Too often among people that treasure the Hebrew Roots of the Christian faith we find an unspoken assumption that spiritual treasures of great value are found most among the sages and mystics of Judaism, rather than among the sages and mystics of Christianity.
Those who grew up in Christianity often become disillusioned with the day-to-day unfaithfulness of bourgeois Christians. Had they, however, been born among Orthodox Jewry, they would have found the same phenomenon. It is the unfortunate reality that a passionate disciple will often feel, as Elijah did, as if he alone is faithful among many, when in truth there are “7,000” that have not bowed the knee to false gods.
We need to be careful upon discovering the great illumination of the truth of our connection to Israel/Judaism/Torah that we don’t “throw out the baby with the bathwater” as regards the towering truths and great saints of Christianity. The truth that we are a part of an often unfaithful and yet truth-possessing body (the Church) persists.
This has been true of the Church throughout history; when she was comprised predominantly of Jewish people, the Bride of Messiah was more often rebellious than faithful to her covenant promises. Since becoming peopled predominantly by Gentiles, the Bride of Messiah has been more often unfaithful than true “imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph. 5:1) It is a sad reality.
I happened to read two quotes today that expressed identical apprehension of truth: one by a Jewish mystic and rabbi of great repute from the late 18th through early 19th century, and one by a Christian teacher of the 20th century. I thought it might be a good reminder to us that God reveals Himself to all who seek Him, but that our primary identity is with the body of people who acknowledge Yeshua mi’Natzeret (Jesus of Nazareth) as Messiah.
Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1813) was the first Rebbe of the Lubavitch Chasidim, who later became well known in America as followers of R. Menacham Schneerson.
This was actually heard from my master and teacher, Rabbi Schneur Zalman, when he was in a state of d’veikut [spiritual ecstasy] and would exclaim: “I want nothing at all! I don’t want Your Gan Eden. I don’t want your Olam HaBa … I want nothing but You alone!” (Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, the Tzemach Tzedek)
A.W. Tozer (1897 – 1963) was a prominent pastor within the evangelical Christian Missionary & Alliance denomination, author and magazine editor. He wrote:
To know God, this is eternal life; this is the purpose for which we are and were created. The destruction of our God-awareness was the master blow struck by Satan in the dark day of our transgression.
To give God back to us was the chief work of Christ in redemption. To impart Himself to us in personal experience is the first purpose of God in salvation. To bring acute God-awareness is the best help the Spirit brings in sanctification. All other steps in grace lead up to this.
Were we allowed but one request, we might gain at a stroke all things else by praying one all-embracing prayer:
Thyself, Lord! Give me Thyself and I can want no more.
It was also Tozer who wrote,
“The Church of our day has soft-pedaled the doctrine of obedience, either neglecting it altogether or mentioning it only apologetically and without urgency. This results from a fundamental confusion of obedience with works in the minds of preacher and people. To escape the error of salvation by works we have fallen into the opposite error of salvation without obedience. In our eagerness to get rid of the legalistic doctrine of works we have thrown out the baby with the bath and gotten rid of obedience as well.
 Rabbi Schneur Zalman, Journey of the Soul: A Chassidic Discourse by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi trans. Ari Sollish (Brooklyn: Kehot Publication Society, 2004) 13.
A. W. Tozer and Harry Verploegh, We Travel an Appointed Way (Camp Hill, PA.: WingSpread, 1988), 73.
A. W. Tozer, Paths to Power: Living in the Spirit’s Fullness (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 1964), 23.
4 thoughts on “Finding Truth”
Great post Nate. It is becoming more and more apparent to me that we need to rely just as heavily on the Christian Classics (if not more so) as on the Jewish commentaries.
I’m glad you appreciated it, Aaron. It seemed important to me.
Perhaps not “more so,” but certainly “both/and” instead of “either/or.”
Thanks for sending me this link Nate, I’m sorry I missed it when you first published it. I believe you are correct, we need both, I find myself too often doing the “this OR that”, instead of using both to properly deduce the answer. (generally the two bits of info don’t conflict, except when I pit them against each other… when will I learn?)
Shalom to you my friend and Brother!
We all need reminders of things we already know from time to time, my friend, and you have been a frequent example to me of faithfulness and perseverance! May your name be a blessing, Ed!