February 11, 2018

I am Abraham's Seed

My great-grandparents, Janos and Rozi, were Ashkenazi (European) Jews born in the Bohemian region of the Austria-Hungarian Empire. We don't know their fate except that one million Jews exterminated by the Nazis have never been identified. For my family there is no closure, and the emotional scars of WWII forever remain. We do know that one of our relatives died at Auschwitz.

On the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27), the Polish government announced that it was considering a bill that would criminalize the mention of Polish death camps. Any public discourse, with the exception of art or research, that suggested Poland was complicit in the Holocaust would be prohibited by law. Violators could be fined, or sentenced up to three years in prison.

Text of proposed law:
Whoever claims, publicly and contrary to the facts, that the Polish Nation or the Republic of Poland is responsible or co-responsible for Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich ... or for other felonies that constitute crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, or war crimes, or whoever otherwise grossly diminishes the responsibility of the true perpetrators of said crimes -- shall be liable to a fine or imprisonment for up to three years.
On my birthday (February 7) Poland's President Andrzej Duda signed the legislation into law saying that it would preserve Poland's dignity and ensure historical truth. There was an immediate response from Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “history cannot be rewritten.” Education Minister Bayit Yehudi said, "The blood of Polish Jews cries from the ground, and no law will silence it."

The United States said that the law, if enacted, will harm Poland's relationship with the West; and the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. released the following statement:
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is deeply concerned over legislation which would make it illegal to reference the complicity of some Poles for crimes against the Jews committed during the Nazi occupation of the country during the Second World War. 
Thousands of Poles risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbors. Over 6,600 individuals are recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem, more than from any other country. However, many Poles were complicit in the German atrocities.
With the aid of Polish agencies and private citizens, 90% of Poland's Jewish population was exterminated. Over three million Polish Jews were murdered in Poland's death camps -- Auschwitz-Birkenau,Treblinka, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, and Sobibor. (There were many other concentration camps and sub-camps, but these listed were the execution camps.)

Granted, the Polish resistance and government-in-exile worked heroically to save Jews and non-Jewish Polish citizens (1.9 million of whom were killed by the Nazis), but to what extent was Poland responsible?

International Jewish agencies -- even Israel -- agree that the term Polish death camps might be misconstrued. As President Duda noted, "Auschwitz-Birkenau is not even a Polish name." German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, "Without directly interfering in the legislation in Poland, I would like to say the following very clearly as German chancellor: We as Germans are responsible for what happened during the Holocaust, the Shoah, under National Socialism."

These are reasonable things to consider, however, what concerns Israel and the United States is that such legislation might absolve Poland of any complicit guilt, and fuel the rise of anti-Semitism which is endemic across the continent.

Of the 650,000 Hungarian Jews, 450,000 (70%) were victims of the Holocaust. Adolf Hitler ordered Otto Adolf Eichmann, Nazi SS-Obersturmbannführer, to Budapest to personally oversee the implementation of the Final Solution in Hungary. By the end of the war there were no Jews living in the provinces -- they had all been shot and killed, or deported to Auschwitz where they died in the gas chambers. The 30% who survived resided in Budapest. Tragically, the mass extermination occurred from May to July, 1944 when Germany realized the war was already lost.

Because there are no records, I suspect that my great-grandparents were probably shot and killed in their home of Veszprem, Hungary, buried in a mass grave and never identified. My grandparents, Mihaly and Ana, were able to safely make their way to the United States.

Hungary, like Poland, is trying to sanitize its history. Miklós Horthy served as the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1920 to 1944. The Hungarian Parliament wants to honor Horthy as a venerable statesman who led his nation through the tumultuous years after WWI. The truth is that Horthy's anti-Semitic record dates back to the Great War when Jews were blamed for the outcome of the conflict. Jewish homes and businesses were confiscated, and the owners deported. They were stripped of all legal and civil rights; and lynching was not uncommon.

Horthy was praised by Hitler for his effectiveness in implementing the Final Solution. Hitler told the Regent that the Jews were like "tubercle bacillus," and had to be eradicated like common bacteria.

Hungarian revisionists credit Horthy for the 200,000 Jews who survived in Budapest. However, it was difficult to make 450,000 Jews disappear from the provinces in just a matter of eight weeks, and as efficient were the Nazis at mass murder, they couldn't move that many Jews from the capital city without drawing international suspicion. Hitler was satisfied keeping them confined to the ghettos.

Public praise for Horthy made Netanyahu's 2017 trip to Hungary a bit awkward so it was unexpected when Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, at a joint press conference, denounced his country’s collaboration with Nazi Germany during World War II. Still, revisionist historians continue to press for Hungary's innocence.

My grandfather was baptized Catholic at birth. It is not clear if the family had a sincere confession of faith, or if it was done to conceal their Jewish identity. It was common practice for war-time families to "convert" to Catholicism as a matter of self-preservation. The safest place for a Jew during the war was Italy due to the presence of the Church. In fact, 80% of Italy's Jewish population survived the war as opposed to the 20-30% across the continent.

"Catholic" Jews even observed Christian burials, but after the war they replaced the tombstone cross with a Star of David. My family was not practicing Catholic, but we were sympathetic to the faith -- and for obvious reasons. Pope Pius XII personally supervised an underground network that saved 800,000 Jews. In contrast, Martin Luther -- the revered Protestant reformer -- was the religious face of Nazi Germany. I believe my grandfather's Catholic identity allowed him to escape to America.

While my father's mother was Jewish, I am not considered Jewish by the Orthodox rabbin who only recognize maternal lineage. My father married a Native American so I am only Jewish by Reformed standards which recognize the Mosaic tradition of paternal lineage. The Orthodox practice is a rabbinic teaching dating only to the first century AD. The Talmud suggests we can only know for certain the mother's identity, but this was centuries before DNA blood tests. Orthodox teaching is outdated and does not supersede biblical tradition.

One thing is for certain -- I am of Abraham's seed. Haman, Hitler and the Islamists have sought to destroy us, but if G-d be for us, who can be against us? [Romans 8:31]

Copyright © 2018 Messiah Gate

December 30, 2017

Holiday or Holy Day?

Think for a moment if we observed New Year's Day in the spring. As noted in the last post, the LORD established Nisan (March/April on the Gregorian calendar) as the first month of the year (Exodus 12:2).

In the verses following, the LORD commands Israel to observe Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread as an everlasting memorial of their deliverance out of Egypt. The Feast of Firstfruits, following the Passover sabbath, was observed by Christians in memory of Christ's resurrection.

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ the firstfruits; then at His coming, those who belong to Him (1 Corinthians 15:22-23).

Imagine, then, that the first month of the year was a celebration of  Passover (if you were Jewish), or the Feast of Firstfruits (if you were a disciple of Yeshua). Wouldn't that be a more solemn, reverent, holy observance of the New Year?

Someone may ask, "How did January become the first month of the year?" Pope Gregory XIII codified the custom set forth by the Julian calendar which honored the Roman god, Janus, who was considered to be the first among gods; and the beginning of days, months, years and time. The festival of Janus, for whom the month was named, was celebrated on January 9.

In contrast, ancient Israel numbered its days and months. Only four months are named in the Tanakh and these are of Canaanite origin. Naming the days and months of the year was a pagan tradition associated with idol worship -- a custom Israel later adopted in exile.

The Gregorian calendar that we use today is a testament of false gods and pagan deities. Instead of observing the New Year in a manner prescribed by YHWH, the world celebrates in the month dedicated to a Roman god.

Why does Israel celebrate New Year's (Rosh Hashanah) in the fall? 

In the seventh month of the year, Tishri on the Hebrew calendar, Israel was commanded to observe the Feast of Booths (Leviticus 23:34). Known also as the Feast of Tabernacles, Feast of the Ingathering (or Sukkot) it was a celebration of the autumn harvest at the end of the year (Exodus 23:16).

The end of the year (haš·šā·nāh, הַשָּׁנָ֔ה), so thought the Rabbin, implied the beginning of a new year so Tishri was mistakenly recognized as the first month. The Rosh Hashanah celebration that is observed in September/October evolved out of this misinterpretation. Even if we followed the earliest Hebrew calendar -- which only had ten months -- Tishri could not be the first month of the year. And, as I have noted, Rosh Hashanah is mentioned nowhere in the Torah. It is a human tradition, with pagan origins, that dates back to the second century AD.

The Feast of Firstfruits was supplanted by Easter just as the Feast of Trumpets was supplanted by Rosh Hashanah. The LORD commanded that Israel observe the Feast of Trumpets on the first day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:23-24). The blowing of the shofar announced a ten-day period of repentance culminating in the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) -- the holiest day in Judaism.

Jewish disciples of Christ expected that the end was near. There was no prophecy on Jehovah's calendar unfulfilled except the return of Messiah. Yeshua HaMashiac fulfilled the feasts of Israel.*

Passover Lamb
Unleavened (sinless) Sacrifice
Resurrected at Firstfruits
Outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost
Righteous Atonement

* Dispensational premillennialism teaches that the fall holy days will be fulfilled at the Second Coming of Christ.

Holidays are of pagan origin while holy days were appointed by G-d. The Gregorian calendar is a deception -- a device of human tradition. Only the Hebrew calendar provides insight as to the revelation of Jehovah's plan of redemption. 

Copyright © 2018 Messiah Gate

December 26, 2017

Pop the Cork, or Say a Prayer?

Those who have read my Christmas posts over the years probably have concluded, "This guy is a party pooper, wet blanket, spoil sport, and all-around buzz-kill." Now that we have established that, let's talk about New Year's celebrations. But first a brief history.

To begin with, the LORD established the first month of the year as Nissan (נִיסָן‎) on the Hebrew calendar:

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you." (Exodus 12:1-2)

Nisan 1, therefore, is the Jewish New Year's. Why, then, is Rosh Hashanah observed as the Jewish New Year? Nisan (formerly called Abib) falls within the months of March/April while Rosh Hashanah is observed in the seventh month of Tishri (תִּשְׁרִי‬), or September/October on the Christian calendar. The earliest recognition of Tishri (as the Jewish New Year) dates back to Israel's sojourn in Egypt. This was based on the interpretation of Exodus 23:16 where the autumn harvest is gathered at the end of the year thus implying the beginning of a new year.

Rosh Hashanah appears nowhere in the Torah. The nomenclature, according to the Mishna, was most likely introduced in the second century AD. Rosh, meaning head of ... and hash-shanah, meaning the year supplanted the biblical name Zikhron Teru'ah (Yom Teru'ah, יוֹם תְּרוּעָה) which means a memorial blowing of trumpets. The Mishna notes that the common observance of Rosh Hashanah was influenced by pagan customs adopted while in Babylonian captivity.

Messianic Jews believe that Yeshua was born in the month of Tishri. Rosh Hashanah obscures the fact that the blowing of the trumpets signified the reception of a king. That Jesus is the second Adam conforms to Hebraic teaching that the first Adam was created in the same month.

The blowing of the trumpets begins a ten-day period of repentance culminating in the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). The trumpets announce the birth of a king and ten days later (marking the completion of his work) Yeshua is offered as the righteous atonement for sin.

Israel is blind to these truths, and the Catholic Church -- in its zeal to separate Christianity from its Jewish roots -- has tossed a veil over the revelation. It is all a deception. One flock of sheep follows the shepherd of this world while another follows the Word. I couldn't help but ponder this as I watched the Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter's. 

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me (John 10:27).

So the Jewish civil year begins in the autumn (Tishri) while the ecclesiastical year begins in the spring (Nisan). Why is January 1 (with some exceptions) observed as New Year's Day? Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar in 1582. It was a refinement of the Julian calendar which was a refinement of the Roman calendar, and was intended to establish a fixed date for the Catholic observance of Easter. Otherwise, Christians would be celebrating -- rightly so -- the resurrection of Jesus Christ at the Feast of First Fruits which is observed after the Passover sabbath. 

The Church believed that Easter should be observed independent of the Jewish calendar, and certainly not at the same time as Passover. Because Christ was resurrected on a Sunday, an adjustment was needed to ensure that Easter always falls on that day. Passover was deemed fulfilled and no longer relevant. Syriac Christians continued to celebrate Easter in relation to Pesach for they believed that Christ -- the paschal lamb -- was, indeed, relevant to the Passover observance.

The Gregorian calendar was not recognized outside the Catholic Church. Nations independent of Rome observed New Year's Day in the spring or autumn.  As the papacy extended its reach, January 1 was more universally accepted as the first day of the year.

Israel was instructed by the LORD to not practice the customs and traditions of its pagan neighbors. It's a mystery (Babylon?) why the Church divorced Christianity from Judaism -- then aligned Easter and Christmas with the pagan celebrations of the spring and winter solstice. Was this the act of a sovereign G-d, or an apostate Church?

Too many Christians, I imagine, have one foot in the world and the other in the Kingdom. On New Year's Eve I will not be partying, dancing, drinking -- nor even stealing a midnight kiss.

You may be thinking, "This guy is a major party poop." Well, yes, we've already decided that. Did you know that partying (called reveling in the Aramaic Bible) is a mortal sin? (Galatians 5:21)

Hold on -- I'm not talking about your toddler's birthday party so let's not fall off the boat. I think we understand what kind of partying is implied here. The point is that G-d established the first month of the year -- Nisan on the Hebrew calendar -- and no Papal decree has changed that. What is observed on January 1 is a celebration of pagan customs and traditions -- reveling, drunkenness, carousing, sexual immorality, and unrepentant debauchery.

Paul wrote that Christians have liberty to observe, or not to observe special days (Romans 14:5). However, this is in the context of Jewish holy days such as the Sabaath and is not applicable to a pagan celebration. 

So what am I doing on New Year's Eve? Trying to be more like Christ. That should be our goal every day.

Copyright © 2017 Messiah Gate

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