘goy’ it does not have to be returned.” (Baba Mezia 24a)
- All children of the ‘goyim’ (Gentiles) are animals.” (Yebamoth 98a)
- What a Jew steals from a ‘goy’ he may keep.” (Sanhedrin 57a)
- Jews may use subterfuges to circumvent a ‘goy.’” (Baba Kamma 113a)
- If a Jew murders a ‘goy’ there will be no death penalty.” (Sanhedrin 57a)
- The ‘goyim’ are not humans. They are beasts.” (Baba Mezia 114b)
- Even the best of the ‘goyim’ should all be killed.” (Soferim 15)
- If you eat with a ‘goy’ it is the same as eating with a dog.” (Tosapoth, Jebamoth 94b)
NOTE: It’s Critical to note that this is NOT how YHWH God of the Bible feels about Gentiles. One only needs to read the Bible Book of Jonah to see that God does view gentiles as human beings, (Fallen and ignorant human beings, but still human beings regardless).
There are many talmudic and rabbinical teachings rulings, commands, and traditions that are 100% OPPOSITE to what the Old Testament writings commands believers to do. After all, the Tamud comprises 2,711 pages, many filled with rabbinical opinions that run contrary to written Scripture.
When you look at the false teachings of the Talmud; the statement made by Messiah becomes all the more crucial and understandable:
As It Is Written: ““Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.(Matthew 5:17–20 NASB95)
When you look at the false teachings of the Talmud compared to written Scripture, Messiah’s warning (Matthew 5:20), makes perfect sense. The problem was NOT that the Rabbinical Jews were trying so hard to obey the Scriptures and they could not do it, (Deuteronomy 30:11-13) NO! The Problem was that they were BREAKING the Torah in favor of keeping their own religious traditions.
Lesson to US: (Messiah is the same yesterday, today and forever Hebrews 13:8). He clearly Did NOT like it when the Pharisees and ruling Jewish elders BROKE the WRITTEN Commandments in Scripture, in order to keep their own religious traditions, instead of obeying written Scripture, (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13). If Messiah did not like it when the Jews put their own religious traditions above obeying what YHWH said in written Scripture, then He will NOT like it any better when Christians lay aside what is Commanded in written Scripture in order to obey what popes and other religious leaders commanded us by tradition. That is REPEATING the sins of the Scribes and Pharisees. It’s NOT Surpassing them in righteousness, (Matthew 5:20). That is Dangerous.
NOTE: With Rabbinical teachings such as these, one can easily see WHY Peter had such huge initial apprehension about witnessing to gentiles or to Non-Jews. (Acts 10:1-23; Acts 10:24-29; Acts 10:30-33).
After all these experiences Peter expressed the following conclusions:
As It Is Written: “Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.(Acts 10:34–35 NASB95)
(See cf. Acts 15:9). Now this was a HUGE Paradigm shift for 1st century Jews who had been brought up under rabbinical Jewish teachings and traditions.
The WRITTEN Scriptures CLEARLY State that the Hebrew Nation was intended and called to be a nation of kings and priests. They were intended to bring the gentile nations to YHWH, an to salvation in YHWH: Isaiah 42:6. “I am the Lord, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people,
Isaiah 49:6 He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a blight of the nations. So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
Isaiah 60:1-3 “Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. “For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you. “Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.
When 1st Century followers of Messiah started seeing gentiles receiving the Gospel, and being blessed with the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts, they understood this to be the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophecies like the ones mentioned above.
Bottom Line: The Pharisees, the scribes, Jewish tradition, and the ruling Jewish elders believed that THEY and NOT the written Scriptures were the ultimate deciding authority for how believers should live their lives. Anyone who was in opposition to them in any way could not possibly be faithful to God, and was going to hell.
So, when Jesus and the apostles, (including Paul), come along, they proclaimed that WRITTEN SCRIPTURE, and NOT the oral teaching traditions of the Jewish Talmud is the deciding factor of how faithful people should live; this was the central point of friction between Jesus, against the Pharisees and ruling elders. From the RABBINICAL point of view, Jesus could not possibly have been the Messiah, since he was not even a good Jew, by THEIR standard; so. How could he be the Messiah?
When we get off track and stop following Scriptures, we too will get off track and come short of fulfilling God’s intended purposes for our lives.
I challenge you in Love. Are you absolutely CERTAIN that the religious practices and traditions and customs that you follow are in agreement with what YHWH Almighty God Commanded in Scripture? Or are you more closely following religious customs and traditions invented by religious leaders and other human beings? Let us obey YHWH Almighty God rather than man.
Brother Michel Lankford