The Branch and Judaism
We have received a letter which asks several questions and addresses many points in regards to the Branch and Adventism's relationship to traditional Judaism. As those questions and points are frequently the subjects of conversation, we will herein address them in a continuing series of points and responses.
Q.The church went from Judaism to Catholicism to Protestantism to Adventism to Davidianism to Branch Davidianism. What seems to be happening is that all the feasts and traditions of Israel are being restored. It seems that the only thing that is left is for the church to become equal to the Jewish church with the only difference that one believes in Yehoshua HaMashiach.
It seems that Branch Davidians are constantly referring to Israel as if it represents the SDA church. Isn't this kind of proud? Doesn't Israel represent the ten lost tribes of Israel while Judah represents Benjamin and Judah?
The reason this may be important is because the two sticks of Judah and Israel must be joined into one stick according to the prophecy. Thus, Christians must be prepared to become one with Judaism.
A. Thank you, friend, for the insights as to where you stand on things. I must say, though, that I disagree with your understanding of what the Branch and Rod messages, teach concerning the terms "Israel" and "Judah." The reason that they apply the term "Israel" to the SDA church (as do the Adventists), in general, is because that is who accepted the Gospel in the first centuries. The early church was first made up of both houses Israel (all tribes), Judah (two tribes) and Israel (10 tribes). That is, after the Gospel was presented to the Jews in Israel, it then went to the other tribes who had lost their tribal distinction to the eyes of man, but not to God. "The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel" (Isa 9:8).Though many of the descendants of those early Judeo/Christians have also lost their racial identity, they are none the less considered by God to be of Israel – both tribes.
Regarding the joining of "the two sticks of Judah and Israel," spoken of in Eze. 37:15-28, we read in part –
"The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
"Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions; and join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand." Eze. 37:15-17.
Therein we see a broader representation of the distinction you have made saying that the term "Israel" represents "the ten lost tribes of Israel," while "Judah represents Benjamin and Judah." That is, according to the text, on one stick "Judah" has written with him also "the children of Israel his companions." Yet, on the other stick, "Joseph, the stick of Ephraim," is also said to have represented on it "all the house of Israel his companions." Thus, there are those of "Israel," the so-named "ten lost tribes," represented on both of the sticks – they are "companions" of both "Judah" and "Joseph" ("Ephraim").
Bear in mind also that some of the members of the 10 tribes joined in with the 2 tribes to keep the Passover in the days of Josiah, about 100 years after the Assyrians had scattered the 10 tribes – "Nevertheless divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem." (2 Chron. 30:11). Consider also that some of both the northern and the southern kingdom had intermarried, so some of the 10 tribes became to be known as "Jews" by the time of Christ.
The important thing to note in those verses is that was given to the prophet, and none other, to define the distinction between the two sticks, and to join them together in his hand.
Q.Most likely there willl be another temple built. The Jews have been waiting for years for this. It most likely willl happen. Also, we know that the AntiChrist will take away the daily which could be the daily sacrifices. The Jews say that the sacrifices feed the angels. Thus, this will strengthen the good angels which will make the AntiChrist angry. Hence, the sacrifices are good for Israel. And if these sacrifices are good, then shouldn't we be ready theologically to participate in this temple rebuilding? Or could this be a great deception?
Because of the wicked events in Gaza during the expulsions, it is clear that the leftist of Israel are battling with the conservative side of Judaism. This is just like SDAs in the church fighting conservative Branch Davidans. SDAs are not the only ones with whom G-d is contending. And since there is to be a one stick of Judah and Israel, we need to get ready to become more Jewish.
We can do this only if we become Jewish in thought. We must read the Jewish perspective on things so that we look at things from a Jewish perspective and not from a replacement theology perspective where all the promises to ancient Israel are taken away from Israel and given to the Christian church.
A.From what I understand of what you wrote about us becoming more Jewish, it sounds like you mean more "rabbinical." And that is the only place I could disagree with your basic premise. If you look at the rebukes the Spirit gave through the prophets and through the Messiah, you will see that it was the rabbis and their vain traditions which were condemned. That is, the Jews in Messiah's day were not practicing true Judaism, but, rather, the traditions of the elders (Talmud, etc.). Though much of their teachings are based on Torah, they are not true to the principles of the Torah, but to their vain ideas. Here is just one condemnation of their practices:
"And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places. In their setting of their threshold by my thresholds, and their post by my posts, and the wall between me and them, they have even defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in mine anger.
"Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever." Eze. 43:7-9.
See also Mark 7:3-13, and Matthew 15:9. So what part of present Judaism is it safe to embrace? You, yourself, say,
"... in the Talmud, the interpretations of the Mishnah are debated and discussed. It is interesting to note that almost on any matter of debate, there will be a talmid that will argue one way and another talmid will give the precisely opposite ruling. It is almost as if you can pick which ruling suits you best. One may say you can make a sukkah a certain height and it still be valid. Another talmid will say that the sukkah is invalid for such and such a reason. By reading these debates, one will gain a knowledge of the Law that would have been impossible by just reading the written Bible." (emphasis added)
Is it really true that "one will gain a knowledge of the Law" by studying peoples' private opinions? It is clear that is a difficult thing to know which part of the Talmud is from God and which part from man by simply reading it, for who is to say which opinion is correct? Only the Spirit can distinguish between the two, and the way the Spirit does that is through the apostles and prophets (Eph 2:20, Eph 3:5, 2Pe 3:1,2, Lu 11:49) whom Israel has always tended to stone when they reproved their private ideas. The thoughts in the Talmud that are not from God must be under condemnation, as "God is not the author of confusion." (1Cor. 14:33) But there is an adversary who likes to propagate his private opinions and delights when others to the same, for confusion and lies are his specialty.
We also believe that a temple will be built in the promised land, but it will not be in Jerusalem proper because of the new division of the land delineated in Ezekiel 48. But the sacrifices prophesied to occur therein are those under the New Covenant which are the antitype of the animal sacrifices, and not the literal animal sacrifices themselves. You may be aware that the Jews are looking for a Red Heifer to sacrifice so that they can dedicate the temple, and cleanse themselves. But they don't, as a body, understand that the Red Heifer is but a symbol, a type, of the feminine Holy Ghost. But that is another matter.
The "daily" has already been taken away, and is now being restored by "Elijah." None of the law, not even the sacrifices, has been "nailed to the cross" or anywhere else for that matter. But it has been changed, as it is written:
"For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law." Heb 7:12.
Animal sacrifices are meaningless, but the blood of the Messiah, as it flows forth afresh in the heavenly Sanctuary, means everything to the true believer. Please read the following studies to see what is going on in the heavenly sanctuary now.
See also this study –
And one more which, in part, addresses the "fresh atonement" -
To really get an better view of the "daily," please see this study, as "ha-tamid" ("the daily"), is addressed in some depth in the second half of it.
But to get an overall view of the history of the taking away of the Daily, and its restoration, you will need to read all 3 parts of the study of which the above link is Part 2. Here are the links to the others part of that study.
Those studies, in conjunction with Ben Roden's studies on the Daily (the links are given above), will give you an good picture of the what the daily life of prayer should consist of. Part 3 of the Lord's Supper series spells out how the Christian church can become more Jewish, truly Jewish, not men's private interpretation of what being Jewish is.
Q. Spirit of Prophecy says that we must preach the Sabbath more fully. How can we do this if we don't keep the Sabbath in a way similar to the way Jews keep Sabbath? In the future, the Sabbath will be a life and death issue. We cannot afford to keep it in a haphazard manner. We need to guard the Sabbath carefully as we are able to.
A. While we certainly agree with you that most Adventists are too lax in regard to honoring God's holy Sabbath, which Jews should we emulate in their Sabbath keeping – the orthodox Hasidim, the Conservatives, the Reformists, or the Messianics who cling to the rabbinical traditions? Some Adventists even admit that many Catholics are more reverent in their Sunday keeping than are many Adventists in their keeping of Sabbath. So, our great need today is to see that we are truly led by the Spirit in our Sabbath keeping, and thus, and thus only, will we be in harmony with other true Sabbath keepers, be they Jew or Gentile.
Q. As I have read almost all Victor T. Houteff's writings, I have begun to see that almost all of Houteff's ideas are borrowed from Jewish sources even though he did not read these sources. Many clues and hints of what is going to happen is hinted in the Jewish writings and commentaries. We should incorporate these things into the Branch Davidian message.
A. As the living Gods (ha Elohim hayyim) know what is to truly happen, and are responsible for giving us our meat in due season, it is incumbent upon Them to incorporate whatever "clues and hints" which would be for our good. Consider the following:
William Miller's Dream
"I dreamed that God, by an unseen hand, sent me a curiously wrought casket about ten inches long by six square, made of ebony and pearls curiously inlaid. To the casket there was a key attached. I immediately took the key and opened the casket, when, to my wonder and surprise, I found it filled with all sorts and sizes of jewels, diamonds, precious stones, and gold and silver coin of every dimension and value, beautifully arranged in their several places in the casket; and thus arranged they reflected a light and glory equaled only to the sun.
"I thought it was not my duty to enjoy this wonderful sight alone, although my heart was overjoyed at the brilliancy, beauty, and value of its contents. I therefore placed it on a center table in my room and gave out word that all who had a desire might come and see the most glorious and brilliant sight ever seen by man in this life.
"The people began to come in, at first few in number, but increasing to a crowd. When they first looked into the casket, they would wonder and shout for joy. But when the spectators increased, everyone would begin to trouble the jewels, taking them out of the casket and scattering them on the table.
"I began to think that the owner would require the casket and the jewels again at my hand; and if I suffered them to be scattered, I could never place them in their places in the casket again as before; and felt I should never be able to meet the accountability, for it would be immense. I then began to plead with the people not to handle them, nor to take them out of the casket; but the more I pleaded, the more they scattered; and now they seemed to scatter them all over the room, on the floor and on every piece of furniture in the room.
"I then saw that among the genuine jewels and coin they had scattered an innumerable quantity of spurious jewels and counterfeit coin. I was highly incensed at their base conduct and ingratitude, and reproved and reproached them for it; but the more I reproved, the more they scattered the spurious jewels and false coin among the genuine.
"I then became vexed in my physical soul and began to use physical force to push them out of the room; but while I was pushing out one, three more would enter and bring in dirt and shavings and sand and all manner of rubbish, until they covered every one of the true jewels, diamonds, and coins, which were all excluded from sight. They also tore in pieces my casket and scattered it among the rubbish. I thought no man regarded my sorrow or my anger. I became wholly discouraged and disheartened, and sat down and wept.
"While I was thus weeping and mourning for my great loss and accountability, I remembered God, and earnestly prayed that He would send me help.
"Immediately the door opened, and a man entered the room, when the people all left it; and he, having a dirt brush in his hand, opened the windows, and began to brush the dirt and rubbish from the room.
"I cried to him to forbear, for there were some precious jewels scattered among the rubbish.
"He told me to "fear not," for he would "take care of them."
"Then, while he brushed the dirt and rubbish, false jewels and counterfeit coin, all rose and went out of the window like a cloud, and the wind carried them away. In the bustle I closed my eyes for a moment; when I opened them, the rubbish was all gone. The precious jewels, the diamonds, the gold and silver coins, lay scattered in profusion all over the room.
"He then placed on the table a casket, much larger and more beautiful than the former, and gathered up the jewels, the diamonds, the coins, by the handful, and cast them into the casket, till not one was left, although some of the diamonds were not bigger than the point of a pin.
"He then called upon me to "come and see."
"I looked into the casket, but my eyes were dazzled with the sight. They shone with ten times their former glory. I thought they had been scoured in the sand by the feet of those wicked persons who had scattered and trod them in the dust. They were arranged in beautiful order in the casket, every one in its place, without any visible pains of the man who cast them in. I shouted with very joy, and that shout awoke me." Early Writings, p. 81-83.
Therein we see that it is up to the "man" with the "dirt brush in his hand" to restore that which was ruined by careless men. William Miller admitted that he could not do it. That "man" must be the promised "Elijah" who is to "restore all things. Victor Houteff showed that the term "Elijah" applies to the ever-working Spirit of Prophecy in a human agent, "be it Moses, John, Christ, Elijah or some other." (see Answerer No. 1, p. 78,79).
Of the time of the working of the man with the dirt brush Ellen White says,
"Dear Brethren: The Lord gave me a view, January 26, 1850, which I will relate. I saw that some of the people of God are stupid and dormant and but half awake; they do not realize the time we are now living in, and that the man with the "dirt brush" has entered, and that some are in danger of being swept away. I begged of Jesus to save them, to spare them a little longer, and let them see their awful danger, that they might get ready before it should be forever too late." Early Writings, p. 49
While in William Miller's dream the man with the dirt brush sweeps away the rubbish from the room so that all that remains are the beautiful gems and coins, Ellen White adds the fact that people will also be swept away by his work. This means that those who cling to the rubbish of human intervention in divine things will be swept away as the work of restoration goes forth.
So, while there are "hints and clues" of what is to happen in Jewish writings, such can only be set in their proper order and given their proper weight through the work of the man with the dirt brush, and not by the efforts or will of man independent of the Holy Ghost.
Q. Even with prayer and Sabbath keeping, there is a host of things that one has to work at to get the art of prayer and Sabbath keeping down to an expert level in Judaism. I see that Branch Davidians lack this kind of spirituality. Perhaps this should be added to Branch Davidian theology so that Branch Davidians can be spiritual and not just theological.
Spirit of Prophecy says that in the end our only defense will be prayer. How can we use prayer if we are not praying now? Shouldn't we become experts at the art of prayer? Well, Kabbalah has a whole set of techniques for accessing G-d through His Divine Names. ... From studying kabbalah, I began to see that talking to G-d is very complex and even dangerous, but probably the most fulfilling mitzvah one can do. Please tell me what you think of Jewish mysticism and the like.
A. The orthodox Hasidim and Kabbalists engage in the use of superstitious talismans and unhealthful practices in their religious exercises. Their bowing repeatedly while in prayer or Scripture reading has been proven to be damaging to their eyes, and can act as a form of self-hypnosis. Is that something God requires for one to obtain holiness?
While I would certainly not want to impugn anyone's sincerity in their religious practices, the New Testament writers and the Spirit of prophecy consistently point to the fact that the religious customs and traditions of the Jews in the days while Christ was on earth were based on works, rather than faith, and that their practices became more and more rigid as their true faith went uncultivated. As many among them still cling to those traditions for the same reason, how can we direct people to their examples and reasonings?
Should Christian men follow the example of the Orthodox, Conservative, and other Jews who wear the traditional head coverings (yamakas)? Especially in the light of the fact that there no commandment to do so in either the Bible nor the Talmud, and the practices is decried by the apostle Paul (1Cor. 11:7)?
Q. G-d's promise to Israel is still with Israel. Christians get to be a part of the promise because they become a part of the Jewish church.
A. While it is true that there are many promises of the restoration of a faithful remnant of the seed of Abraham, it is also true that, as a nation, they have been cut off from the covenant they broke, and stand in need of being grafted back into the true "vine." See Romans 10 and 11.
The 16th chapter of Ezekiel tells the whole story. In there you will find the sad history of ancient Jerusalem, her blessings and her rebellions. It also shows that she has one more final punishment coming from all her lovers (which has never happened), after which God will be pacified towards her (see Eze. 16:42). But that chapter also reveals that after that final punishment, she is not to be restored to the covenant relationship, but, rather, one of her daughters is to receive the restored covenant blessing. So the question is, who is that one daughter who has two sisters, as the chapter reveals? That is, who is that daughter of Jerusalem, and who are her two sisters? Here is a link to a study on that chapter. Please let me know what you think about it.
There is one other matter I must comment on in regards to becoming more Jewish in things. The Jews have a big problem with going overboard on things because they made so many mistakes in the past. They try to act holier than they really are in order to make themselves think that they are safe because their traditions, in their thinking, make them holier than others. A prime example of this is the fact that many Jews, whether they believe in the Messiah or not, think it is a thing of righteousness to avoid using vowels in words like "God" (i.e. "G-d).
They must think that they are holier than the writers of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, Jude) because all of those saints not only used all the letters of the Greek language at all times to write their Gospels and letters, but even used the Greek spelling of Messiah's name (i.e., Ioseus). So we see that movement today to have people return to using voweless words because Hebrew didn't use vowels, and to use Messiah's Hebrew or Aramaic name is just a diversion to keep people from knowing the present truth of the matter. And that is, that Messiah's name has been changed, as it was prophesied to be, as we read,
"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." Rev. 2:17.
That "stone" is the same one Zechariah wrote about:
"For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day." Zech. 3:9.
It is obvious that the "stone" represents a message, something written, engraved. We know that that stone is the Branch message. Moreover we read,
"Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new
name." Rev. 3:12.
The Greek of the relevant portions of that verse reads, "the name of the God of Me, the name of the city of the God of Me, ... I will write upon him the new name of Me." Some say that they will receive a new name from the Savior, and that is what that verse means, But such is not the case. It is not a new name given to us (though many or all of us may receive new names), but it is the Savior's own new name which will be written on the overcomers. So what is that new name?
Many see that Solomon's temple was a type of the early Christian church, as Solomon, the son of David built that temple, and the Messiah, the Son of David, built the early church. But, as the first temple was destroyed by Babylon, so the early church was destroyed by the Catholic church (which many people equate with Babylon). But following the destruction of the first temple, the second temple was built which was graced by the presence of the Son of God.
So, after the first antitypical temple (the early Christian church) was destroyed there is to be built a second Christian church (temple), this time to be graced with the presence of the Person of the Holy Ghost, the Leader of the church on earth. That is what is going on now. But who was to build the second temple in the type, and bear the glory thereof? Of this we read,
And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:
"Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both." Zech. 6:12, 13.
The difficulty with this verse lies in the fact that no one named "The Branch" is said to have actually built the second temple in Nehemiah's time, and sat on the throne then, nor was a ruler upon his throne, let alone was also a priest, as the verses declare. Thus the whole prophecy has to do with the building of the second antitypical temple, which is what we are witnessing today. The spiritual temple must be built first, before an earthly temple would be of any good.
So, while people are arguing over which way to write and speak the name Messiah had while on earth, He has undone all their confusion by simply changing His name. But of that name "no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." So, it is not in just hearing His new name, but in receiving it as such that the blessing is received.
I pray that you will draw very near to our Creators and Redeemers for the truth of these matters.
Back to top